For more than a decade, Sid Rosenberg has been a reliable and powerful voice in New York radio. Not one to pigeonhole himself, the sports broadcaster at WFAN and WNEW’s “The Sports Guys”would eventually become co-host of the 77 WABC morning show. There, politics has taken center stage, culminating with former president Donald Trump calling in to Sid and Bernard McGuirk, days after switching from middays in 2018.
“He was glib. He was funny,” Rosenberg told BNM. “He was very good to me and Bernie. He’s known us both for a long time.”
That longstanding relationship played into their questioning as they opted to hurl softballs at the sitting president.
“Were we easy on him? Sure, because he’s a friend,” Rosenberg said.
Such a major get would have seemed unthinkable years earlier, but the natural transition began in Florida a decade earlier. He worked at three all-sports stations in South Florida but started to ease politics into the mix. The pendulum swung away from sports in 2012 when Rosenberg covered the Obama/Romney debate at Lynn University in Boca Raton.
It was at his last gig—WMEN 640 AM in Palm Beach— Rosenberg created a politics/sports hybrid show, “much to the chagrin of my program directors and the GM.”
Rosenberg was at a crossroads professionally, enjoying sports, but equally passionate about the future of the country. A more wide-ranging show was born using the Don Imus and Howard Stern blueprint.
Of course, talking politics took an expected turn during the Trump years. It all came to a boiling point for broadcasting companies after the January 6, 2021 deadly insurrection at the Capitol. A mandate was ordered, included at Rosenberg’s Red Apple Media that owns WABC. Hosts were told to no longer spread lies or misinformation on air.
“They didn’t have to do that with me,” Rosenberg said. “I was critical of Donald Trump from the very beginning. A guy like Bernie did need the edict.”
Overall, media have come under scrutiny for its coverage of Trump. When it came to the Capitol rioting and its aftermath, outlets didn’t lose sleep over the violence according to Rosenberg.
Left-leaning cable networks “loved it,” said Rosenberg. “They spent the better part of three and a half years finding new ways to criticize, if not malign, Donald Trump.”
As for the top conservative voices, such as Sean Hannity, “They didn’t care. They were so angry with the way President Trump was treated and covered,” Rosenberg said.
While the opinionated Rosenberg admits it was a bad day for Trump, he said, allowing it to define his presidency is akin to what happened to Don Imus.
“He was a brilliant radio guy, who tutored guys like me and Bernie, yet when you bring up Imus now all you talk about is Rutgers,” Rosenberg said.
The Brooklynite, who could be unapologetic on the mic, grew up listening to Stern as a teenager. Rosenberg kept following Stern’s show as he got older and had a family.
He would work with the I-Man years later, on and off, for close to 20 years at WFAN and WABC.
“Both of those guys have influenced me a tremendous amount,” Rosenberg said. “The one thing Imus did teach me was authenticity. He just wanted to make sure each day he was provocative, entertaining, compelling and gave you who he was. That’s what Bernie and I try to do every day. It used to be Howard, but less and less these days, because he’s become very Hollywood.”
As for Imus, who died in the final days of 2020 at age 79, he was also known as a curmudgeon later in life.
“He was in a bad mood every f***ing day,” Rosenberg recalled. “You couldn’t discern if that was an act or not, but it wasn’t.”
Aside from that drama, little changed to the “Bernie and Sid” show, save for the move to mornings. Behind the scenes, though, was another matter, as Rosenberg had a front-row seat to ownership upheaval.
Cumulus sold WABC in 2020, when John Catsimatidis, the billionaire tycoon, bought the legendary radio station for $12.5 million. The new owner, who runs the Gristedes supermarket chain, made his first foray into media with the vaunted 50,000 watts at 770 on the AM dial. Catsimatidis, though, had been doing a radio show on rival 970 AM WNYM.
The changes from ownership are “night and day,” Rosenberg explained. “They care, let’s start with that.”
Rosenberg, who turned 54 on April 19, contends Cumulus was more focused on “making a couple of bucks,” and he said Mary Berner [President and CEO] was trying to make it worth something it’s not.
Berner would sell off a station “without any hesitation.”
By contrast, Sid speaks to Catsimatidis every day, a relationship that eluded him with Cumulus. Not long after the ink dried on the Red Apple Media takeover of WABC, they put forth a new contract, this time with their morning show. Rosenberg received a multi-year extension.
