Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Great Pumpkin Rocks

ABC's seventh airing of former CBS classic It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown rocked the ratings last night, notching a second-place 7.2 household rating and a first-place 3.8 adults 18-49 rating, which is up 46 percent from last year's airing, which landed on a Friday, and posted significant ratings improvement over the sagging time period averages of Cavemen and Carpoolers.

Meanwhile, fans of Peanuts fare (like yours truly) will be pleased to know that Warner Home Video has struck a deal with United Media to distribute the entire Peanuts library on home video. This includes classic specials (A Charlie Brown Christmas), the Saturday Morning cartoon series The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show (1983-86) and new media distribution (The home video rights of the four theatrical releases are remaining with CBS/Paramount.) The re-release of titles are being digitally re-mastered and will be accompanied by brand new bonus features.

The first title to be released in the new deal is Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown (1975), which will be out in stores January 15.

"Peanuts" home video properties were previously held by Paramount Home Video. In the split that separated CBS from Viacom in 2006, the home video division went to the Paramount side. "Peanuts" specials of course, originated at CBS in 1965 with A Charlie Brown Christmas.

"Heroes" spin-off shelved; "Samantha Who?" picked up for full season

- NBC has shelved plans to launch a spin-off of the TV series Heroes indefinitely. The move comes as a looming writers' strike plans to wreak havoc with the networks' schedules.

The toast of the 2006-07 season, both Heroes and Ugly Betty are not having great sophomore seasons, with both programs down in the ratings from last year and both are coming under fire from fans and critics for lackluster creative direction (This just in: Mo Ryan from the Trib has joined the anti-Heroes bandwagon.)

In other words, both shows are like the Chicago Bears - and all three have been painful to watch this season. With the strike coming, both scripted shows will run out of episodes soon, and when they do, both are unlikely to be missed. Too bad the Bears aren't members of the Writer's Guild.

- It looks like we have found the next Seinfeld: Samantha Who?, which has beaten Heroes in the ratings in its first few episodes, has been picked up for a full season by ABC. The program moves into the 8 p.m. (CT) time slot beginning on November 26. Samantha's big test now is up against CBS' popular Two and a Half Men.

Samantha has been a critical and ratings hit, holding its numbers week-to-week in total viewers and key demos. Many believe this program filled the void left by sitcoms such as Seinfeld, Malcolm in the Middle, and Everybody Loves Raymond - the last ones to be christened both critical and ratings hits.

Congratulations to ABC on finding a hit sitcom. Now don't screw it up like you did with Mork & Mindy.

updated at 8:06 p.m. on 2007-11-01

Get the fudge out (mmmm... fudge....)

Robert Feder of the Chicago Sun-Times took the hatchet on this Halloween to WBBM-TV boss Joe Ahern. In his article, he says it's time for him to make like Michael Jackson and beat it. Ouch!

I'm not going to make hay over this article, since yours truly pointed out the problems WBBM has in previous posts. But this is the harshest assessment of any media outlet I have ever read.

The story was even mentioned on Broadcasting & Cable's Station to Station blog.

Happy Halloween, Joe Ahern.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Syndication notes

- As reported here last week, CBS Television Distribution's new hour-long medical talk show The Doctors (working title) has cleared 50 percent of the country, and has been declared a firm go for next fall. It has been confirmed that Weigel's WCIU-TV has picked up the show, but in a surprise move, the program will air in Chicago at 5 p.m. The program is being targeted for morning time-periods.

WCIU is currently airing The Insider and Half & Half at 5 and 5:30, respectively.

- Speaking of CBS Television Distribution, the massive entity announced today it will not be at the NATPE convention in Las Vegas at all in January. This is a blow for NATPE, who has been trying to keep its convention afloat for several years with the absence of major syndicators and their booths at the show. In recent years, many syndicators made their presence in luxury suites. This comes one day after Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution announced that it would return to the NATPE convention floor.

- Tyra Banks has signed a multi-year deal with Warner Bros. to not only continue hosting her talk show, but also to develop scripted and reality fare for the studio, as well as a series-development deal with the CW though her Bankable Productions. The America's Next Top Model host is now based in New York, where her talk show and the 10th cycle and future cycles of Top Model now shoot.

The move of Top Model back to New York will hopefully improve the product and look of the show, which it has sorely lacked since it left the Big Apple after the first cycle. Since then, early episodes of each cycle has shot in Los Angeles. Hopefully, Ms. Banks will appear on Top Model more often than she is now.

If you have read this blog lately, then you know that yours truly gave Tyra Banks the first ever The Worst Person (or People) in Media This Week award, due to last week's episode of Top Model, where she railroaded a contestant. Hopefully, she doesn't win this again. You don't want to be in the same company with louts Bill O'Reilly, the FCC's Kevin Martin, and the Parents Television Council. Already, all three are nominees for this week's award, and it's just Tuesday.

The Pickle goes sour

Days before WCKG-FM flips its FM Talk outlet to something else, south suburban WYKT-FM in Kankakee flipped from oldies to become My 105.5 FM, a new contemporary-hit radio station yesterday morning.

The move to CHR/Top 40 gives Kankakee and surrounding areas (Bradley, Bourbonnais, Manteno, and Momence, among others) a format reminiscent of the old WBUS-FM 99.9, or "The Bus", which was a CHR outlet from 1987 to 1996. WBUS is now WRZA-FM, which of course is "Nine FM".

WYKT is scheduled to carry the countdown show American Top 40 with Ryan Seacrest (AT40 airs in Chicago on WKSC-FM, or KISS-FM Sunday mornings.) Seacrest replaced Casey Kasem as host of the countdown show on January 10, 2004. Kasem co-created American Top 40, which started in 1970.

WBUS also carried American Top 40 under the reign of both Casey Kasem and Shadoe Stevens, and later carried Casey's Top 40, the countdown show hosted by Kasem, which premiered a few months after he left AT40 in 1988. (Kasem would sign-on with a new version of AT40 in 1998, three years after the original left the airwaves.)

Let's rock with the Sox (Red Sox, that is); Hawks gets home TV sponsor

-The recently completed World Series was a success for Fox, despite the fact that the Boston Red Sox swept the Colorado Rockies in four. Game 4 drew 20.9 million viewers, up from last year's Game 4 World Series between Detroit and St. Louis.

The series altogether drew an average of 17.1 million viewers, up 8 percent from the Detroit-St. Louis average from last year's World Series.

With the four-game sweep however, Fox has lost millions of dollars in potential ad revenue, and may have to provide make-goods or outright refunds to advertisers. Still, it was a good postseason for Fox, with the games drawing lots of viewers in the key adults 18-49 demo in a sport that's often perceived as older-skewing. And that's saying something given the championships in other sports (in the NBA and NHL) drew record-low ratings this past year.

This is our country

-Get ready, we might hear more John Mellancamp than we want to. But, at least it's worth it.

The Chicago Blackhawks has signed Chicagoland & Northwest Indiana Chevy Dealers as the first advertiser to sponsor Chicago Blackhawks home games this season on Comcast SportsNet, with the first one beginning on November 11, with the Blackhawks hosting the Red Wings.

Rocky Wirtz, son of recently deceased owner Bill Wirtz, announced that a certain amount of Blackwaks games would be made available for broadcast on CSN this season, a major depature from the elder Wirtz, who banned most home games from being televised.

Because of scheduling conflicts on Comcast SportsNet, the Blackhawks would only be able to air up to eight home games this season, with more coming next year. Home games will also be carried in high-definition.

A brave old world for Dahl

Phil Rosenthal in the Trib today explores Steve Dahl's return to the morning airwaves for the first time in 11 years, and it's not much different than it was the last time he left. Well, aside from WGCI not having a local radio morning show anymore, and Mancow being put out to pasture. Rosenthal also interviews individuals who explain how the consolidation of radio over the last decade - hasn't exactly helped advertisers, radio stations, or listeners.

It's AC for CKG

Robert Feder is reporting that WCKG is expected to flip to an Adult Contemporary format, which could occur anytime between 7 p.m. Friday and 5 a.m. Monday. The format would target women 25-54, and would put it in direct competition with WLIT-FM.

WLIT is expected to flip to Christmas music sometime in the next few weeks. Last year, WLIT flipped to the Jingle Bells format on November 2.

Other formats that were considered for WCKG included Spanish and Active Rock.

