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Fox News Radio took another step forward on Wednesday, introducing five-minute newscasts anchored by FNC hosts and unveiling a new radio studio.
The expanded newscast service consists of five minutes at the top of the hour and one minute at the bottom of the hour, along with Fox News Alerts up to six times per hour if needed. It will broadcast 24/7. (Before Wednesday, FNR only offered one-minute newscasts Monday through Friday from 6am to 10pm.) Fox has hired 30 additional people to fill roles in the growing radio division.
“We’ve been testing the markets,” senior vice president Kevin Magee told TVNewser earlier this week. “We’ve found a lot of the same market forces in place in radio that we found years ago in TV — a couple of old line media in the marketplace sort of entrenched, doing things the way they’ve always been. We wanted to take advantage of that as quickly as possible. We’re finding a lot of success, a lot of stations happy to find that there’s a Fox alternative.”
Magee said those “old line” networks were sometimes “incompatible” with the talk stations: “There have been cases where the local talk host trashed ABC or CBS for 55 minutes, then they signed over to network news, and there was ABC or CBS! Now they’ve got an option. Now they’ve got a choice. We’re offering them a fair and balanced alternative and they’re jumping at it.” Fox is usurping affiliates from the established the networks — and in particular, ABC.
The five-minute newscast service will be rolling out all summer long. Fox’s deal with Clear Channel went into effect yesterday.
“Many of the Clear Channel stations will drift over to it as their network affiliations expire this summer,” Magee said. At least 200 Clear Channel stations will be airing the five-minute newscasts by August 1; Ailes has predicted that the network will have 500 affiliates by the end of the summer.
Magee believes Fox News Radio has a couple of “gigantic” advantages: “The first is the Fox name, which has become the most powerful name in news. We have a marvelous newsgathering operation here. There’s tons of audio coming into this building everyday,” he said. Fox also has a distinct style that will be audible on-air. “Our newscasts will have a higher energy [and] better story selection…It’ll sound like Fox,” Magee said.
Laurie Dhue anchored the first five-minute newscast. “We have a lot of the people you know from TV working as our anchors as well. I think that’s another advantage we have,” Magee said. “We’re going to be using a lot of the same talent.”
Also on Wednesday, Roger Ailes led a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Fox’s new state-of-the-art radio studios. Fox has constructed a “whole new radio newsroom” on the 15th floor of the News Corp. building, Magee said.
Additional newscasts are on the way. Magee said Fox expects to make a “big announcement” about “one of our signature anchors” in August.
More talk shows are coming, too: Fox is looking at one “very seriously.” But the network knows how to keep a secret.
“Yes, we will be” premiering more shows, but “I can’t tell you exactly when, and lord knows I can’t tell you who!,” Magee said.
Perhaps FNC host Bill O’Reilly will be syndicated by Fox in the future. “In O’Reilly’s case, we own the rights but we are still syndicating through Westwood One through at least the end of the year,” Magee said. “We have begun negotiations to see where we go with it from here.” (Westwood One would like to keep O’Reilly.)
> Fox News Radio is now “offering the longer newscasts that many talk-oriented stations demand,” the AP says.
> Roger Ailes announced “another 60 affiliate agreements” yesterday, Variety notes.
> “We’ve got a wonderful opportunity,” Magee tells Billboard. “I’ve told my [team], ‘It’s all there for us. We can’t screw it up.'”
> Fox News Radio is “hoping to reach New York airwaves soon,” the NY Daily News adds.
Photos provided by Fox News.