Monday, April 09, 2007

Breaking News
Seder Out, Lionel In as AAR's Morning Host

It is no secret that Sam Seder is out as a weekday host on Air America Radio. It’s been discussed on blogs for weeks and was confirmed last night by Seder himself. Now it is no secret about who is going to replace the veteran AAR talker, who started his talk radio career as the co-host (to Jeneane Garofolo) on the Majority Report when the liberal talk network launched on March 31, 2004.

In a press release this morning AAR announced that its new morning host will be Lionel. So much for rumors published here and elsewhere that Seder’s replacement would be Marc Maron, Stephanie Miller, and even AAR’s new president Mark Green.

Yes, Lionel, the quirky late night talker, who is syndicated on a few dozen stations as a late night alternative to the ascerbic Mike Malloy, the articulate John Elliott and the bland Alan Colmes, will now be competing for the desirable morning time slot against talk powerhouse Stephanie Miller. Miller currently, owns the 9am-12 noon ET time slot, with clearances on lib talk stations with about 75% of current listeners.

It was not clear from the release whether Lionel will give up his evening show or his evening time slots. We will post this information now and hopefully have some answers to these and other questions later in the day.

The good news for Seder fans is that he will not be leaving the lib talk network. The release states he will be moving to Sunday afternoons, 4-7pm ET, with a brand new show, “Seder on Sunday” The show will be a recap and review of the Sunday morning talk shows. Seder will focus on two areas that are of high interest to him and AAR listeners -- the networks and the netroots, with a special emphasis on bloggers as guests.

Seder is the sixth original daily AAR talk show host to leave the network. The others were Liz Winstead, Chuck Dee, Mike Malloy, Al Franken, Garofalo and Maron. The only original AAR talkers still dong a weekday show are Mark Riley, Randi Rhodes, and Rachel Maddow.

"Lionel will be an eclectic mixture of current events and off-the-wall topics infused with his special brand of humor," said Mark Green. "Because he's one of the biggest names in talk radio, Lionel will be a very important addition to our line-up and affiliate base.”

"Air America is about one thing: radio. Not about ideology, but democracy. Radio that’s an alternative to the usual, bumper sticker Rush wannabe. Radio that’s listenable," said Lionel. "My goal is to garner and gather listeners. If you’ve got a radio, I’m your guy. Listeners want smart, funny, thoughtful, thinking, entertaining talk radio. With that in mind, my first show for Air America will be 'Great Polkas of the 20th Century.'

Lionel has resisted being called a liberal. He prefers libertarian. It will interesting to see if his show becomes more political now that he’s part of the AAR team.


Emacee said...

The page content has been updated but the problem with the page display has not been fixed. Portions of the new story are difficult to impossible to read with little or no contrast between text and background.
Baroosk: Please correct this.
FireFox Users: On the Firefox Help Menu select "Report Broken Broken Website." Select "Appearance Wrong" from the drop-down menu.

Emacee said...

Some of us have been saying AAR should hire people with radio experience; that does not mean ANYBODY with radio experience.

Lionel has been doing a late night show running mostly as the lone non-right winger on stations with a right-wing line-up - plus being Hannity's straw man on Fox. Now he proposes to move to almost prime time on stations with a progressive talk format. This has no chance unless he comes up with a very different show from the one he does now.

So far, committed liberals have been AAR's core audience and they have shown little willingness to accept Colmes, whom they see as not standing up to Hannity. Then again, maybe AAR thinks Colmes can extend AAR's reach beyond committed liberals.

Will Colmes continue to do his the TV gig with Hannity? Does this put AAR in the position of promoting a show on Fox News?

In all likelihood, AAR had to come up with more buck$ for Colmes than he is getting from WOR. To pay his way at AAR, Colmes will have to do better than just keeping AAR's handful of remaining stations now carrying Seder; in other words, he needs to get more stations than the current remnant of turnkeys lacking the automation equipment which allows them to switch between the AAR and the Jones satellite feeds (plus WWRL). Unlike some posters, I think Colmes' late-night radio show is OK but up against Steph, he will be fighting way over his weight. He did have some modest success getting libtalk clearances in the evening, but this is a whole different situation.

This seems like a triumph for name recognition over a good programming move.

If they'd wanted to pick up an established late night host for late morning, they'd have done better with Phil Hendrie.

And there are two outstanding liberal hosts sitting on the sidelines. I wonder if Bernstein even thought of Phil Donahue or Michael Jackson?

scullygrrrl said...

emacee, I think you have Lionel confused with Alan Colmes. Lionel's last name is "Lebron," I believe. Alan at least calls himself a progressive. I would rather it was Alan than Lionel, who refers to himself as a "libertarian," as if he really knows what that is.

I'm going to puke.

barooosk said...

Lionel and Alan Colmes are two different. While it is true that Lionel is carried on several mostly conservative talk stations, his show has been distributed by WOR Radio not Fox. Also, Lionel has nothing to do with Fox or the Hannity and Colmes Show.

NYLefty said...

Lionel is currently carried on 92 stations and Seder is on 16, so if only half (or even a quarter) of Lionel's current affiliates pick up his AAR feed, AAR will be ahead of the game. And no, Lionel will not continue on the WOR network...WOR is currently looking for a replacement. This looks to me like a smart move by the new AAR owners, who have to shake things up to finally make a profit, even if it means alienating the relatively tiny number of Seder fans.

Jill said...

Perhaps WOR should consider Sam Seder. I hear he got bumped from his weekday show. /snark

Anonymous said...

As someone within the industry, with hands on "progressive talk" radio experience, I can tell you this is a smart move for AAR - from a business AND programming perspective.

I know this will come as a shock and disapointment to some of you, but the format has got to start speaking beyond the choir. You wonder why "progressive talk" is not doing as well as it should? It's not about crappy signals, it's not about a Clear Channel conspiracy, it's because too many hosts are all about message and not about entertaining and bringing people into the tent!

Sorry guys, this is show business. It doesn't mean having to dumb down, it has everything to do with creating programming that people will find interesting, compelling, memerable, worth coming back to, something you can't wait to tell other people about your "discovery." I gotta tell you, there's not many "progressive" hosts who bring that to the table. Stephanie, Randi, usually Big Eddie, Mike Malloy (often for the wrong reasons!), even Mark Maron had it sometimes, but that's about it.

Lionel is a great move. And I can tell you that a bunch of the format PD's are pissing in their pants right now, tryng to figure out what to do - they love Stephanie but Lionel is a proven winner.

Thinking that Sam, Michael Jackson or Phil Donohue or most of those lame-ass weekend hosts for AAR should be on the weekday schedule is suggesting suicide for the format.

This is what bugs me about many liberals who comment on these blogs - they bitch and moan about how the format is still getting killed by conservative talk - how they can't understand when the country has moved so solidly in their direction - and when something is done to make the format stronger, more vibrant, more effective, they find more reasons to bitch and moan.

Sorry, always been a lurker but some of the comments here - and yes, I know they are just personal opinions and we are all entitield to them - needed a response.

ltr said...

Thought I'd cross the street for a sec.

Anon, if I can call you that, you bring up some very good points. And I just posted something at my blog saying basically the same thing. (please forgive the blatant plug)

Sure, this change hurts many on a gut emotional level, but it was a good business move for AAR. And they needed to do something to make the whole damn thing work. This is a step in that direction.