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The Original Media Celebrity Profiled In 'American Masters'

Walter Winchell.
Walter Winchell.

The idea of media celebrities singing the praises of a particular politician is now part of our everyday lives. Watch Lou Dobbs on FOX Business or listen to Rush Limbaugh on the radio dial, and their programs are virtually campaign ads for the reelection of President Donald J. Trump.

But Walter Winchell may have been the first to adopt that style of broadcasting when he was smitten by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who saw the opportunities presented by tapping into the audience of a popular media figure.

Winchell is the focus of the new installment of PBS's anthology series, American Masters: The Power of Gossip, premiering Tuesday on public TV stations. 

The documentary film, which features narration by Whoopi Goldberg and a performance as Winchell by Stanley Tucci, dives deeply into Winchell's humble beginnings as the son of Jewish immigrants, and as the young actor on the Vaudeville circuit who began his gossipy writing style at the expense of his fellow performers. 

Soon, he was the main attraction at New York papers, and a star columnist features in newspapers around the country.

But even Winchell would meet his match as media trends shifted to television.

Writer, producer and director Ben Loeterman joins Cincinnati Edition to talk about the program.

Listen to Cincinnati Edition live at noon M-F. Audio for this segment will be uploaded after 4 p.m. ET.

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