Friday, August 19, 2005

Air America: The Enron of the Airwaves

I don't really have anything to add to this, I just wanted to use the title. The National Review Online has been particularly good today.

Until a few weeks ago, the biggest worry for executives at Air America was what to do about the liberal radio network's alarmingly low ratings. Launched amid much hype on March 31, 2004, Air America, with Al Franken, Janeane Garofalo, Randi Rhodes, and a host of other anti-Bush personalities at the microphone, has, with the exception of a few cities, had great difficulty finding an audience. Even in New York, where the network's true-blue message should be welcome, its daily average ratings are actually lower than those of the Caribbean talk-and-music station it replaced a year and a half ago.

That would be bad enough. But now Air America finds itself fielding questions not only about its ratings but about its connection to a Bronx-based children's charity known as the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club. In early July, a little-noticed local online journal, the Gotham Gazette, reported that New York City's Department of Investigation (DOI) was looking into the diversion of "hundreds of thousands of dollars" from the Gloria Wise club to Air America. The first figure was around $450,000, but it now appears that $875,000 was transferred from the taxpayer-and-contribution-supported Gloria Wise club to the struggling radio network.