Thursday, January 31, 2008

"Match Game" may return

It may happen. Hopefully, the revival is more in the spirit of the Gene Rayburn-hosted version, and not the awful Ross Shafer (1990) and Michael Berger (1998-99)-hosted versions of the series.

Time to get "Lost"

Anticipation is building as ABC begins a new, shortened season of Lost tonight on a new night and in a new time slot (8:00 CT), and with a 3.3 ratings in the money demo (adults 18-49) for a repeat of last night's season finale from May, expect a big number for the season premiere tonight.

Click here to read a conversation Chicago Tribune TV Critic Maureen Ryan had recently with the co-creator of Lost, Damon Lindelof. (Maybe The Simpsons writers should take Lindelof 's advice and scale back on the flashback stories.)

Channel 5 to go all out on election night

NBC-owned WMAQ-TV plans to go all out on Super Tuesday primary night with comprehensive coverage on the station and on its' website.

The multi-platform plan go into action at 7 p.m. with coverage on WMAQ and real-time election updates on the station's website,, with election coverage streamed on the web and on the station's digital weather channel (WMAQ-DT 5.2.), which you can find on Comcast channel 194 and Wide Open West channel 130. The station's 10 p.m. newscast will also be streamed on

The station (like others that night) will be out in the field, covering big races for the Cook County State's Attorney and various congressional races.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


The latest from the convention:

WCIU picks up Judge Penny: Independent WCIU-TV in Chicago picks up its first-ever syndicated program from Program Partners by acquiring the company's new first-run courtroom strip Family Court with Judge Penny. The program has cleared 70 percent of the country, including Fox-owned stations in New York and Los Angeles. Additional clearances include CBS/CW stations in Philadelphia, Dallas, Atlanta (WUPA), Seattle (KSTW); and Norfolk (WGNT); WMYD-TV in Detroit; WRBU-TV in St. Louis; WDJT/WMLW in Milwaukee; and WIAT in Birmingham.

WGN renews Wilkos for second season: As expected, NBC Universal's The Steve Wilkos Show has been renewed for a second season in 85 percent of the country, with Tribune stations WGN-TV in Chicago, WPIX in New York and KTLA in Los Angeles on board, along with Fox's WFTC in Minneapolis and KUTP in Phoenix; plus Sinclair's WNUV-TV in Baltimore, WLFL-TV in Raleigh-Durham, WTTA in Tampa, and WTTE in Columbus, Ohio. WLVI-TV in Boston has also renewed the show.

Canada's Global gets Doctors: Global Television, Canada's "third network", has acquired the rigths to air The Doctors from CBS Paramount International Television. Global plans to slot the Dr. Phil spin-off in a daytime slot. The show is produced by Jay McGraw, who is Dr. Phil McGraw's son.

The Doctors premieres this fall in the U.S. in syndication, and is slotted at 5 p.m. locally over WCIU-TV. The Doctors is not related to the 1963-82 NBC daytime soap opera of the same name.

"Montel" over and out

As expected, CBS Television Distribution has officially canceled the long-running The Montel Williams Show after a seventeen-season run.

Montel Williams' talk show was dropped by Fox-owned stations in the top three markets (including KCOP-TV in Los Angeles and WPWR-TV in Chicago.)

In fact, KCOP was one of the founding stations of Montel Williams when Viacom and then owner of KCOP (Chris-Craft Television) rolled the program out in select test markets in 1991. The program nationally launched in syndication in 1992, with WPWR picking up the series (WPWR dropped Montel in 1997, but it would later return to the station in 2006, where it now airs at 3 p.m.)

CBS is offering best-of editions of Montel for next season on a straight cash basis (meaning no barter), but that could be a hard sell as most television outlets thumb their noses on those kinds of terms nowadays, especially with repeats of talk shows. The package is being offered to cable outlets as well.

Wilbon, Payne off air

Wishing a speedy recovery to two on-air personalities: WGN's Allison Payne, who has been kept off the air due to a series of "mini-strokes", and to Pardon the Interruption host and Washington Post sportswriter Michael Wilbon, who suffered a mild heart attack over the weekend. To each, get well soon.

