I was wrong. Let’s …
I was wrong. Let’s make sure we state that first.

Almost 2 years ago, I went on the record in predicting that Al Franken’s show on Air America wouldn’t last 2 years. Well, it’s still around. The network has managed to weather poor ratings, financial troubles, and a full-blown financial scandal. It’s had some help from big money backers (instead of listeners), an HBO special for some nice PR, and a media that has trumpeted its successes and muted its problems. Air American and Al Franken got by with a little (or a lotta) help from their friends.

I tried to find a recent comparison of Air America and the Salem Radio Network. SRN has a couple of slates of hosts; one for specifically Christian stations, and one for the general market with right-of-center hosts. The latest information I could find was from, of all places, Mother Jones magazine from last December.

Today Salem is the second-fastest-growing radio chain in the nation. The left—which for years dismissed evangelical activists as out-of-touch zealots—has nothing on the radio dial even close to Salem’s reach and influence. Air America is broadcast on 70 stations and owns none. Salem owns 103 stations in the nation’s largest markets and broadcasts to more than 1,900 affiliates. It owns radio stations in New York City, San Francisco, Chicago, Dallas, and Atlanta. In fact, it doesn’t own just one station in those markets. It owns two—sometimes more. In Los Angeles it owns four. In Honolulu it owns seven. It also owns 62 websites and a magazine publishing division.

Now, SRN’s been around a pretty long time, but they only recently had a full day’s worth of talk radio programming. Bill Bennett’s show, for example, started around the same time as Al Franken’s. And yet a year ago, Bennett was the 25th biggest talk show in the country, and none of the Air America hosts beat him. I’ve heard anecdotal evidence that the trend has continued, but can’t find stats online at the moment. (Perhaps when the official 2 year anniversary of AAR arrives on May 1.)

In any event, while I was wrong with my prediction, I’m crying all the way to the radio. Them I’m smiling.

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