For readers of Entertainment Weekly magazine and its website www.EW.com, there is no mistaking the personality of its new pop-culture talk channel on SiriusXM satellite radio.
Familiar writers such as Dalton Ross, Owen Gleiberman and Lynette Rice are hosts of the 24/7 channel, which mixes live call-in programs with recorded shows. Among the voice talent brought in from outside the magazine is Bridgeville native Jenna Morasca, a woman of many titles: "Survivor" champion, former television host and all-around self-professed geek.
"We wanted the channel to be infused with EW's DNA, and after looking around at the various options, this was the best [way] to do that," said Henry Goldblatt, deputy managing editor and director of brand development at Entertainment Weekly.
The jump to radio was more than a year in the making, he said. The channel debuted May 28.
"There were all sorts of fits and starts to get this going. At Entertainment Weekly, we are always looking to a): expand to new platforms and b): find new people and introduce them to the brand.
"This seemed like the perfect opportunity, with Sirius' 25 million subscribers."
Dedicated pop-culture talk would seem an idea whose time has come. Mr. Goldblatt said EW considered programming via traditional, terrestrial radio but was won over by satellite.
"One of the things that has been really special and attractive about this partnership is EW has some limited [radio] resources. Our first priority has to be putting out the magazine and putting out the website.
"Sirius has a full staff that's dedicated to breaking news."
When James Gandolfini died June 19, the EW channel kicked in with memorials and a call for listeners' favorite episodes of "The Sopranos." At the same time, SiriusXM was collecting quotes from people who knew the actor or had worked with him and shared them with the EW staff.
For Ms. Morasca, talking about pop culture for several hours each weekday morning -- she also hosts a recorded "The Must List" highlights show each Thursday at 8 p.m. -- is a great fit.
"My dad said, 'You're going to be paid for something you do all the time anyway?' "
She and Mr. Ross met when CBS paired them to host an online show about its reality juggernaut.
"It was funny because he actually wrote one of the meanest articles that was written about me when I was on 'Survivor,' " she said. "When we were finally going to do the job together, he said, 'Are you OK with it?' and I said, 'It's fine. I wasn't a fan of some of my behavior, either.' "
When EW asked Mr. Ross to host the live morning show, he suggested Ms. Morasca. "They have a great chemistry. ... I wanted to make Dalton happy and make Jenna happy, and it was really a no-brainer," Mr. Goldblatt said.
Radio veterans Julia Cunningham and Faith Salie host a live weekday "News & Notes" show from 4-7 p.m. They and Ms. Morasca are exceptions; most of the on-air talent comprises EW staff writers who don't get paid.
"We are not [financially] compensating them," Mr. Goldblatt said. "This is an exposure thing. I think people have enjoyed getting experience in something they might not have done before.
"The idea was to bring in people who really knew the brand and train them in radio, rather than the other way around."
The shows emanate from SiriusXM's midtown Manhattan studios, and Mr. Goldblatt said the lineup will eventually add more of a West Coast presence. "Town Hall" events such as the kickoff with Hugh Jackman and the upcoming visit with Tina Fey Saturday provide a touch of glitz, and the soon-to-be announced hiring of a new music critic will shift more attention in that direction.
The magazine's recent "all-time greatest" lists have sparked hours of debate.
But Entertainment Weekly Radio's daily diet is a blend of news, features, interviews with industry insiders and, of course, obsession over recapping television programs such as "Mad Men."
Recaps have long been a magazine forte, as fans of the ABC cult classic "Lost" discovered in the wonderfully twisty writings of Jeff "Doc" Jensen.
"We want to be able to cater to everybody," Mr. Goldblatt said. "This has to reflect a broad range of subjects: people who are obsessed with 'Scandal' or 'Grey's Anatomy' or 'Big Brother' or 'The Bachelorette.'
"We are servicing the pop culture fanatic, those who go to the [film] opening weekends, the midnight screenings. We cater to the people who say, 'Hey, we're in the know.' And we want to hear what you have to say about it."
Maria Sciullo: email@example.com or 412-263-1478 or @MariaSciulloPG. First Published July 3, 2013 4:00 AM