Aside from Steve Dahl, who is moving to WJMK-FM as that station's new morning personality, the entire on-air staff was let go, as well as the syndicated Opie & Anthony show. WCKG is playing classic clips around-the-clock of Dahl until he signs off WCKG for good Friday night.

The Chicago Bulls, who were on WCKG this past season, returned to WMVP-AM (ESPN 1000) with a five-year contract. The Bulls returned to WMVP mainly because of the pending format flip at WCKG, and it allowed the Bulls to opt out of their contract. WMVP won't have to pay any money to WCKG since the Bulls are buying the time on the station.

Video of Steve Dahl's announcement (really tongue-in-cheek and funny)

Monday, October 29, 2007

The latest on WCKG

Two of the on-air personalities of the station, Stan Lawrence and Terry Armour, stated on their blog that they are now former on-air personalities of the station. To read their post, click here and scroll all the way to the end.

Syndication Notes

- Warner Bros. new Bonnie Hunt Show has cleared 55 percent of the country, including WMAQ-TV in Chicago for next fall. Click here for a station list. Station groups clearing include NBC, Hearst-Argyle, Gannett, Belo, Tribune, Fox, Clear Channel, Young, and several more.

- Litton is syndicating two off-MTV shows - Pimp My Ride and Cribs to broadcast TV stations. Both shows are being marketed as nightly strips. Litton is hoping for better results after it found few takers for Baywatch, an off-network/syndication strip that was set to air in syndication this fall.

Viacom has outsourced its cable fare to independent syndicators for broadcast syndication, even before the CBS split in 2006 (Debmar-Mercury won the rights to syndicate South Park in 2004.) The exceptions were the MTV Top 20 Video Countdown, syndicated from April 1986 to June 1987, and Nickelodeon's Double Dare from January 1988 to September 1989.

- Speaking of Debmar-Mercury, the Lionsgate-owned company has hooked up with Discovery Communications to syndicate two of their most popular shows on the Discovery Channel to broadcast stations: American Chopper (available next fall) and Deadliest Catch (available fall 2009.) The programs are slated to be available on weekends, with an even 7:00N/7:00L barter split.

The WCKG format flip - team coverage (with film at 10!), Part III

WCKG holds Chicago hostage: Day 13

Garry Meier, Opie & Anthony out as of today

Garry Meier announced on his morning show that today was his and everyone else's last day at WCKG except for Steve Dahl.

The moves also mean that the syndicated Opie & Anthony Show will have to find a new home in Chicago (which is not likely.) Opie & Anthony also recently lost its Philadelphia outlet (WYSP-FM) and another in West Palm Beach.

Meanwhile, Dahl will announce his plans this afternoon on his show. As reported here and everywhere else, he is expected to head to WJMK-FM as that station's new morning personality.

And we already have our first nominee for this week...

What I'm sure is the first of many for Bill O'Reilly.

The Worst Person in Media This Week (actually, last week)

Starting retroactive to last Friday, we here at the T Dog Media Blog will present a "Worst Person in Media This Week" award to a deserving individual who excels in utter stupidity.

This new feature is inspired by the Worst Person in the World award Keith Olbermann gives out on his MSNBC's Countdown show (the only cable news show worth watching) and on Sunday Night Football's halftime show (Worst Person in the NFL).

The Worst Person In Media This Week can be anybody - a Hollywood star, a media executive, a radio personality, a reality contestant , a politician (they alone will probably account for half of the awards) - just about anyone who appears on TV and on radio and works behind the scenes.

I'm awarding two awards this week, one today for last week and on Friday, I'll award one for this week.

There are many nominees for the first award. Glenn Beck for his insensitive comment on the California Wildfires come to mind, or NBC executives for hastily scheduling a new show (Phenomenon) that wasn't on the fall schedule with little promotion (and airing forty promos during Heroes does not count.) Then, there's the Parents Television Council and the FCC, whose antics will make them nominees every week.

But yours truly decided to award the first ever Worst Person In Media This Week to Tyra Banks of The Tyra Banks Show and America's Next Top Model (applause). See the post just below this one to find out why. Congratulations, Tyra! You are the first ever recipient of The Worst Person In Media This Week award from The T Dog Media Blog.

No repeat winner for Chicago on "Top Model"

You can forget a repeat for the Windy City as far as America's Next Top Model is concerned. Chicago's own Ebony Morgan left the competition. Like the 2007 Chicago Cubs in this year's playoffs - she quit (technically, the Chicago area is hanging in there - Heather Kuzmich from Valparaiso, Ind. is still in the competition.)

Ebony fell into the bottom two, and when Tyra Banks announced the other model was going home, Ebony stunned everybody by announcing she wants out. Of course, the editing was suspect too, so it looks like Ebony was set up here.

I knew something was was wrong when Lou Pinella gave her that pep talk.

Last season's winner, Jaslene Gonzalez from Humboldt Park, won the competition in the eighth cycle.

And as for Ms. Banks, it's time for you to quit that stupid talk show and focus more on Top Model. This show is clearly falling apart in this cycle with the ratings down in key demos from a year ago. Like Ebony, the audience is quitting on Top Model, and last week's episode shows you why. What goes around comes around, Miss Thang.

Interesting you chew out someone and you only appear on the show 10 percent of the time. And I don't give a damn if you're the executive producer or not. I wonder if Ms. banks made the decision to show Ebony's audition tape after she quit? Totally classless.

Is it just me, or has this been an less-than-stellar season for returning reality/competition TV shows? With the exception of Dancing with the Stars and American Idol, nobody cares about these type of programs anymore. And with a writer's strike looming, the network schedules will likely be full of them, driving disinterested viewers (like yours truly) away.

If Ms. Banks doesn't start getting more involved in her "creation" soon, it too will go away.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

How the L.A. and San Diego TV stations covered the wildfires

TV stations in Los Angeles and San Diego had their hands full covering major wildfires in their respective metro areas this week, and they did so by expanding their on-air coverage (including pre-empting network and syndicated programs) and expanding their web presence.

Many stations like NBC-owned KNBC in Los Angeles and McGraw-Hill's ABC affiliate KGTV in San Diego provided live streaming, and others like locally-owned San Diego independent KUSI-TV expanded their newscasts and added more video to its website. San Diego NBC O&O KNSD did all the above, plus provided cell phone text alerts.

Radio stations' websites, including KFMB-FM (Jack-FM) in San Diego also provided information.

But the round-the-clock coverage is costly. Coverage of the wildfires for media in both markets is expected to exceed more than $1 million (and that's a conservative estimate), with money lost due to advertising spots being pre-empted.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The possible WCKG format flip - team coverage (with film at 10!), Part II

WCKG holds Chicago hostage: Day 11

Phil Rosenthal is reporting in tomorrow's edition of the Chicago Tribune that WCKG and CBS Radio officials have confirmation of Steve Dahl moving to WJMK (Jack FM) beginning on November 5.

Rumors have surfaced over the last few weeks over the fate of WCKG and the following moves pretty much confirms that there will be a format flip very soon:

- Steve Dahl moving to WJMK.

- The Chicago Bulls moving their games back to WMVP.

- An informerical hosted by a financial adviser on the station said it was his "second-to-last show on WCKG."

- WCKG registering domain names such as and, based on former rock stations WMET and WWBZ (The Blaze).

- In the Rosenthal article, mentions of possibly flipping WCKG to a Movin'-type format like Fresh FM (upbeat music targeted to women 25-54), or a Spanish-language format.

So which format will it be? Spanish-language? Or Fresh? Or something else? For all these answers and more, tune in next time for As the WCKG Turns!

Keep it here for complete "team" coverage of this breaking, important, life-shaking news story! We now return you to Saturday Night Live already in progress.

Bulls head to WMVP

The Chicago Tribune is reporting that the Chicago Bulls will announce this coming week a deal with ESPN-owned WMVP-AM to air games starting with the season opener on October 31.

WMVP, or ESPN Radio 1000, was the home for Bulls basketball during the franchise's glory years in the nineties. In 2006, the Bulls took their radio broadcasts in-house and bought time on WCKG, similar to what the Chicago Blackhawks does with their hockey games, which air on WSCR-AM (The Score).

The deal means that a WCKG format flip is all but a done deal. The only question is what format and when.

updated 2:59 pm on 2007-10-27

Friday, October 26, 2007

WBUI deal closes

Note: The link provided may require registration.

