For clues about who might be next to get a show on MSNBC, viewers need not have looked further than "Countdown" earlier this month. For eight nights beginning just before the Fourth of July, Rachel Maddow, the host of a program on Air America, the liberal talk-radio network, served as a substitute for the vacationing Keith Olbermann.
"At some point, I don't know when, she should have a show," said Phil Griffin, hours before he was promoted on Wednesday to president of MSNBC. "She's on the short list. It's a very short list. She's at the top."
At the moment every slot at night on MSNBC is taken, with David Gregory at 6 handing off to Chris Matthews at 7, and with Dan Abrams at 9 following Mr. Olbermann at 8. But some shuffling could be in the offing; Mr. Matthews's contract, for example, is up next year.
For her part, Ms. Maddow, who has been a ubiquitous presence as a political analyst on MSNBC this campaign season, said she is ready whenever the call should come. To hasten that process, she recently hired Mr. Olbermann's agent, Jean Sage.
"They know I would love to do it," Ms. Maddow, 35, said over a recent lunch below 30 Rockefeller Plaza. "I'm going to let them decide what they want to do about me. I'm saying yes every time they ask me to be on television."