Updated at 2:30 p.m. (added link to Wilbon story)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


The latest from the convention:

- In a coup for small syndie Program Partners, the company signed Marie Osmond to host a one-hour talk show strip for fall 2009. Marie Osmond last co-hosted a talk show with her brother Donny back in the late '90's for Sony.

- MGM has decided to bring back Gladiators 2000, a teen-oriented game show that spun-off of American Gladiators in the mid-1990's and was hosted by Ryan Seacrest (gee, wonder what he's doing now?) The program's 39 episodes (originally produced by Samuel Goldwyn Television), will return to weekly syndication in September 2008, to meet stations' (E/I) requirements (as it did then.)

Meanwhile, MGM is launching an online site dedicated to the original American Gladiators series, which ran in first-run from 1989 to 1996, and originally syndicated by The Samuel Goldwyn Co., which was purchased by MGM in 1997.

In other MGM news, the company announced it is taking over syndication sales of home-improvement series Ron Hazelton's House Calls from now-defunct Tribune Entertainment. MGM will produce new episodes of the series, and well as nabbing the rights to the series' backlog of past episodes.

- Litton's new Storm Stories has cleared 70 percent of the country, earning it a "firm go" for next season. The program will air locally on WGN-TV, with popular weather personality Tom Skilling the likely host.

- Not related to NATPE, but CBS renewed Survivor for two more editions next season, and NBC has picked up Celebrity Apprentice for next season as well.

What's this? A scripted series in first-run syndication?

For the first time in many years, a major syndicator is offering a first-run scripted, original action hour in syndication.

Disney-ABC Domestic Television announced at NATPE today it will launch a new offering in first-run syndication from producer Sam Raimi called Wizard's First Rule. The program has cleared the Tribune station group, covering 35 percent of the country. The deal of course, includes WGN-TV in Chicago.

The one-hour weekly series is based on Terry Goodkind's best-selling epic fantasy series, The Sword of Truth, which contains eleven epic novels, with Wizard's First Rule the first novel released in 1994.

The series is being produced by ABC Studios, marking their first venture in first-run under that name.

First-run, hour long scripted series were long staples in syndication dating back to the 1970's, with U.F.O., Space: 1999, and the mega-bomb Starlost (which was shot on videotape.)

But the bar was raised significantly in the 1980's, with higher-quality programs including Fame (a NBC castoff), the cult hit Friday the 13th: The Series, and the big budget Star Trek: The Next Generation, with the latter two practically making Paramount's syndication division a hot commodity.

In the 1990's, the action hour scene exploded, thanks to international financing, and mega-hits Baywatch, Hercules, Xena: Warrior Princess, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Relic Hunter. The forerunner to Disney-ABC Television Distribution (Buena Vista Television) itself syndicated two first-run syndicated weeklies in the 1990s with Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and Land's End.

But since 2001, international financing dried up, and scripted hours in syndication dwindled. The last first-run scripted series sold in first-run syndication was MGM's She Spies in 2002. Today's move by Disney-ABC hopes to rekindle a once hot business.

Clean sweep?

In all my years of following the syndication business (since 1985, when yours truly at the young age of thirteen read his first NATPE edition of TV/Radio Age), I cannot recall at any time the entire slate of rookie first-run strips that debuted in the fall were renewed for a second season.

In fact, go back to the 1990-91 season, where of the eight first-run strips (not counting kids' shows) that debuted in September 1990, only one was renewed for the 1991-92 season - and that program (Entertainment Daily Journal, which was known as Personalities until July 1991) was canceled shortly into its second season.

With the surprise renewal of Merv Griffin's Crosswords, and the likely return of The Steve Wilkos Show, that only leaves Twentieth Television's Temptation as the only holdout. If Temptation comes back for a second season, it would mark the first time in known memory in which all the rookie first-run strips would return for a second season.

The moves mean that time periods will tighten up even more, and it will be harder than ever for a company to launch a first-run strip.

This comes as ratings for non-prime dayparts are becoming more and more fragmented and HUT levels for daytime television are sinking, making it easier for struggling shows to stay on the air. In San Francisco for example, HUT levels are quite low in daytime - and even a program with a 0.5 rating is considered profitable.

