Another major hit to Westwood One—Fox News announced what we reported weeks ago (10/23/08 RBR #208): Bill O’Reilly is leaving radio. He’s giving up his show to devote more time to Fox News Channel, after recently re-upping with them for another four years. O’Reilly is carried on 425 affiliates.
“The O’Reilly Factor Radio Show,” launched in 2002, will end in Q1. Said O’Reilly: "The media business is getting more and more intense. We’ve got to keep the TV show at the level we have it now, and that means more and more time to keep it competitive and fresh. I’ve been working 60, 65 hours a week and I just can’t keep doing that."
RBR/TVBR observation: There are plenty of national shows that can fill the void on stations in Q1—but perhaps this might be a great opportunity to cultivate some local talent. What we might see is the big groups taking some of their local stars and moving them to more stations. Of course, this is how national talent gets born. The difference is the “syndication” may stay internal this time around, given the tough national climate right now.
It is likely that much of Westwood One’s recent stock price problems also had to do with the fact that shareholders knew O’Reilly (a cash cow for them) was leaving the stable.