Aside from securing Rosenberg for the long term, Catsimatidis has used his love of New York City radio to explore a vintage weekend look.
“Cumulus didn’t give a shit. They sold it out—doctor this, lawyer that,” Rosenberg said.
Bruce Morrow (Cousin Brucie) is back on WABC for a Saturday night oldies show. The station, thereafter, added Tony Orlando for his own spin on the classic hits from decades ago. It’s believed to be his first radio show.
Catsimatidis and company didn’t stop there.
They brought Joe Piscopo on board from 970 AM for a Sunday night Frank Sinatra program. Despite Piscopo’s morning show hosting duties for the Hackensack, NJ, station, Rosenberg has no concern for his job security.
“I don’t give a f**k if you’re Howard Stern, Don Imus, Craig Carton or Mike Francesa,” Rosenberg admitted. “I never look over my shoulder. I don’t think anybody is nearly as good. Joe is a solid talent. He’s good on the air. There’s no question about it. But he ain’t better than me.”
Under Red Apple’s auspices, Dave Labrozzi is the program director. He moved across the hall when WABC was still located above Madison Square Garden in 2019 after Cumulus’ WPLJ was sold. He replaced Craig Schwalb, now director of content integration and operations at WTOP in Washington.
“Dave and I have bashed heads more than I ever did with Craig,” Rosenberg said. “Schwalb was a little easier to convince than Dave. I would say Dave is a little more old school in the way he operates the station, what he expects from his talent.”
WABC is keeping a close eye on iHeart’s WOR 710 AM, home to Sean Hannity (who originally was part of the TalkRadio 77 WABC team). As of March 2021, WABC trailed WOR, 2.3-1.9, in the Nielsen ratings. While WABC stayed virtually unchanged in the previous six months, a disturbing trend emerged at WOR, which slipped from 3.6 in November to 2.4 at the close of winter holiday book.
But Rosenberg claims his show has “beaten the shit out of WOR lately” with Len Berman and Michael Riedel.
While Rosenberg may not be going anywhere, the station did make an odd programming choice this year by cutting the morning show by 30 minutes. “The Early Show with Juliet Huddy and Frank Morano” was extended from 5 to 6:30 a.m. Sid, though, is part of the lead-in, providing sports and commentary.
“Three and a half hours is a long show anyway,” Rosenberg said.
Plus, cutting into “Bernie and Sid” for the greater good of WABC is fine with him.
Staying connected to his “first love,” sports, Rosenberg was given a weekend show –Sid Sunday Sports – although it’s been off the air in recent months.
“The summer is here, and I don’t want to spend two hours on a Sunday afternoon while my wife and kids are going to the beach, sitting in a studio on Third Avenue talking baseball,” Rosenberg said.
He expects to resume this show in the fall for football season, “I believe.”
Rosenberg may not be talking baseball, but he did help WABC hire Ed Randall, his former WFAN colleague for his longtime branded ‘Talking Baseball’ Sunday afternoons.
From Randall to Morrow, weekends give listeners and station brass a chance to catch their breath from the heavier topics and news. However, politics is not eliminated from the weekend programming with Jeannie Pirro, Dick Morris, the owner himself, Catsimatidis and Rudy Giuliani, who also hosts a weekday program.
Giuliani made news on April 28 when feds searched and seized evidence from his Manhattan office as part of their investigation. Which begs the question, is it time for WABC to pull the plug on the former mayor?
“I don’t think so,” Rosenberg contended. “Anybody [who] knew, was involved with, let alone, close to Donald Trump, they’re looking to humiliate, embarrass, if not find a way to put him in jail. There’s nothing here. This goes right back again to the Russian hoax, the Ukraine hoax… You take Rudy Giuliani off the air, you’re basically saying he’s guilty, and he’s not.”
Until proof is shown that Giuliani did something illegal, “you don’t take the man off the air. Once you do that you’re saying, ‘he’s toxic.’”
Rosenberg is proud that WABC bosses are “not going to destroy a man’s career over a lie.”
However, Rosenberg does anticipate his former colleague Curtis Sliwa, who left WABC during a mayoral run this year, will be back on the air. Since leaving, Sliwa’s noon-3 p.m. slot has been co-opted by syndicated Charlie Kirk followed by Newsmax early evening star Greg Kelly with a two-hour local show. Kelly is known to New Yorkers for his several years spent on Fox 5’s “Good Day New York.”