Only three years ago, Sony's female-targeted Life & Style talk show averaged a 0.4 rating and the plug was pulled midseason. Then again, reported discord among the program's co-hosts may have played a factor in its demise.

It just goes to show how much the syndication business has changed in the last few years and the dreaded 0.8 rating (Crosswords' season average) isn't the kiss of death it once was.

Chicago Defender to be weekly only

It looks like the struggling newspaper industry has claimed another victim: The Chicago Defender, the historic African-American newspaper which has struggled for years, is converting from a daily newspaper to a weekly, a move that has been speculated since last summer.

The Defender, which drastically scaled back its online presence last year, isn't laying off employees (which is good) - but the conversion to a weekly paper tells you how much the newspaper industry is hurting (thanks to readers flocking to the internet and other sources), and it seems to be affecting newspapers big and small.

The Sun-Times recently laid off employees over the last few weeks and reduced the size and pages of its editions; The Daily Southtown and Star newspapers recently merged their editions and cut some jobs; and three community papers owned by the Sun-Times recently ended publication.

Monday, January 28, 2008


- Syndicated repeats of Fox's hit Bones has been cleared 45 percent of the country, including all of the Fox O&Os, not to mention station groups belonging to CBS, Tribune, and Bahakel. Weekday airings of the program were sold to TNT.

-CBS' Judge Judy has been re-upped until 2012.

- As mentioned earlier, Program Partners has renewed Merv Griffin's Crosswords in 50 percent in the country for Season 2, including the NBC O&Os who carry the show.

- After failing to sell Baywatch in strip syndication last fall, Litton has struck a deal with ION Television to air the show over their network, beginning in March.

ACLU lashes out against FCC over decision to fine ABC affils

WARNING: Strong opinions ahead. Reader discretion is advised.

Thank you, ACLU for stating what a lot of Americans already know. And of course, the PTC praises the decision over NYPD Blue, the commie bastards that they are.

NATPE is here

The NATPE convention begins today in Las Vegas, and Broadcasting & Cable has a story on what the nation's 25 largest TV station groups are shopping for next season.

One thing is clear: A lot of veteran syndicated programs (Oprah, Wheel, Rachael Ray, People's Court, etc.) are sold well into the future - for the next four or five years, which makes it harder for new shows to get on the air. Meanwhile, the future of Twentieth Television's Temptation and Program Partners' Merv Griffin's Crosswords are in very serious doubt, with the NBC O&Os expected to drop the latter show., while Debmar's new Trivial Pursuit is expected to replace Temptation on many large market Fox-owned My Network TV stations.

The convention is a chance for small syndicators to shine - and sell. Telco Productions for one, returned to handling distribution of its own programs, taking over from now-shuttered Tribune Entertainment, which previously handled the job for them (Tribune will continue with ad sales for the shows.) Telco syndicates weeklies Animal Rescue, Missing, and Dog Tales.

For those of you attending the convention, here is a complete NATPE schedule.

WAIT... HOLD UP: It looks like there is going to be a second season for Crosswords after all. Program Partners says that the program has been renewed by the six NBC O&Os that carry the show, as well as other station groups covering 50 percent of the country.

updated at 11:23 am on 2008-01-28

Friday, January 25, 2008

WLS-TV hit with fine from FCC

As well as every other ABC affiliate in the Central and Mountain time zone for airing a episode of NYPD Blue on Feb. 25, 2003 that contained partial nudity. The fine being proposed is $1.4 million.

Only two ABC O&Os (WLS and KTRK-TV in Houston) are named in the action, since the rest of the O&Os fall in the Pacific and Eastern time zones, where Blue aired at 10 p.m., and fall outside the safe-harbor (10 p.m. to 6 a.m.) for indecency.

However, ABC affiliates in the Central and Mountain time zones aired the show in the 9 p.m. slot, and that falls inside the safe harbor.

Besides ABC's two O&Os, other station groups hit include Hearst-Argyle, Sinclair, Tribune, McGraw-Hill, Belo, Hubbard, Barrington, Citadel, Gray, Allbritton, Young, and Scripps.

To see a complete list of stations being fined, click here and scroll down.

