Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Saving Air America

Pull the ring behind her neck

ED.24.1-7. Neal Boortz is all worried. Michelle Malkin and Brian Maloney have been chopping away at Air America with giant scandal axes, which doesn't help even if the New York Times politely turns its head away from the prospect of any wrongdoing, and now the fledgling network is in so much financial trouble that it's resorted to an NPR-style fundraising gimmick: worthless little knickknacks in exchange for cold cash.

Neal's afraid that Air America is finally going to crash into oblivion, which means the Democrats in Congress would suddenly remember how important it is to have a Fairness Doctrine again. By their definition of "fairness," Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Neal Boortz wouldn't be allowed to have any free speech unless everything they said on the radio could be immediately refuted by liberals.

No more Neal Boortz. Think about it. No more Sean Hannity. Think about that. But the consequences wouldn't all be good. Not every talk radio conservative is a half educated ninny in love with the sound of his own voice. Or, eventually, some could come along who aren't. Only they won't be able to if there's a restoration of the Fairness Doctrine. So maybe we should consider giving Air America some good advice about how to raise more money and stay on the air.

We had a pretty intense session about it. There was a big bottle of bourbon involved and some hot towels wrapped around our heads to warm up the big brains inside. The result was a three point plan, beginning with some long term strategy and concluding with some immediate steps to fend off the wolves at the door. Here's the gist.

1. Long Term. Air America's on-air personalities should make a few changes in their broadcast styles. For example, they could try to be at least slightly interesting, entertaining, funny, and perceptive. Yes, it's not easy, but all kinds of untalented people do manage to make a living in radio, and a lot of them do better than zero in the ratings. What do they do that's so different? They don't spend half their time talking about a five-year-old election, a three-year-old decision to go to war, a one-year-old election that wasn't even that close, and a President who will never run for office again. They also do very few unpaid commercials about how glorious it is for women to have fetuses sucked out of their uteruses with hospital-white vacuum cleaners. And they don't spend the rest of their time turning over every rock and pebble looking for racist insinuations. These are all subjects that everyone has already heard everything they want to hear about, and it's just boring to bring any of it up again. If you want to captivate an audience, try having an idea about how to fix some problem that doesn't involve taking and spending more of the money your audience would like to spend for themselves. It's possible there are classes at your local community college in how to become interesting, entertaining, funny, and perceptive. Or maybe you could find an on-line course on the Internet. The truth is, even if you spent all your time telling your audience about how hard you were looking for courses like this, it would be more interesting and entertaining than a bunch of sly innuendoes about how much smarter you are than everybody else. Remember, the longest journey begins with a single step.

2. Medium Term. Radio is, contrary to what your friends at NPR may have told you, a business. The key to becoming successful at it is called "selling advertising." We'll explain. Whether you know it or not, there are tons and tons of people in your broadcast markets who make their living not by screaming imprecations at Republicans, but by selling goods and services to people who want or need them. Now -- and this is key -- the role that radio can play in all this is to help the people who are selling goods and services to inform the people who might want or need them how they can procure them and for what price. These kinds of communications are generally prerecorded and played in between your hysterical rants for money. That's right. People will pay you money to play their recorded communications to potential customers. To get hold of this money you need to do two things: 1) go look for people who want to pay you money for running their advertisements; and 2) make sure the stuff you air in between the advertisements is interesting, entertaining, funny, and perceptive (See Long Term item above.) This is definitely a subject you could learn about in your local community college, and you could learn it for a lot less money than you shelled out to learn that crap you studied at Harvard.

3. Short Term. Yes, we know. You're liberals. This is the only one you're interested in. So we're going to be very very specific, and maybe just a little bit brutal. That web page of yours? The one where you're begging for money in exchange for bumper stickers or a tote bag? It's a total loser. Sorry. Hell, you're not even offering that thong you used to show on your website. If people are going to give you money, they want something in return that's at least cool, if not valuable. "Cool" means with it, up to date, au courant -- in other words, Now. We understand that you Democrats don't have anything like that. Everything you've got is a retread like Hillary, a throwback like Dean, or a creaky dinosaur like Gore and Kerry. So here's what we suggest. Find something, or someone, that is popular, exciting, sexy, provocative, and capable of attracting beaucoup attention. Create some product  which leverages all that appeal and link it as well as you can to Air America. Our suggestion? The Air America Ann Coulter Doll pictured above, decked out in your overstocked thong and a bikini top sporting your dumb Department of Homeland Hilarity logo. (She made money with a doll. Why shouldn't you?) Pay Ann Coulter a percentage of the gross to record something nice about Air America. Then sell the whole kit and caboodle for $1000 a pop. It just might work. But whatever else you do, lose the tote bag and the bumper stickers. Nobody cares. Nobody.

That's the best we could do. Tell Neal we tried.

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