Smerconish to be on air for three days

MSNBC is trying out radio personality Michael Smerconish as the network looks for a permanent replacement for Don Imus.

Smerconish, drive-time host at Philadelphia’s WPHT, will host the 3½-hour show today, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Smerconish has been a guest host on MSNBC’s “Scarborough Country” and is a frequent pundit on Fox News. His show, which airs from 5:30 a.m. to 9 a.m., coincides with the void left by Imus.

NBC News White House correspondent David Gregory has acted as stand-in for Imus for several mornings since “Imus in the Morning” was canceled two weeks ago in the wake of Imus’ comments about the Rutgers U. women’s basketball team.

Employing another radio host in the timeslot is just one of several options MSNBC is considering for its morning show. Imus had been a fixture since the net’s inception in 1996, and moved his show physically to MSNBC’s studios in 2004.

Sources said other personalities are likely to get a trial on the network as part of the process of developing something new. The network is constrained a bit in that it doesn’t want a show that would compete with NBC’s “Today.”

The idea of a straight newscast in the morning, while also being considered, isn’t an ideal solution either because that type of programming hasn’t been successful on cable.

Instead, NBC News execs prefer an entirely different approach, which could be another radio host or a show hosted by an NBC anchor that contains elements of a live radio show on television.

One certainty: MSNBC will require more editorial control than it could exert over Imus. Imus was produced by WFAN radio, and even though the studio was at MSNBC, the network had little to say about the content.

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