Al Sharpton Earns Riches with Radio Mediocrity

Al Sharpton makes $700,000 per year to host his daily talk radio show for Radio One, a national, urban radio syndicate. Al Sharpton makes $700,000 per year so that his daily radio show can broadcast in only 28 markets (only 15 of which are in the top 50 largest markets in America). Al Sharpton makes $700,000 per year to host his daily talk show that has been on for six years and yet still has only cleared 28 markets in the country. Al Sharpton makes $700,000 per year to host his daily talk show that does not rank in Talkers Magazine’s Top 100 “Heavy Hitters” which not only measures ratings, but also goes out of its way to reflect the industry’s diversity and influence.

In short, Al Sharpton makes $700,000 per year to host his daily talk radio show even though it is neither popular, widely distributed, influential or relevant. Al Sharpton makes $700,000 per year to host his daily talk radio show because Al Sharpton has brought something else to his employer that is far more important than ratings. More on that later.

To understand the astounding salary that Sharpton receives to host what can only be described as a vanity show at this point, I contacted a veteran industry insider who wished to remain anonymous. Their first response was “Al Sharpton has a talk radio show?” I confirmed that he did and it’s been on the air for six years. My contact said, “Who knew?”

Once past the initial shock that a radio syndicate actually turns over their microphone to the polarizing Al Sharpton (who many believe is anti-Semitic, a race-baiter and was proven to be a defaming liar in the Tawana Brawley case) my source confirmed that given the shows clearance and ratings the $700,000 salary is way beyond industry standards and makes no sense at all. “He must be doing something else for them to justify that salary,” my source told me.

Yes, he must be.

As Wayne Barrett in the Daily Beast reports, it appears Sharpton provided Radio One a huge service by giving Comcast special “diversity protection” when the Comcast/NBC merger was under fire from the FCC. As we reported here yesterday, Sharpton and his National Action Network assured the FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, (a political appointee put in place by Barack Obama after he rode to office thanks to Clyburn’s father’s support in the South Carolina Democratic primary) that the new Comcast/NBC corporate entity would bend over backwards to ensure “diversity”. With the diversity protection firmly in place (thanks to $170,000 paid to Sharpton’s National Action network by Comcast over the past two years) the FCC voted for the merger thanks to Clyburn’s support.

One of the examples of Comcast’s commitment to “diversity” as noted in a memorandum signed by Sharpton and delivered to the FCC, was their huge ownership stake in TV One, a cable network aimed at the African-American community. Comcast is part of TV One’s ownership team along with TV One’s single largest share-holder, Radio One, Sharpton’s radio syndicate.


Alfred Liggins, the chairman of TV One and the CEO and president of Radio One, testified on behalf of the merger at a June 2010 congressional hearing dominated by black opponents of it, led by Congresswoman Maxine Waters and Congressman John Conyers. He said then that Radio One’s holdings in TV One would grow to 66 percent “over the next 12 to 18 months,” but what he didn’t say was that Comcast would help to make that happen. Within a few weeks of the Comcast/NBC approval in late January, Radio One’s ownership of TV One soared to 50.8 percent.

Immediately following the merger, Comcast elevated the obscure TV One up to it’s preferred basic package in the Chicago and Miami markets thus providing the fledgling cable network an enormous boost in viewership as well as its bottom line. Sharpton’s assistance in providing Comcast cover in the volatile swamp of “diversity” politics paid enormous dividends to his talk radio boss, Radio One.

Ultimately, his radio show doesn’t have to perform well at all. He has already done more for Radio One than all the Arbitron ratings wins he could ever dream of winning would do.

Al Sharpton’s race-hustling tactics explain why he’s paid $700,000 per year to host his talk radio show. And they explain why Comcast/NBC rewarded him with a nightly show on MSNBC. What doesn’t make sense is why no one at NBC News has spoken out about the danger this incestuous relationship is doing to the last strains of legitimacy the once-proud brand enjoyed. Brian Williams, are you there? What would Dan Rather say?

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