Goodbye to curveballs and slam dunks. Hello to mob riots and campaign trails. For Will Cain, this is the perfect time to change uniforms.
Cain has completed his transition from sports back to news, and if his first few weeks co-hosting Fox and Friends Weekend is any indication, he seems quite comfortable. Like a free agent ballplayer changing teams in the prime of his career, Cain has grabbed the opportunity to build the next successful chapter of his on-air life.
Although he did appear on Fox and Friends a decade ago, this is the broadcast veteran’s first stint as a regular with the network, after previously starting successful media companies and working on-air in television news for other networks.
His background in the news world, however, was all before he landed at ESPN and truly made his national name. After joining the “Worldwide Leader in Sports” in 2015 and hosting his well-regarded ESPN Radio afternoon-drive program since 2018, Cain anticipated a successful leap back into a world far from pitching changes and 3rd down conversions.
“I am excited to join the team at ‘FOX & Friends Weekend’ and look forward to building upon my experience in sports, news and politics on the number one morning show in the country,” Cain told FoxNews.com before his first show last month. And what a time it is to be back in news for someone with the broadcasting chops and opinionated delivery such as Will Cain.
If you watched or listened to Cain work at ESPN over the past five years, you could tell he was unique. After all, this was a conservative-leaning guy working – actually excelling – at ESPN! That alone made you take notice. Whether delivering a radio monologue or taking part in a television debate with Stephen A. Smith, Cain came prepared to deliver compelling programming each day. At the same time, he quietly developed a behind-the-scenes reputation as a class act, always willing to help others in the field.
Take, for example, the day he helped entertain a group of students from Fordham University’s sports media powerhouse, WFUV Radio. After spending time behind the scenes discussing the sports media business, Cain allowed the students to watch his radio/television simulcast program from the control room. As if that weren’t enough, he invited one of the college broadcasting students onto the air for a 20-minute debate about one of the hot topics of the day. That just doesn’t happen in national sports radio! Cain helped give those aspiring sportscasters a day they’ll never forget, while creating a compelling segment of radio.
Will Cain worked on the television news side in the past, including hosting a show on Glenn Beck’s The Blaze network, as well as working as a CNN political contributor. By most standards, it looks like he hasn’t missed a beat in jumping into some of the day’s more sensitive and divisive topics with his co-hosts Jedediah Bila and Pete Hegseth. The task has been made easier because he has a history with the duo, co-hosting a news talk program on The Blaze.
“Some years ago we spent every night around a table, debating the issues that were important in that day’s news cycle,” Cain said during an introductory segment on Fox and Friends in mid-August. “Chemistry is one of those things that every television executive would like to think he can create, but it’s often magical. It takes trust, confidence and mutual respect. I can say walking in that the three of us genuinely have those three characteristics. I genuinely like these two people. I trust them and I respect their points of view. That does not mean I’m going to always agree with them, but I truly trust and respect them.”
Together, the three create a young, hip vibe for the Fox News morning program, and Cain has been willing to jump right into the mix and tackle some of today’s most contentious stories.
For example, with rioting and looting running rampant in many major U.S. cities this summer, Cain recently spent time talking with New York City police officers, residents and business owners. One current officer, who asked to be disguised so his identity wouldn’t become public, told Cain, “I never thought I would have to put this uniform on and be looked at as the enemy, and to be hated.” He followed up by telling Cain, “you would be crazy to take this job now in this day and age.” Quite a jarring difference for Cain – and one he has handled adroitly – after only weeks ago he was spending his afternoons discussing, for example, the challenges for baseball and football beginning their respective 2020 seasons.
Cain also waded into the political waters, commenting on last month’s Democratic National Convention by saying nominee Joe Biden’s speech “crossed the bar of being a smooth speech,” but also added “I found criticism of this president, criticism of this country, criticism of our history, but not much substance on how they would fix it.”
Will Cain has never been shy to offer his opinion, whether it be on The Will Cain Show or during his appearances on ESPN”s First Take. He has promised to continue bringing his unique style and wit to the more weighty and significant topics of the day with Fox.
