Most of the country won't yet get Air America, the new Liberal radio network featuring Al Franken's "The O'Franken Factor" program, which launched today. Even in Los Angeles, where Air America currently is on the air (along with NY, Chicago, Portland, a couple of other cities and on XM Radio) many may have trouble picking it up on it's tiny 1580-am broadcast signal. To make matters worse in L.A., the show is running here on tape delay at Noon, instead of LIVE at it's 9am PT air time. (I guess they're avoiding going direct against Rush out here, but I'm not sure why.)
Nonetheless, with all of those first-day strikes against it, there is some good news to report. For one, the show does stream live on the Internet at 9am PT and offered a far better signal streamed on the net then it does on it's current on-air tape delay broadcast in L.A.
After hearing the first show's live stream, I can report - in general - so far, so good. The first show was head and shoulders above O'Reilly's freshman day on the radio. That would be due in no small part to the smart move of including Katherine Lanpher, a seasoned radio professional, as Franken's co-host. She kept the show moving smartly along without all the amateurish hemming and hawing we got from O'Reilly's first day (and continue to get, quite frankly, from his Radio Factor - although he's much improved.)
A good guest line-up today included former Senator and 9/11 Commissioner Bob Kerry, Liberal icon Michael Moore and a call-in from Al Gore, among others. Also, it seems that Conservative icon Ann Coulter was present as well, though mercifully (for us) locked in the green room in a running gag (and sounding suspiciously like an unbilled Bebe "Dr. Lillith Sternin-Crane" Neuwirth).
Breath-of-fresh-air topics included the lousy deal made by the 9/11 Commission with the Bush Administration for Condoleezza Rice's public testimony in exchange for Bush and Cheney's joint, private, unsworn, unrecorded and untranscribed testimony, Michael Moore's publication of his best-seller "Stupid White Men" originally planned for September 11th, 2001 release and some of the rather stunning Email he's received directly from the troops in Iraq which seem to indicate that perhaps the media (whadda suprise!) may not be reporting the whole story on troop morale and the toll that this whole dubious affair is taking on their psyche.
Obviously, judging a new show of this sort on it's first broadcast is a mistake, so I'll avoid to much criticism or praise just yet, but suffice to say, it's a welcome voice on the Radio, and frankly anywhere in the media which until now has ranged from Far Right to Middle of the Road without a single outlet - anywhere - for the Left. So, welcome to the fray Air America! What took you so long?!