I have to 'fess up. I spoke too soon.
According to the tradepaper Inside Radio, Air America (the new liberal talk radio network) is zooming in its second week after a sluggish start. I made a lot of hay over the fact that the network was only carried on five or six stations when it debuted, but it's now time to eat crow. The station roster is now up to 16 (having just bought air time in such lucrative markets as Colorado Springs and Portland, Maine), leaving Air America just 584 stations behind Rush Limbaugh (though Limbaugh is still actually paid to do his program).
But that's not all. According to Inside Radio, "streaming may be the unexpected hit medium for the new liberal talknet -- with 58,000 simultaneous users at one point yesterday." 58,000! Nationwide! This sudden surge in listenership moves Air America to within 19,942,000 listeners of Limbaugh.
My apologies for having doubted the commercial potential of liberal talk radio.
UPDATE: I just saw this at Radio and Records, another trade paper: "Breaking News: Air America off in L.A., Chicago. Details soon." That certainly makes the glass seem half-empty, but they neglect to mention that Air America added Colorado Springs and Portland, ME. Let's have a little perspective here!
UPDATE 2: Radio and Records has confirmed that the network has been dropped in L.A. and Chicago. Neither station (which are both owned by the same company) will comment other than to confirm the network's removal. My own guess: Air America's check bounced.
So they added ten stations like Maine, Colorado Springs, and West Palm Beach, and lost Los Angeles and Chicago. Any speculation as to how the mainstream media will play this story? Here's my entry: "Air America shows net gain of eight stations."