April 6, 2011— -- Conservative would-be television stars must be chomping at the bit with the news that Glenn Beck will be stepping down from his once successful daily show on Fox News.
Beck, whose show averaged 2.2 million viewers and was the third highest in cable news, announced on his website Wednesday that he will "transition off of his daily program" later this year. But he will continue his collaboration with the broadcast news network through his Mercury Radio Arts production company.
"I look forward to this new phase in our partnership," Beck said in a press release posted on his website The Blaze.
Fox News chairman Roger Ailes echoed the sentiment.
"Glenn Beck is a powerful communicator, a creative entrepreneur and a true success by anybody's standards. I look forward to continuing to work with him," Ailes said in the press release.
But according to reports in The New York Times, the relationship between the two hasn't always been hunky dory. And lately, Beck's ratings had begun to slip as the conservative talk show host lost more than a third of his audience since last August.
Beck will undoubtedly be fine without Fox. The doomsday prognosticator has built a multi-media empire, selling four million books, topping talk radio, growing his website and packing houses for his one-man performances. Forbes estimates his company earned $30 million last year.
"We're in a new era, where people who have a huge following can go anywhere, and a lot of their audience will follow them," Broadcasting & Cable editor-in-chief Ben Grossman said.
Grossman also had little doubt that Fox would find a new star to replace Beck.
"Roger Ailes makes TV stars," he said. "And he makes people already TV stars bigger TV. I don't expect Fox news to miss a beat here."
Five Possible Replacements for Glenn Beck
What will Fox be looking for?
"Clearly it's got to be somebody who fits into that mold, who's not afraid to piss people off, who has a lot of personality and can play in that playground," Grossman said.
"As wildly popular as Glenn Beck is, he was a constant cauldron of controversy," Grossman added. "That's what made him such great television, you either loved him or hated him."
With that in mind, here's a list of possible replacements for Glenn Beck:
Grossman said Fox doesn't have to look far to find one star in the making, the channel's afternoon anchor Megyn Kelly.
"She's already incredibly popular both with people who love her and people who can't stand her," he said. "I think Megyn could could step right in. She's got a great personality and a great background as a journalist."
Sure she's blonde, which is how Ailes appears to like his anchors, but she's also a former lawyer who's got "facts and guts behind what she says," Grossman said.
He also likes that she's a woman who would stand out among the likes of Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity.
Comedian and "SNL" alum Victoria Jackson may have played a blonde bubblehead on television and movies.
But these days she's making headlines for her tea party activism and her rants against homosexuality, including calling the long-awaited kiss between two gay characters on "Glee," "sickening."
A devout Christian, she would appeal to conservative Christians and tea partiers, a big part of Beck's audience. She's also guaranteed to say something to stir people up.
Recently on CNN's "Showbiz Tonight," she managed to offend both Muslims and gays. "Muslims kill gays. That's what's confusing to me. And the only thing I can come up with is the Muslims hate God and the gays hate his word," she said.
Rocker and reality star Ted Nugent also comes from the world of entertainment and is known for his conservative views and outspoken defense of hunting and gun-ownership rights.
He's also a favorite of the Fox News audience, after playing his guitar at a 2009 tea party event hosted by Beck and Fox News. A clip of his performance has gotten extensive air time on Beck's show and Fox News.
Nugent would also appeal to the coveted younger demographic that has been fleeing Beck.
Conservative politician and former tea party candidate Christine O'Donnell already provides commentary for Fox News, so hosting her own show wouldn't be such a stretch.
Like Jackson, O'Donnell knows how to grab headlines, having once likened masturbation to adultery and created the famous "I'm not a witch" campaign ad. And, like Nugent, she's sure to appeal to a younger audience with her youthful good looks.
Conservative commentator Andrew Breitbart is already on his way to building a media empire.
Like Beck, he has a big web following. He's also a frequent guest on Fox news shows and a guest host of conservative talk radio shows.
He's also unafraid to stir up controversies, like when he posted videos of Department of Agriculture employee Shirley Sherrod that resulted in her firing. (She was later offered her job back when the videos were revealed to be heavily edited.) He has even irked his fellow conservatives by supporting gay Republicans.