This America Undercover documentary charts the long-anticipated rise, scandalous near-fall, and subsequent salvation of Air America Radio, a liberal radio network geared towards those whose opinions skew a bit more to the ... more »"Left of the Dial." Told through verite footage shot at the New York-based station over a nine-month period, the 90-minute film begins with a frenetic pace and never lets up from the network's evolution twelve days before and up to its March, 2004 launch, through a much-publicized scandal involving bounced checks that nearly ended the dream, it concludes with a disappointing 2004 election that spawned new resolve among the talent, staff and management of the station. The film provides revealing profiles of management and on-air talent, ranging from those with little or no past radio experience, to those with national fame (or notoriety). The latter includes noted TV satirist and author Al Franken, whose on-air inaugural words promise, "an end to the right-wing dominance of talk radio, a beginning of a battle for truth, a battle for justice, a battle indeed for America itself." Wishful thinking?« less
"The story of Air America is really an amazing one. Before it ever launched, right wingers were saying it would never make it. A few days after it was on the air you had Bill O'Reilly saying "Is that still on?" And Ann Coulter saying "Nobody listens to Air America." The company had very poor management in charge and ended up losing Los Angeles and Chicago. It looked like Air America was going to flop. But because of the on air talent, most notably Randi Rhodes, it survived. People may tune in initially to hear Al Franken, but it's Randi that keeps people coming back day after day. The company is nearly two years old and it's already got over 70 stations. It's ratings are still far behind Rush Limbaugh's but he's been on for over 20 years and broadcasts from over 600 stations. So when he talks about Air America's ratings just remember that the company is still a baby but this baby is already on it's feet walking.
I had the pleasure to attend a live broadcast of Al Franken's show in Los Angeles (AM 1150) and the venue was jam packed full of people. So Air America has an audience and it's growing every day."
Great documentary about a great radio network
C. L. Johnson | Campbell, CA United States | 03/19/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have been listening to Air America almost from its inception when I discovered that I could stream it on my computer. This documentary does a great job of showing us how Air America got started and it's great to see the radio personalities learning this new (for some of them) craft. It was Al Franken and his book "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right" that brought me to Air American, but it has been Marc Maron and Sam Sedar who make me stay (and keep me sane!). With this DVD, there is the added plus of listening to the commentary of Randi Rhodes and Marc Maron as well as the filmakers themselves, and they all offer some nice tidbits from behind the scenes. Hopefully Air American will become stronger and the local radio stations (KQKE in my area) can broadcast nothing but progressive/liberal talk radio that will ultimately make our country and the world a better place."
Reelbuff | 02/23/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This HBO documentary about the early days of Air America Radio is a pretty amazing piece of work. It's a real edge of your seat film with plenty of twists and turns to keep your attention. It's a total roller coaster ride with internal meltdowns, allegations of fraud, very funny political on-air stuff and loads of drama. Even if you're not a fan of Al Franken, Randi Rhodes and Janeane Garofalo (which I am) you'll find this behind the scenes documentary really compelling. The stuff with Randi Rhodes in particular is awesome -- she's a total revelation in this film. For anyone interested in re-visiting the political passions of 2004 this film is a must. Highly recommended."
Engaging, Passionate, Honest, and Surprising!
Zapp B. | 02/26/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I've been a listener of Air America (esp. The Majority Report) from Day 1 but missed the broadcast of "Left of the Dial" on HBO. Thank goodness they released the DVD!
As mentioned by reviewers, Randi Rhodes is THE surprise of the film. I find her radio show to be fun and energizing...but only in small doses. She can be rather shrill & grating to my ears but I was very glad to see her in a more intimate light.
The DVD has two audio commentary tracks, #1 with Randi and Marc Maron, #2 with filmmakers Farrelly and O'Callaghan (BOTH TRACKS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!) but sadly, no subtitles/close captioning of any kind. There are several excellent special features: Deleted Scenes, Interviews with Randi, Chuck D, and Janeane Garofalo but the 20-minute Q&A segment with the filmmakers at the Jacob Burns Film Center is a special treat.
The film and commentaries revealed some of the massive internal problems - deception, infighting and clash of personalities / philosophies - which, by all accounts, should have sunk this venture. The fact that Air America is very much alive and growing is a testament to the passion and commitment of the staff, and to the very real need that they serve in an America with policies and doctrines that Thomas Jefferson would neither recognize nor approve.
Great Air America Documentary
Janedoer | 02/23/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the real deal story about the founding of Air America Radio with no punches pulled. Even though you get to see the non-stop crisis in the first few months it's also a very inspirational story about how the people who worked there managed to overcome huge obstacles to build the progressive talk radio network. I had a lump in my throat watching the presidential election night when the Air America folks realize that Bush is going to win again. Fans of Marc Maron will love this film. He is hilarious and completely crazy and it reminds you what a huge loss he is to Air America."