NEW YORK — MSNBC's Rachel Maddow returned to the air Monday with some bad news for her fans: Starting next month, she will be doing her prime-time show only once a week. After working her customary five nights a week for the rest of April, Maddow said, she will work on Monday nights only starting in May.
The network said it will rotate guest hosts the other four weeknights on a show called “MSNBC Prime.”
“For big news events, for things like the leadup to the election, I will of course be here more than that, but that is the general plan,” Maddow said on her show Monday.
The cable news network's most popular personality had been on hiatus for the past two months, working on a new podcast and a movie adaptation of her book “Bag Man.” She said the weekly schedule will give her “more time to work on some of this other stuff I've got cooking for MSNBC and NBC.”
She heaped praise on Ali Velshi, who had filled in frequently for her while she was away, calling him a “prince among men.”
Yet MSNBC's ratings in her time slot tumbled in her absence, even with coverage of a gripping news event, the Ukraine war. MSNBC is not alone in questions about its 9 p.m. Eastern hour: CNN hasn't named a full-time replacement for its former ratings leader, Chris Cuomo, since he was fired in December.
The plan leaves MSNBC executives in an awkward spot. While it has been reported that MSNBC signed a new contract with Maddow that gives her additional flexibility, executives have not publicly addressed that deal, or Maddow's announcement Monday. It seems, at least for the time being, the network will be happy to get as much as it can from Maddow and leave the light on if she someday decides to do more.
Maddow said she had originally thought she might need another hiatus from her show this year but has determined that she won't.
The Maddow news comes days after reports that White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki is set to join the network -- also in May. Psaki has neither confirmed nor denied those reports.
Travis Pittman contributed to this report.