With an eye toward getting back into
producing original programming, Tribune is developing a syndicated one-hour
weekend program that would feature two talk-show hosts on either side of the
political spectrum: Jerry Springer on the left and Bill Cunningham on the
Tribune produced the pilot, which has
aired a few times on select Tribune stations over the past two weeks.
Cunningham wasted no time in getting controversial, declaring that "there are
no dirt poor people in America,"
immediately grabbing the attention of various political bloggers.
Springer and Cunningham are a natural
fit for Tribune. Sean Compton, Tribune's senior VP of programming and
entertainment, formerly headed Clear Channel's programming efforts, and his
boss both at Clear Channel and at Tribune is Randy Michaels, Tribune's CEO. One
of Cunningham's radio programs, Live on Sunday Night, It's Bill Cunningham,
is syndicated through Clear Channel's wholly-owned Premiere Radio Networks.
Cunningham also hosts The Big Show with Bill Cunningham, a local program
on WLW-AM Cincinnati, and frequently guests on Fox News' Hannity.
Springer has been the host of NBCU's The
Jerry Springer Show since 1991. Tribune, which represents the show's key
station group, renewed the program in November through 2012. While The Jerry
Springer Show has often veered into tabloid territory, Springer himself has
long been interested in politics, running for Congress in 1970 and serving on
the Cincinnati City Council in the early 70s. He also served one year as the
city's mayor in 1977. In 1982, he made a failed bid to be the Democratic
nominee in the Ohio
gubernatorial race. He considered a Senate run in 2003, but determined that his
long run as host of the often controversial Springer show would prevent
him from winning.
Tribune Broadcasting President Ed
Wilson, was the president of NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution
from 2000-04 and knows Springer well.
Should the show go forward for fall
2010, sources expect NBCU to be the distributor due to its existing TV
contracts with Springer. NBCU did not confirm. "We do not comment on
development," said a spokesperson.