Imus Reaches Deal with Farm Channel
ALISON STEWART, host:
It is official, at least according to the New York Times.
RFD-TV will simulcast Don Imus' radio program when he returns to the airwaves on December 3rd. But you, the loyal BPP listener, knew this was in the works. We spoke to the president of the channel, devoted to farm living, happened a short while ago, and he confirmed the deal with Imus was in the works. He also addressed the big issue, the reason Imus was booted off the air of CBS Radio and MSNBC, those racially charged remarks he made on air.
Here's Patrick Gottsch, founder and president of RFD-TV, on THE BRYANT PARK PROJECT.
Mr. PATRICK GOTTSCH (Founder and President, RFD-TV): RFD-TV is seven years old now. We launched in December 2000, launched initially on Dish Network in December 2000. DirecTV added the channel in March of 2002, and then, since then, we've been adding a number of cable systems, especially in rural America. Mediacom,Suddenlink, Charter, and the NCTC, which is a cooperative of a thousand rural systems. I've been carrying this programming now for about four years, so we're currently in about 30 million homes and real close to signing some deals with some major urban markets soon.
LUKE BURBANK, host:
What's your trademark program?
Mr. GOTTSCH: Well, we're really three or four networks rolled into one. About 20 percent of our programming is devoted to agriculture, 20 percent to people that love horses, equine programming, about 25 percent is rural lifestyle programming, and that's not farmers and ranches that's…
STEWART: No, it's a quilting - there's a whole show about quilting in a day which I would watch.
Mr. GOTTSCH: Yeah, there is - it's for the folks. There's 27 million homes in rural America outside of urban areas, all these one, two, five acre places, small towns so the programming is more targeted towards them. And then music and entertainment makes up about 25, 26 percent of our programming at this time, especially the classic, country-type shows. A lot of people are comparing us to the old Nashville Network and we're kind of proud of that comparison.
Ralph Emery started a show on us last year that's proved to be very popular. Today, we're announcing that "Crook & Chase" from Nashville now is returning to RFD-TV in January with an exclusive one-hour weekly show that will be a new production in Nashville, so…
BURBANK: The New York Times reported, as we mentioned earlier in this segment, that you have been in talks with Don Imus to simulcast his show. Are you guys going to do a TV version of what he's doing on the radio?
Mr. GOTTSCH: We did a one-hour special this past summer on the ranch from New Mexico, aired it on - or taped it in July and aired it in September…
STEWART: And that's Don Imus' ranch, right?
Mr. GOTTSCH: On Don Imus ranch…
STEWART: …just for folks who don't know…
Mr. GOTTSCH: …for cancer that he indeed - and Wyatt and their family do, and it proved to be extremely popular, it showed a real sign of Don that, I think, some folks hadn't seen before, so - and I personally was out there and truly witnessed 10 lives being changed and kids that came to the ranch as - with one attitude and left with a whole different attitude. It was quite a moving program so…
BURBANK: He's a guy, who, of course, has gotten a lot of notoriety in the last year because of some comments he made about African-American players on a college basketball team. Is that something that would give you concern about joining business with him?
Mr. GOTTSCH: I think that - I don't have anything to do after that. I think, you know, 50 different people have weighed in on him. We got nothing to add to it. I know, you know, Don has apologized profusely. I know that the teams accepted his apology, so that's good enough for us and I think it should be for everybody else, too, quite frankly.
BURBANK: So you don't have any second thoughts about, you know?
Mr. GOTTSCH: I've got somewhat a different advantage, Luke and Alison, over, I think everybody else. Like I said, I just spent 10 days at the ranch this summer with the Imus family and got to see him when cameras aren't rolling or mikes aren't in their face and sat down to dinner with him several times, rode around the pickup with them. These are quality people, these are good, good people and we're going to - we'll be proud to carry it.
STEWART: The president of RFD-TV on THE BRYANT PARK PROJECT from NPR News.
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