It's been quite a 2010 for conservative media icon Glenn Beck -- spurring on the tea-party movement, drawimg a throng to his August rally at the Lincoln Memorial, and becoming a finalist for Time's Person of the Year.
But come 2011, Beck will be off the radio in Philadelphia -- as least as it stands now.
Beck and his fellow right-wing gabber Sean Hannity got dumped today by the city's top-ranked talk-radio outlet, WPHT 1210-The Big Talker, in a major shakeup aimed at keepin' it local.
While Hannity and Beck -- nationally the No. 2 and No. 3 most-listened-to talk hosts behind Rush Limbaugh -- are scrambling to find a new home in America's fourth-biggest media market, the shuffle means a more prominent role for locally based Michael Smerconish.
Marc Rayfield, senior vice president and market manager for CBS Radio in Philadelphia, told Gloria Campisi of the Philadelphia Daily News that WPHT wants to become "more of a locally based station" and that its biggest draws have been Smerconish and its broadcasts of the Phillies.
Smerconish, long considered a conservative who's backed controversial anti-terrorism moves including torture and profiling of Muslims at airports, had repositioned himself as a moderate after endorsing Barack Obama in 2008 and quitting the Republican Party.
But lest you think that Philadelphia's top talk station was becoming a middle-of-the-road nirvana, WPHT is replacing Smerconish in the morning drive with Tea Party backer Chris Stigall out of Kansas City, who got national publicity when he said he didn't want his kid listening alone to Obama in criticizing the president's 2009 speech to schoolchildren.
As for Beck and Hannity, they could well land on their feet by the tme the changes are slated to take effect on mid-January. One possibility is WNTP, AM 990, the lower rated conservative talk station in Philadelpia that would no doubt jump at the chance to land the two, Or a local station could change formats; Beck and Hannity are syndicated through a subsidiary of Clear Channel, which owns several music stations in Philadelphia.
In case you were curious, the solidly Democratic Philadelphia region has two conservative talk stations -- but no liberal counterpart.
- Glenn Beck