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"Clean" and "mean" to battle for O'Reilly's lunch audience

O'Reilly's Lunch Audience

O'Reilly's Lunch Audience

It may be the holiday season with peace and goodwill, but conservative talk radio is ringing with the sounds of battle over who will win the crown of departing Bill O’Reilly. At stake are 3.25 million listeners at 425 stations and whether talk goes mean or clean at lunch.

Early next year, O’Reilly will leave radio to devote more time to his FOX News TV show “The O’Reilly Factor.”

“The Radio Factor” debuted in 2002 on more than 200 stations. Now, only “The Rush Limbaugh Show” has more national listeners in the lunchtime slot.

Produced by FOX Radio News and distributed by Westwood One, “The Radio Factor” airs on network affiliates–mostly FOX and some CBS stations–and a smaller number of independents.

Westwood and FOX will each offer their own show to vie for O’Reilly’s audience. If you represent clients you’d like to have on conservative talk, you’ll have two new lunchtime hosts of vastly different styles to pitch.

FOX has signed John Gibson, currently of “The John Gibson Show” on FOX Radio news at night. On FOX News TV, Gibson hosted “The Big Show” until it ended in February. Gibson is acerbic and seen as over the top. Typically he’s either hated or loved—his remarks about race and the death of actor Heath Ledger have drawn worldwide attention.

Westwood is going with “The Fred Thompson Show.” Thompson ran for president in 2008, was a U.S. senator and co-starred on “Law & Order.” When Thompson substituted for conservative talk legend Paul Harvey in 2006, he made his conservative points in a folksy, story telling style. His presidential bid fizzled out, with some critics saying his speeches and overall style were dull.

If you think no publicity is bad publicity, call Gibson’s people for that potentially inflammatory talk radio atmosphere. If the ambience of a Sunday morning TV political show with a conservative point of view fits your client’s needs, consider pitching “The Fred Thompson Show.”

–Michael Blankenheim

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