The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

07 May 2006

Glenn Beck, CNN - Headline News


Can Glenn Beck Survive His Television Transition?

Months after CNN's first announcement, Glenn Beck is finally ready to take to cable's Headline News channel Monday evening. Still not clear: can the Clear Channel-created syndicated radio talker succeed in television's shark-infested waters?

After all, radio and cable hosts alike have rarely been able to successfully transition from one to the other. Will Beck be any different? Even in talk radio, his track record is mixed.

Checking in with a major talk programmer whose station runs Beck, the Radio Equalizer obtained this assessment: "overall, he's doing well for us in the ratings. Sometimes I like his style and other times, when things get truly weird, I think 'my God, what are you doing?'"

In anticipation of the show's debut, newspapers have been bringing readers up to speed on Beck's past, as well as his cable prospects. After the surprise success of host Nancy Grace, critics now take CNN-HN's programming far more seriously.

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Beck enters a crowded field in which many cable chat shows — often loud, often conservative and usually built around a strong personality — get solid ratings. Fox News Channel's blustery Bill O'Reilly leads the pack. In April, his audience easily tripled that of Paula Zahn on CNN.

Headline News, meanwhile, broke out of its prime-time ratings doldrums last year when it hired firebrand attorney Nancy Grace.

Some, however, have decried the tone of some shows. Media Matters, a liberal group, compiled Beck's radio statements and, last week, distributed several it found offensive. The organization's president and chief executive, David Brock, called Beck "an unapologetic preacher of hate" and criticized CNN for hiring him.

CNN executive Ken Jautz, who runs Headline News, insists the network didn't set out to find a host with any particular ideology. Now Jautz has got a lot riding on the choice of Beck.

"We're thinking of the three p's of programming — personality, passion and point-of-view," Jautz said. "Nancy and Glenn are totally similar when you think of those three p's."

Even from Beck himself, skepticism remains high. On his website, he's gone as far as to have radio listeners pick the cable show's cancellation date!

Glenn Beck staffers each have their own thoughts on how long the TV show will last (see the April issue of Fusion for the dire predictions). Now we want to hear from you! Use this page to predict the exact date that you think the TV show will be cancelled. This is not a contest, and there are absolutely no prizes, because when --er, sorry, that's if the show is cancelled, we won't have any money for prizes.

Even before the show's debut, left-leaning websites are having a field day trashing CNN and its decision to hire him. In particular, David Brock's Media Matters has been pounding on this for weeks.

For the right, he poses a dilemma: are we on the hook for Glenn's occasionally foolish and inappropriate comments? Because his role in the movement is almost nil, the Radio Equalizer believes the answer is a firm no.

Unfortunately, that won't stop the Brock-Huffington crowd from using Beck's poorly-chosen words against us in future Internet attack pieces. Before the show begins, it should be made clear: conservatives aren't going to carry Glenn Beck's heavy baggage.

In fact, many on the right may be getting their first introduction to him this week on television. Because his radio show has been strong in some parts of the country and not heard in others, Glenn's national name recognition level may be quite low.

When it comes to ratings, it's anyone's guess how Glenn Beck's new show will fare. However, in a medium where words are scrutinized more carefully than in radio, there's a significant chance he'll again step into rhetorical doo-doo, bringing an early end to his fledgling television career.

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  • The show wasn't bad. It wasn't amazingly great, but it definitely was not bad.

    By Blogger MikeinSC, at 08 May, 2006 22:38  

  • First half of the show was kinda cheesy, at moments embarrassing. If the rest of the shows are like the second half of the first show, Glenn will probably do OK.

    By Blogger Brent, at 09 May, 2006 03:49  

  • I wish CNN would dump that idiot Glenn Beck, I know what he's trying to do but he isn't even funny he comes off like a Fox news reject, his crap should be reserved for a non news station, well maybe he should be on CNN since I don't really consider them or FOX to be reliable sources for news, OK Glenn Beck you win, stay on your station that is full of crap, you will fit right in.

    By Blogger Karl Bakla, at 26 May, 2006 22:32  

  • Dear Mr. Beck: I was enjoying your show this evening Friday April
    llth.2008 when you were interviewing Jon Voight. You interrupted him with a comercial when he was about to talk about a speech that Rudy Guiliani was going to give and your station went off the air. Was it an accident or was it deliberate? I think you should repeat the show again if it surely was an accident.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12 April, 2008 02:52  

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