ACME Television has sold CW affiliate WBUI-TV to GOCOM Media for a cool $4 million dollars (and that's a steal!) The deal closed today.  WBUI serves the Champaign-Springfield-Decatur market. 

Steve Dahl to Jack FM?

The Sun-Times Robert Feder is reporting (and this is a tidbit that will make message boards explode over the weekend) that Steve Dahl, who hosts his successful afternoon show on WCKG-FM, is expected to land as morning jock at sister station WJMK-FM, or Jack FM. This comes as an impending format change will likely hit WCKG in the next two weeks or so.

WCKG and WJMK are both owned by CBS Radio. Dahl isn't commenting, and neither is CBS.

If the deal happens, Dahl would be the only jock at Jack. Though most Jack stations do not use on-air personalities, a few of them - in Kansas City, San Diego, and all of the Canadian Jack stations - do use jocks.

Dahl has a clause in his contract that states that he approve any daypart or station change. Sources say that he has indeed given his blessing.

Dahl's program on WCKG is an island. His afternoon show finished second in men 25-54, but overall, the station is a disaster, particularly since Howard Stern left terrestrial radio.

- Also in that article, former news reporter Amy Jacobson and former WKQX morning personality Mancow Mueller taped a pilot for the Fox News Channel in Chicago earlier this week. It's called Has-Beens & Co. (not the real title, but it should be.)

I don't know about this project. Fox News would never create programs around personalities nobody likes. Wait a minute...

Editor's Note: Updated at 12:53 am on 2007-10-27 to correct Jack FM information. I make sure that I am accurate on this blog, but on rare occasions, wrong information does slip through. If you spot any incorrect item here, let me know by posting a comment and I'll correct it. Your help is greatly appreciated. Thanks! - T.H.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The right team makes the difference

So much for the notion of viewers fleeing major sporting events... If you are the L.A. Lakers, New York Yankees, Dallas Cowboys, or the Boston Red Sox - it's instant ratings gold.

Game One of the Rockies-Red Sox World Series on Fox grabbed a 10.5 household overnight rating and a 5.8 in adults 18-49, up 61 percent in the demo from last year's Game One between the Detroit Tigers and St. Louis Cardinals.

In Boston, the game nabbed a 49.3 household rating and a 70 share on WFXT, while in Denver, it nabbed a 34.9/50 on KDVR-TV. WFXT and KDVR are owned by Fox.

Though Boston is the country's seventh-largest TV market, the Red Sox have fan bases from coast-to-coast, even here in Chicago. Some teams in larger markets (notably the Chicago White Sox, Oakland A's and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim - try saying that fast -) have smaller bases. In fact, all three were responsible for the lowest-rated World Series ever at one time or another since 1989 (with the A's responsible for two of them.)

The ratings comes as good news for Fox and for major sports events in particular, as several major events, such as the NBA Finals and the Stanley Cup Finals posted record-low numbers. However, those matchups featured teams with little or no national following (one was even out of the country - the Ottawa Senators made the Stanley Cup Finals last season. Ottawa is Canada's capital city, located in the province of Ontario.)

As for other fare last night, Kid Nation recorded a series-high number in viewers, but still finished fourth, while Phenomenon - a new show NBC quietly snuck onto the schedule - finished third, but the ratings were in line with what the network expected. Gossip Girl bombed again last night, but heck, since the CW isn't using the Nielsen ratings to measure its performance, does it really matter?

updated 8:15pm on 2007-10-25

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

"Dr. Phil" spinoff clears half of the country

CBS Television Distribution has cleared a spin-off of Dr. Phil called The Doctors in 50 percent of the country. Among station groups clearing the show include CBS, Belo, Gannett, Scripps, and Cox.

Stations grabbing the strip include WCBS-TV in New York, KCAL-TV in Los Angeles, KYW-TV in Philadelphia, KTVU-TV in San Francisco, WSB-TV in Atlanta (which will likely replace Montel Williams, which is headed to WPCH-TV), WXYZ-TV Detroit, KARE-TV in Minneapolis, WPXI-TV in Pittsburgh, and KSHB-TV in Kansas City.

In Chicago, the program has cleared WCIU-TV (thanks to Mark and TV Barn 2 for the info.)

The program is being primarily targeted for morning time periods, in which The Doctors has already cleared the 9 a.m. time slot on WCBS.

The Doctors (working title) is a hour-long strip features a team of five medical professionals, dispensing advice and discussing health related topics. The host is Dr. Travis Stork, who appeared on The Bachelor. The five individuals will appear on Dr. Phil during this season.

The program is being produced by Stage 29 Productions (named for the soundstage Dr. Phil is shot on at Paramount Studios), headed by Dr. Phil's son Jay McGraw.


- The Doctors was the name of a soap opera that aired on NBC from 1963 to 1982.

- Paramount's The Aresnio Hall Show was shot on Stage 29 from 1989 to 1994. Other programs that have used the soundstage included talk shows hosted by Marilu Henner (1994-95) and Stephanie Miller (1995).

- Dr. Phil continues to shoot at the Paramount lot, despite the fact that CBS and Viacom (owner of Paramont Pictures) split in 2006.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Leave The CW Alone!!!

WARNING: Satire ahead. Reader discretion is advised.

The latest YouTube sensation...

A guy named Burley (who, for some unknown reason is wearing makeup) is crying on his bed...

"My name is Burley... To all you dummies out there... (snif) Leave The CW alone!!!! Please!!! They have the greatest shows in the world like Smallville and Beauty and the Geek! And there's the best new show in the world called Gossip Girl!!! It's the best show ever! And there's Aliens in America... that show is funny! It's better than Seinfeld! (snif)"

And Life Is Wild is a good family drama! Why you all waste your time on that Simpsons crap! That show has been on since, what? 1968?... The Game is funnier than that show!!!!

"I'm the world's greatest CW fan! You all want to bash and bash the CW! You all over the age of 25 want to bash our generation's programming! Nobody over 30 watches the CW! Anyone over 30 sucks! You media writers from TV Week, Mediaweek, and Advertising Age! Plus that idiot named T Dog who keeps bashing The Game on the PI Feedback forum... LEAVE THE CW ALONE!!!! (snif) You all make me sick!!!!"

"I'm a 19-year old girl - um, I mean guy - that's right, gay - I mean guy! Straight guy! I love this stuff! Don't take it away from me like you did The WB! If you do, I'll never forgive you! Wahhhh!" Leave the CW alone! Right now!!! Wahhhh!!!

All right, the satirical rant above is not as stupid as that guy who made the "Leave Britney Alone" video, but some media people are stepping up for the ratings-challenged CW, including station groups and media buyers who say, "What better place to reach young women?" (besides ABC, that is.)

Of note in the TV Week story I linked (click on station groups), some of the comments are from people who are over 30 and watch CW programming, like Supernatural.

And now, who wants to smack this Burley guy upside the head? I want first crack at him...

An unlikely smash hit

And who thought it would be a new sitcom - yes, sitcom - called Samantha Who? who grew week to week in 18-49s in its' Monday night time slot. Samantha Who?, the Colorado Rockies of prime time.

The possible WCKG format flip - team coverage (with film at 10!)


A message board posting states that is no longer operable. Uh-oh... (it's actually back up and running.)

Keep it here for complete "team" coverage of this breaking, important, life-shaking news story! We now return you to Judge David Young already in progress.

Report: WCKG to flip to Spanish

Bulls looking for new radio home

The Chicago Tribune's Ed Sherman is reporting that the Chicago Bulls are looking for a new radio home after speculation has surfaced that CBS Radio's WCKG-FM may flip from a FM Talk format to a Spanish-language one - perhaps as soon as the next couple of days.

The Spanish-language format is one of the options that WCKG is considering after yet another book of poor performance for the once-proud radio station. Speculation has run rampant on message boards that the station may flip to Soft AC (aka a "Lite" clone - like we need another one of those) or Active Rock.

The real question is what to do with Steve Dahl - he has a multi-year contract that was just renewed and he must approve any move regarding his afternoon time slot at WCKG. A possibility is a move to sister sports talk WSCR-AM.

The Bulls are looking to move to a new radio station perhaps as soon as next week when the new NBA season tips off.

Thought: Remember what happened last year when Clear Channel flipped a successful AC station in Philadelphia (WSNI-FM) to a Spanish format called "Rumba"? Lasted a mere nine months. If WCKG goes through with this, they are making a huge mistake.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Hawks home games to be televisied (finally!)

