Air America Radio, just a year and a half old, is poised to grab the top spot in talk-radio for the Portland, Oregon market. Many pundits wrote off the liberal talk-radio enterprise shortly after its inception, but in the last year AAR has grown from 16 stations to 70, and in Portland, it has relegated Sean Hannity's radio station to near the bottom of the trash heap. In this particular market AAR is moving up so fast in the ratings it is likely they have already captured the top-spot from the plummeting Rush Limbaugh, as this article is being written.
The spring Arbitron ratings show that KPOJ (620 AM), which carries the upstart Air America Network with Al Franken, Randi Rhodes, Mike Malloy, and others, has rocketed to the number 5 radio station overall and is the number two talk station in the market, nearly in a dead heat with KEX-AM, the station carrying Rush "Oxycontin" Limbaugh.
Previously KPOJ had been airing golden oldies, drawing a 1 percent share. In the last quarter the AAR affiliate has gained 37% to capture a 4.5 share. In the same 3 months, Limbaugh's station has dropped 7.5% to a 5.0 share. Currently they are in a struggle for number 1 talk station in this market –a battle the sinking Limbaugh is poised to lose to the new station.
Meanwhile KPAM-AM, the station that carries Sean "Chickenhawk" Hannity is in free-fall, losing 22% in the last three months –down to a 1.8 share, registering only a slightly larger audience than Spanish language talk.
Consequently, it looks like many of the pundits were wrong when they made wild claims like "Air America would not be around to see its first birthday", or "nobody listens to Air America", or "left-wing talk radio is not entertaining". On the contrary, many of their shows are extremely entertaining and they are building a fan base across the country. In some markets they are taking off faster than in others, but in this particular market they seem destined to take over the top spot. In the words of Dick Cheney, it will probably be "weeks, not months or years," before Rush Limbaugh too is relegated to the bottom of the trash heap in Portland, Oregon.