Cheatwood is expected to depart Fox News when his contract expires next month and join Beck’s company Mercury Radio Arts.
The news was first reported by Mediaite.com. A source telling the site, Cheatwood would “be joining Mercury Radio Arts very soon to work closely with Glenn on his next creative idea.”
A few hours later a Fox News insider told Deadline.com, that the network had no intention of renewing Cheatwood’s “$700,000-a year-contract.”
“Joel lost Roger (Ailes)’s respect and trust a long time ago,” the insider told Deadline.
But Cheatwood’s leap from programming TV news to developing a single talent should not surprise anyone whose been following his story.
Cheatwood joined Fox News from CNN in April 2007 after spending three years with the network. At CNN he was tasked with developing new kinds of programs with new kinds of on-air talent. He turned Nancy Grace into a primetime pitbull and put Beck on the path to cable news savant.
A year after Cheatwood joined Fox News, talks to bring on Beck were in full swing. After the deal was cemented, Cheatwood was given oversight of Beck’s show. He would later take an office at Beck’s company, just a few blocks from Fox News’ Sixth Ave. headquarters. Over the years, Cheatwood would spend less and less time at Fox. A source telling TVNewser today Cheatwood hasn’t been seen in a regular editorial or senior staff meeting in two years.
Deemed “the nation’s most controversial news director” by MediaWeek in 2001, Cheatwood grew up in local news installing a fast-paced formula and staccato delivery at Boston’s WHDH and Miami’s WSVN that is still used today. He brought controversy to Chicago’s WMAQ and, after running CBS stations KYW in Philadelphia and WCBS in New York, was given the arduous — and still unfinished — task of turning around all of CBS TVs local stations. Then, cable called in 2004.
Cheatwood’s biggest job might be ahead of him. If Beck and Fox News part ways later this year, the TV revolutionary will have to do it again.