Rosenberg, who is making appearances for the Republican candidate, expects Sliwa will win his party’s nomination in the June 22 primary, but “he’ll have difficulty beating Eric Adams [Brooklyn borough president]” in the general election.
Catsimatidis, who briefly talked about his own mayoral run and a possible gubernatorial campaign next year to oppose Governor Andrew Cuomo, maintains a close bond with Sliwa.
“So, I think these guys are kind of keeping it warm,” Rosenberg said.
Where the Guardian Angels founder will find himself for an eventual WABC return remains uncertain, but “that choice, while not solely up to him, will probably be somewhat up to him. If I had to guess,” Rosenberg said.
Harder to fill is the spot previously held by the legendary Rush Limbaugh, who died in February. Dan Bongino, though, could be the “heir-apparent” for conservatives, as Westwood One’s new midday host. However, Premiere Networks hasn’t named a replacement for Limbaugh’s slot, as they air “best of” clips.
“Rush was magnificent. I don’t care if you liked his politics or not,” Rosenberg said. “The guy knew how to do a radio show and that’s the bottom line.”
With the changes on the New York radio landscape, and at WABC itself, Rosenberg remains a constant, spanning more than 20 years on air. He uses that clout to create the best content.
“[Catsimatidis], along with Chad Lopez [Red Apple Media/WABC president] and Dave Labrozzi have given me a tremendous amount of freedom to do the morning show the way I always wanted to.”
Jerry Barmash has been a fixture in New York radio for decades with anchor stints on WABC Radio and Bloomberg News. Jerry was also heard on WINS, WCBS and Wall Street Journal Radio. As a media writer, Jerry’s pieces were featured in Broadcasting & Cable, NY Daily News and Watercooler HQ. Jerry also hosts the interview podcast Here Now the News. He’s on Twitter @JerryBarmash and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Christopher Gabriel Isn’t Crazy About Politics, But Is Crazy About Making People Laugh
“We’ve been number one in Fresno for the past 19 months, one of the top stations in the state. We must be doing something right. When we’re not doing news, we’re light-hearted.”
Talk about conflicted youth. Christopher Gabriel grew up a couple of miles from Wrigley Field, even though his father was a devoted fan of the White Sox.
“My dad was a southside guy,” Gabriel said. “I was a White Sox fan like him. My mom was the anomaly, a Cubs fan, but now she’s a Philly fan. We had a divided household. I was in the first row in the upper deck for the last game at Comiskey. It was gut-wrenching saying good-bye to it.”
As a kid, Gabriel watched Dick Allen in the red stripe era Sox uniforms. “I saw Allen hit one so far up in left field, it hit the lip of the roof before flying over and out,” Gabriel said. “That’s the kind of power Allen had.”
Gabriel was a basketball standout in high school, recruited by several schools including Tennessee. He had a lot of connections with the school. His uncle attended Tennessee, but he ultimately didn’t think the academic program was right for him.
He said the film Hoosiers was emblematic of everything he was. “I think it mirrored everything I could have been if I’d stayed with basketball. I always knew I had the talent but admittedly didn’t put in the necessary effort. I should have stayed there. At the same time, I never would have had the other amazing experiences in my life if I had stayed.”
His father was a shrewd businessman. Living in the Chicago area, along with McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc, his father recognized the promise of the Golden Arches early.
“It cost 100 thousand dollars in liquid cash to get into a McDonald’s franchise back then,” Gabriel said. “My father had 9 thousand, far short of the money he needed. He kept borrowing more and finally Ray Kroc put up the difference himself. When my dad was concerned about how he was going to be able to pay Kroc back, Kroc just told him to pay it back by giving back to the community.”
Wow. Good deal for the Gabriel family.
Gabriel’s radio career has encompassed both sports talk and news talk, from Fargo to Fresno. He is the host of Fresno’s Morning News on KMJ 580 AM/105.9 FM and has a ton of fun on his show. He’s not crazy about politics, but he’s passionate about his opinions.
“When I started on this show, I wanted to make people laugh on their morning commute,” Gabriel explained. “It was my goal to keep people in their car to hear the end of a story. Deliver heart-wrenching stories. I think we do that. We’re interesting, engaging, funny. We take the work seriously, but we don’t take ourselves too seriously. It’s a fine line.”
