Magee was named the new Executive in Charge of the program and will work alongside Alex Korson, the show’s executive producer. He replaces Michael Weisman, a veteran of TV-sports and late-night TV’s “Pat Sajak” program, who joined in February of last year as MSNBC President Phil Griffin began to articulate a strategy of having anchors Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski travel more often and report more frequently from the road.
“As we enter a fascinating and historic election year, we are thrilled to add Kevin’s knowledge of news gathering and morning television,” said Griffin, in a prepared statement. “’Morning Joe’ is the most influential news show on television and Kevin’s insight and experience will be a huge asset to our team.” Weisman, who executives revealed Tuesday was slated to stay in the role for just a year, will “always remain a critical part of the ‘Morning Joe’ family,” said Scarborough, in a statement.
MSNBC is in the midst of a transformation. Once focused squarely on presenting the liberal view of the news of the day, it has quickly transformed itself into a breaking-news operation and has served to draw more attention to the assets of NBC News. Both MSNBC and NBC News were placed under the aegis of NBCUniversal executive Andy Lack last year and he has steadily worked to give more of a spotlight to NBC News talent, including Kate Snow and Brian Williams. The network’s primetime lineup, which features hosts with a progressive point of view, has been left untouched.
“Morning Joe” is an important piece of the MSNBC schedule. The hosts don’t report the news, per se, but analyze it in lengthier segments than one expects on the typical toast-and-coffee forum. While the show doesn’t capture the viewership of, say, ABC’s “Good Morning America,” its higher-level discussion caters to policymakers and politicians, and the program has appeal among Washington, D.C., audiences and high-income viewers. Time Warner’s CNN has in recent years pitted its “New Day” against “Joe,” and the CNN program has won more viewers in the demographic most desired by advertisers – people between 25 and 54 – for the past two years.
NBCUniversal executives have considered expanding hours for “Joe,” so that West Coast viewers would tune in for their morning shot of news and analysis. At present, the show airs between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. Eastern.
Magee previously served as executive vice president for Fox Business Network and Fox News Radio. Prior to that, he was the head of programming for Fox News Channel between 2001 and 2006. He was also an executive producer at CNBC and a senior producer for “Good Morning America” at ABC. He will begin in the new role immediately.