I found the article, Air America, Home of Liberal Talk, Files for Bankruptcy Protection over at the NY Times surprising....
No, I'm not surprised they filed for protection, but more surprised that the NY Times didn't elaborate more on changing usage patterns of Americans when it comes to getting political news.
According to Pew, 26 million Americans or 19% of the US 18+ population now get their political news from the internet on any given day. This new number from August 2006 exceeds the previous high of 21 million Americans from the Presidential Election of 2004 and far ahead of the 2002 mid-term elections (11 million). Does anyone else find it coincidental that Air America was started in Spring, 2004?
I'm sure their business plans were thoroughly vetted. Perhaps back in 2003/2004 when they put them together, their audience forecasts looked reasonable. I'm sure they also included a competitive snapshot of conservative radio ratings. Unfortunately, their audience is now online and in the form of political left wing blogs like Daily Kos.
Hitwise's Bill Tancer wrote a post called Blogs Increasing Influence in Online Politics, showing that a much higher percentage of their political category receives news and links from blogs (5.3%) versus print news (4.3%). Bill also shows a list of top blogs and not surprising the top 5 are all left wing blogs. Charlene Li from Forrester also provides more data that shows 24% of GenYers read blogs and so does 12% of GenXers.
If I had to take a guess, I'd say that the audience for Air America is easily found. They aren't listening to the radio or even Satellite Radio, they are online interacting with their community. If they are listening to commentary, it is being download onto their iPods, not tuning in via a static AM radio broadcast.
What would you rather do? Participate in a social community where people can link to your posts, drive traffic, post comments, and engage in dialog or listen to a one way conversation or a tough two-way version by waiting on hold for 20 minutes to talk with Al Franken for 30 seconds. As any political marketers knows, finding liberal democrats on a blog is like shooting fish in a barrel.
Of course, I'm just piecing together information and looking at it from my own blogging point of view. I'm sure the NY Times had valid reasons for not digging into where the audience is. But then again, maybe they were afraid they might find their audience elsewhere, too.
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