Gabriel said there’s no screaming on his show, no agenda, no attempt to make listeners lean a certain way. “We’ve been number one in Fresno for the past 19 months, one of the top stations in the state. We must be doing something right. When we’re not doing news, we’re light-hearted.”
Gabriel did his homework before accepting the job.
The story goes like this; Gabriel had been working at another station. They canned him despite his being responsible for raising most of the revenue the show generated. He refused to play the game.
“It was the only job I ever got fired from in radio,” Gabriel said. “The reason–I wasn’t a cheerleader. I told them I’d rather be fired than become a cheerleader for anyone. I told them I wasn’t the right fit. They eventually agreed.”
KMJ program director Blake Taylor was familiar with Gabriels’ work at the previous station.
“I don’t know how he got my phone number, but the same day I was let go, he called me,” Gabriel explained. “Blake told me he was a fan of my work and wanted me to do guest-hosting. After months of guest-hosting, he insisted one day he was going to hire me. Five years later an opening came along and I had two interviews. I turned it down twice. When they offered the job a third time it made me think perhaps they really wanted me.”
If you’re keeping score at home, it was basketball, theater, and then radio. Here’s the theater part. In high school, he met Regina Gordon, who ran the theater department.
“She grabbed my arm in the hallway and asked me to audition,” Gabriel said. “I was open-minded in school. I was never afraid to walk the line between all groups of kids. I didn’t hang out with only one group. It wasn’t like I only hung out with jocks or theater kids. I didn’t give a damn about sitting at a popular table.”
After Regina Gordon’s interest in Gabriel’s possible acting future, he was working at the college radio station. A temporary wall had been put up in between the radio studio and the theater office.
“Someone in the theater office would bang on the wall when they felt I got too loud on my show,” Gabriel explained. “The banging would ruin my show. I got so pissed, I burst into the theater office and was raising hell,” Gabriel said. “The girl who had banged on the wall was apparently impressed with my anger and said I’d be great for a part they were looking to fill.”
A sign? Probably. It gets better. At USC, he studied under John Housman. Yes, the John Houseman.
“He told us stories about working with Orson Welles,” Gabriel explained. “Mr. Houseman was one of the greatest people I’ve ever met, a classical theater guy. I was on campus reading my lines for Barefoot in the Park. It was hot as hell and he was dressed in a tweed jacket and bow tie, just like he would be in the film, The Paper Chase. He saw the script I was reading and seemed dismissive. He grabbed my script and said, ‘commercial crap Mr. Gabriel.’ I’ll never forget, he walked 30 feet, turned and said, ‘Don’t ever forget. Commercial crap pays the bills.”
During Gabriel’s first year of theater studies he was starting to get it. Understand the craft, as thespians say. One day John Houseman took him aside and explained it to him this way:
“He said I was talented, but raw. He said I needed a lot of work but believed I could become a good actor and ‘join him on the boards.”
That’s such a thespian thing to say, but also greatly encouraging. In order to do that, Gabriel would have to give up basketball. He did.
“I was going to be a walk-on at USC, and I realized the theater season was almost exactly the same duration as the basketball season. One of them had to go.” Basketball bit the dust.
Gabriel takes time to talk to theater groups and tells them a simple truth–if they want to pursue acting, they have to be dedicated. Work as hard as they can. He tells them he’s been in 105 plays in his career, but auditioned for more than a thousand.
He was a stellar athlete, but now his acting talent was gaining recognition. Mitch Albom went to see him in the play he penned, Tuesdays With Morrie in St. Paul, Minnesota. The stage play was adapted from Albom’s hugely successful book of the same name.
“Mitch Albom came to see me in Tuesdays with Morrie in St. Paul,” Gabriel said. “He liked the work and came backstage after the show. He said he’d like me to do another play he’d written. I thought he was bullshitting me, just being nice.When Mitch went back on the air on WJR in Detroit, someone told me he’d said he’d attended the best production of Tuesdays with Morrie he’d ever seen. That was our show.”
The accolades just kept on coming.
Gabriel worked with a director in Minneapolis by the name of Don Stolz. He ran the Old Log Theater, the oldest continuously run theater west of the Mississippi.
“He was a WWII veteran and was a theater major at Northwestern,” Gabriel said. “The guy who was running the Old Log once told him if he ever wanted to take over the theater, to send him a dollar. Stolz sent him a dollar and ran the theater for 50 years. He once told me, ‘You know what my idea of success as an actor is? You get that paycheck every Thursday. You get paid for doing what you love to do. I’ve always seen that as a critical message.”
