Thursday, January 21, 2010

Air America Dies, Failing to Make Transition to Web

Air America is kaput. The left-wing political radio and Internet media operation has struggled since its launch in 2004, and failed in its last-ditch effort to make a major impact on the Web

In a memo sent to staff today and repeated on the company's homepage, Air America Media Chair Charlie Kireker wrote, "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."

The company aired its last live program this afternoon, and plans to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy soon, according to the memo. It blamed a "very difficult economic environment," along with drastically dropping national and local ad revenues.

In October, the firm made a last ditch online effort, launching a redesigned site featuring live streaming audio and video, on-demand content, and even a new logo. Not long after, in December, the firm's first chief digital officer departed after around a year of trying to morph Air America from a talk radio company to a full-fledged digital media operation with true relevance in the world of politics.

The firm had its work cut out for it. It went through bankruptcy in 2006, allowing other political media firms to step in and grab the online audience it may have built for itself.

The company's decision not to fill the chief digital officer role, and instead give its directors of technology and digital strategy additional responsibilities, may have been a harbinger of Air America's ultimate demise.

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