When left-leaning Air America radio was pulled from Missoula’s airwaves in February, Al Franken took to the mic one last time in the Garden City, this time on KNS’ sister station 103.3 The Trail, and urged loyal listeners to “organize and let it be known that they want a station in Missoula.”

So Lesley Lotto, KNS’ former news director and host of 105.9’s defunct “Focal Point” morning interview show, and local biodiesel entrepreneur David Max, vowed to do just that. The two teamed up to drum up support, financial and otherwise, to bring Air America back to Missoula, starting earlier this month with the launch of a website, AirAmericaMissoula.com. Since then we hadn’t heard much on that front…until now.

Max and Lotto are now promoting a “benefit film screening to help bring progressive talk radio back to Missoula’s airwaves” at the Roxy Theater on April 1. The event is billed as the Missoula premiere of Loose Change 2nd Edition, a controversial documentary alleging that the United States government was behind the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Max concedes the film is an edgy choice for a benefit to help bring back a talk-radio format that failed, according to station executives, because advertisers were afraid to align themselves with left-leaning talk radio.

“It’s definitely a controversial movie, but I hope the subject matter isn’t lost on the main focus, and that’s speaking the truth and having an open and honest dialogue,” says Max.

A statement on the AirAmericaMissoula.com website clarifies that organizers “are not asking for donations because we believe that this business has potential to be more than healthy in Missoula, one of the most progressive per capita places in the entire United States.”

So then who will “benefit” from the screening?

“The money is going to be used to fund the research that needs to happen to either attract investors to get involved, or to mount a public campaign to demonstrate the interest in the community,” Max says.

Max expects a strong showing at the event, and Lord knows we’ve heard plenty of cries for help from Missoula progressives who feel lost, just lost, in the absence of the guiding light that was commercial liberal talk radio.

“Just tell me what to do,” pleaded one desperate soul who called our office looking for answers.

That’s bound to represent an appealing demographic for somebody somewhere to exploit. We’re just not sure screening a divisive movie that forwards what is widely perceived as a lunatic-fringe conspiracy theory is likely to benefit anyone in this case. Especially progressives hoping to convince advertisers to subsidize their voice in Western Montana.

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