There are certain things in life that are guaranteed. CBS' morning show languishing in the ratings basement. Wheel of Fortune topping the syndicated ratings chart every week. And Chicago Blackhawks home games blacked out on local TV.

Well, one of things may be coming to an end.

The Chicago Tribune is reporting on its website that the Chicago Blackhawks are considering televising some home games over Comcast Sportsnet beginning sometime this season. Rocky Wirtz, who took over operations after the death of his father, longtime owner William (Bill) Wirtz, is considering such a move.

This comes as attendance and interest for the Blackhawks has waned over the years.

Up to a half-dozen games are to be televised, the majority coming toward the end of the season. The first is likely to air November 11, when the Detroit Red Wings come to town.

Any conflicting sporting event televised by CSN is cleared on CLTV, the local news channel owned by the Tribune Co. (The Trib and four of Chicago's six pro teams own a financial stake in the channel.) Other sporting commitments are limiting the number of Blackhawks home games available to air this season.

Rocky Wirtz's decision marks a huge departure from the home blackout policies his grandfather (Arthur Wirtz) instituted in the 1950's, and later, his son Bill. They feared television - even cable or satellite TV - would hurt attendance. The Chicago Blackhawks are the last professional sports team in North America (outside the NFL) to have such a policy.

updated 12:17 a.m. on 2007-10-23

Viva Las Whacked

After a very lackluster debut Thursday night, CBS' new critically-scathed musical Viva Laughlin collapsed last night, drawing a historically low 1.2 among adults 18-49, finishing fourth in the time slot. Only the CW's Life is Wild drew lower ratings, but that program is expected to be around for the long haul.

See, this is what happens when you cast the Miami Dolphins in a TV show...

UPDATE: As of 6 p.m. Central Time, CBS has officially canceled Viva Laughlin. No word yet on the Rams and Dolphins, whose seasons also deserve to be canceled.

UPDATE 2: Fox's Nashville, pulled after two airings, is also gone for good.

WBBM-TV continues to struggle in the ratings

This week's issue of Crain's Chicago Business details the continuing ratings struggle of CBS-owned WBBM-TV. Joe Ahern, who helped rocket competing WLS-TV into a ratings powerhouse in the '80's and '90's, is finding it a difficult task to repeat the same feat at WBBM.

At issue is the station's poorly-rated newscasts, which places behind not only ABC-owned WLS and NBC-owned WMAQ-TV in the time period, but also CW affiliate WGN-TV and Fox-owned WFLD-TV in a few time periods. The newscasts aren't delivering viewers to CBS' prime-time lineup, which ranked behind other CBS-owned stations and CBS affiliates in most major markets.

At a time when formerly moribund Tiffany network affiliates such as CBS-owned KCBS-TV in Los Angeles and New Vision Broadcasting's WIAT in Birmingham, Ala. are finally starting to show some life, WBBM continues to go downward. In fact, one week last month, WIAT drew higher ratings in prime than WBBM did. Yes, that WIAT - Channel 42, or the former WBMG-TV, whose 10 p.m newscasts once finished behind reruns of Sanford & Son and The Andy Griffith Show.

Shows that are talked about most in Chicago are Dancing With The Stars and Desperate Housewives; CBS programming such as Survivor are hardly talked about at all.

To be fair, CBS prime-time traditionally has not fared well in Chicago. In the 1986-87 season for example, WLS' prime lineup was number one despite the fact that ABC finished a distant third in the ratings with a schedule that featured such sinkers as The Charmings and Life With Lucy (Lucille Ball's comeback sitcom - and you thought Cavemen was bad.) CBS, which finished second behind a dominant NBC nationally, finished a distant third in Chicago.

In May 2007, WBBM finished fourth in total-day ratings, just like it did in the May 1987 book.

WLS still has The Oprah Winfrey Show, Wheel of Fortune, and Jeopardy! in its lineup - the very same lineup the station had when Ahern ran the station. And now, like then, WLS dominates the ratings, and not even the introduction of the Local People Meters in 2005 - which measures demographic information on an overnight basis - has changed that.

Thanks to corporate cousin CBS, the station has upgraded its afternoon lineup, which once showcased outdated programs such as Real TV and Hard Copy and reruns of Who's the Boss? The station currently runs Rachael Ray, Judge Judy and Dr. Phil in early fringe. However, that syndicated lineup has not delivered viewers to its newscasts, particularly at 6 and 10 p.m.

Also not helping the station's image is last summer's fiasco involving former WMAQ-TV anchor Amy Jacobson, in which WBBM secretly taped her in the backyard of Craig Stebic's house in a swimsuit. Mr. Stebic, of course, is the husband of Amy Stebic, who has been missing for several months.

Add to that the station's over-the-air signal woes and a channel number on Comcast even higher than PBS affiliate WYIN in Northwest Indiana and you have a recipe for disaster.

The situation is just as bad now as it was in the early 1970's, when the station's newscasts were fourth in the ratings (the average share was 8), and Walter Jacobson and Bill Kurtis came in the door with the working newsroom as a backdrop, the minicams and ENG (Electronic News Gathering) and changed everything. But those two and any new revolutionary concepts aren't walking through that newsroom door anytime soon.

But what is coming is a brand new street-side studio at State and Washington, which is set to open next year. The station hopes that the new studio will be a promotional platform for everything CBS, including its local news programming (no word on whether or not if the newscasts will be shot in HD when the new studio becomes operable.) WBBM has been broadcasting at its McClurg Court studios since 1956.

And on the good side, the station has increased its share of revenues and its' 10 p.m. newscast no longer finishes behind entertainment programming in households.

CBS management apparently is willing to be patient with Ahern and the rest of station management, particularly with the new studio coming. But are they really being patient? Or are they writing WBBM off as a lost cause? After all, an O&O group is the most profitable of any part of the network. Only time - and from the look of things, a whole lot of it - will tell.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

T Dog's Think Tank: Hello? You Play To Win The Game! (TV-MA)

Yours truly posted this on the PI Feedback forum regarding Thursday night's episode of Survivor:

Rant ahead: It gets kind of boring listening to these guys talk about strategy every week for ten minutes. Why "Survivor" still dominates the ratings every week is something I can't figure out, let alone the stupid twists (maybe it's that.) What's with this crap about these girls throwing the challenge? Winning isn't important? In the words of Kansas City Chiefs coach Herman Edwards, "Hello? You play to win the game!" Worst. Episode. Ever. Vote all these guys off, they suck. Get your popcorn ready, because I'm watching another show. Thank you. (and thanks to T.O. for that popcorn quote. Hilarious.)

These losers need a talking to from Herman Edwards himself (this is from his days when was head coach of the New York Jets:)

One could wonder if Mr. Edwards or Mike Ditka was coaching this tribe, they would be kicking somebody's ass right about now. Hell, they need a tongue-lashing from Tyra Banks. The actions of this tribe (who can't seem to win anything) says a lot about today's spoiled generation. After two of the girls decided to throw the immunity challenge, one idiot in the losing tribe said, "Yeah, she threw the challenge, but I'm keeping her because I feel safe with her."

This moron is full of it. Winning on this episode of Survivor isn't important? Are these people high? Why even bother showing up for the immunity challenges? You're playing to win a million freaking dollars, not a lifetime supply of Turtle Wax. No wonder reality TV shows have no credibility or integrity (I know, I know, they didn't have any to begin with.)

This tribe is who we thought they were. You want to crown them as complete total idiots, then crown their ass! Someone should send Dennis Green to China and yell at these jackasses for a hour, particularly those two girls.

You play to win the game. Plain and simple. If that isn't the point, then what is? Some people in the next generation don't seem to understand that.

Survivor and snack foods

And what is with these stupid twists on this show? They switched two of the strongest members of each tribe in a rather uneventful part of the show. There are so many twists in this show, it's basically become a pretzel, and a stale one at that
(and someone feed that skinny girl, she needs twenty bags of potato chips, stat!)

The producers of Survivor are a bunch of dips who are clearly missing their chips. They completely waste my time and everyone else's with their crap each and every week. Like the contestants of this show, the producers of Survivor are utter morons. Thursday night's episode was total bullshit, and they know it. Get your popcorn ready, because as far as I'm concerned, this show is over.