Months later, Gabriel got a call from Albom. Turns out Albom was being sincere, and he wanted Gabriel to replace a guy in his play, Duck Hunter Shoots Angel.
“It’s a play about a couple of knucklehead brothers in Alabama who go duck hunting and actually wind up shooting down an angel,” Gabriel explained. “After a while, I told Mitch as much as I loved doing the show, I was burnt out. Mitch told me he thought I’d be good in radio, a good talk show host. He essentially pushed me into this business.”
Another door opens for our hero.
Gabriel had what could be called an apprenticeship at KFAN with Doug Westerman. “They didn’t need anyone on-air, but they were talking about starting a news-talk station,” he said. “Doug told me they were going to need someone to screen calls,” Gabriel recalled. Gabriel was apprehensive. “I thought I’d done too much in my career to start that low. Answering phones. I really didn’t know any better though so I asked him if I could have the weekend to think about it. Doug Westerman is a big and burly guy with a quick trigger. “F***that,’ Westerman screamed, ‘I need an answer now.’”
Whether Gabriel was intimidated or recognized a good opportunity when he saw one is only known by Gabriel himself. That’s where he started working with Pat Kessler, a TV political reporting legend in Minneapolis.
“Pat was like an older version of me,” Gabriel said. “He was a real newshound. Pat was doing some speech on the air and I recognized it as the St. Crispin’s Day speech from Henry V. He paused for a moment so I chimed in with several lines and quickly felt I’d made a huge mistake.
“At the commercial break I thought I’d just blown this new career, and was anticipating Pat yelling at me. Instead, he loved it. He told me to go crazy, to create characters for his show. I did liners for the show as Kim Jong-il. There wasn’t a ceiling. He gave me the latitude to create. He allowed me to grow quickly. I couldn’t have asked for a better pro to learn from. And Doug, he is simply the man who gave me this awesome career. I’m forever grateful to him.”
Throughout his stage career, Gabriel has worked alongside some big names like Julie Harris and James Earl Jones. He said he was incredulous when he learned he’d be working with James Earl Jones.
“The first time I saw him I introduced myself and said, ‘Hello Mr. Jones.’ He said, ‘Call me Jimmy.’ I thought he had to be kidding. How the hell do you call James Earl Jones, ‘Jimmy?’”
With actors like Julie Harris and James Earl Jones, Gabriel recognized how much they cared about and respected their work. For them, it wasn’t about celebrity, it was about the craft, the work. They were so sure of themselves.
Gabriel is the father of two daughters. He was thrilled when one of their school principal’s insisted the students practiced their interpersonal skills.
“He had the students shake hands, make eye contact with each other,” he explained. “I saw it as an attempt to counter the phone culture. It forced the girls to communicate with aunts and uncles and be present. I’m grateful for his efforts.”
While he concedes no child is perfect, including his own, there was one incident he felt should be brought to my attention. When one of his daughters was 15, she sent Gabriel a text message.
“It began, ‘Hey Bruh.’ I wrote back, ‘Hey Bruh? Do you think this is your boyfriend?’ I told her ‘Here’s the thing. As your grandpa would certainly tell you, if you want to make it to 16, don’t ever text me ‘Hey Bruh’ again.”
In yet another Forrest Gump-ian moment, Gabriel worked with Andrew Zimmern, the host of Bizarre Foods on The Travel Channel.
“A lot of people don’t realize he was homeless and a drug addict,” Gabriel said. “He turned his life around and became an award-winning chef. He was a food critic on television and is a good friend to this day. He always made me feel important.”
Gabriel said when Zimmern visited a city, he didn’t want to eat in the heart of the city on the main street. The popular restaurants. Instead, he wanted to eat at the restaurant on the street behind the street. The family-run joint with real recipes.
“It’s kind of like how I approach sports,” Gabriel said. “I don’t care about batting averages, I look at the nuance and depth.”
You know, the sport behind the sport.
Jim Cryns writes features for Barrett News Media. He has spent time in radio as a reporter for WTMJ, and has also served as an author and former writer for the Milwaukee Brewers. To touch base or pick up a copy of his book: On Story Parkway: Remembering Milwaukee County Stadium, available on Amazon, email email@example.com.
