After watching its Morning Joe get beat by CNN seven consecutive months in the news demo and four in overall audience, MSNBC made its move this morning, naming veteran sports producer Michael Weisman to the newly created position of Executive in Charge. He will oversee show production. Alex Korson, who was named EP of the show in 2011, will continue to serve as executive producer but now will report to Weisman.
Best know for his work in sports, Weisman has worked on a variety of programs including the Olympics, Wimbledon and World Cup, but also late-night, daytime and morning TV. Weisman is one of those sports execs who merits New York Times‘ “star” list treatment, along with Dick Ebersol and Roone Arledge. He’s been around a long time. When then newly-ish named NBC Sports chief Dick Ebersol fired Weisman in 1989 so he could bring in his own guy, Weisman, who started at the network as a page, was an 18-year veteran. Ebersol wound up bringing Weisman back as an exec consultant for the Salt Lake Winter Games — because, Ebersol said of the guy he’d let go, he is “one of the most talented producers of the modern sports era.”
Weisman’s credited with giving Bob Costas his big break, and with various sportscasting innovations including mic-ing coaches and having baseball players introduce their team lineup. In a 1986 interview with the Washington Post, Weisman explained his underlying philosophy “was borrowed from the entertainment world: start strong and leave them laughing.”
“I’m a strong believer of what leaves the strongest impression is how you come on the air and how you leave the air,” Weisman said back then.
Korson became EP when Chris Licht left to join CBS News. Before that he had been senior producer since 2008. Prior to that, Korson was a senior producer with The Big Idea With Donny Deutsch on CNBC, after five years “at that other morning news show on CNN,” MSNBC chief Phil Griffin said in a staff memo when he announced Korson’s promotion.
The Morning Joe exec change comes just days after MSNBC finally threw in the towel on Ronan Farrow’s show and The Reid Report, because the botched experiment with going after the multi-platform generation, which had debuted to unimpressive numbers, was now flatlining.
In February 2015, compared to Andrea Mitchell Reports in the same time slot in February 2014, Farrow’s show was down 27% in overall audience, to 212,000 viewers. More impressively, MSNBC has taken a nosebleed dive of 70% in the news demo with the guy they thought was the next It Boy Of Journalism, to a paltry 28,000 viewers, versus Mitchell’s 93,000.
Meanwhile, Fox News Channel’s Happening Now is averaging 226,000 news demo viewers in Farrow’s time slot, and CNN’s Wolf is averaging 144,000.
Reid Report, at 2 PM, actually was doing better than Farrow, though you’d never know it for all the promoting of Farrow the network had been doing relative to Reid. She was clocking 243,000 viewers in February – down 23% from NewsNation’s 315,000, but a plunge of 67% in the news demo from NewsNation’s 93,000 demo viewers to 31,000.
And, in Reid’s time slot, Fox News’ Real Story is averaging 190,000 news demo viewers, and CNN Newsroom is clocking 153,000.
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