Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Don Imus and RFD-TV

RFD-TV, the seemingly sleepy Nashville-based cable channel focusing on rural America, is about to deliver an unmistakable wake-up call to Music City and the rest of America.
Possibly as soon as this week, RFD-TV officials are expected to announce they will simulcast Don Imus' weekday radio morning show, Imus in the Morning, a move that should boost their current reach of 30 million homes to more than 50 million by the end of 2008.

Patrick Gottsch, RFD-TV founder and president, would only confirm that the network, home to farm-related programs and country and polka music shows, was in talks with Imus.

"What is really going on right now that's fueling this network," he said, "is people are starting to get it, that people miss The Nashville Network, and here's the closest thing to those values and programming."

The Nashville Network, which showcased country music, outdoors, racing and Southern-themed syndicated shows such as Dallas and The Dukes of Hazzard, was re-branded as The National Network in 2000and later became Spike. Its headquarters moved from Nashville to New York, and it dropped its rural-themed programming.

On Dec. 1, RFD-TV is launching a second, separate network, RFD-HD, that will broadcast shows in high definition, including Imus in the Morning and, in January, The Crook and Chase Show, as well as Ralph Emery Live and the other shows produced at its Nashville broadcasting operations and production studios. (Its corporate headquarters are in Omaha, Neb., but RFD-TV officials consider the network to be Nashville-based.)

"The HD Network basically doubles our capacity," Gottsch said. "When horses are on one channel, music will be on the other channel. It will give us a lot more versatility as programmers."

RFD, which stands for rural free delivery, was launched in 2000 on DISH Network to about 4 million homes as a public interest channel with mostly agricultural and equine shows. It moved its broadcast operations from Dallas to Nashville in 2004 to provide a base to further expand programming.

Last year, RFD-TV began airing Ralph Emery Live, an interview show featuring the legendary country music broadcaster. It now airs numerous music shows, including The Porter Wagoner Show and Gaither Gospel Hour.

Read the full article in the Tennessean.

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