I can't say I'm surprised, or particularly disappointed. Although Air America was touted as the Left's answer to rightwing talk radio, which dominates the airwaves, there were always issues with how progressive Air America ever really was. Randi Rhodes, for example, was casually transphobic, homophobic, and misogynist as it suited her shtick, and there were instances of naked racism on the channel.
The problem with Air America from the get-go was that much of the programming (with a few notable exceptions) was progressive only insomuch as people who hated George Bush were considered de facto "progressives" by fauxgressives who don't give a damn about social progress.
And then there's the question of how well-matched progressivism and the talk radio format are in the first place. In October '06, when Air America first filed for bankruptcy, I explained my indifference to the liberal radio channel:
I'm ostensibly the perfect target audience for Air America, and I can't frigging stand it. Obviously, it's not because I disagree with what they're saying most of the time, but because I just find political talk radio absolute shit no matter who it is or what they're saying.Talk radio just doesn't suit me. Or I don't suit it. And I suspect that there are an awful lot more progressives who strongly prefer to engage with information, who gravitate toward interactive news sources, which might suggest that the medium of talk radio was going to struggle to build a sustainable audience.
The thing about talk radio is that the discussions just hang in the air and I can't wrap my hands around them. If someone says something, and I think, "That can't be right, can it?" I have to note it, then go research it—and half the time they don't even cite sources, because the nature of the medium doesn't really accommodate such detail, so I'm stumbling around in the dark trying to find the origin of some esoteric statistic or whatever. Books have endnotes, or footnotes. Blogs have links. People can be asked, "Where did you get that number?" I'm not good at being a passive receiver of information.
Or maybe I'm overthinking it and Air America was just garbage.
In any case, Senator Al Franken and MSNBC Host Rachel Maddow are probably a pretty good result, in the end.