After a disappointing year, the liberal radio network Air America appears headed for the trash heap. The talk network has only managed to attract 50 or so markets, which is a pretty poor showing.
Even in the nation’s top market, New York City, the flagship station, WLIB, is only 24th in the Arbitron ratings, and that is worse than the previous all-Caribbean format on that station that the liberal talk format replaced. Other liberal areas of the country, like San Francisco and Los Angeles, have worse ratings than New York.
Brian C. Anderson, senior editor of City Journal and author of the new book "South Park Conservatives” opines in the Los Angeles Times, that talk radio shows that succeed have certain characteristics that make them listenable. First, they utilize humor and other “snazzy” elements. Second, borrowing from political consultant Dick Morris, he says that a large segment of liberals are black and Hispanic, and those demographic groups have their own specialized entertainment radio outlets, which they prefer to talk radio of any description. And third, and most important, is the fact that so much of the mainstream media is liberal that liberals don’t need liberal talk to satisfy their hunger for Leftist ideas. Indeed, it was the liberal media that created the need for conservative talk shows.
My own opinion is that the consistently tired and negative liberal messages just don’t attract listeners, beyond the manic few.
But what’s good about this is that unlike many on the Left who would like to silence conservatives like Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage and Shawn Hannity, the Right has pretty much left the libs alone to try their luck, and it has failed all by itself.
It’s a pretty safe bet, though, that this message will not be the one taken away from this failed exercise by liberals. They’ll likely try to blame it on Karl Rove. Or Tom DeLay. Or the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy. Whatever their explanation, it won’t be that people just don’t want or need liberal talk radio. That kind of plain truth, the Left is just deaf to.