Sunday, August 5, 2007

MSNBC, radio could split over Imus slot

MSNBC, radio could split over Imus slot

Don Imus' former radio and television empire is being broken up, with MSNBC very likely hiring Joe Scarborough for its morning telecast while radio looks elsewhere, according to people close to the negotiations.

WFAN, the New York radio station that was Imus' flagship, is said to be close to naming former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason to the morning time slot. Esiason works now as a football analyst for CBS Sports.

MSNBC used to simulcast Imus' radio show before he was fired in April for making a racial, sexist remark about the Rutgers University women's basketball team. But the radio and TV outlets are now going in different directions, said three people close to the negotiations who spoke on condition of anonymity on Saturday because talks were ongoing.

Scarborough, a former Republican congressman who was a nighttime personality for MSNBC, has been trying out his "Morning Joe" program on MSNBC for the past few months. Except for some occasional subs when Scarborough takes some time off, MSNBC isn't trying anyone else out.

He's been teamed with former CBS News reporter Mika Brzezinski, who briefly became an Internet sensation last month for refusing to read a report about Paris Hilton leaving jail.

WFAN briefly tried running Scarborough's program on the radio, but it hasn't done so since the early summer.

WFAN is likely to team Esiason with Craig Carton, co-host of a Trenton, N.J. radio program known at "The Jersey Guys," the person close to the radio talks said.

Contract negotiations are incomplete in all of the cases, raising the chance that deals could fall through.

It's not clear whether Esiason's show will be syndicated to radio stations across the country that used to carry Imus' program.

Scarborough's hiring may require management changes at MSNBC. Dan Abrams, a former NBC News legal correspondent who was chosen in June 2006 to be MSNBC's general manager, has been filling in for Scarborough at night. If Abrams permanently takes over that slot, it will be difficult for him to keep his management job.


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