There's been speculation that conservative talk-show titan Glenn Beck might start his own channel or expand his web-based video subscription service after he leaves Fox News later this year. But for now, Beck has his sights set on a different arena: e-commerce.
Mercury Radio Arts, Beck's lucrative production company, is getting into the online discount deals craze with the launch Monday of a new site called Markdown that will shill bargains on an array of products and services, starting with artisanal chocolate and credit-score monitoring.
"As a small business owner myself, I understand the daily challenges that entrepreneurs face and how frustrating it can be to get well-deserved attention for a great product or service," said Beck in a statement announcing the venture. "With Markdown.com we will be able to feature these great local and regional businesses right alongside some of the most well-known brands in America."
Markdown enters a space that has been popularized by e-commerce giants like Groupon and Gilt Group. Media companies, including the New York Times and Thrillist, have also gotten in on the trend recently.
But Beck's offering aims for a populist appeal. As a press release explains, Markdown "will promote exclusively negotiated deals to a national audience base that reaches deeply into the heart of America."
Beck is likewise in the process of extracting himself from the cosmopolitan New York area and settling down somewhere closer to his devoted fans in the heartland.
"I'm sure he's sitting there thinking, My audience probably is saying, 'Oh my God, he's a total fraud,' " Betsy Morgan, who runs Beck's news website, The Blaze, told New York magazine in a piece that's out this week. "I'm here in this high-rise, and they're out in the country trying to make ends meet, watching gas going up to $4 a gallon, and I'm sitting here in New York City."
In addition to The Blaze, Mercury also produces Beck's daily syndicated radio show. Mercury and Fox News announced jointly in April that Beck would end the 5 p.m. show he's hosted on the network since 2008. Fox executives were said to have had enough of Beck's outsize personality and often controversial views. There's still no word on the end-date for his show or what his next professional move will be.
(Photo of Beck: Jose Luis Magana/AP)