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Air America shuts down

Left-wing radio network ceases live programming

Left-wing radio network Air America Media shut down its live programming operations Thursday, with the company announcing it would file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

In a statement posted on the Air America website, chairman Charlie Kireker cited the “difficult economic environment” as a primary cause of the network’s demise.

With radio industry ad revenues down for 10 consecutive quarters, and reportedly off 21% in 2009, signs of improvement have consisted of hoping things will be less bad,” Kireker said. “And though Internet/new-media revenues are projected to grow, our expanding online efforts face the same monetization and profitability challenges in the short term confronting the Web operations of most media companies.”

Air America launched in 2004 in a bid to counter the dominance of right-wing talkers in the radio market. Network featured such names as future Sen. Al Franken and Janeane Garofalo, along with future stars like Rachel Maddow. Its reach extended to approximately 100 radio outlets nationwide.

But Air America battled problems from the start, temporarily losing outlets in Chicago and Santa Monica just as it was going on air, replacing its CEO and programming veep a month after launch, then filing for bankruptcy in 2006 before being rescued by Green Family Media.

In recent years, Montel Williams, Ron Reagan and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. were among the personalities on Air America’s airwaves; there were also music programs manned by Steve Earle and Chuck D.

The company said that Thursday will have been the last day of regular pay for current employees. Those with at least six months of service would receive a severance package.

Air America is offering repeat programming through Monday evening and then will cease to exist on the air.

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