‘Air America’ bankruptcy not stopping Al Franken’s political musings

Air America Radio, the liberal talk and news radio network, sought bankruptcy court protection after losing $40.9 million since May 2004.  The liberal leaning network seeks this protection despite Air America Radio’s reach into radio stations in the top U.S. markets. In New York it is aired on WWRL AM. Besides key political satirist and potential real candidate for the senate, Al Franken, the on-air personalities include Randi Rhodes and Robert Kennedy Jr.


Apparently Air America will keep broadcasting after receiving court permission to use $900,000 in financing from Democracy Allies LLC today, Tracy Klestadt, a bankruptcy lawyer for the company, said in a statement to the press.


“I think they’re not going to make it in this current form,” said Paul Levinson, media studies chairman at Fordham University in New York.  “It’s a sad day because we need as much political diversity in our media as possible.”


Allegedly a creditor froze the bank accounts of Piquant LLC, which operates as Air America, the court filing shows. Piquant said Multicultural Radio Broadcasting Inc. A spokeswoman for Multicultural has not issued any comments. Court papers show Piquant owes Multicultural $550,245.


But the larger question looms despite the financial woes of the left of center radio pundit pulpit, is Franken just a comedian or a genuine politician in the making?


When asked by journalists if he is in fact vying for Norm Coleman’s seat in the senate from the great state of Minnesota, Franken plays it cagey.


Franken is at the height of his game currently. Franken has penned three bestsellers, and a strange documentary, God Spoke,  that opens with a staged scene echoing a Mel Brooks outtake from The History of the World, Part 1, with Franken in his Moses schmatte, carrying stone tablets and listening to the thundering voice of God – in actuality it is actually Franken’s own voice, which is merely the start of the echo chamber effect this movie produces about his transition into politics.


Franken is adept at working real politics and layering his deeds with entertainment, last year the launch of Franken’s Midwest Values PAC, a formidable fund raising organization that caters exclusively to Minnesota Democrats in tight races.


Norm Coleman, the GOP senator whom Franken may challenge in 2008, has complained that the PAC’s source of revenue so far has come from the celebrities Franken keeps close to his vest.


“Hollywood values aren’t Midwest,” Coleman said in a recent interview with the Star Tribune, “and the money isn’t Midwest.”


Regardless of the funds origin, the greenbacks make a difference.  Despite his political novice experience, Franken’s MVP has directed a sizeable chunk of war chest funds,to the tune of $800,000 to needy Democratic candidates.  This PAC is a bona fide player.


A Senate race for Franken will not be able, legally, to dip into the MVP PAC warchest, yet Democrats who are aided by Franken’s Dem would most likely help him in kind.


Franken is in a gold rush of material to show off his satirical and comedic roots, with Page sex scandals, Bush-isms that seem to be getting worse these days, and Republican party turmoil that has the middle of the road pragmatic Barry Goldwater types trying to distance themselves the righteous religious bible thumpers.


In Franken’s documentary, The tagline is “Taking America back one laugh at a time,” which almost suits its preview throughout. That is, until the end, when the music cuts, Franken drops his grin for a second and we witness him announce to an audience of a few hundred people that he’s considering a 2008 Senate run against Minnesota’s Norm Coleman.


Immediately after, a clip shows Franken suggesting that if he opts to run, he “would be the only New York Jew in the race who grew up in Minnesota.”


At one point in the doc, Franken confronts Henry Kissinger at a party, Franken shows Kissinger the impression he does of him.  The doc covers two years, and follows Franken through the 2004 presidential campaign.


Air America’s biggest broadcast affiliate, Clear Channel Communications Inc., said it will stick with the network.  “We will continue to air the best available programming from within the genre, regardless of origin, including Air America,” said Gabe Hobbs, a vice president of programming at Clear Channel Radio, in an e-mailed statement.


Air America’s programs are on 24 Clear Channel stations, a company spokeswoman said. Piquant said it has 92 U.S. affiliates, in an e-mailed statement.


Court records show that the company owes creditors $20.3 million, including $360,750 to Al Franken, of Minneapolis. RealNetworks Inc. Chairman Robert Glaser is owed $9.82 million and was listed as chairman of Piquant in the court filing.


The case is In re Piquant LLC, No. 06-12423, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

Note the date on this article may be incorrect due to importing it from our old system.

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