Tuesday, November 16, 2004

AIR AMERICA COMES TO SANTA FE

As published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
November 16, 2004


Conservative Republicans might control the White House, Congress and the Supreme Court, but the right-wing dominance of a local talk-radio station is about to end as the unabashedly liberal Air America network readies to start broadcasting at KTRC 1260 AM in Santa Fe.


“Santa Fe is a natural for us,” said Jon Sinton, president of Air America, in a telephone interview Monday. “We’re very excited.”

Air America, which broadcasts on more than 40 stations and two satellite networks, features shows hosted by left-of-center entertainers such as comedians Al Franken and Janeane Garofalo, Chuck D and Steve Earle as well as liberal commentators such as Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Mike Malloy and Randi Rhodes.

The network was supposed to begin airing on KTRC on Monday, but technical difficulties with satellite equipment delayed the debut until today or Wednesday, Sinton said.

KTRC, which is owned by the AGM radio group, for years broadcast left-leaning programs from the I.E. America Network, which was affiliated with the United Auto Workers union.

However, I.E. America shut down early this year. KTRC kept one of the old I.E. America shows, The Thom Hartmann Radio Program, but added ultra-conservative talk shows such as Worldnet Daily Radio Active.

Last spring, a Texas radio company announced that it would bring Air America to Santa Fe. However, those plans fell through. “I don’t know what happened to those guys,” Sinton said.

More recently Air America picked up an Albuquerque station, KABQ 1350 AM. Reception of that station in Santa Fe is not good, however.

KTRC’s deal with Air America has been in the works for several months, Sinton said. One AGM employee said, “It took awhile to convince (AGM) that this was not the right market for conservative talk.”

In Santa Fe County, Democrats outnumber Republicans 3-to-1. Democrat John Kerry got more than 70 percent of the vote against President Bush earlier this month. The last Republican presidential candidate to carry this county was Richard Nixon in 1972.

“We’re on in liberal communities like Ann Arbor, Mich.; Madison, Wis.; and Portland, Ore.,” Sinton said. “But our most stimulating debut was in San Diego, which is a very conservative city.”

According to the Web site for the San Diego Union-Tribune, Arbitron ratings in September showed that KLSD AM, which broadcasts Air America, was the No. 1 station with listeners between the ages of 25 and 54.

Despite the new left turn of KTRC, Al Franken and company will have to share the station with a prominent conservative talk-show host for a few weeks.

Because of contractual obligations, Michael Reagan, the son of the late former President Ronald Reagan, will continue to broadcast his show week nights on KTRC.

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