*Four seasons strong and Roland Martin attributes part of the success of “Washington Watch with Roland Martin” to an intentional twist to the weekly morning news show. A twist that puts a different spin on how and when the issues are discussed.
“The typical Sunday morning news show, what they do is they always start with a newsmaker and they sort of go for the big bit at the top of the show. But we learned last year that clearly our viewers want to see our panel. They want to see the roundtable kick things off and I think that what happens is the newsmaker, frankly, slows the show down,” the “Washington Watch” host and managing editor told EUR’s Lee Bailey. “We wanted to launch right in to the show. We also, frankly, aren’t like some of the other shows because we really try to do more social, cultural stuff to expand the dialogue. If you really look at what we’ve launched in terms of the choice, where we try to break down the issues of the day in terms of where the candidates stand, you’re not really seeing this stuff on the other Sunday morning news shows.”
The creation of “Washington Watch” came amid a ratings surge for Martin after the 2008 presidential election. After a failed promise from CNN to launch a weekend show, the nationally-syndicated columnist contacted TV One president and CEO Johnathan Rogers, who green lighted “Washington Watch” for the network.
One year later, the one hour-long news and public affairs program premiered in September 2009 as “an opportunity to give African-Americans a voice on the issues taking place in Washington, DC and across the country,” Martin stated. While bringing the roundtable discussion the forefront has gone a long way, Martin also cited “Washington Watch’s” penchant for telling it like it is when it comes to the issues. Case in point: a popular segment appropriately called “The Biggest Damn Lie.”
“I think people like to see us being no holds barred and hold folks accountable on the street, speak truth to power,” the controversial journalist and author said. “So I think that’s what is really resonating with our audience.
Although “Washington Watch” has collected respectable ratings, Martin is campaigning for a rebroadcast of the show to capture those who are in church during the show’s initial airing.
“We’re on at 11:00 in the morning. A significant number of our folks are actually at church whenever show is on. To get that significant number is important,” he said. “I’ve been pushing the network for a second re-airing, whether it’s at 5 p.m. or even something around 10 p.m. or 11 p.m. The re-airing we have right now is at 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning, which is a killer, but I would like to get one earlier so the people who missed the first airing can check out the second one.”
“Washington Watch” isn’t the only thing going on for Martin, a senior analyst on the “Tom Joyner Morning Show” and CNN contributor. According to the former “Lead Story” contributor, the desire to expand his media presence is a driving force he can’t abandon.
“I came to CNN with the intent to have my own show. I’ve never gotten off that. Being a contributor is just fine, but the bottom line is you’re only on when you get called,” stated Martin, who would like to have a show that airs five days a week. “I would rather be in control of my own show, being able to book my own guests. Even if that means a daily show on TV One, I would love for us to be able to be the political, social cultural center of black America with a daily show on TV One. My deal is to look at all options and to see what’s out there.”
“I’ve certainly have built up a significant following over the last several years and then folks recognize that I am a trusted voice on many different issues,” he added. “I am a journalist. I bring that credibility to the table. And so for me it’s all about going to the next level. I’ve been clear. I’ve never backed off that and I won’t back off it now.”
“Washington Watch with Roland Martin” airs at 11 a.m. ET/ 8 a.m. PT Sundays on TV One.
Check out this segment of a past program: