In adding erstwhile CNBC star Dylan Ratigan to its lineup, MSNBC will attempt to extend its brand of personality driven news to daytime.
"We want to bring what we know succeeded - really smart personalities, people who know what they're talking about in smart and enlightened discussions" to daytime," said Phil Griffin, president, MSNBC.
Beginning June 29, Ratigan will anchor the 9-11 a.m. hours on MSNBC leading out of Morning Joe. He'll also make appearances on various NBC News programs, including Morning Joe and NBC's Today, two programs where he was a frequent contributor during his tenure at CNBC.
The former host and co-creator of CNBC's stock-picking show Fast Money, and a co-anchor of Closing Bell with Maria Bartiromo, Ratigan left the financial news network abruptly at the end of March. His contract was concluding and he had made no secret of his desire to get out of the financial news pigeon hole and take on a more substantial role at NBC Universal. According to Griffin, informal discussions began prior to the end of Ratigan's CNBC contract and continued over the last month and a half.
"When Dylan started appearing on Morning Joe," said Griffin, "he clearly connected with that audience and that program. Those discussions that he was having on the show would overflow into my office and the two of us would just be talking. He was very clear on his take on things. So when I started to hear that Dylan wanted to expand his world view on television, it made sense. I said why don't you do it here at MSNBC?"
The show will coincide with MSNBC's rollout in 1080i HD.
"We're actually waiting for Dylan to begin in HD," joked Griffin. "I'm actually working on a beautiful pimple for the premiere," added Ratigan.
The precise format and a title are still being mulled, but Ratigan's show will be live and include a rotating roster of guests with a roundtable discussion of news of the day.
"If Morning Joe get's you ready for the day," explained Ratigan, his show, "will be the 9 a.m. meeting convened to deal with the problems [of the day].
"Imagine you're running a meeting where the subject is the systems that are America," he continued. "It's not an argument about who created those problems or a wall of shame about who screwed up. It's an opportunity to be that much more aggressive about the way the system is being run."
Ratigan's show is the latest in a series of programming additions that began last year with the successful launch of Rachel Maddow's primetime program. In April, MSNBC added liberal radio host Ed Schultz to the lineup at 6 p.m., displacing David Schuster's 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Shuster now co-anchors a two-hour news program with Tamron Hall from 3-5 p.m. There may be other dayside programming changes afoot, though Griffin declined to offer specifics.
"All three of the news channels are trying to figure out daytime," said Griffin.
MSNBC had its best ratings quarter in its 12-plus year history for first quarter '09, surpassing CNN in primetime and early morning in news' target sales demographic of 25-54 year olds.
The addition of Ratigan, says Griffin, "continues to push that success. Now we're going to bring some of the elements that worked in primetime and early morning into daytime."