NEW YORK — Air America locked down its marquee star Wednesday, signing humorist Al Franken as host for another three years.
“I re-signed with Air America in order to spend less time with my family,” Franken said.
Liberal talker also announced that Real Networks founder and CEO Rob Glaser was elected to serve as chairman. He’s an investor and had served on the board since February.
“It’s been a rocky ride,” prexy Jon Sinton said. “But for the first time in this project’s life, we feel we have everything locked down.”
The network announced that it signed affiliation deals to expand its reach to 11 of the top 20 radio markets. Air America is carried by 40 stations and on both satellite radio services, XM Radio and Sirius.
Much was made earlier in the year when Franken signed a one-year deal with the show, leading some to assume his commitment was less than wholehearted.
“I had no idea if I would like being a radio host,” Franken told Daily Variety.
Initially, Sinton said, Air labored under the assumption that liberals lacked broadcast talent and were too nuanced and wimpy to stand up to the right’s machismo.
But the net has managed to build a brand, in part thanks to Fox, which unsuccessfully sued Franken for using the slogan “Fair and Balanced” as the subtitle to his book.
The right wing has built a vast radio infrastructure over the past 30 years, he said. “We’re just trying to gain a foothold in that right-wing landscape.”
Franken’s deal is for two years and an option for a third. Network also signed afternoon host and lefty firebrand Randi Rhodes.
Doug Kreeger, acting CEO and investor, stepped down as planned and will remain an adviser to the company while a search for a permanent CEO continues.