Herman Edwards said if winning doesn't matter, then retire. It's time for Survivor to do the same.

WTMJ tops Arbitrons again

News-talk WTMJ-AM is much like WGN-AM in Chicago - news, talk, community connections - and the uncanny ability to stay at number one. WTMJ finished first overall in Milwaukee's summer book, but fourth in adults 25-54 - the crown in that all-important demo went to country station WMIL-FM. To see the complete list, click here.

By the way, WGN finished 23rd in the Milwaukee book.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Whoopi's out; Forman's in

Clear Channel-owned WLIT-FM (The Lite) in Chicago has axed Whoopi Goldberg's poorly-rated syndicated morning show and has reinstated Melissa Forman as morning personality.

Since August 2006, when Melissa Forman was replaced by Whoopi, the morning drive ratings dropped like a rock. Among adults 25-54, the daypart went from 11th place with Forman to 19th place with Goldberg. Forman was let go from WLIT, but returned to the station earlier this year to do afternoons.

Forman will now do mornings from 5:30 a.m. to 8:30, but the afternoon shift she does will now be voice-tracked.

Fans of Whoopi (if any), don't fret - she's still on The View on ABC weekday mornings and her syndicated radio morning show will continue. However, with the loss of Chicago, she has only a dozen affiliates remaining - not a good sign.

Analysis: For once, the egg is on Clear Channel's face. Management finally fessed up and made a mistake with Forman. One of the reasons why Chicago radio is in such shambles is because of a over-reliance of voice-tracking and overuse of syndication, and Clear Channel is the worse offender. Instead of hiring an afternoon personality, they decided to voice track Melissa Forman in that daypart. Not a smart move (after all, this is Clear Channel we're talking about.)

WLIT's ratings are terrible and it's pitiful that the station has to rely on repetitive Christmas music in the fourth quarter to skew the book. Enough with Delilah and the Flashback Weekends, they both suck.

Why did WLIT play Ice, Ice, Baby from Vanilla Ice and You Can't Touch This from M.C. Hammer on a Flashback Weekend last year? WLIT didn't dare touch this when those records were burning up Top 40 charts back in the day. So why now? Did it ever occur to them their target audience doesn't like rap music? No wonder the Adult Contemporary format is steadily going downhill on terrestrial radio (Look at what happened to WLTW-FM in New York, which recently fell out of the number one spot.) If you want a real Adult Contemporary station, listen to The Heart or The Blend on XM, or through

Meanwhile, ratings came out this week showing Steve Harvey failing to match his local predecessor in the morning daypart. It's time for executives at Clear Channel to also admit they made a mistake regarding WGCI as well. But it's not likely. Admitting a mistake twice in the same century? Forget it.

Clear Channel is to radio what Bill Wirtz was to the Blackhawks - they won't spend anything to improve their operations and always looking to cut corners to save money. As a result, the performance of the product suffers, the fans get pissed off, and they leave for other choices. How many people were at the Hawks game the other night? 8,000? Most of them were probably WLIT listeners.

Now that Whoopi has been replaced, it's time for local Clear Channel radio executives to be replaced as well before "The Lite" gets turned off for good. But don't be surprised if that happens. Clear Channel wants to cut corners on its electric bill, too.

(P.S. - I apologize for the misspelling of Ms. Forman's name in the post that showed up here earlier. - T.H.)

updated at 6:00 p.m. on 2007-10-19

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Jon Stweart re-ups with Comedy Central

This was a very good day for fans of The Daily Show. Not only Jon Stewart has re-upped with the show until 2010 in a contract extension, but The Daily Show website also got a complete overhaul, including the sweetest thing - every video clip from the show's existence is available online, dating all the way back to 1999, when Stewart took over for Craig Kilbourn. To see the new, redesigned site, click here.

But what about those episodes with Craig Kilbourn, you ask? Well, rumor has it that those pre-Jon Stewart episodes of The Daily Show were found burning in a dumpster behind the KFC the other night...

Get your full season pickups here

For Private Practice, The Big Bang Theory, and The Unit (and thankfully, none for Cavemen.) Fox also picked up more episodes of Kitchen Nightmares.

NLCS bombs in the ratings

No surprise here: The National League Championship Series between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Colorado Rockies averaged an anemic 2.8 rating and 6 share on TBS, down 61 percent from last year's series between the New York Mets and the St. Louis Cardinals, which aired on Fox.

This year's NLCS ended in a four game sweep with the Rockies sweeping the Diamondbacks.

A combination of late starting times (two games started after 9 p.m.), and "small" markets (where do the teams play? Tuscon and Colorado Springs?), and the four game sweep pretty much killed any ratings momentum this series had.

Then again, we don't have to endure anymore commercials for "Frank TV", with this generation's answer to Pauly Shore, Frank Caliendo.

Hannity & Idiot

It's St. Petersburg (Tampa) Times TV critic Eric Deggans getting shouted down by Alan Colmes on Fox News' Hannity & Colmes over Don Imus returning to radio soon. Wait a minute, isn't Colmes the liberal one?

Lucky for Colmes it wasn't PTI's Michael Wilbon sitting in that chair, or Colmes would've gone home crying to mommy.

As for this program, it's nice to see The Jerry Springer Show in prime time.

Fox makes midseason shifts

The new television show based on The Terminator movie franchise debuts on Monday, Jan. 14 at 7 p.m. (CT) Titled The Sarah Connor Chronicles, the action-adventure program focuses on the character and her son. Sarah Connor will lead in to 24, which begins its new (and hopefully better) season at 8 p.m.

Fox announced at the upfronts that Sarah Connor was scheduled for Sundays at 8 beginning in January, but many immediately began to suspect that the time period the show got was not going to stick.

Now, Fox will keep its popular animated comedy block on Sundays from 7-9 p.m., while Prison Break -the program Sarah Connor will replace -closes its season on Dec. 17. Prison Break resumes in April.

No word on the fate of K-Ville, which now occupies the slot 24 will inherit.

Three way battle for off-net supremacy

A big race is shaping up for off-network sitcom supremacy. Yours truly has been following the syndication business since 1984, and I haven't seen a race like this since The Cosby Show, The Golden Girls, Roseanne, and Married... With Children were all battling for the crown in the early '90's.

Three sitcoms - Warner's Two and a Half Men, Twentieth's Family Guy, and CBS' Everybody Loves Raymond are neck and neck - for the week ending Oct. 7, Two and Raymond had a 3.7 rating, and Family Guy had a 3.6. Two and a Half Men's performance is remarkable given that it has no cable clearances.

Also, don't forget CBS' weekend CSI: Miami: it averaged a 3.7, and is the top-rated weekend hour.

As for the new syndication shows, Judge David Young, Merv Griffin Crosswords, and The Steve Wilkos Show each averaged 0.8, while Temptation was at 0.4. TMZ topped them all with a 1.8 and growing.

Wheel of Fortune was the top syndicated show with a 7.2.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

"Online Nation" first casualty of season

The CW has axed the little-watched Online Nation after four episodes, making it the first official cancellation of the 2007-08 season. The program had an anemic 0.2 last week in the 18-49 demographic in the Sunday 6:30 p.m. (CT) time slot.

Replacing it will be same-week repeats of Aliens in America.

Nashville, a docu-soap that aired on Fox Friday nights last month, was pulled after two airings but Fox says it plans to bring the show back in November.

In case you're wondering what was last season's first casualty (or you just plain forgot), it was NBC's Kidnapped which had that dubious distinction. That show was yanked in October 2006 after three episodes, with the rest recently burned off in a 1:45 a.m. Monday morning time slot.

Stephen Colbert to run for President

What you see above is not a typo. He is running for president. His character, that is. I think. And he is running only in South Carolina as a Democrat and a Republican. Maybe his running mate is Pat Paulsen. Or Scooby-Doo.

Man, yours truly wishes he lived in South Carolina so he could vote for Colbert. And no, that's not a typo, either.

WGN-AM sweeps Chicago summer book

A clean sweep of every major daypart kept WGN on top of the ratings in Arbitron's summer book. WGN's dominance started with Spike O'Dell in the mornings and went through John Williams and Cubs baseball in the afternoon. Other news of note:


- WGCI paid dearly for replacing top-rated (in 18-34) Howard McGee with syndicated Steve Harvey, with WVAZ's Tom Joyner decisively beating the comic in the ratings (don't get too giddy - Harvey posted his best ever ratings here.)

