Think Progress is reporting Air America radio will announce filing for bankruptcy protection on Friday according to three independent sources. The company has experienced financial difficulties throughout its existence, continuing to request infusions of capital and suffering the loss of several high-profile hosts. Five employees were laid off Tuesday without severance.
The network has had several controversies since its inception including a funding scandal involving Evan Cohen. Air America Radio funneled $875,000 dollars from Gloria Wise Boys and Girls Club, a not-for-profit, in the form of a "loan" to fund its operations. Due to of the less-than-ethical funding arrangement, Gloria Wise Boys and Girls Club has been disbanded.
In another incident, The Randi Rhodes Show aired a skit that could have been interpreted as advocating the execution of the President George W. Bush. Several of the shows have been accused as fostering bigotry against Christians, Catholics in particular, and have been seen as lowering the dignity of political debate.
In a comment on Think Progress on the matter:
The right wing is sure to seize on Air America’s financial woes as a sign that progressive talk radio is unpopular. In fact, Air America succeeded at creating something that didn’t exist: the progressive talk radio format.
However, the progressive talk radio format did exist with the variety of IndyMedia projects as well as Pacifica Radio. Air America, however, was the first radio that put through an entire slate of radio shows instead of syndicating individual shows. This has largely caused problems with their expansion as it required stations to pick up the entire network for 24 hours a day instead of the most popular shows.
Ratings have shown that Air America has never been able to compete with rival Rush Limbaugh. However, Air America has brought a new broadcast model into talk radio and has led to similar projects. For instance, Wide Awakes Radio is an internet-only talk radio broadcast station that focuses on conservative content.
Air America's troubled past has finally caught up to them. Board shakeups, hosts leaving, and shady financing have all contributed to the demise of the station. Air America Radio has not returned calls for comment as of this writing.