“I can’t wait, I’m so excited to be back with these two and on Fox News,” Cain said. “We’re gonna have fun. We’re gonna pursue the truth.
As far as we can tell, Cain is fitting in just fine so far. He certainly hasn’t lost his fastball.
Rick Schultz is a former Sports Director for WFUV Radio at Fordham University. He has coached and mentored hundreds of Sports Broadcasting students at the Connecticut School of Broadcasting, Marist College and privately. His media career experiences include working for the Hudson Valley Renegades, Army Sports at West Point, The Norwich Navigators, 1340/1390 ESPN Radio in Poughkeepsie, NY, Time Warner Cable TV, Scorephone NY, Metro Networks, NBC Sports, ABC Sports, Cumulus Media, Pamal Broadcasting and WATR. He has also authored a number of books including “A Renegade Championship Summer” and “Untold Tales From The Bush Leagues”. To get in touch, find him on Twitter @RickSchultzNY.
Can News/Talk Radio Be the Opposite of the Thanksgiving Table?
I wonder if the delicate dance between honesty and not wanting to offend is the same at the “table” as it is on the radio airwaves. Regardless, the prospect of conversations in both places can be both refreshing and frightening.
As we get overnight Truth Social rants from Donald Trump, Hunter Biden’s laptop trending, another presidential debate, and more calls for anyone but a Trump-Biden race, the whole ability to be politically independent seems to be increasingly difficult, whether it be on the radio or at the dinner table.
First, what does it actually mean to be independent? Everyone likes to say they’re independent, but before judging them on their merits, what are the defining criteria?
It’s not about objectivity vs. subjectivity. No one is truly objective, so let’s get past that middle school comparison. I view the concept of political independence as two things: Intellectual flexibility and partisan separation.
The first term involves the ability to react to new, different, and dynamic information and actually adjust a viewpoint. Ardent partisans call this flip-flopping. I call it a saving grace of the free mind (cue Matrix theme music). You should be able to evolve and shift a position based on learning. Most adults are not able or willing to do this (see my old column on silos).
Partisan separation is an offshoot of the willingness to be intellectually flexible. If you are 100 percent beholden to a party, you cannot be intellectually flexible. As a human and as a morning radio host, that’s an untenable place to occupy – IMHO, as the young’uns say.
When I review my portfolio of political views, thoughts, and feelings, I accept some that are considered conservative, and others that look progressive, while still possessing several moderate stances as well. The point is not to blindly follow a line; follow what your senses tell you, even if it’s not consistently one side or the other.
Think of it as split-ticket voting, but on issues and not candidates – and try doing it on an ongoing basis.
Critics on either side may say you flip flop or even some call you a coward. I am fine with that, and every day on the air, I am working on the courage to embrace all 360 degrees of my views without fear of the response. My agenda is not to have an agenda.
So, some two weeks after Thanksgiving, I am still processing the many hours of conversation at the “table”. I put that in quotations because we don’t actually have a sit-down meal. With 35 or so people, we set up the food buffet-style and let everyone have at it.
I wonder if the delicate dance between honesty and not wanting to offend is the same at the “table” as it is on the radio airwaves. Regardless, the prospect of conversations in both places can be both refreshing and frightening.
Personally, I like to go there right away and then assess whether it’s worth staying there. At my holiday meal, there were so many options for people to talk to – one could just float around the rooms — and the outs are easy. I could get more food, hit the bathroom, or the simple need to catch up with someone else. As the alcohol flowed, so did the more political conversations.
I know not to give my end-of-day thoughts with the close relatives; I keep that kind of candor to crazy cousins and their spouses.
My wife’s extended family is mostly New England Democrats with a smattering of shy-about-it Republicans. In the past, we’ve had drunken tears over political issues – including one fantastic meltdown over a relative’s vote for Trump — but it’s been mostly quiet for the last few years. Having said that it’s clear that a truly independent – or rather, open-minded – approach is precarious.
Here are some areas, questions, and stances where I’ve learned people get upset, and more disturbingly, judge you — whether it be on the radio or at the dinner “table”. These are all things we should be able to discuss without fear:
Can’t you truly want to expand the vote to the most people possible but also wonder about the merits of voter ID and absentee ballot security?
