Salem Communications Is Officially Full of Hot Air

Christian- and family-themed radio broadcaster, Web-content provider, and magazine publisher Salem Communications officially confirmed its acquisition of right-of-center blog Hot Air, which had been unofficially confirmed in a post on Hot Air by editor Ed Morrissey Wednesday.

In a follow-up post on Hot Air Thursday, Morrissey stressed that Hot Air would not shift its focus, writing:

If readers are unsettled, you can imagine how Allahpundit and I felt when we heard about the potential sale. After all, we provide almost all of the content for the site, and it’s not exactly a secret that we occasionally criticize the Right as well as the Left, and sometimes the center, too. We offer offbeat content from time to time that may not be the favorite of a network that bases itself on conservative and Christian themes. The questions being asked in the comments sections are the same that we brought to our meetings in Colorado Springs earlier this month.

What I can tell you is that Salem bought Hot Air because, if you’ll pardon a Sally Field moment here, they like us — they really, really like us. After all, they aren’t going to spend a boatload of cash (and no, I don’t have any idea what kind of boatload that might be) just to turn Hot Air into something completely different. If they wanted something completely different, they could have started something fresh with a lot less cost and competed against us instead.

When we negotiated our new relationships with Salem, both of us stressed the need to have the same editorial control and direction for Hot Air. Not surprisingly, Salem readily agreed. Now, they still own the business and can intervene when they see fit — just as (founder and CEO Michelle Malkin) could, but rarely if ever did — but they know us and our editorial choices. We clarified the process and the direction to our satisfaction. If we weren’t satisfied that we remained in position to maintain the current direction of Hot Air, neither of us would have stuck around. We did, and we’ll be around for a while, too.

That doesn’t mean there won’t be changes, of course, but most of those will be to broaden our impact and reach. Salem has a tremendous presence with its radio hosts, for instance, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see some synergy applied in that direction. Townhall, now our sister site, will remain separate from Hot Air, but we’ll probably have some opportunities to participate more often in the magazine in the future. I’m very excited about the potential for growth at Hot Air by being a part of the Salem family.

Malkin said:

Hot Air has experienced phenomenal growth — beyond our wildest expectations. With its established radio platform and fast-growing Internet brands, Salem is perfectly positioned to take Hot Air to the next level as a conservative multimedia powerhouse.

Townhall and Hot Air vice president and general manager Jonathan Garthwaite added:

I have always respected Michelle Malkin and the insights and opinions presented by Hot Air. I look forward to working with Ed Morrissey and Allahpundit during a critical period in determining our country’s future. The combination of the No. 1 conservative opinion and news site and the No. 1 conservative news and commentary blog creates a real force for conservative values in 2010 and beyond.

Salem Web Network senior VP Tom Perrault added:

The addition of Hot Air doubles the size of Salem’s expanding footprint in online conservative commentary. It’s a perfect fit for us, since we can leverage talk radio, print, and other online assets to aggressively grow the site, while offering political organizations and advertisers an even more effective way to reach and engage the conservative audience.

And Allahpundit concluded:

It’s an honor to work with a company as respected as Salem and an amazing opportunity to expand Hot Air’s reach ahead of the midterm elections. Eternal thanks to Michelle Malkin for having taken a chance on me when no one else would. I can never repay her for her kindness.