Are Fast Food Sandwich Stories News or Free Advertising?
The majority of these stories that make air seem to involve chicken but even then, hiding behind the latest “sandwich wars” justification seems a bit thin.
Scarcely a week goes by where we don’t have an opportunity to watch, read, or listen to a “news” story concerning the latest menu item introduced or returned by a chain restaurant or fast food outlet. Yes, “news” is in quotations because I question just how this type of information finds its way into a legitimate rundown.
I’ve always wondered about this and nobody has ever successfully explained, argued, or come close to justifying this practice is legitimate. It’s advertising without the commercial spot break and I don’t know why we continue to do it.
First, let’s lay down the disclaimer that this is no criticism or finger pointing against any particular food, franchise, corporation, or drive-thru operation or employee. Additionally, no blame or negative evaluation is to be inferred against any news station, outlet, publication or staff member.
Frankly, you’re (we’re) all culpable and equally to blame.
I have sat in the control room and watched as a fast-food restaurant graphic popped up in between the anchor team or over the solo anchor’s shoulder as the prompter rolled out copy I myself would fight not to write.
And yet there it is, Murrow and other award-winning journalists enthusiastically telling us about the new chicken sandwich this place is rolling out next month or the latest two-for-one offer at that place if you go and eat there on a Tuesday.
“It’s their new olive burger…now with more olives!”
Actually, the majority of these stories that make air seem to involve chicken but even then, hiding behind the latest “sandwich wars” justification seems a bit thin.
So, again I ask why?
What makes this information suddenly become part of an article or news copy that costs a business nothing and not an ad campaign they should be paying for?
Seriously, we’re at the point where the lines have been blurred by mayonnaise or special sauce or two kinds of lettuce or several kinds of cheese if we’re really lucky.
I am on a soapbox here but not on either a pedestal nor an altitudinous mare. In other words, I myself have tasted the forbidden fruit. Often that fruit has come in the form of a free breakfast sandwich, flavored coffee, pizza or bacon double cheeseburger that found its way to the newsroom before suddenly becoming a topic discussed on the air.
Hey, I can’t review it if I don’t try it, right?
Well, yes and mostly no. I’m not advocating for it and unless I’m being compensated to extoll the wonder that is the addition of guacamole or coleslaw it’s not getting into my headline set.
On radio, the talkers can do it all they want. They’re about other stuff like fun and music and nobody is calling them out on credibility.
The newsroom is different.
When an individual does something good we go to cover it and a business, large or small should be afforded the same courtesy. So many fast-food chains and restaurant franchises do great things for charities and local people in-need and that is part of what we regularly like to showcase.
We get press releases, sometimes distributed as “news releases” from the food chains letting us know about the new offerings. “We’ve Added Wings!” This is not an ad copy, it’s meant to get in our shows and someone, somewhere decided this is okay and not to be questioned.
I tend not to read those memos that say, “don’t ask”.
In a different direction, there are legitimate incidents, developments and news stories that often must go through a screening process because the business involved is a paying sponsor or advertiser for news programming.
I’ve had and seen accurate and justifiable copy stricken, “massaged” until unidentifiable or outright killed because somebody’s commercial ran during the show or one of the dayparts.
No naiveté here, one understands the concern. However, if a pizza joint is facing a class action sexual harassment suit and good journalism has been practiced do we run from it because they’ve bought air time or worse yet have now added cilantro to the cheesy-bites?
Bill Zito has devoted most of his work efforts to broadcast news since 1999. He made the career switch after serving a dozen years as a police officer on both coasts. Splitting the time between Radio and TV, he’s worked for ABC News and Fox News, News 12 New York , The Weather Channel and KIRO and KOMO in Seattle. He writes, edits and anchors for Audacy’s WTIC-AM in Hartford and lives in New England. You can find him on Twitter @BillZitoNEWS.
ABC’s “The Light We Carry” Special Draws 3.5 Million Total Viewers
Bestselling author and former First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama was the focus of ABC’s Nov. 13 special “The Light We Carry.”
With the 2022 midterm elections almost entirely in the rearview mirror (save for extended vote counts in selected areas and the Georgia U.S. Senate runoff), a few notable figures from elections of years past took the spotlight on November 13-15.
