She's Back

JonBenét brings out the media's worst -- again.

The rest of us are similarly in the dark about the Ramsey melodrama as a whole. Karr could be JonBenét's assassin or a false confessor as desperate for attention as Tracey appeared to be -- and at present, either prospect seems equally plausible. But whichever way the facts turn, count on the Rocky and just about every other mainstream news purveyor to trot out flirty photos and video of the littlest Ramsey every chance they get.

If JonBenét had been resting in peace before this, she's not doing so now.

Air American: These days, comedian/author Al Franken is pouring his energy into collecting cash for Democratic candidates; to learn more about his appearance at an August 24 fundraiser, see page 31. But he remains at the helm of a midday show on Air America, heard locally on AM-760 -- and he regards the survival of the program, and the network it's on, as a significant achievement. "If you'd said three years ago, 'You're going to be on eighty-some stations around the country by 2006,' I would have taken that," he maintains.

Michael Tracey willingly faces the media masses.
Michael Roberts
Michael Tracey willingly faces the media masses.

Nevertheless, Air America faces no shortage of challenges. AM-760 may be known as "Boulder's Progressive Talk," but its ratings haven't progressed much; they're down from this quarter last year. And things are tougher in some other markets. Although Franken's show is heard in Atlanta, the rest of the Air America slate was recently deep-sixed -- and in New York and Cincinnati, the net had to switch stations. Some reports insist that lower-than-anticipated audience numbers prompted the last two swaps, which Franken disputes in relation to New York and acknowledges in Cincy. But he believes any suggestion that Air America is about to collapse is wishful right-wing thinking.

"Bill O'Reilly goes on his show and says we'll be off the air in a couple of months -- and he started saying that when we had four stations," Franken asserts. "And then he said it when we had eight, and twelve, and twenty and thirty. He says it all the time, but we're still here." One reason is Air America's advertiser-friendly demographics; according to Franken, they skew younger than O'Reilly's in New York by two decades.

Another plus, Franken feels, is that he's improving as a host. "I think I know how to prepare better. I'm fairly good at reading a guest in terms of will they go a certain place or won't they. And I think I know when to let my guest speak and not interrupt them -- even if I have a joke."

That way, he can have the last laugh.

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