|Born||March 15, 1962 (age 53)
|Residence||Montgomery County, Pennsylvania|
|Alma mater||Lehigh University
University of Pennsylvania Law School
|Occupation||Radio host, columnist, author, political analyst|
|Title||Regional Administrator for the Department of Housing and Urban Development|
Michael A. Smerconish (born March 15, 1962) is an American satellite radio and television personality, newspaper columnist, author, lawyer, and CNN talk show host. His talk radio show formerly was based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at Talk Radio 1210 AM WPHT. He began his full-time radio career in 2002. From January 2009 to April 15, 2013, Smerconish's two daily nationally syndicated radio programs had been heard on 70 stations in the United States, including WOR News Talk Radio 710 in New York City and KFWB News Talk 980 in Los Angeles. Smerconish canceled the morning show in November 2010 and the syndicated show in April 2013.
Life and early career
Michael Smerconish was born and raised in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, the son of Florence (née Grovich) and Walter Smerconish. His father was of Ukrainian and Italian descent, and was a teacher; his mother, who had Yugoslavian ancestry, sold real estate. The family was staunchly Republican and Michael was exposed to politics at a young age. He was a graduate of Central Bucks High School West; in 1984, he graduated from Lehigh University, where he was Phi Beta Kappa. He then graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1987. When he was thirteen, Smerconish had begun corresponding with then-Philadelphia police commissioner Frank Rizzo, a political figure his family admired. They wrote to each other for a number of years, and also met and became friends. Smerconish expressed an interest in politics, and saw Rizzo as a mentor. He would later work as the political director for Rizzo's mayoral campaign in 1977, having first worked with other Republican candidates, including then-Vice President George H.W. Bush, and Senator Arlen Specter. At age 29, he served as a federal housing coordinator in the Office of Housing and Urban Development of the administration of President George H.W. Bush.
In addition to working with Republican campaigns, Smerconish had been an attorney for several years; however, he was working with his brother Wally in the insurance business when he first began doing some guest radio appearances on Philadelphia station WWDB in 1991; he offered political analysis from a Republican perspective. He was subsequently hired at WPHT in January 1998 and was given his own program, from 5 to 7 pm. By September 2003, he was given the morning drive slot. While known in Philadelphia as a vocal supporter of Republican causes, he was also seen as reasonable and willing to discuss issues. He admitted in interviews that he could be "combative" at times, but he also said he tried to avoid being vitriolic or hanging up on people. As time passed, he also became more moderate about certain issues, saying his political views were evolving. In 2008, he shocked his Republican colleagues when he announced that he was going to support Barack Obama for president. On August 20, 2009, Smerconish became the first talk radio host to broadcast live from the Obama White House, a show which included an interview with the President himself. The interview was held in the Diplomatic Reception Room, where President Franklin D. Roosevelt's fireside chats were held. The President took questions from Smerconish and his listeners on a variety of subjects including the recent debates on the pending Healthcare Reform Bill.
Smerconish has substituted for Bill O'Reilly on The O'Reilly Factor, Glenn Beck on his CNN Headline News television program, Chris Matthews on Hardball, and for Joe Scarborough on his former MSNBC show Scarborough Country. He is a regular contributor with MSNBC, and has appeared as a guest on NBC's The Today Show, Larry King Live, The View, The Colbert Report and Real Time with Bill Maher, among others. He writes separate weekly columns in the Philadelphia Daily News and the Philadelphia Inquirer and is a regular contributor to The Daily Beast.
Talkers Magazine has consistently named him one of America's most important talk show hosts, and Radio & Records named him the nation's Local Personality of the Year in 2009. The Pennsylvania Report named him to the 2003 "The Pennsylvania Report Power 75" list of influential figures in Pennsylvania politics.
A simulcast of Smerconish's show aired on WPHT and MSNBC during the week of April 23–27, 2007. The program was broadcast live from the MSNBC studios in Secaucus, New Jersey as a replacement for Imus in the Morning on a trial basis. The program was originally intended to be a three-day trial from April 23 to 25 but was extended for the full week after the April 23 broadcast. In-studio guests included Jon Anderson of the musical group Yes and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Smerconish stated during his stint that he would stay on MSNBC "as long as they will have me." He said several days after the simulcast that he "wanted the call" to get the position permanently, but he was not expecting to land the position (he predicted David Gregory would get the job). If an offer had come, he stated he was not sure he would accept it, given he would have to travel to MSNBC's studios outside New York City. The MSNBC job instead went to Joe Scarborough, whose evening program Scarborough Country was retooled for the morning as Morning Joe.