Bestselling author and former First Lady Michelle Obama was the focus of ABC’s Nov. 13 special “The Light We Carry”. Sharing the same title of her newest book release, Obama offered new life stories as well as coping strategies for surviving stress and uncertainty, especially since the early days of the COVID pandemic. “Good Morning America” anchor Robin Roberts interviewed Obama in Chicago and hosted a lunch with Michelle’s mother and their close circle of friends.
For its original telecast, it drew 2.8 million total viewers on Nov. 13 from 10-11 p.m., according to Nielsen Media Research. The special ranked fourth in the hour, behind NBC’s “Sunday Night Football: Chargers at 49ers”, Paramount’s “Yellowstone” season premiere and CBS’ “NCIS: Los Angeles.” Within the following seven days, it picked up an additional 710,000 viewers bringing the tally for ABC’s “Michael Obama: The Light We Carry” to 3.5 million.
On the next night (Nov. 14), ABC televised “World News Tonight” anchor David Muir’s exclusive interview with former Vice President Mike Pence. It was Pence’s first sit-down interview since the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the Capitol and the subsequent committee hearings that investigated the day. It delivered 3.93 million viewers, which nearly doubled its “Bachelor in Paradise” lead-in (2.27 million) and ranked third in the 10-11 p.m. hour (behind ESPN “Monday Night Football: Commanders-Eagles” and CBS’ “NCIS: Hawai’i”). In Live plus seven-day viewers, the Pence interview added another 1.3 million to its audience figures, totaling 5.23 million overall.
Then, on Nov. 15, as expected, Donald Trump announced his run for the 2024 U.S. presidency. The three major cable news outlets plus two newer news channels all saw an uptick for that announcement within the 9 p.m. ET hour, although CNN and MSNBC only checked in on the event periodically.
Fox News Channel’s “Hannity” drew the biggest crowd with 5.16 million viewers — the program’s top mark since Trump spoke with Hannity on Aug. 26, 2021. CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360” was a distant runner-up at 2.43 million. “Alex Wagner Tonight” on MSNBC (1.83 million) was a decent third; its lead-out “Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell” (1.99 million) built upon Wagner’s show that evening.
Newsmax devoted two hours to Trump’s announcement, from 9-11 p.m. ET, drawing 1.13 million total viewers — normally, the outlet averages about 1/8th that amount in prime time.
Upstart NewsNation posted 234,000 viewers. It was preceded by “Cuomo” (193,000) at 8 p.m. and succeeded by a post-analysis hosted by Chris Cuomo at 10 p.m. (122,000). The night helped propel NewsNation to another 100,000+ weekly viewer average in prime time, a mark that was in far distant reach for almost all of its two years in existence.
Cable news averages for November 14-20, 2022:
Total Day (Nov. 14-20 @ 6 a.m.-5:59 a.m.)
- Fox News Channel: 1.567 million viewers; 216,000 adults 25-54
- MSNBC: 0.818 million viewers; 94,000 adults 25-54
- CNN: 0.625 million viewers; 131,000 adults 25-54
- HLN: 0.156 million viewers; 40,000 adults 25-54
- Newsmax: 0.135 million viewers; 16,000 adults 25-54
- Fox Business Network: 0.123 million viewers; 14,000 adults 25-54
- CNBC: 0.122 million viewers; 29,000 adults 25-54
- The Weather Channel: 0.108 million viewers; 21,000 adults 25-54
Prime Time (Nov. 14-19 @ 8-11 p.m.; Nov. 20 @ 7-11 p.m.)
