The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

13 May 2005

Talk Radio Not Alone With Programming Problems


What's So Difficult About Programming Cable News/Talk?

Finally forcing myself to watch CNBC's Dennis Miller show this week, it was one last chance, since the network announced his show would end today after an unsuccessful run.

Nothing against him, but his cable talk program just never grabbed me and I wanted to figure out why, before it disappeared.

My verdict: it was poorly constructed and doomed to fail. It made the mistake of trying to appeal both to Miller's old Saturday Night Live fans, as well as political junkies, who mix like oil and water.

It's one thing to bring back his "Weekend Update" style to the day's news, it's another to try to make light of debates over filibusters and John Bolton, with a panel comprised of bookish wonks mixed with clueless celebs. It just makes no sense.

It will be replaced by a rerun of Jim Cramer's "Mad Money", a new high-energy and lightning fast, call-in stock tip show. It's a bit rough around the edges, but I haven't seen a show this in tune with the 25-54 cable news audience in years, maybe not ever.

Cramer has truly found his niche, where he sometimes stumbled in the past. Message for the boardroom: leave him alone and let him run with the football. You will like the results.

How ironic then, that the same network's other cable channel, MSNBC (now the NBC News Channel), still can't program its way out of a paper bag.

Its new lineup has just been revealed and it's yet another stinker:

At 7pm, primetime kicks off with Chris Matthews while Countdown remains at 8pm. At 9, Tucker Carlson begins a new show for the network, Joe Scarborough holds down the 10pm hour and former Fox anchor Rita Cosby initiates her brand new offering for 11pm weeknights.

I have no idea how Cosby will fare, she can't do any worse than what's been there before, but who in their right mind would give Tucker Carlson yet another shot at a successful TV show?

Conservatives grumble often about Carlson, because he's rightly seen as a lightweight sought-after by liberal network executives, because he's harmless and ineffective. But he's also boring and consistently unable to generate an audience.

Oddly enough, when it comes to writing, Carlson is one of the very best on the right side, a major asset to Reader's Digest. But you'd have to have rocks in your skull to give him yet another TV program opportunity.

Has there ever been bona fide audience demand for Tucker Carlson? No, that's been proven by the ratings.

NBC suits also had a great opportunity to dump the unprepped and increasingly arrogant Joe Scarborough, who made a fool out of himself wrongly trashing Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger, then refusing to apologize for 10 days, until the matter was pressed by the Washington Post. (By the way, does anyone know why there's been a new surge of visitors in the last couple of days, to my post on the matter?)

For some reason, they are keeping his low-rated show, for now.

Why is it, that beyond two Fox News Channel programs, the cable news industry just can't seem to figure out how to locate talent, develop it, and create entertaining news programs?

Has it occurred to them, to try hiring some of the better talk radio programmers, to apply their secrets to television?

After all, they can't be any worse than the goofballs running MSNBC. The proof is in the tiny ratings.


  • Before Fox News - and as we see, even to date - leftist newstalk has always been a Suck-Off: A contest where the moderator with the least issues gets the job. Jim Lehrer and Phil Donohue have now been surpassed with the lowering of the bar to even contemplate putting Dennis Miller's "disjointed U" plays on the talkshow field.
    Dude botched Monday Night Football...'Nuff said!!!

    By Blogger Galt-In-Da-Box, at 13 May, 2005 22:29  

  • First off, the perspective lineup at MSNBC (still their name) has not been officially unveiled. The website that Brian links to ( filled with posts by self-proclaimed media "insiders" who often don't have a clue!

    Last night I wrote a column about Rita Cosby that is on my website and also the blog portion of Chronwatch.Com. That MSNBC may give a member of the Fox News Channel B-Team a prime time show is a indication of how truly talent starved their network is.

    With Dennis Miller, his CNBC show began with high expectations but when it misfired in its first week the audience never came back. So Dennis joins Tina Brown, John McEnroe and almost certainly Donnie Deutch as another example of inept programming at CNBC!

    By Anonymous ira, at 14 May, 2005 12:40  

  • All signs point to Cosby in that time slot.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 14 May, 2005 13:49  

  • If you like Jim Cramer's Mad Money...

    Visit - - -

    By Blogger the mtb investor, at 26 May, 2005 13:35  

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