- WKSC's (Kiss) Drex beat WBBM-FM's Eddie & JoBo & Erica in the ratings, who did not show up in the top 10. However, B96's morning show shows its most strength in the female demos, where it is in the top 10. Likewise, WLUP's Jonathan Brandmeier didn't make the top 10 either, but flexes his muscles in the male demos.


- WZZN's Scott Shannon tied WGCI's Beyonce Foxx for eighth place (surprise, surprise...) WOJO was the top-rated music station, with WNUA the top-rated English-language FM station.


- Dave Koz's syndicated show on WNUA finished second behind WGN and slightly ahead of Tony Sculfield on WGCI, while WKSC's Ty Bentli topped WBBM-FM's Stylz & Roman.

If you are looking for any changes, there will beat least one in the coming weeks ahead - WLIT is expected to flip to Christmas music soon. Otherwise, stations are going to hold tight for quite a while, as the PPMs will replace the paper-and-diary method Arbitron has been using for nearly 60 years.

In other words, goodbye decimal points - hello numbers measured in the thousands.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Sports broadcasts continue to struggle in the ratings

If you thought Chicago sports teams were having a bad year... ratings for live sports broadcasts are still struggling just as badly, and no wonder:

- The National League Championship Series between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Colorado Rockies on TBS had a household rating of 2.2 for Game 1. Colorado swept the series from Arizona 4-0 with last night's victory. This will likely be the lowest rated NLCS ever, given the fact that two of those games had start times at 9 p.m. Central and ended past midnight.

What is up with the late start times for some of these playoff games? This is the NLCS we're talking about, not the first round of the NBA Playoffs. Major League Baseball handled this very poorly, and they (and TBS) got what they deserved in the ratings department.

The American League Championship Series between Boston and Cleveland, is faring somewhat better, averaging a 5.3. household rating for the first two games.

The Indians lead 2-1 in that series. If Cleveland advances, it will create a Cleveland-Colorado matchup in the World Series, which could be a ratings disaster. Already, the NBA Finals (Cleveland Calivers vs. San Antonio Spurs) and Stanley Cup Finals (Ottawa Senators vs. Anaheim Ducks) recorded all-time ratings lows this year.

- It looks like we may have a repeat of what happened with the White Sox this year - the Chicago Bears, after a successful couple of seasons. are falling fast - and so are the television ratings.

The Vikings-Bears game averaged a 25.4 household rating, down from the 30 rating for the Bears-Packers game in prime time the previous week. Keep in mind however, that HUT levels are lower in daytime than they are in prime time, and that 25.4 alone would top most prime time network programs.

But that's no excuse as the Bears' poor play is taking it toll, and fans (notably casual ones) are starting to bail.

If the Bears continue to stumble, the ratings could fall behind Dancing With The Stars, and then you've got a real problem.

Happy "They are who we thought they were" day

On October 16, 2006, Dennis Green created that famous phase after the Cardinals lost to the Bears 24-23 in an amazing game. Here's a Coors Light parody (not the commercial that's on the air now, but created a few months after Green's press conference.)

Monday, October 15, 2007

WLS, WGCI big losers in book

Both down a full point since last summer, while WGN blows out the competition (like the Colorado Rockies, WGN may never lose a book again!) For the complete results, click here.

Update (10-16-06): No Feder today for some reason, so the daypart breakdowns will have to wait. In the meantime, here's a Tribune story on the numbers, which contains some demo information.

Quick Thoughts: "Crazy" Howard McGee's exit hurt WGCI; WOJO had a very good book - the best in its history; WKQX's morning fix needs to be fixed; and WLS hit a twenty-year low (the last time numbers were this bad, the station was still playing adult Top 40 music with Larry Lujack in the afternoons.)

WHTZ Number One in Big Apple

Meanwhile, Clear Channel's Top 40 outlet WHTZ-FM (Z100) hit number one in New York for the first time since the 1980's, when Scott Shannon's morning show held sway. Z100 knocked off sister WLTW-FM out of the top slot and into third place. Urban AC outlet WRKS-FM finished second.

updated 2007-10-16 at 9:09am

WADL steps up in the Motor City

After years of crummy programming (infomercials, home shopping, etc.), Adelll-owned WADL-TV in Detroit is making a serious bid to compete for those TV advertising dollars with the other stations in town - by targeting the market's African-American population.

The station, which signed on in 1985, had been airing mostly paid religious fare and infomericals. At one time, the station was a outlet for CBS programming that then-affiliate WJBK-TV did not clear.

Blacks make up 21 percent of Detroit's DMA, and historically, programs with predominately African-American casts have traditionally done well in the Motor City. If fact, Fox, WB and UPN performed better in Detroit than the national average when those networks had that type of programming on.

But when the WB and UPN folded up shop in September 2006, it left a hole for African-American targeted programming.

WADL has stepped up and acquired many programs targeted to African-Americans, including 1970's sitcoms Good Times and Sanford and Son, plus the critically acclaimed drama In The Heat Of The Night. The station is also stepping up its' local programming efforts, including a weekly talk show hosted by Detroit's mayor, Kwane Kilpatrick.

Granted, the station still airs a large amount of religious, paid programming, and home shopping. And many off-network and first-run syndicated programs popular among blacks are still airing on other outlets, like CBS-owned CW affilate WKBD-TV and Granite's MyNetworkTV affiliate WMYD-TV. But this move is a step in the right direction.

Rant: In the above article I linked from B&C, "community leaders" in Detroit question WADL's airing of Good Times and Sanford & Son, saying the programs reinforce negative stereotypes about African-Americans.

Oh, please. Are these people still living in the 1970's? Those two shows air here in Chicago on WWME-TV, and there are no complaints from the black community (I know because I live there.)

Gee, what about the programs that currently air on VH-1, BET, and MTV? What about those hip-hop and rap videos that demean women that constantly air on these channels? You "community leaders" humor me.

Samantha What?

News and notes, all wrapped up into one:

- Leno appears to be unhappy about being forced out of the famed 10:35 p.m. (CT) time slot for Conan O'Brien in 2009. Late shift, part II?

- Christiana Applegate returns to the network that launched her career (1986's Heart of the City) and is the lead in Samantha Who? In it, the former Married... With Children star wakes up after eight days in a coma and forgets who she is. Then she finds out that Al and Peg Bundy are her parents and falls back into that coma.

Okay, I made up the last part and yes, that would be the only thing that would make me tune in into this already overrated sitcom.

- In the Huh? department (that's not a typo), Fox Sports Net has sub-leased six of its Pac-10 basketball games to ESPN. Four of those games are slated to air on ABC. FSN will continue to air Pac-10 basketball on its regional sports networks (including Comcast SportsNet).

-Drew Carey debuted today as host of The Price Is Right, taking over Bob Barker's position after 35 years. Mr. Carey was flawless and funny (and the contestants went 6-for-6 in the pricing games), and was quite smooth on his first day and if that's any indication, The Price Is Right will be on the air with Carey at the helm for years to come.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Syndication Box

News and notes from the world of syndication today:

-Media Life reports that TMZ, the top freshman strip in syndication, is drawing more men than the other fluff-entertainment programs. 41.8 percent of its audience was men, and among the men 18-34 demo, the program pulled a 0.9 rating. Perhaps the reason this show is doing well among men because TMZ isn't wasting time hyping a female-targeted movie or TV show from Hollywood and it doesn't take itself too seriously. You go, TMZ.

- The complete list of ratings for syndicated off-network programs (with barter only) were listed in Marc Berman's Programming Insider today, and it shows that Everybody Loves Raymond returning to number one this week, after losing it last week to Family Guy, which dropped to number two. Observations:

- Two and a Half Men is ranked fourth with a 3.4.

- The King of Queens tied Friends with a 2.8.

- Biggest surprise: George Lopez with a 2.2 (This sitcom even makes According to Jim funny by comparison.)

- Also with a 2.2, is the surprisingly potent Sex and the City, which is in its third season in syndication.

- Despite recently premiering on FX, Malcolm in the Middle nabbed a 1.4, down 30 percent from last year, which is considered a disappointment. A sitcom's overall numbers in syndication usually go up when it's added to a cable network's lineup. Some stations (like KPLR in St. Louis), have downgraded Malcolm to overnight time periods.

