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I find it amazing that Air America got off the ground amid scandals, went bankrupt, fired several of my favorite show hosts, got yanked off the air in several markets, and YET... millions of us are still fiercely loyal because we love our liberal radio and we all know that it's about freaking time the left had an antidote to Rush.

And yet... why is our radio failing? Maybe because AAR and their affiliates are about as competent as the Republican party. When they go on the air at affiliate stations around the country, often conservative companies are in charge. They flip their least successful station to Air America - often a station with a poor signal - and then don't advertise it. At all. Some people think they do it so they can fight off a new fairness doctrine, so they can say "See, we tried liberal radio. It failed."

Only it doesn't fail. And then they yank us off the air anyway. Which is why I am delighted to announce a NEW form a liberal radio. One that liberals can count on being run WELL - no scandals, no weak signals, no firing the most popular show hosts. Read on...

So here's the plan. We've got a skilled management team, a tried and true talk radio lineup, a strong signal (10,000 watts), a great board of advisers - Robert Greenwald of Brave New Films, Jim Dean of Democracy for America, and Gov. Michael Dukakis, who I proudly voted for in my elementary school's mock election - and we are ON THE AIR.

We're on the air on one station. With one show. And, um, we plan to expand. Nationally. Hear me out.

You may know Jon Elliott, formerly of Air America. He lives here in San Diego. I didn't know it, but he had a long and successful career in business before he got into talk radio. So when San Diego lost its Air America affiliate (thanks, Clear Channel) back in November 2007, Jon Elliott went to work to get us a new station.

As a businessman, he saw an obvious market. If there are enough wingnuts in this country to listen to several wingnut stations, surely there are enough liberals to listen to ONE liberal station. And in fact, despite their best attempts to totally fail, the liberal stations still get good ratings. In other words, it's a brilliant business opportunity. As Clear Channel pulls the plug on Air America in market after market, they are practically setting us up for success.

Just think about it. You've already got a city - let's say San Diego - that has a listening population already familiar with the various shows and talk show hosts - and now they have nothing to listen to. Well... there's the internet. Except, I can say, as an internet listener myself, it's getting harder and harder.

I subscribed to Air America's podcasts, but they seem intent on firing or driving away all of the best hosts. Thom's gone, Randi's gone, Jon's gone, Rachel's on TV, and Stephanie was never there. You know who IS on Air America? Montel Williams - a Republican.

So Jon Elliott found a management team, found a station, put together a tentative line-up (Bill Press, Stephanie Miller, Thom Hartmann, Randi Rhodes, Jon Elliott, and Ed Schultz), and found some funding. Great. All set to go. And then the economy tanked. And the funding went bye-bye.

It seems that the investor was ready to put up the cash as long as we could project good ad sales. When the economy crashed, ad revenues dried up across the board. Suddenly, our predicted ad sales weren't gonna cut it.

But Jon Elliott didn't give up. He came up with a Plan B. We're going for a hybrid model. Some of the money will come from ads. The rest will have to come from listeners. Jon figured we could ask people for $10/month to become "members." We'll make sure they get more than their $10 worth in return (they get podcasts plus other stuff... details below), but the real benefit is that liberal radio gets on the air.

So that's where we're at. Step 1 is that Jon Elliott goes on the air on San Diego's 1700 AM. You can listen to him wherever you live in the country, on the internet. He's on daily at 3pm-6pm Pacific. Then we start recruiting members. When our investors see that we've got the cash, they'll put up the money so we can have our full lineup on the air. We're hoping to do that by January. That's Step 2.

Step 3 is that we expand. Jon's previous business experience involves franchising. He figures that we can find investors in other cities and then we'll provide them with everything they need to get liberal radio on the air. With strong radio signals, good marketing, and always a local show host on the air for either morning or afternoon drive.

So if you live in Eugene, OR or Little Rock, AR, or Atlanta, GA, Memphis, TN, Sacramento, CA, Washington, DC, or Phoeonix, AZ or any of the other cities that had but no longer have Air America stations, we might be able to bring liberal radio back to your city.

Now, none of that can happen if we don't get the San Diego station off the ground. Translation: We need members. If you can spare $10/mo, head on over to http://www.jontalk.com and sign up.

Also, the San Diego station might also help the country by sending another Democrat to Congress. San Diego county has 5 districts - 3 Republican, 2 Democrat. The Republicans are Daryl Issa, Duncan Hunter Jr, and Brian Bilbray. I know. We send real winners to DC.

Bilbray replaced Duke Cunningham when he went to jail. That's in CA-50. He beat Democrat Francine Busby, and she is now running again. The election was close in the past, and San Diego is trending blue. A new radio station can (and, in the opinion of Congressional expert Howie Klein, WILL) put Francine Busby over the top.

So $10/mo will get you (go here to sign up):

  1. Definitely a radio station in San Diego
  1. Hopefully an extra Democrat in the House
  1. Hopefully a Democratic CA governor in 2010
  1. Lots of liberal radio around the country
  1. Maybe a radio station where you live
  1. Podcasts from the radio station in San Diego (which will have an all-star line-up)
  1. And other "stuff"

What does "stuff" mean? We're working on that. If you live in San Diego, it WILL mean invites to member-only events. It might also mean discounts to local restaurants, theatre, or other venues. Jon's incredibly ambitious on trying to come up with ways to give people a lot of value for their $10.

For people who don't live in San Diego, we aren't forgetting that you can't exactly hop your corporate jet and come to our member-only shindigs. So we'll send you something fun too, whether that's books, DVDs, T-shirts (all liberal themed, of course) - we're working that out.

If that sounds like a good deal to you, go here to sign up. And please forward this diary to friends and family, particularly if you know anyone who lives in San Diego.

Last - Jon Elliott is going to swing by DailyKos tomorrow to liveblog and answer questions/read comments. He'll be here at 11am PDT. If we can get him a UID set up that allows him to post, he'll post as himself. Otherwise, we'll log in as me. Please stop by tomorrow at 11am Pacific to say hi!

Originally posted to Jill Richardson on Wed May 20, 2009 at 11:00 AM PDT.

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