Air America going dark

aar_franken.gi.top.jpgAl Franken, now a U.S. senator, was an early Air America personality.By Julianne Pepitone, staff reporter


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Liberal talk radio network Air America is planning to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the company said Thursday.

"The very difficult economic environment has had a significant impact on Air America's business," according to a statement on the network's Web site. It cited a "perfect storm" in the media industry and plummeting advertising revenues.

The statement went on to say that the company's debt was piling up as its credit lines shrank.

A representative for Air America confirmed the statement's accuracy but declined to comment further.

Starting at 6 p.m. ET Thursday, Air America will broadcast "encore programming" though Jan. 25 and then cease to air. Current employees will be paid through Thursday, and severance packages will be offered Friday to full-time employees with more than six months of tenure.

Formerly known as Air America Radio, the network launched in 2004 with personalities including Rachel Maddow and Al Franken, now a Democratic U.S. senator from Minnesota.

In October 2006, Air America Radio filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection but was able to stay on the air while it reorganized. Green Family Media bought the network in March 2007, and it eventually grew to 100 radio outlets nationwide.

The network called itself "the only full-time progressive voice in the mainstream broadcast media world" at the time of its launch, according to its statement Thursday. Air America presented dissenting views on issues like the Iraq War at a time when such statements "were often denounced as 'un-American,' " the statement continued.

But the changing media industry crippled the network's growth.

"With radio industry ad revenues down for 10 consecutive quarters, and reportedly off 21% in 2009, signs of improvement have consisted of hoping things will be less bad," the statement said.

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