Cenk Uygur On Joining Current TV: ‘It was the most obvious thing in the world’

By Alex Weprin Comment

Earlier today, Current TV announced that former MSNBC host Cenk Uygur would be bringing his web series “The Young Turks” to the channel. In a interview this afternoon, Uygur said the move was something of a no-brainer:

“It was the most obvious thing in the world,” Uygur told TVNewser. “They are independent, so I knew we wouldn’t have some of the issues we had in other places, and they are clearly progressive.”

Uygur also says that serving as Current’s primetime kickoff show is a good place to be:

“I am happy to be at 7 o clock because there is no other progressive at 7 o clock on television, so it kind of leaves the field to me,” he says

Fox News has Shepard Smith at 7 PM, CNN will soon launch Erin Burnett in that timeslot, and MSNBC has a replay of the apparently-not progressive “Hardball with Chris Matthews” there.

For Current, the addition of Uygur helps fill-out a lineup that had a centerpiece in the form of “Countdown with Keith Olbermann,” but had limited elements to go along with it. Among Current’s existing programming, the closest thing to a public affairs show is the documentary series “Vanguard,” but it has a  dramatically different tone and pacing than commentary programming like “Countdown and “The Young Turks.”

“We thought his show on MSNBC was great, and even more importantly we thought what he had achieved with the Young Turks online was sensational,” Current CEO Joel Hyatt told TVNewser.

“[The addition of Uygur] is a signal that this is a network with people that have significant and serious things to say, and they are not going to be all alike,” Current’s President David Bohrman says. “There are going to be different personalities, different programs that suit those personalities, and I think it will be a great evening’s worth of television watching.”

The next step is adding a 9 PM program, which Current seems to be close to announcing, although no firm details were available. The 9 PM slot will be filled by January, at which point network execs will turn their focus to the rest of the dayparts.

“We are aggressively moving toward being 24/7 as a political commentary, news analysis network, but we still have a lot of work to do to get there,” Hyatt says. “We will then expand from [primetime] into what we think are some very innovative and compelling ideas that we have for daytime. But it will all be political commentary, news analysis and progressive point of view.”

The 2012 election will become a lynchpin of Current’s strategy.

“We have got to catch the election wave,” Bohrman says. “We want to get as many new programs up and running during the election year as we can.”

Uygur expects the election to play a large role in his new show, which he stresses will look a lot like the web series of the same name.

“They will have some some distinctions, for example there will be more guests on the television show—we kind of wanted to make it a gathering place for progressives—but the tone will be the same, and we will have just as much fun and be just as aggressive,” Uygur says.

As for guests, Uygur expects many progressive favorites like Sam Seder and Glenn Greenwald to appear, though he says it is too early to say if he would be able to secure any big “Gets.”

“If president Obama would like to come on, we would accept,” Uygur quipped.