Glenn Beck and Mark Levin are teaming up by merging TheBlaze and CRTV to create a conservative-media entity dubbed Blaze Media, which they say will reach 165 million people via television, digital platforms and social media.
Beck and Levin are set to officially announce what they are calling a merger of equals Monday, but Beck tells The Hollywood Reporter that the move could be just a next step in building a powerhouse, independent media company.
"This is the beginning of scale," he says. "Anyone who loves the Bill of Rights and pursues honesty, I want them all in. We're an open book. Let's talk."
Beck founded TheBlaze in 2011 after leaving Fox News, where his show drew a large audience though it was constantly attacked by progressive groups that discouraged advertisers. TheBlaze grew quickly, but in recent years has scaled back in order to preserve money.
TheBlaze is seen on Dish Network, Verizon Fios, Roku, SlingTV and several regional cable outlets, and it is heard on Sirius XM Radio, iHeartRadio and elsewhere. Next year, it will launch a live tour with the working title Blaze Live.
Levin, a former attorney in Ronald Reagan's presidential administration, is a nationally syndicated radio host, and he hosts Life, Liberty & Levin on Fox News. He founded LevinTV and the digital outlet morphed into CRTV, the "CR" standing for "Conservative Review."
Beyond Levin, some of the talent at CRTV includes Michelle Malkin, Steven Crowder, Matt Kibbe, Deneen Borelli, Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame and Gavin McInnes, the co-founder of Vice Media who hosts the show Get Off My Lawn at CRTV.
Blaze Media will be run by Tyler Cardon and Gaston Mooney, who were named co-presidents of the merged company. Previously, Mooney was president of CRTV and Cardon was president of TheBlaze. Levin had no management authority at CRTV and will have none at Blaze Media, according to insiders.
"Tens of millions of Americans have had it with the biased, ideologically driven mainstream media outlets that sanctimoniously advance their own agendas under the guise of 'news' and 'journalism.' Conservatives actually believe in a free press and the rest of the Constitution," said Levin.
He added that his intention with the merger is "to further expand and offer the public an alternative to liberal media groupthink."
Blaze Media will compete with conservative outlets like Breitbart News, The Daily Caller (co-founded by Tucker Carlson) and Salem Media Group, a publicly traded company that is considered the industry leader in talk radio. It will also compete with Daily Wire, founded by Ben Shapiro, a former Breitbart editor who had also considered merging with Beck's company.
"I'd still like to do that," Beck said. "I'm a big fan of what Ben has built."
Blaze Media will be headquartered in Dallas at Beck's facilities, but he says that's only a technicality as it will operate all over the country. "Dallas will be the epicenter, but we'll be like a movie studio, like United Artists. It's a much better system for the talent."
The Blaze has been going through a rocky stretch, laying off about 20 percent of its staffers and losing talent like NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch and Tomi Lahren, the latter after publicly feuding with Beck over pro-choice remarks she made on her former show. Beck says the incident was misreported without context.
"We're a different kind of media company, without a centralized command and control," he says. "There's no network you have to confer with. Talent is free to express their opinions, whether I agree with them or not."
Financial terms of the merger were not disclosed, but Beck acknowledges his company had bled some red ink, though it has been profitable for about 12 months.
"We worked hard to make sure we're in the black. If we had spoken to CRTV a couple of years ago, it would have been a different story," he says. "We talked about a merger when neither of us needs it. That's the best time."
Beck said four years ago he was moving into movie production, but notes it hasn't been financially feasible until now.
"The merger will help those efforts," he said. "First and foremost, I'm an artist and a storyteller."