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Business as usual: The winged wonder on Sheriff Joe's profound respect for sheep, and on the demise of Air America Phoenix

Mohandas Gandhi also said something about societies getting judged by the way they treat their prisoners.

Which brings this extended middle finger to John Dougherty's column in this edition of New Times. When he wasn't going resolutely on the record against lamb-fucking, Arpaio was snarling out testimony in a lawsuit about jail personnel pulling another Scott Norberg. That is, reputedly causing the death of another prisoner they'd hooded and strapped into a restraint chair.

Which's no laughing matter.

Dead Air America

The Bird thinks that the only thing more unfortunate than the death of Air America Phoenix is the whining and bitch-fighting that's taken place since the liberal radio station's funeral.

Former employees of Air America Phoenix are as busy slinging mud and pointing fingers as they are scrambling to relaunch their hyper-liberal chat station with one of those "save our sunk ship" fund-raising sites -- behavior that The Bird thought liberal radio types were way above.

Wrong. The guys from Air America's Phoenix affiliate -- home to famed chat hosts Charles "Fearless Talk Radio" Goyette and lefty Ed Schultz, and found on the AM dial at KXXT 1010 until March 1, when the station's new owners, Denver-based religious broadcasters Communicom, switched to an all-Jesus format -- are taking the sort of self-pitying "Mom, he hit me!" stance so popular with, well, conservative Christians.

"Air America's Phoenix station was taken off the air by a Christian broadcasting company," according to the group's woe-is-me Web site (www.saveairamericaphoenix.com), which goes on to beg for $500,000 in donations from former listeners.

Please. As much as The Bird enjoys a good conspiracy theory, and as much as it enjoys going after big-bucks-corrupted Christians, even a pretend pigeon can tell that this is merely a case of someone with a bigger pile of dough buying out a little guy who couldn't say no.

Air America Phoenix's former station manager Robert J. Christy agrees.

"There's no conspiracy here," he moaned to The Bird. "Shit happens. Like a radio station gets offered a ton of money and decides to sell. There's nothing surprising about that. Everyone knew what was happening."

Not so, said former Air America employee Jeff Farias, who produced the station's Mike Newcomb Show and co-hosted a weekend chat fest with The Bird's favorite legislative lefty, state Representative Kyrsten Sinema (see "Howl of Sanity," March 9). "We were as shocked as our listeners. We found out the night we went off the air, when Ed Schultz announced on his show that he was going off the air in Phoenix."

Christy was trying to line up a deal to save the station, Farias said, right up 'til the last minute. But apparently Christy was so busy looking for a new home for Air America, he forgot to tell his employees that he hadn't found one -- at least according to Farias.

"Bullshit!" Christy squawked to this foul fowl. "These naive people that I gave paychecks to think they're smarter than I am. They don't know what it takes to put up a successful broadcasting business. Fifty-dollar donations from listeners aren't enough to finance a station -- the bank will throw their ass out the door!"

But the former Air America-ers won't need a bank, if all goes according to their plan. "We're going to find a rich Democrat," Farias explained to The Bird. "We've already found a station in town that we can lease for a year. We had a meeting with our attorneys, and now we're looking for that wealthy Dem who wants to bankroll a radio station."

You heard it here first.

"Right. A wealthy Democrat," said Christy, who's blown town for a lucrative job managing a trio of stations in Los Angeles. "I talked to a hell of a lot of wealthy Democrats, but I never found one who was willing to pull the trigger to keep Air America on the air. Good luck, guys."

Why all the bitchiness? Could it be that Christy's still planning his own Air America relaunch?

"Well, since you asked," Christy confessed to this feathered fiend, "my banker and I are putting together a financial package on a Phoenix station. I've got Goyette and Schultz. We're gonna do Air America."

Farias is unfazed by news that Christy's still plotting his own gulp of Air America.

"I'm sorry he feels that way," Farias said of his former boss' snarky comments on his listener-funded plans. "But we can't wait in a glass case while he continues to look for funding. We're going to find our own, and get back on the air. It's an election year -- the people need us."

Maybe. But what if the death of Phoenix's Air America affiliate's the start of a trend? The network's reportedly close to losing its New York flagship station, WLIB-AM 1190, which would knock Al Franken and his liberal colleagues off the air after less than two years. The Bird's saying, if it's happening in America's largest city . . .

Christy thinks The Bird's full of seed.

"It's not a trend," he insisted. "There's still a place for liberal radio. The trouble is, it needs to be run by sound businessmen, and not by emotion. Emotion is for talk-show hosts."

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