Air America Acknowledges Some Layoffs

Financially strapped Air America Radio acknowledged Thursday, after star commentator Al Franken said publicly that his paycheck had stopped coming, that it had suffered a small number of layoffs but insisted there were no plans for the liberal talk show network to declare bankruptcy.

"If Air America had filed for bankruptcy every time someone rumored it to be doing so, we would have ceased to exist long ago," said network spokeswoman Jaime Horn in a statement. "It may be frustrating to some that it hasn't happened."

Horn, without getting specific, said there were "a handful of layoffs" that followed a move of the network's New York outlet from WLIB-AM to WWRL-AM, a station with a less powerful signal. The network launched in March 2004.

Franken, broadcasting Thursday from New York, said he was aware of the bankruptcy rumors. "We may or may not, that's what I'm hearing," Franken said at the start of his noon broadcast. But he assured listeners that the financial problems wouldn't silence the network.

"Let me say one thing, if we do go into bankruptcy: I've flown on United (Airlines)," he said. "They went into bankruptcy."

United operated for more than three years before it came out of bankruptcy last February.

Franken, in a recent interview, said the network was suffering from "a cash flow problem."

"No cash has been flowing to me," Franken, who makes a reported $2 million a year, told The New York Sun. "That's the first inkling I got of a cash flow problem."

Horn said no decision was made on any filing, and that the network was unsure about the source of the bankruptcy rumors. Franken said it was last week when he discovered that his paychecks had stopped.

The network has suffered from financial woes during its 2 1/2 years on the air, as reflected in Horn's statement about past bankruptcy rumors. Last year, the network became involved in a financial scandal when authorities said that $875,000 from a community center largely financed by government grants and contracts wound up going to Air America.

The investigation into that case was continuing.

Air America co-founder Evan Cohen was a development director at the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club at the same time he was launching the network. His connection to Air America ended in May 2004 amid questions about the network's finances.