On November 10, 2009 Smerconish's Philadelphia-based morning program was introduced to a Washington, D.C. area audience via simulcasting on The Big Talker 1580 AM WHFS. On February 2, 2009, WOR-AM became the first station to pick up Smerconish's midday program. Both shows – the original morning drive program as well as an additional three hour broadcast from noon to 3 p.m. eastern time – are syndicated by Dial Global in a partnership with CBS RADIO.
Smerconish announced that he would leave terrestrial radio on April 15, 2013, in preparation for a move to POTUS on Sirius XM Radio. He said this reflected his desire to be "non-partisan" in discussing issues; having left the Republican party in 2010, he said that satellite radio would give him more freedom to talk politics without a party label.
He has urged the Republican Party to pursue "moderation on social issues in order to advance a suburban agenda for the GOP."
On February 21, 2010, he announced that he had left the Republican Party.
He is an outspoken critic of political correctness, and has written two books on the subject:
- Flying Blind: How Political Correctness Continues to Compromise Airline Safety Post 9/11 (2004)
- Muzzled: From T-Ball to Terrorism – True Stories That Should Be Fiction (2006)
His other four books include:
- Murdered by Mumia – about slain Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner (co-written by Maureen Faulkner).
- Morning Drive: Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Talking, in which he discusses his political positions and his talk radio career. The book was released in April 2009.
- Instinct: The Man Who Stopped the Twentieth Hijacker (2009) about the story of Jose Melendez-Perez
- Talk: A Novel, is Smerconish's first fiction book about the life of conservative talk show host Stan Powers. Powers is poised to ascend to the top of the conservative radio world but is facing moral dilemmas surrounding the pressures within the conservative radio world for greater partisan rhetoric.
Both Muzzled and Murdered by Mumia were New York Times bestsellers.
- Jeffrey Zaslow, "America's Next Top Pundit: What does it take to be a talking head?", Wall Street Journal, October 20, 2006
- "Conservative Radio Host Smerconish to the White House". washingtonpost.com. Retrieved September 21, 2010.
- "News : Philadelphia's "Big Talker" makes big changes with Smerconish, Beck, Hannity". Radio-Info.com. Retrieved November 19, 2010.
- Kevin L. Carter, "A Radio Voice Who Speaks for Victims." Philadelphia Inquirer, August 1, 2000, p. E1.
- Al Hunter Jr., "With a Name Like Smerconish, He's Got to Be Good." Philadelphia Daily News, November 9, 1999, p. 34.
- Tom Fox, "At 25, He's Been Around: The Kid Who Advises the Veteran Politicians." Philadelphia Inquirer, March 6, 1988, p. C7.
- "Smerconish Gets a Wake-Up Call." Bucks County (PA) Times, August 26, 2003, p. 4E.
- David W. Marston. "An Inside Scoop on Talk Radio." Philadelphia Inquirer, May 17, 2009, p. H12.
- "And Starring Michael Smerconish, as Himself". Philadelphia Magazine. Retrieved September 21, 2010.
- "Michael Smerconish". The Daily Beast. Retrieved September 21, 2010.
- "The PA Report "Power 75" List" (PDF). Pennsylvania Report. Capital Growth, Inc. January 31, 2003. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 2, 2006.
- "TheBigTalker1210". TheBigTalker1210.com. May 19, 2008. Retrieved September 21, 2010.
- TheBigTalker1210.com[dead link]
- National Review: Congratulations to Smerconish. January 7, 2009. Retrieved April 17, 2014.
- Fybush, Scott. Northeast Radio Watch report. January 12, 2009.
- John Timpane, "Smerconish Leaving WPHT For Sirius XM." Philadelphia Inquirer, March 7, 2013, p. C2.
- Tapper, Jake (October 17, 2008). "In Philly, Conservative Talk Radio Host Backs Obama". ABC News. Retrieved October 17, 2008.
- Smerconish, Michael (October 18, 2008). "Head Strong: McCain fails the big five tests". mastalk.com. Retrieved August 21, 2009.
- "A Suburban Gop Manifesto". Smerconish.com. November 16, 2006. Retrieved September 21, 2010.
- Smerconish, Michael (February 21, 2010). "For Me, the Party Is Over". The Huffington Post. Retrieved January 31, 2012.
- Smerconish, Michael. Torture must remain a last resort. January 25, 2009.
- Murdered by Mumia, official book site
- Smerconish's Home Page
- The Big Talker staff page for Smerconish
- Michael Smerconish at the Internet Movie Database