- South Park ranked near the bottom with a 0.8 rating, tied with Half & Half. Siberian time slots in major markets (New York, Philadelphia) aren't helping.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Landecker out at WZZN

The last time radio legend John "Records" Landecker was let go from a position was in 2003 at then-oldies WJMK-FM. In 2005, the oldies format signed off at WJMK, which became Jack FM.

Now, Landecker has been dumped as afternoon jock at oldies outlet WZZN-FM. Landecker's contract expires on Friday, but he did not show up for his afternoon shift today. Management forced him out after the media leaked the story of his pending departure.

See ya, "True Oldies Channel".

NBC to leave Burbank for Universal City

NBC is moving their main studios, their network and local news operations, and the Tonight Show with soon-to-be new host Conan O'Brien (in 2009) to Universal City Studios in Los Angeles from its longtime home in Burbank, Calif. NBC has been operating from the Burbank facility since 1955, when it opened as NBC Color City (aptly named since NBC was the first network to broadcast in color.)

General Electric - NBC's owner since 1986 -purchased Universal Studios in 2004, merged it with NBC and became NBC Universal.

The NBC Studios in Burbank was home to Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, who moved the late-night talk show from New York City in 1972. The facility was also home to numerous TV shows including Wheel of Fortune, Chico & The Man, Sanford and Son, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and the original version of Hollywood Squares.

Current shows taped or filmed at NBC include Access: Hollywood, Ellen, and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

The Burbank studios also house the operations of KNBC-TV, NBC's O&O station in Los Angeles, and its Spanish-language sister station, Telemundo affiliate KVEA-TV.

The moves are expected to be complete by 2011.

Official press release: NBC Universal Announces Long-Term Strategic Plan For West Coast Operations

Official press release: NBC Universal Announces Long Term Plan To Create West Coast News Headquarters And Content Center in Los Angeles

updated 2007-10-11 at 5:42 p.m.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Radio One comes to the rescue for Indy's Top 40 fans

Faced with becoming another San Francisco (or Chicago before KISS-FM signed on in 2001), Indianapolis' Top 40 fans were spared the loss of the format completely when Radio One (yes, the URBAN radio experts) bought the intellectual property, the name RadioNow, and format of WNOU and is putting it on its 100.9 frequency, kicking the smooth jazz format to the curb.

On Monday, Emmis' WNOU flipped from Top 40 to Christmas music in preparation for the company to move its talk format(currently on WIBC-AM) to FM in January.

"Deal" has highest web traffic

NBC's Deal or No Deal has the highest web traffic of any TV show site last week with 15% of the market share, ahead of second-place Dancing With the Stars, according to Hitwise. Is it because viewers are being drawn to the site for the chance to win prize money? Or is it because guys like me want the prize money and an opportunity to see pictures of the models?

Remember - I report, you decide!

Miller, Coors to merge

The merger of two of the largest beer makers (behind Anheuser-Busch) will create a huge No. 2 presence in the beer industry, and will have a tremendous impact on buying and selling ad time for major sporting events - not the mention the Chicago based ad agencies who create the spots.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Chicago is "Family Guy's" kind of town

It looks like Family Guy has succeeded where The Simpsons succeeded.

According to numbers supplied by Twentieth Television (from a banner ad that appeared on TV Week's website), Family Guy's airing at 10 p.m. on WGN-TV finished number one in the time period between Sept. 17 and Sept. 21 among men 18-34 (2.2) and women 18-34 (2.6). It beat not only The King of Queens and Law and Order: Criminal Intent but all four network O&O newscasts in those demos, including WFLD's new 10 p.m. newscast, which continues to record losses in households and in demos held by The Simpsons last year.

Family Guy outdrew WFLD's newscast in households, 3.4/6 to 2.0/3. Family Guy also outdrew The Simpsons' 10:35p.m. airing, which had a 2.0/4.

Family Guy's airing at 10 p.m. also ranked number one for the entire day on WGN in those 18-34 demos, outdrawing fare such as Maury, Reba, According to Jim, and the CW primetime lineup.

Meanwhile, WLS-TV continued to lead the 10 p.m. news race in households, with NBC's WMAQ-TV second, and CBS-owned WBBM-TV's late newscast still a distant third.

Sources: Nielsen Media research, WRAP overnights, 9/17-9/21, Katz Media Group.

"Gossip Girl" picked up for full season

And the funny thing about it, Variety labeled this show a hit. Are these people dumb or just plain stupid? (Let's not call it a hit just yet... while the numbers are solid, they are still disappointing.)

WNBC blinks first

The first station to make a move in the new fall season is NBC-owned WNBC-TV in New York, which is dropping its soft news-oriented News4You, and replacing it with a traditional newscast at 5:30 p.m. Ratings for the show were behind ABC-owned WABC-TV, which ranks number one at 5 and 5:30 p.m.

WNBC has also removed the second half-hour of Merv Griffin's Crosswords at 4:30 p.m., replacing it with Access: Hollywood, which also retains its 7:30 p.m. time slot. Crosswords remains at 4.

These changes at WNBC does not affect other NBC O&Os, including WMAQ-TV in Chicago, which will stay the course for now.

NBC Universal to buy Oxygen

NBC Universal has purchased female-oriented cable network Oxygen for $925 million dollars. To pay for the transaction, NBC Universal will sell two TV stations, one in Los Angeles (KWHY-TV), the other in Puerto Rico.

Here is the official press release.

Tom Joyner to stay on V103

In a very smart move, Clear Channel-owned WVAZ-FM (or V103) has renewed the syndicated Tom Joyner Morning Show in a multi-year deal. There was speculation that WVAZ would can the show and replace it with a local morning show.

The TJMS and Radio One would have suffered a big blow if WVAZ didn't renew the show. Chicago is the second-largest radio market with a large African-American population to air the program, only behind Atlanta. Joyner does not have a New York clearance.

Joyner's show is broadcast from Dallas, with its studios across the street from where its Radio One affiliate (KSOC-FM) is based.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Surprise flip in Indianapolis

(Of all of the 687 posts on the T Dog Media Blog - excluding this year's Super Bowl - this is the first item I have ever wrote on Indianapolis media. So a big hearty welcome to Indianapolis readers of The T Dog Media Blog, if any. - T.H.)

Emmis has dumped the Top 40 format on WNOU-FM, flipping to Christmas music as of today (while it's 90 degrees outside no less), and in January, will flip to a talk format on January 8, and change the call letters WIBC-FM. WIBC-AM, now a talk outlet, will flip to sports.

Programming for the IQ deficient

VH-1's I Love New York begins tonight at 8 p.m. with Tiffany Pollard looking for love. She actually found her man. Now, if she can only find a real job...

Bears dominate prime time in Chicago on Sunday

Read 'em and weep: Chicago ratings: Bears-Packers on NBC Sunday night: 30.9 household rating, Diamondbacks-Cubs on TBS Saturday night: 15.3 household rating. I guess the Cubs are not only losers on the field, but in the TV ratings as well. Ha Ha Ha...

It's a "Deal" for WMAQ-TV

Note: The link to the story may require registration.

NBC Universal's Deal or No Deal weekday syndicated strip has been sold to a few NBC O&Os, including WMAQ-TV in Chicago, as well as to stations owned by CBS, Allbritton, Scripps, and Sinclair. The program will be hosted by Howie Mandel and feature the same elements as the prime-time show - the banker, the models (yes!), and the same production team.

The only differences between the new syndicated Deal and the network prime-time version are the daily strip version is a half-hour long, moves at a faster pace, and the top grand prize would be $250,000.

Here is the official press release from NBC Universal.

updated 2007-10-08 at 8:30pm

T Dog's Think Tank: We are pissed, Part II (well, maybe only Cubs fans...)

Let me start off by saying this is the last sports-related column yours truly will write for a long time (unless if it's providing NFL coverage maps or something ratings-related.) In fact, this is a media blog, and not a sports one, and I can tell you readers are already starting to fall asleep, giving the pathetic state Chicago sports is in right now.

The Cubs were swept by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NLDS as everyone knows and there has been some rumblings from people about being unable to watch the games on broadcast TV (or as the mainstream media would call it, "free TV" - yes, those guys are still living in 1988, and they are fine with that...)

Oh, boo hoo. I don't have cable TV for the games. The games should only be on WGN. Oh, shut the hell up. Some people don't even have food to eat, and you all complain about not having cable TV to watch a baseball game? Leave it to Cubs fans to display such arrogance.

