It was announced today that Bill O’Reilly is leaving his radio program, the Radio Factor. In the press release from Fox News, O’Reilly cites the strain of the workload for opting out of his lucrative radio deal:
“It is with great regret that I’ve come to the decision to leave the Radio Factor, but with the success of the O’Reilly Factor, I can no longer give both TV and radio the time they deserve.”
TV and radio must have done something very bad to deserve any time at all from Bill O’Reilly. More likely it is O’Reilly who has been bad. That would explain why radio audiences have rejected him. As one of the highest paid hosts in radio, he can’t even crack the top 10 in the talk format. He had lower ratings in New York than Al Franken before Franken left to run for the senate in Minnesota. His program was dropped from the influential Washington, D.C. market.
O’Reilly’s excuse for bailing on his radio audience is that he can’t carry the load. His two daily hours on the radio plus an hour on TV (15 hours a week) is just too much for him. Of course, much of the real work is carried out by his assistants and producers. So he must have the stamina of a slug. Other talkers like Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Lou Dobbs, and Rachel Maddow seem to have no trouble handling both gigs.
Rightist broadcasters have lately been stirring up all manner of dread that Barack Obama and his liberal cadre are plotting to restore the Fairness Doctrine in order to silence conservative voices. Despite the fact that their fears stem from nothing more than their own maniacal hallucinations, they insist that conservative talk radio is threatened by these leftie conspiracies. As it turns out, conservatives are falling of their own weight as audiences become ever more repulsed by their lies, histrionics, and vitriol.
One thing O’Reilly may have been uncharacteristically honest about is the need to concentrate on his TV show. Two years ago he held an unapproachable lead that was never at risk. This year Keith Olbermann’s Countdown is a strong second place challenger that frequently beats the Factor in the key 25-54 demographic, as it did twice this week. So maybe O’Reilly is just ditching his also-ran radio show to shore up his diminishing performance on TV.
On a side note, the boilerplate language at the bottom of the press release identified the divisions of Fox News as Fox News Radio, Fox News Channel, Fox News Sunday, foxnews.com, and Fox News Mobile. Does the absence of the Fox Business Network signal something about its future?