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Why Dr. Phil is launching a new TV network from Fort Worth

Photo by Dr. Phil, CC BY-SA 4.0.
Wikimedia Commons / Illustration by Raul Alonzo
Texas Standard
Photo by Dr. Phil, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Dr. Phil’s talk show was a daytime TV staple for more than two decades.

From his studio in Hollywood, Phil McGraw would dispense a particular brand of tough love and life advice – often to folks who found themselves in desperate or outrageous situations.

Dr. Phil is a trained psychologist, although his license to practice expired in 2006. He got his start on television with Oprah Winfrey, and eventually got his own show, which finished its run in 2023.

Dr. Phil’s not done though. He’s launching not just a new program, but a whole new network from studios in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Irving Mejia-Hilario, business reporter for the Dallas Morning News, visited the new studios to learn more about McGraw’s Texas television venture. Listen to the interview above or read the transcript below.

This transcript has been edited lightly for clarity:

Texas Standard: You got a chance to interview Dr. Phil and visit the studios of this new network in Texas. Can you describe what this new venture is?

Irving Mejia-Hilario: So it’s like you mentioned, he’s not just launching a television program. He’s launching a whole new network right out of Fort Worth.

I guess the bigger thing here really is like, what is the the goal behind this? And if you’re going to take McGraw at his word, this is all about launching a 24/7 network that is down the middle and gives you the facts, and nothing but that.

Now that is sort of up to your listener’s opinions, right?
He’s got Trinity Broadcasting Network, a Christian network, backing this thing. He’s got Joel Cheatwood. He used to work at Fox News and TheBlaze.

And then also, it’s pretty tough for networks to be down the middle. So tough to say exactly what the goal is beyond what McGraw has told us, but at the very least, we know he’s trying to make an impact here in the media landscape.

In terms of programing, like you said, Dr. Phil is going to have a show in primetime. Nancy Grace is also set to have a show. But they’re going to do journalism, as well, and produce newscasts. Did you get any indication about whether there will be a particular political lean to the coverage?

So it is important to note, right, that what Dr. Phil told me about this whole network is that it’s going to be built all around his value system. So a lot of this is being sold, I think, on sort of that Dr. Phil branding.

But I think your question sort of relates to, you know, what’s actually going to be shown. And I did ask him about, you know, how are you going to play into all this stuff? To which he pretty much told me, “listen, I brought in Joel Cheatwood because…” – I think what he told me specifically was – “he’s a savant when it comes to news, and I don’t want to tell him what to do with that stuff.” So McGraw is going to be pretty much, I guess, out of this with the news.

Now, it’s funny enough, I think something that is interesting, though, that he did tell me, is that he doesn’t want this to be a siloed sort of program or network. You know, the news is going to be shot like right next door to where Dr. Phil prime time is shot – literally like a few steps away.

So if the news has a breaking story or something, they can go to him and say, “oh, we got the story,” you know, “go and cover it.” You know, then Dr. Phil goes into more detail and then, vice versa, Doctor Phil’s got this thing, maybe the late night news covers it. Stuff like that.

Doctor Phil has some personal roots in North Texas, but he had a whole TV operation already set up in Hollywood. Why go to the trouble of moving all that from California to Texas?

I think it’s pretty easy, right? Like, I think we’ve been watching Texas the past couple of months as business reporters and seeing that the workforce here is steady and that there’s a lot of people to hire. That’s a big thing behind this network, is hiring Texas talent. We at first thought that he had brought over a lot of people from Hollywood, but he wants to hire people from Texas.

Not to add the fact to, you know, why move to Texas? Guy was here, over at UNT. Has, I think, a psychology degree and an undergraduate over there. So he’s got already experience in this area.

Not down the fact, too, there’s land of plenty out here, you know, in terms of, like, where to build a media empire. And Fort Worth certainly ain’t a bad place to start with – how big the market is out here.

Well, you you mentioned a little bit about this at the start of our conversation. But in terms of how people are going to be able to see this, how is it going to be broadcast?

Well, it’s going to be a network, you know, so go and talk to your cable provider. It’ll come out on Feb. 27. That’s pretty much the easiest way right now to go and get it.

Now, as far as I have seen, there isn’t a way to already access it just yet. You’re not going to get like any sort of material if you go and call your cable provider just yet, but they said that in the coming weeks or so, they should have more news about how exactly you’ll be able to get Merit Street Media.

I have a hard time thinking McGraw needs to make a whole lot more money. Why do this? What seems to be the motivation?

So I think anybody that’s been keeping up with McGraw knows that he’s been, I think, a little bit more politically outspoken. I think in recent years he’s talked about his opinions about Donald Trump, of which are not positive. And he’s talked about his opinions on what’s going on between Israel and Palestine, you know, on his Instagram. Guy is already politically outspoken, right? And I think he wants to play a role in politics.

Important to note, though, he does not want to make any sort of political run. I asked him directly, and he said that he has no interest in that because he’s got a lot more freedom from the outside than he does from the inside trying to make some sort of difference.

So my belief, personally, is that I think he does want to be, to an extent, a political player. After all, you don’t launch two-hour news programs also while launching a network without having some sort of ambition to become a player in politics or media or something.

How far he wants to go, I think is still left to be seen. But I think there’s some ambition here to do something politically or to be some sort of influence.

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