So after the game ended Saturday night, instead of Cubs fans applauding the team after a great season, they booed them off the field.

The fans boo the Cubs. They boo Rex Grossman. They booed the White Sox. They've booed the Blackhawks - wait, there are still Blackhawks fans?

When did Chicago become so vicious you ask? Maybe around the time we recorded our 10,000th murder or something. (That's a play on the Philadelphia Phillies' 10,00th loss they recorded this past season, but on the bright side, Philly suffers worse than Chicago sports fans do.)

Look, there is a lot to despise in this town. Politicians. Government. The media. Traffic. Community leaders who don't know when to shut up. Sports stars were supposed to be our heroes. But when they are taking steroids, drowning dogs, shooting off guns in the parking lots, or getting arrested (and that last part is the Cincinnati Bengals alone), they are not our heroes anymore, aren't they? Like everything else in this town, they let us down.

The Cubs are just a small problem of what's wrong with sports and society at large. They get paid millions of dollars, while we can't get money for public transit, or for a bridge to be replaced, or for gang-prevention programs. And when they suck at it, no wonder we're pissed off. The Cubs obviously haven't been following what's been going on in Illinois as of late.

Sports teams are run by the same type of dolts who have successfully run television and radio stations into the ground - money first, the public later. And yes, the Tribune Co. is so unique that it has managed to pull off two of those three feats.

And of course, the Chicago media is shameful as usual with their excess coverage of a Cubs playoff run, as well as a Bears quarterback switch. You have nobodies writing columns about the Cubs (besides Mariotti, that is), while coverage of the death of a previously missing woman - an African-American woman mind you - gets shuttled off to the back page or to the bottom half-hour of a newscast. Typical.

With the Cubs and White Sox gone, and the Bears struggling (they did win last night though), the state of Chicago sports is not in good shape. Then again, neither is the fall prime-time lineup, where there hasn't been a hit breakout show. Something's wrong when your best buzzed about show is a sitcom based on an insurance ad. What does it tell you when the Cubs get canceled and Cavemen is still on the air? Only in Chicago.

So on Monday morning, we head off to work, resuming our lives. But at least there's that new episode of Heroes to look forward to later that night. A program struggling to get on track after a successful season. Much like the Bears. Hey, Heroes might even nab Rex Grossman as a guest star. If that happens, I'm flipping over to The Game.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Say goodbye to Cubs, Phillies

... and possibly to a decently-rated World Series if either the Yankees and/or Red Sox don't advance in the playoffs. Look for the World Series to join the NBA Finals and Stanley Cup Finals in the ratings dumpster if neither team makes it there.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Cubs a ratings flop?

The only reason yours truly is quoting this article is because the numbers are here. Otherwise, I would not recommend it because Sherman failed to note that DVR usage is at an all-time high, as less and less people are watching TV live and time-shifting their programming, and that includes the Cubs. With the late start for the two games, it makes sense. Sherman and the Trib fail to point that out, as usual (forgive them, they are part of the mainstream media.)

Anyway, Game 1 of the Cubs-Diamondbacks NLDS series on TBS had a 18.1 rating and Game 2 had a 13.9 rating, both easily winning their timeslots in the Chicago market. Even at midnight early Friday morning, the 9 rating the game had still won the time period. It seems the only flop the Cubs are accused of is on the field.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Bonaduce not returning to the Loop

Instead, he is expected to renew his deal to continue on Adam Carolla's morning show on KLSX-FM in Los Angeles, which leaves the Loop (WLUP-FM, 97.9 FM) still without an afternoon personality. The drive-home position has been vacant since Zakk Tyler left.

Loop owner Emmis Communications contends that the former Partridge Family star's antics (i.e. the brawl he was involved in at an awards show Tuesday night) was not a factor in the decision.

LatinNation, American Latino TV get new Chicago home

The Hispanic-targeted weekly syndicated magazines Latination and American Latino TV, which were tolling away in late-night time slots on WCIU-TV and WBBM-TV respectively, moves to WPWR-TV this Saturday where both will air in a hour-long block from 5 to 6 p.m. Both programs are syndicated by Aim Tell-A-Vision group. (Click on the comments section of this post for more information on both programs filming segments in Chicago this coming week. )

Also premiering this weekend is UFC Wired, from Trifecta Entertainment. That show is scheduled to air Sundays at 12:01a.m. on WCIU-TV.

And WFLD-TV has dropped its 5 p.m. Saturday newscast. In its place are repeats of That's '70's Show and Scrubs.

updated 2007-10-06 at 11:08pm

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Britney joke backfires

Desperate star meets desperate medium... Clear Channel owned WKQI-FM in Detroit DJ Big Boy started a "Britney suicide watch" and was taking calls on from listeners on when Britney will kick the bucket. The only question now is, when Big Boy's employment at WKQI will kick the bucket...

Mojo, the station's morning DJ, ripped the stunt on the air this morning, ripped Clear Channel Detroit executives on the stunt, possibly putting his own job on the line. Another host, Spike, also ripped the stunt. He is hosting a walk this weekend for suicide prevention in the Detroit area.

Another low point for the medium. Obviously, execs haven't learned from the last time a stunt went wrong.

After all, it's radio!

(I wonder how many more times I will use that closing line at the end of a radio item on this blog. A lot, I suppose...)

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Adrienne the nut at it again

This time, the former Top Model star gored former Partridge Family and Loop star Danny Bonaduce into a fight with former Survivor contestant Johnny Fairplay (or Dalton, or whatever) at the Reality TV Awards (and I thought this stuff only happened at the hip-hop awards...)

Note the word "former" in this post. It's used a lot.

Maybe Ms. Curry should replace Courtney Thorne-Smith as Jim Belushi's wife on According to Jim. They would make a great loser Chicago couple on a loser show (wow, it's been awhile since I attacked that program...)

And as for Danny - look for this incident to cinch the deal for him to return to the Loop. After all, it's radio!

"Cavemen" gets sampled amptly

Cavemen and Carpooling had solid sampling last night, with Cavemen tying for #1 at 7 p.m. (CT) in adults 18-49 and winning the slot in adults 18-34.

Given the fact Britney Spears' Gimme More is number one on iTunes, it's official - the dumbing down of America is complete.

Have an annoying turd wake you up

This is the most moronic idea anyone has come up with. Of course, anything the Sun-Times does these days is pretty much considered moronic. More proof that big media is run by a bunch of dum-dums. Go away Sun-Times. Please, go bankrupt and just die.

CW out of kids' business

The CW is discontinuing Kids' WB and handing over the time over to 4KidsTV. The futures of many Kids WB shows (Tom & Jerry Tales, Shaggy & Scooby-Doo Get A Clue, etc.) are up in the air.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

"Family Guy" new off-net champ

Victory is mine!

Family Guy has surged ahead of Everybody Loves Raymond to become the top-rated off-network sitcom in syndication for the week ending Sept. 23. Twentieth's Family Guy surged 20 percent in the ratings to nab a 4.2, while CBS' Raymond fell 3 percent to a 3.7. Warner Bros.' Two and a Half Men finished with a 3.3, ahead of Warner's Friends but behind Sony's Seinfeld, which had a 3.5.

As for the new first-run rookies, Warner's TMZ was tops at a 2.0 rating (that number is being reprocessed however), doubling NBC Universal's Steve Wilkos Show, which had a 0.9.

Meanwhile, NBC's Law & Order: Criminal Intent nabbed a 1.3 rating as a strip, but its sister show Special Victims Unit got a 2.1 as a weekend show.

They are who we thought they were!

Aliens in America is exactly who we thought they were - a ratings loser. Meanwhile, Dancing With the Stars seems to be the only show deservingly labeled a winner (in the ratings dept. only), while it's yucksville for the rest of prime-time with the exception of the Padres-Rockies tiebreaker game, a true classic. Other observations:

- Heroes is down in the ratings from last week and last year. Like the Bears, this show is having a subpar season. Time to replace the quarterback?

- Like the New Orleans Saints, K-Ville continues its rapid downward spiral.

- The Game recorded growth from its Girlfriends lead-in and scored a 2.7 in women 18-34. Both shows are sure to be at least in the top five in African-American households this week. (Again, I ask: why did CBS pull Girlfriends from syndication?)

- The Bachelor still sucks. Period. The performance is even worse than last year, and they keep letting them off the hook!