Thought: ABC got caught with pants down - no pun intended. But really, does the FCC have better things to do than this? The way the agency has bungled this transition from analog to digital broadcasting - of course. Come next year, Chicagoans who don't have cable, satellite, or a digital set are going to be more concerned about getting a picture on their sets than a silly indecent exposure on a TV show that ceased being good years ago.

Updated 11:37 pm on 2008-01-25 (fixed broken link) and 1:48 am on 2008-01-28 (added list)

Randy Salerno dies (Updated)

Sad news to report: Randy Salerno, who co-anchored WBBM-TV's morning newscast, was killed in a snowmobile accident Thursday night in Eagle River, Wisconsin.

Salerno was a Crystal Lake native who worked at TV stations in Albany, N.Y., Peoria, and Rockford before arriving at WGN-TV in 1994, where he was a weekend anchor and general assignment reporter. He also anchored the station midday newscast until 2004, when he joined WBBM as part of their morning newscast. At WBBM, he won his first Emmy that year for his coverage of the Chicago Marathon.

Salerno is survived by his wife, Irene, and three children. Our thoughts and prayers go out to them.

Statement from CBS 2 President and General Manager Joe Ahern

CBS 2 CBS 2's Randy Salerno Dies in Automobile Accident

UPDATE: A person who was driving the snowmobile Salerno was in has been charged. Scott Hirschey, a longtime friend of Salerno's, was charged with homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle in the accident.

Meanwhile, a tribute page for Salerno is up and running and you can view it by clicking here.

Updated at 12:41 am on 2008-01-26

Lionsgate, Marvel sign interim deals with WGA

Independents Lionsgate and Marvel Productions have signed interim deals with the Writer's Guild, meaning those entities are no longer struck companies.

Lionsgate produces Mad Men for AMC and Weeds for Showtime, while Marvel Productions' current projects the company is working on include Captain America and Thor. Marvel, of course, produced animated programs based on characters from Marvel Comics, including Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends and X-Men.

Doug Elfman out as Sun-Times' TV critic

TV critic Doug Elfman was among one of the seventeen staffers laid off at the Sun-Times on Wednesday, but Jay Mariotti stays, further cementing this paper as a third-rate joke.

More NATPE News

- Twentieth Television has renewed The Morning Show with Mike & Juliet for a second season the Fox O&O's, including WFLD-TV in Chicago. The program has done on many stations, especially in southern markets such as Birmingham (WBRC) and Greensboro, N.C. (WGHP). Other pickups include San Francisco (KTVU), Seattle (KCPQ-TV), and Portland, Ore. (KPTV).

- Mighty Oak's Whacked Out Sports sports blooper show is back for a second season in 85 percent of the country, including WFLD-TV in Chicago, KSDK-TV in St. Louis, and WTHR in Indianapolis. The program was renewed by WNBC-TV in New York and KTTV in Los Angeles.

- Martha from NBC Universal has been renewed in 85 percent of the country for a fourth season, including several NBC O&Os.

- Meredith's Better TV franchise has been sold in 12 additional markets, including seven LIN-owned TV stations, bringing the total clearances of the daytime hour to 25, including WTMJ-TV in Milwaukee.

- Nextstar-owned NBC affiliate WBRE-TV in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Pa. is shifting its midday newscast to 11 a.m. from noon, being replaced by Martha, which moves from 3 p.m. What's taking her' place in the early-fringe time slot, you ask? 55 year-old repeats of I Love Lucy. Even Martha Stewart is no match for the zany antics of Lucille Ball.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Sports Box

Giants win net Giant ratings

Wow! The NFC Championship Game pitting the New York Giants at the Green Bay Packers notched a whopping 54 million viewers, making it the highest-rated non-Super Bowl program since the 1998 Seinfeld finale, which drew 76.3 million viewers.

In Milwaukee, the game notched a 58.5 household rating and a 78 share for Fox-owned (and soon to be sold) WITI-TV.

The Giants' victory over the Packers now means they get to face the undefeated New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII in Glendale, Ariz. on Fox on Feb. 3. The Patriots beat the Giants on Dec. 29 to set the historic 16-0 mark and may make history against them again.

NHL gets good news, too

The New York-Boston rivalry mania even spread to the NHL, where two Original Six teams and longtime hated arch-rivals - The Boston Bruins and the New York Rangers - took to the ice last Sunday to kick off NBC's regular-season NHL coverage. The game notched a 1.1 household rating, holding even from last year's start and last year's overall average.

