Newspapers are dying, magazines are closing and more journalists are finding themselves without paying gigs every day. Everyone is wondering: what does the future hold for the media? We brought the questions to the front lines, asking leaders in the field to tell us: what’s next?
Bennett Zier, the CEO of left-leaning Air America Media, knows multi-platform content and niche branding is the key to any media company’s survival today. He is quick to wave off any definition of Air America as simply a radio network.
“We’re a progressive Web site that has its own radio network, and a radio network that has a Web site,” he said.
FishbowlNY: Speaking on a media panel last week, you said that content providers need to find a target market for their content and that they should strive to become the “est” of something. What is Air America’s “est”?
Bennett Zier: We are the most left of center-est or we’re the left-est. Air America is a very well known brand and a brand that speaks to content that is left of center and progressive for listeners, viewers and readers. From our research we know that Air America has become synonymous with progressive media.
FBNY: What sort of projects or initiatives are you working on to expand and define this target market?
BZ: We will be redesigning and relaunching the Web site before the end of the summer. The readers, viewers and listeners will find it to be a wonderful multimedia experience. We’re going to have multiple audio streams, multiple video streams and content that is new and compelling. The site will have a new look and navigation will be a pleasurable experience. We’re also highlighting hosts — like Montel Williams, Lionel, Ron Reagan and Rachel Maddow — who bring passionate debate to the air.
FBNY: What affect do you think these new initiatives will have on Air America’s brand and business?
BZ: I think what Air America is looking to get a larger distribution and generate more critical mass by creating content that not only draws in non-conservatives but also brings in opinionators. We’re also bringing on new audio and video channels and new writers for our Web site, in new categories like green living and lifestyle, which are very attractive to the people who view the world from the left.
FBNY: What future do you see for Air America?
BZ: As progressive behavior has moved more into the mainstream with the election of the new president, Air America’s vision is to continue to expand its brand to all left-leaning people. Air America is also very focused on providing a relevant, entertaining and provocative voice.
Technology is catching up to content so you have to make sure that your content travels to all of the distribution systems. News and politics have become a spectator sport and people are keeping score the way they do with baseball, football or basketball. Air America is very, very excited about the future and we look forward to being relevant and offering a significant viewpoint well into the future.