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Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Special Report by Maloney and Malkin Nails Air America Scandal; Shows Blog Journalism at its Best

This, Blogosphere friends and neighbors, is what good investigative journalism is all about - digging deep into the documents, talking to people and burning shoe leather, literally or cyberically, to get at the facts others refuse to seek.

Brian Maloney of Radio Equalizer and Michelle Malkin joined forces to get at the ugly truth behind Air America's mysterious receipt of an $875,000 loan from the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls, a Brooklyn-based charitable agency that provides food and other assistance to poor and disadvantaged children. Despite having agreed to repay the loan, Air America has yet to do so.

In Part I of their four-part investigation. Maloney and Malkin report finding that Gloria Wise Boys & Girls is not the only agency being stiffed by Air America. A New York Supreme Court judge has ruled Air America and its parent, Piquant LLC, are in default of a judgement requiring the network to pay its creditor, Multicultural Radio Broadcasting, Inc., more than $255,000 in damages. The damages were a result of what the judge termed Air America's "meritless lawsuit" against Multicultural in an attempt to avoid payment of charges for radio air time.

Even more damaging, though, is the detailed charges included in Multicultural's court filings regarding the sale of Air America's founding corporate owner, Radio Free America, to Piquant. According to Multicultural, the transaction was "fraudulent" and a "sham transaction" designed to leave Multicultural with no prospect of collecting a legitimate debt.

And this is only from Maloney and Malkin's Part I! BTW, the title of Part 1 is "A Trail of Debts." Parts II - "Beyond Evan" - III - "Air America's Defenders" - and Part IV - "Consequences" - are coming soon. Congrats to Malkin and Maloney for superb journalism.

UPDATE:

Part II is up today on Radio Equalizer and it raises the question of whether the principal backers of Air America are creating another corporate entity to avoid paying legitimate debts, as is alleged by Air America creditor Multicultural Radio Broadcasting, Inc. in a New York state court filing.

Maloney and Malkin cite the account in a 10th District (Highland Park, Illinois) Democrats newsletter of a July 21 presentation to a group of Air America supporters by the network's main investors, Sheldon and Anita Drobny.

During the presentation, the Drobnys described their plan to create a new corporate entity called Nova M Radio that ostensibly will purchase rural radio stations that will become carriers of Air America programming.

Maloney and Malkin lay out evidence suggesting Nova M Radio has the appearance of "a new shell game" that could be used to evade creditors by purchasing Air America for pennies on the dollar and then disavowing previous debts.

This is a strong second day installment in the four-part series, though it is somewhat marred by the appearance of an anonymous quote of a radio industry executive saying something that borders on the innocuous.

UPDATE II:

Part III is up today on Radio Equalizer. It covers the travails of former Air America on-air personality and programming manager Lizz Winstead.