Come Monday: Air America?

When we ran a piece on Air America Radio two weeks ago (“Air America—are you listening?” SN&R Arts&culture, April 15), we jumped the gun. The fledgling liberal network had issued a press release on April 11 that named KSQR 1240 AM, a Sacramento station undergoing a change of ownership, as its local affiliate. A spokesperson for the New York-based Air America stated that the station would be on the air by the end of that week. To anyone who tuned in, that obviously didn’t happen.

But the good news, at least for anyone who would like an alternative to Rush Limbaugh and other AM talkers with a pronounced conservative bias, is that 1240 AM should be up and running by next Monday. Air America Radio will supply the station’s weekday programming mix, from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Included are the shows Morning Sedition, with Mark Riley, Sue Ellicott and Marc Maron, from 6 to 9 a.m.; Unfiltered, with Lizz Winstead, Chuck D and Rachel Maddow, from 9 a.m. to noon; The O’Franken Factor, with Al Franken and Katherine Lanpher, from noon to 3 p.m.; and The Randi Rhodes Show from 3 to 7 p.m. Not included is the hour-long So What Else Is News? with University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication professor Marty Kaplan, which airs from 7 to 8 p.m. elsewhere, or The Majority Report, with Janeane Garofalo and Sam Seder, which airs from 8 to 11 p.m. Also not included is Air America’s weekend programming—The Laura Flanders Show, along with a Saturday-night music show, Bring the Noise, hosted by Chuck D.

That is, if the deal happens. KSQR has been owned by a Southern California company, Moon Broadcasting, which has operated the station—historically, KROY, one of the area’s oldest stations—as a Spanish-language outlet. According to Air America, KSQR is being acquired by Diamond Broadcasting, a company that, until recently, operated the FM R&B and hip-hop station KBMB 103.5 “The Bomb.” KBMB was placed in receivership last October and is in the process of being sold to a Spanish-language chain named Entravision, which already operates three Spanish-language FM stations in the area.

If everything falls into place, Air America will be on the air here on Monday, May 3. One reason for the delay, according to Air America executive vice president Javier Saade, is that the network’s clocks were being reconfigured to make them more “affiliate-friendly.” For those unfamiliar with radio-business speak, that means the network is designing more flexibility into how it constructs its hourly blocks of programming, in order to allow its affiliates the opportunity to sell local advertising, or to work around existing contracts with, say, ABC News for hourly updates. How that translates locally is this, according to Saade: “KSQR made the decision to wait until Air America Radio’s new programming clocks go into effect,” he said, “which is Monday.”