- Fox News Channel: 2.399 million viewers; 319,000 adults 25-54
- MSNBC: 1.312 million viewers; 144,000 adults 25-54
- CNN: 0.877 million viewers; 205,000 adults 25-54
- Newsmax: 0.277 million viewers; 43,000 adults 25-54
- CNBC: 0.170 million viewers; 51,000 adults 25-54
- HLN: 0.162 million viewers; 37,000 adults 25-54
- The Weather Channel: 0.110 million viewers; 20,000 adults 25-54
- NewsNation: 0.103 million viewers; 14,000 adults 25-54
- Fox Business Network: 0.069 million viewers; 11,000 adults 25-54
Top 10 most-watched cable news programs (and the top programs of other outlets with their respective associated ranks) in total viewers:
1. Hannity (FOXNC, Tue. 11/15/2022 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 5.157 million viewers
2. The Five (FOXNC, Tue. 11/15/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.869 million viewers
3. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Tue. 11/15/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.662 million viewers
4. The Five (FOXNC, Thu. 11/17/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.629 million viewers
5. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Thu. 11/17/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.629 million viewers
6. The Five (FOXNC, Mon. 11/14/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.560 million viewers
7. The Five (FOXNC, Wed. 11/16/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.546 million viewers
8. The Ingraham Angle (FOXNC, Tue. 11/15/2022 10:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.531 million viewers
9. The Five (FOXNC, Fri. 11/18/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.318 million viewers
10. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Wed. 11/16/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.299 million viewers
23. Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC, Mon. 11/14/2022 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.650 million viewers
28. Anderson Cooper 360 (CNN, Tue. 11/15/2022 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.430 million viewers
221. Real Time With Bill Maher “Episode 620” (HBO, Fri. 11/18/2022 10:00 PM, 57 min.) 0.834 million viewers
348. The Daily Show (CMDY, Thu. 11/17/2022 11:00 PM, 30 min.) 0.501 million viewers
395. Last Week Tonight (HBO, Sun. 11/20/2022 11:06 PM, 40 min.) 0.387 million viewers
399. Varney & Company (FBN, Wed. 11/16/2022 10:00 AM, 60 min.) 0.382 million viewers
444. Fast Money Halftime Report (CNBC, Tue. 11/15/2022 12:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.296 million viewers
453. Forensic Files “To The Viktor” (HLN, Thu. 11/17/2022 12:00 AM, 30 min.) 0.288 million viewers
500. Weekend Recharge (TWC, Sat. 11/19/2022 10:00 AM, 60 min.) 0.247 million viewers
526. Newsnation Special Report “Trump Potus 2024 Speech” (NWSN, Tue. 11/15/2022 9:00 PM, 69 min.) 0.234 million viewers
Top 10 cable news programs (and the top programs of other outlets with their respective associated ranks) among adults 25-54:
1. Hannity (FOXNC, Tue. 11/15/2022 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.929 million adults 25-54
2. Anderson Cooper 360 (CNN, Tue. 11/15/2022 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.656 million adults 25-54
3. The Ingraham Angle (FOXNC, Tue. 11/15/2022 10:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.637 million adults 25-54
4. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Tue. 11/15/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.573 million adults 25-54
5. The Five (FOXNC, Tue. 11/15/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.546 million adults 25-54
6. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Wed. 11/16/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.506 million adults 25-54
7. The Five (FOXNC, Thu. 11/17/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.501 million adults 25-54
8. Gutfeld! (FOXNC, Tue. 11/15/2022 11:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.481 million adults 25-54
9. The Five (FOXNC, Wed. 11/16/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.479 million adults 25-54
10. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Thu. 11/17/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.465 million adults 25-54
35. Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC, Mon. 11/14/2022 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.298 million adults 25-54
147. The Daily Show (CMDY, Thu. 11/17/2022 11:00 PM, 30 min.) 0.172 million adults 25-54
158. Real Time With Bill Maher “Episode 620” (HBO, Fri. 11/18/2022 10:00 PM, 57 min.) 0.167 million adults 25-54
221. Last Week Tonight (HBO, Sun. 11/20/2022 11:06 PM, 40 min.) 0.128 million adults 25-54
261. Forensic Files “Kidnapping” (HLN, late Fri. 11/18/2022 4:00 AM, 30 min.) 0.113 million adults 25-54
386. Shark Tank “Shark Tank 1005” (CNBC, Tue. 11/15/2022 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.075 million adults 25-54
450. Weekend Recharge (TWC, Sat. 11/19/2022 11:00 AM, 60 min.) 0.063 million adults 25-54
570. American Built (FBN, Mon. 11/14/2022 11:30 PM, 30 min.) 0.048 million adults 25-54
644. Cuomo (NWSN, Wed. 11/16/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.038 million adults 25-54
Source: Live+Same Day data, Nielsen Media Research
Douglas Pucci is a Bronx native and NYU graduate analyzing news television ratings for Barrett News Media. He did an internship at VH1’s “Pop Up Video” in 1997. After college, Pucci went on to design, build and maintain websites for various non-profit organizations in his hometown of New York City. He has worked alongside media industry observer Marc Berman for over a decade reporting on all things television, first at Cross MediaWorks from 2011-15 then at Programming Insider since 2016. Pucci also contributed to the sports website Awful Announcing. Read more: https://programminginsider.com/author/douglas/