MSNBC putting Abrams back on air


NEW YORK -- MSNBC will move into its new facilities at 30 Rockefeller Plaza with a change in management, the third such change in a little over a year.

The news channel made several rumored changes official Monday with the news that Dan Abrams, who had replaced Rick Kaplan in June 2006, would return to the air to stay with a nightly primetime show. Taking over for Abrams will be Phil Griffin, an NBC News senior vp whose responsibilities also include "Today" and who is an MSNBC alum.

It also confirmed that Joe Scarborough, a longtime MSNBC primetime host who had taken over the spot in the channel's morning lineup with the canceling of "Imus in the Morning" in the spring, would get to keep the day job. "Morning Joe" will air from 6 a.m.-9 a.m.

In an interview Monday, Griffin said the changes wouldn't have come about if it weren't for the hole left by Imus' program that eventually spelled the move of Scarborough to the morning and the 9 p.m. spot opened up.

"If you had told either one of us give months ago that this was going to be the play, we would have laughed," Griffin said. Abrams was, in Griffin's words, "fairly reluctant" to take over the 9 p.m. spot earlier this year given his day job as MSNBC's GM. But Griffin said he's been impressed with Abrams' ratings after "Countdown With Keith Olbermann." Abrams said he wanted to help the network any way he could, even at the cost of the GM title.

"I loved the GM job, what a great experience this had been, and I wasn't particularly ready to give it up, but it just happened that this opportunity came up," Abrams said. He said he was just as excited Monday as he was in the spring of 2006 when he became GM.

Griffin praised Abrams' efforts while GM, including getting the documentary block off the ground and ratings gains.

"I don't think MSNBC has been in as good a position in some time," Griffin said.

Abrams new program, "Live With Dan Abrams," will be televised in the 9 p.m. hour Mondays-Thursdays. He had been doing the show for the past three months. Monday's announcement marked the end of the management tenure of Abrams, the NBC News legal analyst and MSNBC host who presided over the channel's growth and rejiggered the lineup to include taped documentaries after 10 p.m. and the severing of ties with Rita Cosby. Abrams will also continue as the network's chief legal correspondent.

Abrams will officially cede management duties when the network leaves its Secaucus, N.J., studios next month. Griffin will be assisted by Shannon High-Bassalik, who will be in charge of MSNBC's live news programming.