Alert the (Bill) Press: Nova-M goes under
posted at 6:05 pm on February 17, 2009 by Ed Morrissey
Just in case yesterday’s conversation with Megyn Kelly (or his long friendship with Hugh Hewitt) didn’t teach Bill Press about the free market in radio, today’s news about libtalker network Nova-M should. Brian Maloney reports that the syndication network has collapsed, thanks to a lack of revenue:
Libtalk network Nova M Radio has been shut down, according to the attorney for Randi Rhodes, Robert V Gaulin of New York. … Moments ago, Gaulin sent this letter to your Radio Equalizer:
Randi Rhodes’ on-air home for less than a year will shut its doors. In an email message of February 17th from counsel for Nova M Radio, Inc. to Randi’s entertainment attorney, Robert V. Gaulin, the company is said to have been advised to file for bankruptcy protection next week. All payroll deposits were reversed on Tuesday, leaving Nova’s employees unpaid for the past two weeks.
On Sunday, Nova received a letter from Mr. Gaulin asserting that the contract with Ms. Rhodes was terminated due to material breaches and other reasons. Ms. Rhodes had not broadcast for over a week prior to this time, a situation which was diplomatically referred to as a “problem” that was solely within Nova’s control to solve. A few days earlier, Sheldon Drobny, founder of Nova M, and a co-founder of Air America Radio, attempted suicide and is hospitalized in Chicago.
Drobny’s wife Anita confirmed his breakdown and reports that he is receiving treatment. Of course, we hope he recovers, and we’ll keep the family in our prayers.
Brian and Michelle did a lot of reporting on Air America in 2005-6, which included the Drobnys. They attempted to buy up Air America after its first collapse, but got outbid. Instead, they focused on building Nova-M as a syndicator rather than creating a radio network. Apparently, they have had a very difficult time finding enough markets for their talent to turn a profit.
The collapse of Obama 1260 in Washington DC reflected what has been a consistent trend among libtalkers: they don’t get ratings. Bill Press complains that libtalkers get locked out of markets, but Obama 1260 had a good signal in a territory known for its liberal political support. (When was the last time DC voted Republican? Never.) After the election, its ratings disappeared, when one might have expected the wave of support for Barack Obama to result in people flocking to his brand. The owner had to change formats to get advertisers to buy time on the station.
Press claims that ownership is the hurdle for libtalkers and that the government should enforce “fairness” through licensing, but again Obama 1260 is a prime example of why that’s rubbish. The same owner also has a conservative talk station in the same market, which means that he offered the “fairness” that Press demands. Listeners flocked to one station and ran screaming from the other — which is why libtalker syndicator Nova-M just went under.
The show hosts on Nova-M now have to find new syndication, which Brian reports they’ve already begun doing. It’s hard to see how they’ll have much success. If they can’t convince DC residents to listen to liberal radio, they’re not going to find many others outside of San Francisco and New York City.
Update, 6:35 PM: I forgot to add the link to Brian’s post. Also, I don’t think timestamping updates will work well, but I’m willing to try ….
Update 11:18 pm: Oliver Willis dropped me a note to say that Obama 1260 actually didn’t have a good signal, and he lives in the area, so I’ll trust his judgment on this.