Mainstream media stars – end of an era?

FOX’s Glenn Beck is about to wrap up his TV show and start a paid Web network. Former MSNBC pundit Keith Olbermann has kicked off his new show on Current TV – a network with an average of only 23,000 viewers during primetime.

Will more mainstream media stars be jumping the mainstream ship?

Despised by some, loved by others – they certainly can’t stand each other. Glenn Beck versus Keith Olbermann – can these mainstream media stars shine just as bright in the scary world of alternative media? After years of mad chalkboarding, Fox News Channel’s Glenn Beck is about to step off America’s TV screens as the network shows him the door.

"It's imperative that now as responsible citizens who are awake, that we don't just sit in front of our TVs and say Yeah! Yeah," Beck has said in one of his last shows.

“Oh my gosh, Glenn beck! What an amazing broadcaster, I’m going to miss the tears, I’m going to miss all the lies! I’m going to miss the propaganda,” joked political comedian and blogger Sara Benincasa.

Beck will now take all that to his own Web network.

“You’re watching GBTV. We’re about to get started. The truth lives here,” invitingly says the promo on his website.

The access to this truth will cost cash – as Beck’s fans will have to subscribe to tune in.

"Turn the damn TV off right now if you have to,” Beck has recently said on his Fox News show.

“At one point he was up to 3.1 million viewers. How many of those 3.1 million are going to want to plunk down less than five bucks to see the guy? It’s difficult to have people pay for something they’ve been getting for free the whole time,” said media analyst TJ McCormack.

One person who won’t have trouble pocketing the big buck is former MSNBC star Keith Olbermann.

Several months after being dropped by the network, reportedly for making campaign contributions to Democrats, he is appearing on a new platform – Current TV, a network co-founded by former vice president and the face of America’s green movement establishment – Al Gore.

“The whole idea of having a broadcast for a network is to have viewers. And nobody watches Current right now, nobody watches it. I could yell out of my window, and more people would hear me probably than if I was to yell on Current,” said McCormack.

The channel hopes that will change with the liberal pundit hopping on board for a reported eye-popping 10 million dollars a year.This is a satisfying 3 million dollar raise from Olbermann’s MSNBC days – a much bigger, corporate-owned network.

“It may be the sort of thing where the first night, the first week – wow, he’s got 3 million people watching, but in week three, does it go down to 23,000? At that point, the people at Current TV start chewing their fingers down to their knuckles, saying what have we done,” said media analyst TJ Walker.

Majority Report host Sam Seder says that it’s “Not so much his salary, as the independence that comes with a media company not owned by a corporation that’s off shoring jobs around the world.”

“Al Gore is no General Electric.”

Without corporate backing from big business, will Olbermann change his tone as he takes to a new network?

“I do think that there’s actually going to be a big difference,” Seder says.

While it’ll take time to show which gambles pay off and which are a bust, old messages are likely to stick even on new platforms. What’s unlikely however, is mainstream media stars jumping the mainstream ship becoming a trend.

The warm comfort of sleeping in bed with a corporate pillow is too cozy for most others to get up and leave .

“I don’t think there are enough loofahs in the world to convince O’Reilly that he should hang it up. I think O’Reilly is in this till the bitter end,” said political comedian Sara Benincasa.

So, fans, relax – the one-sided shouting matches are not going anywhere, for now.