Campaign 2010

Apr 01, 2004

Air America Launch - pt1



Like most great ideas it started with a simple concept: Create a place for progressive voices to meet on America’s airwaves.

Yet, years of right-wing domination of Talk Radio have ignited a firestorm of controversy over the launch of Air America, the fledgling network that dishes up political events with a “smart voice” and a powerful sense of humor. 

Conservatives crow that liberal ideas are “too complicated” to be successful on radio. (Dealing with “Ditto Heads” and their like must be infinitely easier than having to worry about that pesky thought process).  Media critics point to first-day programming glitches. (Care to show us the columns you wrote on your first day on the job?)

But no one denies the basic premise that we believe will make this venture a success: Talk radio has become a haven for the Far Right, whose beliefs DO NOT represent the views of at least half of the American public. 

See who attended the glittering pre-launch party

March 29, 2004 7:30 PM - PRE-LAUNCH PARTY
Yoko Ono, Tim Robbins and composer Phillip Glass were just a few of the more than 1,200 guests attending Air America’s pre-launch festivities at Manhattan’s Maritime Hotel. Mingling on the crowded floor were business and media executives, actors, musicians, public interest advocates, and enthusiasts of all stripes who believe that the time has come to reclaim America’s airwaves from the monopoly of the Right.

The diversity of guests reflected the public’s intrigue.

Now, truth be told, it was so crowded that we can’t tell you exactly who made it through the doors, but a number of celebrity sightings were made by The Stakeholder’s intrepid reporter as he fought his way from the free bar to the free food – and back again.

Invitees who accepted included top media executives from such varied publications as The Wall Street Journal, CNN, CBS Evening News, 60 Minutes, Harper’s Bazaar, USA Today, the New York Times, The New Yorker, MTV’s “Choose or Lose,” Ms. Magazine, and many more. (And we’re not even counting the working reporters who were covering the event).

Then there was the entertainment industry, with such celebrities as Edie Falco, Whoppi Goldberg, David Letterman, Ethan Hawke, Tony Shalhoub and Jimmy Fallon saying “I’m coming.” Of course, no event considered important by the entertainment industry would be complete without “the suits,” and a significant compliment of senior executives signed-up from such respected companies as Warner Brothers, Comedy Central, HBO, Billboard, Columbia Records and (of course) Saturday Night Live. 

Then, of course, there were folks from the Drug Policy Alliance, the Center for Tax and Budget Priorities, not to mention, the personal representative of the Dalai Lama…you get the idea.

Eventually, Air America brass got up to speak, receiving a warm reception from highly pumped crowd.  But when CEO Mark Walsh introduced Al Franken, the crowd went wild.

Franken used the opportunity to test-drive the message he would broadcast on-air the next day to officially debut the network.  Example: “When George W. Bush said he was against ‘nation building’ when he ran for president, I didn’t know that we were the only nation he meant.”). The rest of the line-up was then introduced, with everyone warmly received by the crowd.

By 11:00 the crowd had thinned out and most of the principals were gone.  Franken had been one of the first to leave.  After all, he and Mark Walsh were due in make-up for the next morning’s “Today Show” in just a matter of a few hours. 

It would be an amazing day!

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