On a personal note... A request to TNT and ESPN... Can you please stop showing Miami Heat games? With a writer's strike going on and viewers looking for alternative programming, people do not want to see a basketball team that is also on strike. Thank you.

Management shake-ups at Chicago Citadel, Emmis stations

- At WKQX-FM (Q101):

Marc Young has been named Program Director at the Alternative station, from Associate Program and Music Director at Emmis' KMVA-FM (Movin' 97.5).

- At WLUP-FM (The Loop):

Emmis' classic rocker also made a move by promoting Bill Klaproth from Associate Program Director to Program Director.


The Oldies/Classic Hits outlet named Mike Fowler as president and general manager. He replaces John Gallagher, who now concentrates only on sister station WLS-AM. He previously ran both stations sale Citadel purchased the station.

Fowler was once general manager at WRCX-FM (now WKSC-FM, Kiss FM.)

Me-TV to honor fallen TV stars

Weigel's local outlet for classic TV, WWME-TV (or Me-TV for short) is honoring three individuals who passed away in the last week.

Suzanne Pleshette, Allan Melvin, and Lois Nettleton will be honored by Me-TV this weekend with marathons of the programs they appeared in. All three lost their battle with cancer.

- Pleshette will honored Saturday Night from 7-10 pm, with The Wild, Wild, West, Route 66, and the show that made her famous, The Bob Newhart Show.

- Melvin will be remembered from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday with The Brady Bunch, All in the Family, and The Phil Silvers Show, among others.

- Nettleton will be remembered Sunday from 5 to 7 p.m., with Alfred Hitchcock Presents, the "Midnight Sun" episode of The Twilight Zone, and Night Gallery.

Among other credits, Nettleton had guest roles on Studio One, Bonanza, and The Mary Tyler Moore Show. She regularly appeared on You Can't Take It With You, In The Heat of the Night, and General Hospital, among other series. The Oak Park native studied acting at the Goodman Theater and landed the role of Blanche in the 1973 production of A Streetcar Named Desire. She also provided the voice of Maleficent on Disney's animated series House of Mouse.

Wonderful move by Me-TV, giving the fact that most local TV outlets barely mentioned these passings (thank goodness for the Internet.) Now, how about Boomerang - or better yet Cartoon Network - set aside airing Scooby-Doo fifteen times a day so they can honor Allan Melvin's work on Magilla Gorilla and The Banana Splits in a special marathon? How about it, Cartoon Network?

The Price Is Right for Primetime

For the first time in a little over 20 years, CBS is putting it's most successful daytime game show in a regular prime-time slot.

Long-time staple The Price Is Right will take up residence on CBS' Friday night schedule for six non-consecutive weeks beginning Feb. 22. The move is a bid (without going over) to cut down on repeats caused by the ongoing writer's strike.

CBS has run Price specials in prime-time before, but this is the first time the game show will be shown since Drew Carey took over as host of the show from Bob Barker, who retired last June.

Meanwhile, Carey's other show - Power of 10, is being yanked off the prime-time schedule, for now, but will return in the summer.

Though successful in daytime, Price has often stumbled outside of the daypart, with two recent syndicated nighttime versions - a 1985-86 version hosted by Tom Kennedy (which did not air in Chicago because of WBBM-TV slotting the network show at 4 p.m. at the time) - and a 1994 version hosted by Doug Davidson -failing big time. Price did have modest success as a weekly syndicated prime-access series airing from 1972 to 1980, with Dennis James as the host for the first four seasons, with Barker taking over from the fifth season onward.

The last time CBS regularly scheduled The Price Is Right in prime-time was in the summer of 1986 on Thursday nights, where the program aired opposite The Cosby Show and Family Ties.

This guy isn't playing with a full deck of cards...

WJMK-FM (JACK) personality Steve Dahl interviewed Drew Peterson on his show yesterday, who some consider a suspect in his wife's (Stacy Peterson's) disappearance. Dahl had been lampooning the former Bolingbrook police chief on his radio show for the last several months, and so Peterson and his lawyer decided to call up his show and take him on one-on-one - but the outcome wasn't what anyone expected, not even Steve Dahl.

