|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 The Big Talker 1210 AM WPHT, and before 2002, in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania at Talk Radio 96.5 FM WWDB. 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 80 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 after moving to Sirius XM's POTUS Channel 124. Now, he broadcasts The Michael Smerconish Program weekdays at 9 am on Sirius XM, and hosts the 9 am CNN show Smerconish on Saturdays. He is also of counsel to the Philadelphia law firm, Kline & Specter.
Life and early career
Michael Smerconish was born and raised in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, the son of Florence (née Grovich) and Walter Smerconish. His father is of Ukrainian and Italian descent, and was a teacher and more prominently, a guidance counselor; his mother, who has Yugoslavian ancestry, was a successful real estate broker. The family was staunchly Republican and Michael was exposed to politics at a young age. He was a member of Central Bucks High School West's class of 1980; in 1984, he graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Lehigh University, where he majored in government and journalism and founded a club called Lehigh University for Reagan/Bush in his freshman year. He then graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1987.
Later, he practiced law for ten years under James E. Beasley, a legendary Philadelphia-based trial lawyer, who is the namesake of the Temple University Beasley School of Law. When actively practicing law, Smerconish was a trial lawyer specializing in complex tort litigation. His work spanned various subject areas, including contracts, medical malpractice, and products liability. His clients ranged from the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police (in an action against a music group responsible for publishing an FOP photograph on an album cover that advocated the murder of police) to the City of Rome, Italy (in a contract dispute). He was also a member of the Board of Directors of the Philadelphia Trial Lawyer’s Association.
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 1987, having first worked with other Republican candidates, including Senator Arlen Specter's 1986 re-election campaign, a stint as a Vice Presidential advanceman for George H.W. Bush, an elected alternative delegate to the 1984 Republican National Convention, and his own unsuccessful 1986 campaign for PA state legislature. At age 29, he was appointed by President George H.W. Bush to serve as a federal housing coordinator for Philadelphia Region III (comprising Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia) in the Office of Housing and Urban Development under Secretary Jack Kemp.
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 title 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 then-pending Healthcare Reform Bill.
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 August 20, 2009, Smerconish became the first radio host to interview President Barack Obama, having since interviewed the President on seven different occasions. He has also interviewed Presidents Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, as well as Vice Presidents Al Gore, Dick Cheney and Joe Biden.
On November 10, 2009 Smerconish's Philadelphia-based morning program was introduced to a Washington, D.C. area audience via simulcasting on Talk Radio 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.
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. In 2003, he was named to "The Pennsylvania Report Power 75 List" of influential figures in Pennsylvania politics. The National Association of Broadcasters selected him as a 2011 Marconi Award finalist in the category of Best Network/Syndicated Host. He has often been the recipient of several (Philadelphia) Achievement in Radio awards, including Best Talk Show Host and Best Evening Program. Philadelphia Magazine has named him the City’s best talk show host, as well as one of the City’s most powerful citizens.
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.
Smerconish has substituted on CNN for Glenn Beck on CNN Headline News and on MSNBC for Chris Matthews on Hardball, Joe Scarborough on Scarborough Country, and David Gregory on Race for the White House. While he was Chris Matthew's primary guest host for Hardball, starting in 2004, he was also a guest host for Bill O'Rielly on The Radio Factor. 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. Smerconish left MSNBC in early 2014 for a new show on CNN believing, "The type of program I do on radio is far more in keeping with what CNN does on TV than it is with FOX or MSNBC." Smerconish broadcasts Saturdays at 9 am ET with a rerun at 6 pm ET.
He writes a Sunday column in the Philadelphia Inquirer, which has been re-printed in the Washington Post, Dallas Morning News, Denver Post, Miami Herald, Boston Herald, and many other national papers, and was a regular columnist to the Philadelphia Daily News and The Daily Beast.
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) — Proceeds were donated to the Garden of Reflection, a 9/11 tribute garden in his native Bucks County, Pennsylvania
- Muzzled: From T-Ball to Terrorism – True Stories That Should Be Fiction (2007)
His other four books include:
- Murdered by Mumia: A Life Sentence of Loss, Pain, and Injustice (2007) about slain Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner (co-written by Maureen Faulkner) — Book sales donated to the Daniel Faulkner Educational Grant Fund
- Morning Drive: Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Talking (2009), in which he discusses his political positions and his talk radio career.
- Instinct: The Man Who Stopped the 20th Hijacker (2009) about the story of Jose Melendez-Perez — All profits were donated to the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania
- Talk: A Novel (2014) 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. Warner Horizon Television has optioned the rights of the novel to be turned into a television show before the 2016 election.
- 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.
- "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.
- "And Starring Michael Smerconish, as Himself". Philadelphia Magazine. 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.
- "2011 NAB Marconi Radio Award Finalists Announced". National Association of Broadcasters. July 13, 2011. Retrieved July 21, 2015.
- John Timpane, "Smerconish Leaving WPHT For Sirius XM." Philadelphia Inquirer, March 7, 2013, p. C2.
- "Michael Smerconish kicks off new CNN show". Politico. Retrieved August 3, 2015.
- "Michael Smerconish". The Daily Beast. Retrieved September 21, 2010.
- 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.
- "Smerconish book optioned for TV show". Politico. Retrieved August 3, 2015.
- Smerconish's Home Page
- The Big Talker staff page for Smerconish
- Michael Smerconish at the Internet Movie Database