Today, in a conference call with its employees, Air American Radio (AAR) made it official. It was filing for chapter 11 protection while it reorganizes.
They report they WILL stay on the air.
Mike Papantonio, who co-hosts Air America's program, Ring of Fire, with Bobby Kennedy, compared what's happening to AAR with United Airlines. "It's same thing you find with United airlines... they're still flying. There's not going to be any interruption in programming," he told OpEdNews, saying "The good news about this is that AA is actively seeking new investors and that they expect to come out of bankruptcy stronger, with new, dynamic leadership."
IN a press release Piquant LLC, which does business as Air America, says it was forced to file for protection after "good faith efforts to resolve outstanding debt with a creditor from the company's earliest days broke down."
"In recent months, the company has been seeking additional investment to finance its continued growth, and it expects to continue and complete discussions for new financing during the Chapter 11."
The bankruptcy filing will allow the company to continue offering its complete line-up of programming while it deals with its creditors in the reorganization proceeding. To ensure the company's continued operation without interruption, a credit facility will be provided by Democracy Allies LLC. The Management and the Board of Directors of Piquant remain fully committed to broadcasting our popular programs and championing the progressive cause during what we are confident will be a very brief restructuring period.
"The Board of Directors has named Vice President Scott Elberg as the Company's Chief Executive Officer. "Nobody likes filing for bankruptcy, however, this move will enable us to concentrate on informing and entertaining our audience during the coming months," said Elberg. "Staying on the air is crucial for the Network's primary ratings period as well as for the country which is facing its most important mid-term election in recent history."
Air America, headquartered in New York City, currently produces 19 hours of original programming a day and is heard on 92 affiliates reaching 58 percent of the country. Air America affiliates reach 2.4 million listeners per week, Mon-Sun
According to insideradio.com "Air talent Al Franken joked several weeks ago that he's flown on airlines that are in bankruptcy - anticipating that this day might come, and that operations would continue."
It has seemed, since its startup, that Air America started on a shoestring, without deep enough funding, perhaps a perrenial challenge to progressive organizations.
It is normal for a start-up company to need several years to get up on its feet financially, and to need investors and capitalization during that period.
The right wing media, like FOX News and the Rush Limbaugh show, ran for long periods of time, in the red, but were able to survive through those times because they had funders-- it's hard to call them investors, since there were political payoffs and motivations rather than conventional profit motives-- who carried the money-losing media for long periods of time.
The bankruptcy filing, reprinted at thesmokinggun.com runs 25 pages, listing Rob Glaser, founder of RealNetworks, as the single largest creditor, owed more than $10 million. Mike Malloy one of the network's most popular talk show hosts, whose contract was not renewed, as expected, several weeks ago, is owed over $100,000.
A long term Air America investor told OpEdNews.com, "There's no question that Air America belongs in the future of the media. It has an important role to play."
We agree. There's a long way to go before the talk radio playing field is leveled, but Air America Radio, originally conceived by Sheldon and Anita Drobny, energized by an early commondreams.org article by Thom Hartmann, started with the passion and commitment of Randi Rhodes, Mike Malloy, Al Franken, and a team of others, deserves to play a roll in the future of American media.
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