At the end of a fifteen minute phone conversation, Peterson's lawyer suggested a "Win a Date with Drew" contest, in which Peterson would be fixed up with a date on Thursday's show. Dahl reluctantly agreed, but the idea was dropped by WJMK management yesterday evening. Dahl stated however, that he had no intention of ever going through with the plan.

Who's Drew Peterson's lawyer? Lionel Hutz?

NATPE Update

Back after a hectic day yesterday - attended John Stroger's funeral (R.I.P) at my church - not to mention battling a slight cold... But I'm back and ready to roll with a lot of stories for ya, so watch the blog today! First up...

With the National Association of Television Executives convention set to get underway Monday in Las Vegas, here is an updated list of programs being offered.

Among the main series being offered is The Doctors from CBS (a medical talk show, not related to the former NBC soap opera of the same name); Warner's Bonnie Hunt, Debmar-Mercury's Trivial Pursuit: America's Game (which has cleared 55 percent of the country, including WFLD/WPWR in Chicago); and NBC Universal's Deal or No Deal strip.

Katz Television Group is recommending all of the four above mentioned shows, as well as Sony's new Judge Karen strip and Debmar's Tyler Perry's House of Payne sitcom. Katz is seriously recommending game shows, a complete turnaround from the early 1990's, when most game shows launched in syndication in that era failed. However, Katz more or less, ignored the two new games that debuted last fall to low ratings: Crosswords and Temptation.

In addition to those two games, other programs reportedly on the fence for next season include Sony's two year-old Judge Maria Lopez and CBS' 18-year veteran Montel Williams.

Katz is also recommending several off-network sitcoms for the fall of 2009: NBC Universal's The Office, Twentieth's My name Is Earl, and CBS' Everybody Hates Chris, with the latter offered on a three-year (156 week) licensing term, similar to what the syndicator offered with Girlfriends.

On the downside however, at least for Office and Earl, the programs are already or soon will air on TBS, which decreases their value to stations in syndication.

We'll have another NATPE update later today.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Black radio and the Civil Rights Movement

This well written article on Radio-Info discusses how black radio played a role in shaping the Civil Rights Movement, in which local stations (such as WVON in Chicago and WDAS in Philadelphia), were the eyes and ears to the black community and dispatched the latest information on numerous issues.

This public service continues to this day, as several syndicated programs hosted by Tom Joyner, Steve Harvey, and Michael Baisden - as well as other black radio hosts - helped mobilize listeners regarding the Jena 6 case, which included broadcasting their shows on-site from Louisiana, and informing listeners regarding the latest on the situation.

KREX-TV burns down

Courtesy: David Jones

CBS affiliate KREX-TV in Grand Junction, Colo. (and LMA sister stations, Fox affiliate KFQX, and low-power My Net affiliate KGJT) were destroyed Sunday in a massive fire that destroyed the building and studios and knocked the analog over-the-air signal off the air.

The fire broke out at 8:30a.m. and consumed the station entirely. Station equipment, the video library, and business records were lost, with damages totaling $6 million (reports indicate that some master archive tapes did survive the fire.) The fire continued continued to smolder Sunday evening, with firefighters putting out hot spots in the rubble.

Five employees at the station escaped the fire unharmed. There were no injuries. The cause of the fire has not been determined, but the feds are now being called in to investigate.

Over-the-air viewers weren't able to view the AFC and NFC Championship Games, but cable and satellite viewers did get raw CBS and Fox network feeds.

There is no word when KREX and its sister stations will resume broadcasting.

This is not the first time this has happened. In 1990, NBC affiliate WLBM-TV in Meridian, Miss. was destroyed by fire and its signal was knocked out, leaving non-cable viewers in most of Eastern Mississippi without a NBC affiliate (cable operators did provide Meridian viewers with the NBC feed of WDAM-TV from nearby Hattiesburg.) The station (and NBC) returned to the air in Meridian in 1991 as WGBC-TV.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Suzanne Pleshette dies

Suzanne Pleshette, the woman who co-starred with Bob Newhart on The Bob Newhart Show, died yesterday at the age of 70 from complications of lung cancer.

