The long-time CBS Radio talker in Philadelphia has replaced El Rushbo not with Cumulus’ newly syndicated Mike Huckabee, but with Dial-Global’s Michael Smerconish, who was previously on the station’s afternoon drive. The move did not appear to be related to the Sandra Fluke controversy, but who knows.
Smerconish is based in Philly, so the move is understandable. Premiere Radio Networks had informed WPHT they will be syndicating Rush Limbaugh on a new station in Philadelphia. Rumor has it that Merlin-Media acquired WKDN-FM may be the station he ends up on—along with Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity, who’ve been off the air in that market since they were dropped by WPHT over a year ago.
The station is owned by Merlin Media, and is currently operated under an LMA by WKDN’s former longtime owner, Family Stations. While the original thought was that Michaels would turn WKDN to all-News (similar to its Chicago and NYC properties), many are now thinking it will be a talker.
WPHT has been moving to a more live and local offering. Smerconish’s syndicated show airs during the same time slot as Limbaugh, so he had been airing a locally oriented live hour from 3-4 p.m. and then the station carried his syndicated three-hour show on tape. Although Smerconish was once a local GOP official and leans conservative, he backed Obama in 2008 and has since become a registered independent.
RBR-TVBR observation: From what we’ve heard the move had nothing to do with Limbaugh’s controversy with Fluke and more to do with fees, barter and renewing contracts. Smerconish is a hometown guy, it’s a smart move and WPHT is going local anyway.