Air America Received Questionable Loans

A co-founder of Air America Radio reportedly loaned the network and himself more than $800,000 from a non-profit charity in New York while serving as its development director.

Evan Cohen made the highly questionable loans while a director of the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club, which serves 20,000 children, elderly residents, and people with disabilities. Some loans were directed to Air America as the fledgling liberal talk radio network was launched in March 2004; others went personally to Cohen, who claimed "he needed the money to pay for chemotherapy for himself and other medical expenses for his ill father," according to the New York Sun.

Air America broke its ties to Cohen several weeks after its March 31, 2004, launch and the network was sold by parent company Progress Media to Piquant LLC, a new company formed by some of the original investors. In a statement published last week, the network acknowledged the receipt of the funds, calling the allegations of corruption at the charity "absolutely disgraceful":

The current owners of Air America Radio have no obligation to Progress Media's business activities. We are very disturbed that Air America Radio's good name could be associated with a reduction in services for young people, which is why we agreed months ago to fully compensate the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club as a result of this transaction.

This story, which is starting to get mainstream coverage after percolating for days on conservative blogs, was sparked by a July 27 item from talk show host Brian Maloney, a frequent critic of the network who writes today that "Air America hosts are still pretending on-air as though nothing is happening."

Air America host Al Franken told the Sun he was unaware of the issue until last week. Few liberal blogs have covered the controversy to date, aside from a July 27 posting from a Daily Kos contributor skeptical of the story when its primary source was a small community newspaper.

In June, the Department of Investigation of New York suspended city grants and contracts with Gloria Wise, which amount to millions of dollars, while it investigates "inappropriate transactions and falsified documents that were submitted to various city agencies."


You wouldnt see Republicans running things like this.

oh wait, yes you would.

BFD (Big Fucking Deal), they showed integrity, fixed the problem and paid back the money long ago, something republicans never do. None story. Now please, back to Karl Rove, a real story.

As I understand it, Air America's parent company has pledged to pay back the loan but has not done so yet.

Your all a bunch of libral weenies! shut up and think logically for once. Oh wait...librals don't have a brain...only a bleeding heart.

I can't recall a group having higher hopes for a project than Liberals had for Air America, and just failing so badly. Well... even if this story is as bad as it sounds, I'm sure Al Franken's massive listening audience will keep Air America floating.... HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

Air America has around 67 stations broadcasting some or all of its programs. That's 67 more than a year ago, which I think ought to be considered a success for a new radio network. The ratings declines that conservatives are crowing about are across the board for all political programming after an election year. I've been feeling that downturn on my politically themed web site.

But didn't they go from being number 1 in some markets, to dead last? Hannity and Limbaugh's numbers are down too, but are they as bad? Honest questions here, not being smug. Is it all Republican spin or is the ratings argument a legitimate issue about Liberal Talk Radio?

Rogers makes to statement that AA has 67 more stations than a year ago. Limbaugh, on the other hand, went national in August 1988 with fifty-six stations (from day one) after doing a local show in Sacramento for about two or three years.

He hit 200+ stations about a year later and I believe he hit 600+ stations within three. Whatever reason you attribute it, there are few such success stories in modern radio. In fact, there are few such success stories in the history of radio, period.

I'm a fan of his show, mostly because he's funny but partially because he articulates a lot of the things I believe. I believe the latter is the major reason for his success: people in flyover country and the so-called "red states" finally found a guy on the radio who was saying stuff they believed.

That, I believe, is the problem with AA. First of all, it's not funny. The few times I've actually forced myself to listen on the net, I've heard some of the most painful attempts at humor ever. This is surprising, since I used to think Franken was funny, back in his SNL days. Now that he's focusing on politics, he's just shrill.

One other advantage Limbaugh has now is his power in the industry. Because of the size of his audience and the ad revenue he generates (that's what it's all about, by the way), he can control and dictate on what stations he appears and what time he's broadcast. For example, if a client station wants to delay his program, he'll find another station. This locks him into a timeslot that he's literally ruled for 17 years and maintains a level of consistency less powerful hosts can't brag about.

Air America seems to be on the air wherever some low-power station can stick them. They appear in a number of big markets, where one might find more liberal radio fare as a choice. I doubt their programming would find a lot of listeners in an area like where we live.

As for rankings, new programming usually does well in some markets at the start. Once listeners try it out and reject it or return to familiar programming, the numbers begin shifting back. Limbaugh's audience may be up and down from rating period to rating period...there's a wider choice of conservative/non-liberal talk on the radio now (Hannity, Ingraham, Praeger, O'Reilly, Hewitt, Medved) and they have likely picked up some of Limbaugh's audience. Few of them go head-to-head with Rush because they know their audiences will be miniscule compared to his. But his overall numbers have remained pretty steady since he peaked, and he still has one of the biggest audiences in radio, period. And he's had it for 17 years.

That's an uphill battle for Air America, no matter what their politics are. I seem to recall a few years ago that some former employees of Limbaugh made an attempt to market a conservative radio network idea with a variety of hosts, but it didn't fly. So, perhaps it isn't the topic matter as much as the presentation. That's where Limbaugh seems to have nailed it.

Whew, that was long...

But didn't they go from being number 1 in some markets, to dead last?

I haven't followed specific markets. The last thing I read about the network's ratings was this Kos blogger's analysis that it had a 32 percent increase in ratings in 2005.

