Thursday, May 20

Air America Update

New day, new investors...

Air America Radio, the upstart liberal talk show network that has been plagued by management troubles, is seeking to raise new money in efforts to pay off debts and steer the business toward profitability.

A group of early investors that include Florida plaintiffs lawyer Mike Papantonio, Chicago entrepreneur Sheldon Drobny, and Rob Glaser, chairman of RealNetworks Inc., have committed to invest new capital, people familiar with the company said.

Air America has also moved to fill a void in its executive ranks. Doug Kreeger, also an investor, assumed the role of chief executive last week.

Earlier this month former CEO Evan Cohen was pushed out after the board lost confidence in his management.

"This venture is not dead and it's not going to die," Papantonio, who co-hosts a Saturday talk show with Robert F. Kennedy Jr., said in a telephone interview. "I am a businessman and I see this as a great business opportunity."

Air America has racked up unpaid debts, which include payroll to sales forces it hired in Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco, but was forced to let go after backing out on plans to lease radio stations in those markets.