Former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson will replace conservative radio talk show host Bill O’Reilly on stations nationwide beginning March 5, according to a release issued by Westwood One, the largest independent provider of network programming in the U.S.
Thompson will host a two-hour show in O’Reilly’s time slot, adding yet another conservative voice to the nation’s airwaves. O’Reilly, who had a successful six-year run on Westwood One, will focus his efforts on his number one cable television program, “The Factor.”
Thompson, who will share his views on politics, topical issues, pop culture and water cooler stories, will also take listener calls and conduct interviews from noon until 2 p.m. Monday through Friday from Westwood One studios in Washington, D.C.
"When folks listen to a radio show, they make an appointment with it,” Thompson says. “It is the ideal way for me to continue my dialog with America about the issues we all face each day."
Thompson joins fellow conservative talk radio hosts Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and Mark Levin in what Limbaugh calls “the rebirth of principled opposition” in the wake of President-elect Barack Obama’s election. After eight years of playing defense for Republican President George Bush, conservative radio now can focus its attacks on Obama, the Democratic House and Senate, and its liberal political agenda.
“The conservative hosts will have more fun. There’s no doubt about that,” Gary Schonfeld, the president of network programming for Westwood One, tells The New York Times.
According to The Times report, several other conservative talk radio shows are in the works, including one for television talk show host Joe Scarborough of “Morning Joe” fame, and one for former New York mayor and Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani.
Another former Republican presidential candidate, Mike Huckabee, is also taking to the airwaves beginning Jan. 5 on ABC Radio. Huckabee currently has his own weekend television program on the FOX News Channel.
“I think people are going to tune in now more than every,” says Maja Mijatovic, vice president and director of national radio for the media buying agency Horizon Media.
“There’s more to talk about than there has been in a hundred years,” adds Charlie Rahilly, president of Premiere Radio Networks. “There is something almost historical in nature in the news every single day.”
To show just how popular the news-talk radio format is, five of the most popular syndicated hosts all signed new contracts this year, The Times notes, including Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck, Michael Savage and Laura Ingraham.
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