I don't judge liberal talk in comparison to Limbaugh. I judge it by the near-total absence of liberal talk on the air up until the last few years, and the fact I can now hear Air America, Ed Schultz, and Alan Colmes.

Will they succeed in the long run? I don't know. But it seems to me that liberal talk represents a much better growth opportunity for radio stations than becoming another Limbaugh affiliate. Here in North Florida, I can scan the radio in the afternoon and hear Rush Limbaugh on three different stations! It saps my will to live.

I went to FSU, you are not exactly in 'freindly waters' there if you consider yourself a liberal (I'm in Jersey now, so same boat just a different ocean). I thought you Libs didn't consider Alan Colmes one of pack(kidding). I mentioned them being #1 just from watching their documentary on HBO where everyone seemed so pumped about beating Hannity and Limbaugh.

3 stations of Limbaugh is a bit much.

Air America Radio, when I tune in for a minute or two I start to sweat when I hear the weird sounds of the weird host. Does any clear thinking and normal person know what it's like to be in a room with a bunch of Lib's? From experience, it's terrible, and it makes the hair on the back of one's neck stand up, and salute. Lib's are just weird people.


A True American

RBM caqn't think of a project with higher hopes than Air America? How about Operation Iraqi Freedom? The Iraqis were supposed to welcome us with open arms, not small arms fire. Talk about failures!
One thing the Administration has done is reduce the number of troops in Iraq, through ATTRITION!
Keep drinking the moron kool-ade. What ever makes you blind to the truth, I always say (about conservatives).

Um, Limbaugh is a "show" and AA is a "network". Limbaugh cares not who the radio station is, he has a show. AA is the radio station (to a large extent.) Stations can pick up/drop shows, the same isn't true of AA.

"Lib's are just weird people.
A True American"

that's a pretty broad generalization. How can you assign the properties of a "room" of people to millions. How you thought that sentence was logically valid is truly frightening.
If you really are the definition of a "True American" than we really are FUCKED!

A heartless radical neocommie corporation got caught redhanded stealing funds from disabled kids. It will be interesting to how the New York Times can cover up this story.

If you bothered to read the article, rather than just the headline, oh I forgot, you probably sample the media the way your Chimp in Chief does, you'd see that the loan was made by Evan Cohen. AA ended their relationship with Cohen soon after they went on the air because he claimed to have access to money that he didn't have. He defaulted on salary for the staff and they lost their Chigago affiliate because he didn't pay the bill. He was a crook, much like Hot Tub Tom.

What an odd collection of comments.

The problem AA is going to have is that they launched too big to justify their likelihood of success, and have had to bolster their income just to stay alive. Thinking something is good and good for you, and that people should want it, isn't enough to make a viable business. If conservatives understand nothing else, they understand that. I like hamburgers with bacon, onions and jalapenos mixed into the meat before they're cooked, and I think everyone else should like them, but the likelihood of a restaurant that makes those hamburgers succeeding has little to do with my feelings about how much people should like and appreciate them and everything to do with me making such a restaurant work as a business. I don't think AA is doing that. If I ran my fictional restaurant like AA, I'd be running ads that complained bitterly about other restaurants and how nasty and evil they were instead of improving my own. That's a loser mentality.

Frankly when AA launched it reminded me of the kind of idea you'd get when you were sitting around with your friends in high school getting high, talking about how cool it would be if we started a radio station to counteract that asshole Rush Limbaugh. Dude, we could use Al Franken, and Janeane Garofalo, she's f%cking hilarious. Plus that dude Marc Maron, he's awesome too. Pass the Cheetos, maaaan.

I wish them luck, there's certainly a lot of good work a liberal radio network could do and be commercially successful. But I think Colmes is a better and more serious host than anything on AA for the simple reason that he's not a conspiracy nut with massive ideological blind spots and an inability to admit when he's wrong. It's kind of sad to listen to most of the AA hosts, particularly Rhandi Rhodes. When you take politics personally, you aren't winning any converts, and even Rush Limbaugh understands that.

Launching an entire network without even one functional radio show to start with was probably a bad idea. I hope AA can replace some of their more kooky hosts with serious voices, because an Air America that didn't continually pander to the worst in liberal paranoia and anti-Americanism would be a great thing.

You wingnuts need to look in the mirror before you cast stones. A watched pot should never call the kettle black either. One advantage to being on the left is the ability to decide what will be news and what won't be. Rush Limbaugh abusing painkillers was definitely news. Air America having fiscal problems and being linked to the downfall of a charity for poor kids and Alzheimer's oltimers is not even close to being news.

Get used to it wingnuts. You're never going to have this kind of control over what makes the frontpage. So drink your koolaid or whatever it is you drink.

At least America and its allies can point to successes and victories in Iraq what can Air America Radio point to? The fact that they exist? Whoop-dy-freaking-doo.

Keep cheering for the terrorists Libs, history will remember it, just like it remembers you spitting on our troops in the 60s.

Keep cheering for the terrorists? Sheesh.

These comments are officially nutty. Rogers would never cheer for terrorists, although he has been known to give a screech and an Eagle Claw when he sees two or more same-sex whales getting it on in the ocean. Hey, who wouldn't?

Wow these comments are off the wall.How does this guy taking money from a non profit have anything to do with terrorism or a commentar being a terrorosit.Anyways my feeling on the topic is that if any laws were broken then he needs to be punished.

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