Aiming for a Younger Audience, Dana Perino and Chris Stirewalt Take Podcast to TV

By A.J. Katz 

In a first, Fox News debuts a TV series that evolved from a podcast.

Dana Perino and Chris Stirewalt‘s I’ll Tell You What podcast has been developed into a limited-run TV series, debuting Sunday at 5 p.m. ET. It’s part of the network’s revamped Sunday political programming lineup, which includes a weekend prime time edition of Special Report with Bret Baier.

“The idea for the podcast really came from two young people who work at Fox News Radio,” Perino told TVNewser. “For the longest time, we didn’t have a name for it. But in Philadelphia, at the Democratic National Convention, Chris mentioned to me that we should name it. And I came up with the name and kind of tricked him into it.”

I’ll Tell You What is the second-most downloaded FNC podcast, behind Fox News Radio’s 5 Minute Newscast. On iTunes it ranks No. 15 in the News and Politics category.

“For a while, we didn’t know that the podcast was actually popular and that people were really paying attention,” continued Stirewalt. “We felt free to be ourselves and talk about things that we thought were interesting to us. When we found out that it was really popular and that a lot of people were listening, it was really gratifying.”

In the TV version of I’ll Tell You What, Perino and Stirewalt will drive a live conversation about the presidential race with panelists including Charles Hurt of the Washington Times, A.B. Stoddard of RealClear Politics and Square Communications’ Michael Meehan who was Chief-of-Staff for John Kerry‘s 2004 White House run.

Perino, co-host of The Five, admits she didn’t listen to many podcasts prior hosting one, though Greg Gutfeld introduced her to Sam Harris’ The Waking Up podcast, which she now listens to on her daily commute.

Perino and Stirewalt, who is FNC’s digital politics editor, hope the TV version of I’ll Tell You What is a family affair, which could help bring down Fox News’s average viewer age of 67.

“I’m hoping families can see our show as a place to be on a Sunday evening where they can learn about politics and have a family discussion,” said Perino. The former White House Press Secretary recalled that’s how she learned about politics growing up in Denver. “Starting in the third grade, my dad had me read the Denver Post. I had to discuss two articles with him before dinner, and we would also watch 60 Minutes together.”

“There’s an appetite out there for fair-minded coverage that is kind and respectful,” said Stirewalt. “We want to deliver that to families, and we also want to have some fun.”

After a tumultuous summer which saw a very public sexual harassment lawsuit and the resignation of CEO Roger Ailes, Perino and Stirewalt are looking forward to the future of Fox News. “I was very encouraged by everything that had been happening in the new regime, and felt that so much good judgment had been demonstrated,” said Stirewalt.

“One thing you can say about the podcast is that it was turned into a TV show within 10 days, which I feel goes to show that leadership is really flexible and are willing to let us experiment, which is great,” added Perino.