If you worry about the concept of late-term abortion, you are pro-life.
And If you question the border policy, you are anti-immigrant.
If you at least acknowledge the fact that the world actually seemed more peaceful three years ago, you might as well have a MAGA flag in your bedroom.
Question President Biden’s age? people think you’re going to vote for Donald Trump.
If you lament the death of Palestinian civilians, you are anti-Israel.
If you correct the misuse of the term genocide, it means you support genocide.
Think the government has the potential to be a force for good? You’re a spend-thirsty liberal.
If you want to save Social Security by raising the earnings cap, you’re a tax-thirsty liberal.
If you recognize white privilege and still want to work out how to make opportunity fair in this country, you’re anti-white.
Want to at least brainstorm on what reparations would look like? You are also anti-white.
If you are curious about whether there should be some sort of line at some point between boys and girls sports, you are anti-trans.
If you argue for true free speech, you get in trouble on both sides.
And if you think market-based solutions can work, you are an elitist.
I could go on and on, but you get the point. Exploring these issues should not mean an absolute commitment to a stance. These are evolving subjects, and there has to be an evolving discourse in order to even have a chance at intellectual flexibility.
Do I have an answer for how to do this? No. Am I still hesitant to approach some of these topics on the air? Yes. Will I continue to test things when it feels appropriate? Absolutely.
In radio, getting there remains a work in progress, but even though I want to work in the middle a lot, it does not mean that I want to be stuck there.
Brian Shactman is a weekly columnist for Barrett News Radio. In addition to writing for BNM, Brian can be heard weekday mornings in Hartford, CT on 1080 WTIC hosting the popular morning program ‘Brian & Company’. During his career, Brian has worked for ESPN, CNBC, MSNBC, and local TV channels in Connecticut and Massachusetts. You can find him on Twitter @bshactman.
Is Journalism Worth the Cost? Facebook and Google Are About to Find Out
Is there really value in Big Tech and social media, or are you, the user, being sold to advertisers and potentially next to news outlets?
Can you put a price on journalism? A new Columbia University study says you can and U.S. publishers are owed nearly $14 Billion from Google and Meta. The number comes from both companies’ total advertising revenue.
Meta’s disbursement would be $1.9 Billion (6.6%). Google’s payout would be much higher at $10-$12 Billion (17.5%) because the study found a majority of Google users preferred the site with news. This information comes as several countries, like Australia and Canada, have passed legislation requiring payments to publishers. Other countries, including the United States, are looking to pass legislation requiring Big Tech companies to compensate outlets for carrying their news content.
According to Pew Research Center, 86% of Americans are “often getting news” on their smartphone, computer, or other digital devices. Of those surveyed, half get news from social media. However, revenue flow for many news outlets is thinner than the newsprint that arrives at your door. NewsRated reports profits for newspaper outlets in 2021 were $1.44 Billion, a 12.54% drop since 2017. Their main source of funding comes from online ads.
While the extra payday from Big Tech would benefit most if not all outlets, is it ethical to be paid by the platform that is distributing your product? Especially when they can and have censored news at their own discretion.
In August, Meta stopped sharing news content in Canada because of passed legislation requiring the social media company to pay news outlets for its journalism. In late November, Canada and Google agreed the technology company would pay $100 Million annually to news publishers in the country. Final rules for the Great White North’s legislation will be released on December 19.
In the U.S., take a look at what social media giants did to the New York Post after their initial article on Hunter Biden’s laptop. The outlet was barred from accessing their Twitter account unless the tweet was deleted. Twitter and Facebook both suppressed reposts of the story. Not only did this story turn out to be true, but it took legacy media outlets 769 days to verify its legitimacy. If conservative outlets weren’t banging the drum on this story, would it have been swept under the rug completely?
