Posted Wednesday, April 6, 2011, at 12:33 PM
His daily show, which began in January 2009,
will end at some point this year
. Business Insider has the full release while Beck's news site, The Blaze, is offline.
Fox News and Mercury Radio Arts, Glenn Beck’s production company, are proud to announce that they will work together to develop and produce a variety of television projects for air on the Fox News Channel as well as content for other platforms including Fox News’ digital properties. Glenn intends to transition off of his daily program, the third highest rated in all of cable news, later this year... Joel Cheatwood, SVP/Development at Fox News, will be joining Mercury Radio Arts effective April 24, 2011. Part of his role as EVP will be to manage the partnership and serve as a liaison with the Fox News Channel.??
Beck's ratings had been collapsing, even as he remained one of the most popular hosts on TV. In January 2010 he had 2.9 million viewers; in January 2011 he'd fallen to 1.8 million. James Downie wrote a smart piece about why this might have been happening, figuring that Beck's utility was as the host who will go further in explaining the liberal-socialist conspiracy that was wrecking America, and the need for TV like that fell when the GOP took over the House.
UPDATE: I've been wasting some time on Twitter making the obvious jokes about this. Should Fox cut out the middleman and debut "Real Time with Alex Jones"? Was "take away Glenn Beck's show" part of the Cloward-Piven strategy?
The thing is, Beck really is in the same position that Oprah Winfrey is. Not on the same scale, not with the same audience. But he has an extremely loyal audience that has followed him as he's built a news site (The Blaze), a "Beck University" of Constitution classes, a radio empire, a comedy tour, and a book release schedule that is on track to deforest the state of Oregon.
UPDATE: I talked to Alexander Zaitchik, author of the Beck bio Common Nonsense , about Beck's future.
I'd be careful about comparisons to Oprah, who has a scale of resources, commercial appeal, and popularity that Beck never will. But he'll remain active and ambitious and his projects will continue to be controversial from time to time. He's been too much guilty-pleasure fun as a pinata for his critics to completely ignore him. But now that he has a shrunken media footprint, I think a lot of people will go on a much-deserved Beck Vacation, and maybe never return.
Moving forward, I see him turning into a sort of hybrid-figure, part Limbaugh, part Breitbart, part Pat Robertson, maybe a little Ben Stein on the documentaries front. But it's hard to avoid the conclusion that his days as a heavy, constant presence in the mainstream conversation are over. Whatever media shape-shift he's about to perform post-Fox, he's a greatly diminished national presence for those who aren't "Insider Extreme" members at glennbeck.com . Which is a blessed, blessed thing.