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Jan. 22 2010 - 4:19 pm | 717 views | 0 recommendations | 2 comments

Someone really doesn’t like Air America CEO Bennett Zier

Bennett Zier in better days

Bennett Zier in better days

Why else would they have sent along this photo of Zier asleep at the wheel, er microphone, I mean, at his desk? The image was sent to me through a third party, but the metadata says it was taken on November 18th. For anyone who thinks Zier might be burning the midnight oil, the timestamp, from the iPhone photo, was 6:18pm. Hey, maybe Zier had just gotten back from the road– the carry on suitcase near his desk seems to indicate he’s a frequent road warrior, or at least was on this day. Maybe the poor guy’s body was on California time?

It’s gotta suck when the company you’re CEO of, Air America Radio, goes out of business. It’s gotta suck when the entire company is shut down literally in a matter of hours. But it’s gotta suck worse when someone in your building is unhappy enough with you to send out pictures of you drooling and snoring to the media. What, no magic marker on the forehead? No bowl of warm water to rest his hand in?

Anyone have any thoughts on Zier’s relationship with his staff? I’d really like to know what he did to deserve this, and what Air America’s last days were like. So far all of the reporting has been pretty boilerplate:

Air America’s chief executive is Bennett Zier, who previously founded and headed Redskins owner Daniel Snyder’s broadcasting company, Red Zebra, and was the top executive of Clear Channel Broadcasting’s cluster of eight major stations in the Washington area. The company’s programming director, Bill Hess, is also a longtime Washington radio executive.

Air America CEO Bennett Zier asleep at his desk

Air America CEO Bennett Zier asleep at his desk

Though the Post did get a feisty (is she ever not) Ana Marie Cox to comment:

Ana Marie Cox, who has hosted a one-hour program on Air America on Saturday and Sundays for the past year, said on Thursday that news of the network’s demise took her by surprise. She said that the programming, as well as Air America’s Web site, had begun to improve of late but that people hadn’t caught up to it.

“I’d gotten used to people saying: ‘Oh, Air America. Is that still around?’” Cox said. “One of my standard jokey responses was, ‘Well, my paycheck still clears.’ I guess that will stop.”

So, what was the Bennett Zier era like at AAM? Besides, you know, the fact that the company is gone and everyone is out of jobs now at least partially because of his, uh, management style? Feel free to comment below. This concludes this special Deadspin edition of Living Through 1500.


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  1. collapse expand

    Come on, give a guy a break. He already had a crappy week. I can tell you this, Bennett Zier is a great guy who worked his ass off trying to raise money for this operation. He inherited a mess and tried to save it in the toughest economic environment in decades. He didn’t shy away from a challenge, he tried to fix it. It takes courage to do what he did. It takes no balls at all to pimp people with cheesy photos like this. Be a mensch and take it down. Life is way too short.

  2. collapse expand

    Shame on the disgruntled employee for posting this photo. I’m sure it was one of the old guard who resisted all attempts by Bennett to rebrand the company and move it into a position to profit and thrive.
    To blame Zier for the demise of Air America is like blaming Obama for the current financial crisis. Bennett was the first radio executive ever hired to run the company. During his tenure he improved the talent pool and launched a new effective website that, if given enough time, would have aided in increasing the revenue stream that Air America so desperately needed. It’s too bad he wasn’t hired sooner. The company might still be around.

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