The other issue with Big Tech paying news outlets, can and would it selectively negotiate with outlets whose content aligns with the values of Big Tech? Keep in mind Google is already facing an antitrust lawsuit for allegedly maintaining a monopoly over the online search market. Could they unilaterally decide which media outlets they pay, which news content they carry, and would they allow news, like the antitrust lawsuit, to populate on their search engine?
If Big Tech controls what you see, does their bias now replace journalistic integrity? Furthermore, if the delivery of news content becomes subject to the law of supply and demand versus the true utility of news content, to inform the public, is the media’s intended function (being the 4th estate) now completely null and void?
One country might have some of the answers, Australia. Legislators Down Under pushed through legislation for Google and Meta to pay media outlets in 2021. By all accounts it’s labeled as a ‘success.’
More than 30 outlets signed deals with Google and Meta for compensation. One year after the legislation was enacted Australia’s The Guardian added 50 journalists. Non-Disclosure agreements (NDAs) however don’t let the public know how much outlets are being paid by Big Tech. Critics of the legislation believe these NDAs may leave smaller outlets unable to compete with mainstream media.
One important note, legislators are leaving X, formerly Twitter, out of the compensation discussion. They lost $75 Million in revenue after Elon Musk bought the platform. This begs the question, is there really value in Big Tech and social media, or are you, the user, being sold to advertisers and potentially next to news outlets?
Regardless, Musk’s purchase taught us a few things, all social media serves as a “de facto public town square.” With that analogy, Google is now your library. Research is no longer about what you look at, it’s who is telling you what to look at. All algorithms operate like this. Even if fray and fringe news outlets strike a deal with Big Tech they still could be selectively censored due to a designed lack of clicks. Legislation like this in U.S. is still awhile away at the Federal level.
Instead, States are trying to take matters into their own hands. In California, a Democratic State Assembly Member introduced a bill requiring tech companies to pay a 70% usage fee when advertising is sold next to news content. Can these payments uphold the integrity of journalism? Or does the price of journalism cost journalists their integrity?
Krystina Alarcon Carroll is a columnist and features writer for Barrett News Media.She currently freelances at WPIX in New York, and has previously worked on live, streamed, and syndicated TV programs. Her prior employers have included NY1, Fox News Digital, Law & Crime Network, and Newsmax. You can find Krystina on X (formerly twitter) @KrystinaAlaCarr.
Jen Psaki Continues Tallying Ratings Wins for MSNBC
MSNBC rewarded that success by expanding her show to Mondays at 8 PM Eastern which precedes the channel’s popular Rachel Maddow Show.
Jen Psaki, President Biden’s first White House press secretary, officially joined MSNBC’s roster of anchors and hosts back on March 19 with Inside with Jen Psaki.
The Sunday noon time show got off to a positive start when it debuted to 1.094 million viewers including 137,000 within the key 25-54 demographic. It fell just 12,000 shy of Fox News Channel’s Fox News Live in total viewers on that day (Mar. 19), but the MSNBC show led its timeslot over FNC and CNN in adults 25-54. It was at that time news of Donald Trump’s then-pending arraignment in New York City began to surface, resulting in a ratings uplift to the left-leaning outlet overall.
Inside with Jen Psaki instantly became MSNBC’s No. 1 show on Sundays, and has remained so, despite the waning of news of Trump’s legal woes. Since its Mar. 19 launch through Nov. 26, the program has averaged 823,000 viewers and 87,000 adults 25-54, according to Nielsen Media Research. For three out of the four Sundays within the month of August (Aug. 13 the exception), Jen Psaki outdrew its time slot competition FNC’s Fox News Live in total viewers.
MSNBC rewarded that success by expanding her show to Mondays at 8 PM Eastern which precedes the channel’s popular Rachel Maddow Show. For Psaki’s Monday premiere back on Sep. 25, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was a guest.
That edition posted 1.666 million viewers including 139,000 adults 25-54; compared to the Monday prior (Sep. 18), relatively even with usual time slot occupant All In with Chris Hayes among the key demo (133,000) but rose 342,000 in total viewers (All In now only airing on MSNBC Tuesdays thru Fridays). “Inside” Monday has since remained an improvement over All In, averaging 1.46 million viewers and 143,000 adults 25-54 through Nov. 20.
