During his time at MSNBC, programming executive David Bohrman took the bold step of giving radio personality Don Imus a TV simulcast. Those would turn out to be the earliest days of what is now a booming cable format, especially at Current, where Bohrman is currently president.
Added in March, the network’s six-hour “morning block” features three hours with Washington D.C. based Bill Press, followed by three more led from Burbank by Stephanie Miller. Intriguingly, Press remembers those Imus simulcast days well.
“At the time, Imus didn’t have a huge following nationwide, but he did in D.C.,” Press tells FishbowlLA via telephone earlier this week from the TCA. “In a sense, Bohrman is attempting to repeat his experiences at MSNBC with this Current morning block.”
Press says the expansion of his program to TV has brought only minor changes: he puts on a little powder each morning to reduce the glare and his producers are making an effort to up the number of in-studio guests. Miller on the other hand tells us that she goes straight from the radio show each day to a spinning class, so for her, it’s sweatpants and her naturally scrubbed complexion.
“I don’t even take off my baseball cap,” Miller says with a laugh, also via telephone Wednesday from the TCA, where Current staged a big breakfast event. “In fact, that’s what I love about it. It’s more like a fly-on-the-wall reality show. And I’m endlessly fascinated with how interested people are in the behind-the-scenes of a radio show.”
“I think what it allows us is to really just do a great, fun show,” she adds. “My experience is that a lot of times, with TV, too many cooks come into the kitchen and you’re over-produced. But this really has all the spontaneity that a radio show has. We’re not trying to do a TV show.”
“I remember, once, a television executive said to me after a late night show – this was years ago – she said, ‘God, we should have just televised your radio show.’ She admitted, ‘We took everything we loved about you and over-produced it.”
Press left LA in 1996 after stints with KABC radio, Channel 7, KFI and KCOP to host Crossfire on CNN and do morning drive in D.C. “That’s when I picked up on Imus, and as a radio talk show host,” he recalls. “I thought, ‘This is really cool, they put it on television… Why not?’”
“I’ve had my nationally syndicated radio show for five years, but being on Current takes it to a whole new level,” Press reflects. “We reach parts of the country that you could never get, particularly with progressive radio, because there are no compatible outlets.”