O’Reilly is familiar with the medium. He hosted “The Radio Factor” from the headquarters of Fox News between 2002 and 2009, spraying the airwaves with the same viewpoints that he offered each night on “The O’Reilly Factor.” The radio brand, however, didn’t rule the industry the way the TV brand did. O’Reilly bailed on the enterprise, citing workload. “The radio industry was too competitive, and [Rush] Limbaugh’s show was too strong and entrenched,” wrote former “Radio Factor” associate producer Joe Muto in his book “An Atheist in the FOXhole.” “Ultimately, what killed O’Reilly’s radio show was O’Reilly himself. Or, rather, his indifference. The show was a lot of extra work for him, and not much payoff.”
But the work-payoff formula for O’Reilly has changed since April 2017. It was then that O’Reilly was forced out of his Fox News job after the New York Times reported that he and the company had reached settlements over sexual harassment and mistreatment. The details were startling: Women who received settlements “have complained about a wide range of behavior, including verbal abuse, lewd comments, unwanted advances and phone calls in which it sounded as if Mr. O’Reilly was masturbating,” the New York Times reported. After the story and a social-media backlash, advertisers deserted “The O’Reilly Factor.” The host took a vacation and never returned.
In light of this history, does Key Networks have any worries about working with O’Reilly? “We have no concerns,” said Dennis Green, chief revenue officer of Key Networks, which is a unit of Sun & Fun Media. “We’re happy to bring Bill back to radio. ... He was very good at what he did.”
On his Fox News program, O’Reilly defended President Trump by minimizing his lies and his offensive language and proposals on the campaign trail. “The O’Reilly Update” is likely to follow the same message, judging from this tagline on a BillOReilly.com promo: “'The O’Reilly Update’ will Deliver ‘No Spin’ Analysis of People and Stories that Make America Great.”
The show will consist of news and commentary, says Green, who declined to specify contractual terms as well as how many stations may have signed up for the program. “We’re not making any statement on that till the launch,” said Green. “The O’Reilly Update” debuts April 29.