On the opposite end for MSNBC, it recently axed its Sunday evening program The Mehdi Hasan Show. It lasted just 21 months on linear TV; it originally began on NBCUniversal’s streaming platform Peacock in Oct. 2020. Its most recent result was for Nov. 26: a mere 440,000 viewers and 26,000 in 25-54 — a higher total audience than CNN (335,000) in the Sunday 8 p.m. slot but far behind in the important demo (CNN, 54,000 adults 25-54).
While Hasan had enjoyed above 600,000 total viewers in each of its August editions, it still drew much less than half of its direct competitor from FNC, Life, Liberty and Levin. Returning to the example of Nov. 26 at 8 PM, FNC experienced an even larger margin of victory over its cable news competitors with Levin delivering 1.371 million viewers including 114,000 in 25-54.
Cable news averages for November 13-19, 2023:
Total Day (Nov. 13-19 @ 6 a.m.-5:59 a.m.)
- Fox News Channel: 1.229 million viewers; 149,000 adults 25-54
- MSNBC: 0.833 million viewers; 85,000 adults 25-54
- CNN: 0.456 million viewers; 87,000 adults 25-54
- Newsmax: 0.145 million viewers; 11,000 adults 25-54
- HLN: 0.135 million viewers; 38,000 adults 25-54
- Fox Business Network: 0.115 million viewers; 12,000 adults 25-54
- CNBC: 0.112 million viewers; 24,000 adults 25-54
- NewsNation: 0.074 million viewers; 13,000 adults 25-54
- The Weather Channel: 0.074 million viewers; 19,000 adults 25-54
Prime Time (Nov. 13-18 @ 8-11 p.m.; Nov. 19 @ 7-11 p.m.)
- Fox News Channel: 1.831 million viewers; 213,000 adults 25-54
- MSNBC: 1.241 million viewers; 115,000 adults 25-54
- CNN: 0.509 million viewers; 110,000 adults 25-54
- Newsmax: 0.201 million viewers; 16,000 adults 25-54
- NewsNation: 0.108 million viewers; 21,000 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. The Five (FOXNC, Mon. 11/13/2023 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.029 million viewers
2. The Five (FOXNC, Tue. 11/14/2023 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.842 million viewers
3. The Five (FOXNC, Wed. 11/15/2023 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.744 million viewers
4. The Five (FOXNC, Thu. 11/16/2023 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.680 million viewers
5. Jesse Watters Primetime (FOXNC, Wed. 11/15/2023 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.643 million viewers
6. The Five (FOXNC, Fri. 11/17/2023 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.616 million viewers
7. Jesse Watters Primetime (FOXNC, Mon. 11/13/2023 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.565 million viewers
8. Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC, Mon. 11/13/2023 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.543 million viewers
9. Jesse Watters Primetime (FOXNC, Tue. 11/14/2023 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.533 million viewers
10. Hannity (FOXNC, Tue. 11/14/2023 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.328 million viewers
Top 10 cable news programs (and the top programs of other outlets with their respective associated ranks) among adults 25-54:
1. The Five (FOXNC, Mon. 11/13/2023 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.322 million adults 25-54
2. Gutfeld! (FOXNC, Fri. 11/17/2023 10:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.315 million adults 25-54
3. Gutfeld! (FOXNC, Tue. 11/14/2023 10:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.298 million adults 25-54
4. Jesse Watters Primetime (FOXNC, Mon. 11/13/2023 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.297 million adults 25-54
5. Gutfeld! (FOXNC, Mon. 11/13/2023 10:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.292 million adults 25-54
6. The Five (FOXNC, Wed. 11/15/2023 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.281 million adults 25-54
7. The Ingraham Angle (FOXNC, Mon. 11/13/2023 7:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.280 million adults 25-54
8. Jesse Watters Primetime (FOXNC, Tue. 11/14/2023 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.277 million adults 25-54
9. Hannity (FOXNC, Tue. 11/14/2023 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.270 million adults 25-54
10. Hannity (FOXNC, Mon. 11/13/2023 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.263 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/