Urban Talk Network Slated to Air in Cleveland

Radio One CEO Alfred Liggins tells the Boston Globe’s Clea Simon that the company is planning to launch a new nationwide talk radio network aimed at African-Americans on many of its own AM stations across the country, and that among the markets involved at launch will be…Cleveland.

The new network’s marquee attraction will be the Rev. Al Sharpton, a former presidential candidate who’s made noises about going into talk radio before. He’s slated to host the 1-4 PM ET slot, putting him in almost direct competition with names like Premiere’s Rush Limbaugh and Air America’s Al Franken. With no further details, a new syndicated talk radio gig for Rev. Sharpton was announced earlier this year. Limbaugh noted the May story on his show, and jokingly offered to provide Rev. Sharpton with radio training.

The Radio One-operated network – which will also be offered to other non-company owned stations – will program 10 AM to 7 PM ET, and will leave morning drive open to local stations. There could be at least one reason for that – Radio One is launching the new urban talk network with Reach Media, which produces and syndicates urban morning radio superstar Tom Joyner’s show. It’s much like Fox Sports Radio not producing live programming from noon to 3 PM ET, to make way for stations to carry Premiere’s Jim Rome.

Sharpton will be followed in afternoon drive by Doug and Ryan Stewart out of Atlanta, better known to ESPN2 viewers as “Two Live Stews”. Their local radio program currently runs on Atlanta sports talker WQXI/790 “The Zone”. The fledging network is still seeking a midday host (10 AM-1 PM ET) before it launches sometime in early 2006.

It doesn’t take the proverbial rocket scientist to point out that Radio One’s WERE/1300, currently running brokered talk and other paid programs, is likely to be the destination for this effort in Cleveland…though the company does also program gospel-formatted WJMO/1490 on the AM band, in addition to its two FMs in the market – WZAK/93.1 and WENZ/107.9.

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