Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Air America - Meet Your New Daddy?


We've all heard it from our kids. As kids, we said it to our parents.

"Daddy, if I'm really good, will you buy me a pony?"

We divert. We distract. What you want to say is,

"No way, kid! I'm still paying for those ice skating lessons from last year!" Instead, you say,

"Hey Sweetie, let's go to Chucky Cheese's. They have a pony there".

"But Daddy, I've already ridden that pony!" What you want to say is,

"Sorry kid, but that money is already earmarked for your mother in the divorce settlement." Instead, you say,

"Sweetie, what if Daddy buys you a rocking pony. It'll be just like a real pony."

"But Daddy, that's NOT a real pony. Please Daddy, please, please, please, I have to have a REAL PONY?"

Out of ideas, and not wanting your ex to use what you say against you in a divorce court of law, you stall. You scramble. You wrack your brain for any idea that will keep her happy and keep you from being called a lying sack of horse muckings, by her, twenty years from now, in therapy.

Desperate, you drive to the ends of the earth (okay, San Pedro) to find that one stable at the edge of the Unocal refinery where your baby can ride on the swayed back of some rat-tailed mare at fifty dollars for fifteen minutes. All the while you keep rehearsing what you're going to do for your little angel on the way home that'll keep her from telling Mommy what an a-hole you've been and keep Mommy Dearest from totally ruining what little financial portfolio you have left after marrying her in the first place.

After a hot cocoa for her and a Grande Drip for you (with enough room in it for what's left in your whisky flask), your drive your princess home, thankful that your sincere effort at keeping her happy has made peace between the two of you, and hopeful that an enduring Father/Child relationship has been forged so that when you're old, your baby won't stick you in a home somewhere just like your parents did with your Grandma.

Has this happened to you? I didn't think so. Me either - except for Grandma in a home. But you can imagine how it could, this 'Rugrats gone bad - Angelica Pickles on steroids' nightmare of the waking mind. Right?


Well if your name is Dick French, you did.

That would be Dick French, Managing General Partner of Regional News Network, or RNN, a local digital channel covering a 5 square mile area east of the Hudson River. According to the FCC, recent ratings for the station, located in Kingston, N.Y., place it 24th out of 29 in the market, ranking it even lower than the ImaginAsian and Azteca America networks.

Until yesterday, French and RNN were considerd the front-runners in the bankruptcy acquisition sweepstakes for "Progressive Talk" network Air America Radio. Air America, currently in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, has been the object of a slow-motion bidding war to see who would attempt to resurrect the perpetually underfunded network since filing for federal protection last October.

The rumored big winner in all this was to be Richard French, son of RNN Managing Partner Dick French. Richard French hosts an evening news broadcast on his father's TV station that is watched by tens of dozens of television viewers every evening (remember, 24th out of 29 - ImaginAsia; Azteca America). According to various news outlets including Associated Press, Reuters, and The Wall Street Journal, the younger French was a possible replacement for departing on-air talent Al Franken.


Whatever credibility gap Air America's financial woes had dug for it, it still had broadcast credibility from the likes of Al Franken. Left Wing, Right Wing, Defenseman, Goalie, like him or don't, it's still AL FRANKEN.

Not Angelica Pickles, urrr... Richard French. It makes you wonder what goes therough the mind of a child when he utters the words, "Daddy, will you buy me a Radio Network?" It makes you wonder what must go through the mind of a parent whose child probably got more than a pony when he was young. And it makes me wonder what went through the mind of Dick French last week when he blinked just long enough to allow another company to jump in and win the Air America sweepstakes.


Financially troubled Air America Radio has reached a tentative agreement with with New York real estate mogul Stephen L Green and SLG Radio LLC. Green, whose brother Mark Green, a long-time New York political figure, has been a frequent guest host on the Air America program "Politically Direct", as well as a guest on many other AAR shows. Mark Green, in an interview with the website Liberal Talk Radio (ltradio.blogspot.com), said that no hiring or programming positions had been decided for the network, should the deal go through. Furthermore, a possible executive role for him at Air America is unknown.

Please, just please would somebody buy Stephen L. Green a cup of coffee for the drive home?

Copyright © 2007 Bill Friday