NBC and CBS’ WFAN radio are looking at NBC News White House correspondent David Gregory as their next Don Imus.
Sources said NBC is considering Gregory as a permanent replacement for Imus on MSNBC and that the network is in talks with WFAN on a deal to simulcast the show.
If the deal happens, it would essentially flip around the former arrangement, where MSNBC licensed “Imus in the Morning” from WFAN, which produced it. Imus’ show was syndicated through CBS Radio and Westwood One.
Under a new deal, MSNBC would own the show and have creative control, and WFAN would be the licensee.
Gregory has been one of several stand-ins for Imus since his ouster from the network three weeks ago. Next week he is hosting the show Wednesday through Friday and will be simulcast on WFAN.
Sources said Gregory is intrigued by the idea of hosting the show on a permanent basis, and NBC execs believe he could bring the kind of high-powered political interviews that drove Imus’ show.
But that would mean leaving a high-profile White House post, and the opportunity to continue as a regular stand-in on “Today,” leaving a big hole to fill for NBC News.
MSNBC spokesman Jeremy Gaines declined to comment on the talks. “We’ve had a variety of fantastic fill-in hosts and look forward to David filling in during the 6-9 slot next week,” he said.
CBS Radio, which owns WFAN and manages Westwood One, declined to comment. Spokeswoman Karen Mateo said WFAN has tried a number of personalities to replace Imus, including former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason and Geraldo Rivera.
Other fill-ins for Imus have included MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough and radio hosts Larry Elder, Stephanie Miller and Michael Smerconish.
WFAN was the only CBS-owned station that carried Imus, but the show was a lucrative property in syndication.
Imus has hired First Amendment attorney Martin Garbus, who said last week he plans to file suit against CBS to recover the remaining $40 million on Imus’ contract.