Pleshette played Newhart's wife Emily Hartley on the set-in-Chicago show, which ran on CBS from 1972 to 1978. She also made a memorable guest appearance on the series finale of Newhart (Bob Newhart's second series) on May 21, 1990, where in the final scene, Newhart woke up aside his former sitcom wife, suggesting Newhart was a dream that lasted eight seasons (and it worked much better than the Bobby-Pam dream fiasco on Dallas in '86.)

Pleshette also voiced characters on several animated films, including The Lion King 2 and Spirited Away.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Allan Melvin, R.I.P.

The man who provided many voices for numerous Hanna-Barbera cartoons and acted on TV series such as The Brady Bunch, The Phil Silvers Show, and Archie Bunker's Place has passed.

Kansas City, Mo. native Allan Melvin died of cancer Thursday in his Los Angeles home. He was 84.

Melvin was best known for the role of Sam the Butcher on The Brady Bunch, but also had a prominent role as Barney on Archie Bunker's Place - the sequel to All in the Family, where he also played the same character. He also made appearances on The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Andy Griffith Show.

In addition to the above shows, Melvin also voiced on over 20 animated programs, including The Smurfs, The Flintstones, DuckTales, Magilla Gorilla, The Banana Splits (a live-action show where he voiced Drooper), and The New Adventures of Flash Gordon.

Friday, January 18, 2008

FSN to launch Kansas City channel

Fox Sports is launching a new sports cable network featuring the Kansas City Royals as its centerpiece.

The new FSN Kansas City will feature 140 Royals games a year, and also feature Big 12 collegiate sports, featuring the likes of Missouri, Kansas, and Kansas State. The channel replaces FSN Midwest in the Kansas City area.

For the Royals, the network replaces the defunct Royals Sports Television Network, which shut down last October at the conclusion of the 2007 baseball season.

Sight Seen: During a recent Missouri Valley Conference men's basketball telecast carried locally on Comcast SportsNet, the network covered "FSN" on the Fox Box and instead of showing FSN Midwest, it said "CSN Midwest".

Hottest Couple of the Year - Not

The T Dog Media Blog usually doesn't devolve into tabloid murkiness, but this is worth reporting: Eddie Murphy's recent marriage to producer Tracey Edmonds is over after only two weeks, according to People Magazine (call it the Viva Laughlin of marriages.)

Why I am mentioning this? Because Ebony magazine (the publication yours truly grew up reading religiously) recently named the duo as one of its "10 Hottest Couples" in its February issue that already hit newsstands last Friday. Oops!

This is the problem with magazines and these types of issues that produces these "lists" - it's the same people every year (honestly, how many times Jay-Z and Beyonce can be named a hottest couple in a decade?), and the ones we do see a lot of people don't give two hoops about. Sarah Jessica Parker and Jennifer Aniston are named as one of People's 50 Most Beautiful People In The World for how many years in a row now? The shtick gets old. Celebrity lists are useless.

Ironically, Ebony didn't exactly "list" the couples in a Billboard chart-type fashion - they were thrown all over the article, which made it quite difficult to read.

Celebrity couples can be celebrated - but keep in mind that we don't know what goes on behind closed doors. Today's hottest couple may be tomorrow's broken relationship. Respectable publications can't afford to be put in embarrassing positions, which could hurt their credibility. It is a huge risk to take.

Advice for Ebony: Let's be careful out there.

WLUK says no soup for Eli

Fox affiliate WLUK-TV in Green Bay is pulling a program for a rather unusual reason.

The LIN Broadcasting-owned station is pre-empting Seinfeld from its regular Saturday 5:30 p.m. time slot to air a program that is being picked by viewers.

It turns out New York Giants QB Eli Manning, in town to play the NFC Championship Game against Green Bay, loves Seinfeld reruns. In response, WLUK pulled the show for that Saturday only, not wanting to provide entertainment for the enemy.

The stunt has generated lots of press, including a mention on ESPN's Pardon the Interruption (where they didn't exactly get the joke.)

Among the choices: A special about legendary Packers coach Vince Lombardi, a repeat of a local show featuring Packer Donald Driver, a M*A*S*H* rerun , and an infomercial (they are really creative with this poll, aren't they?)

As of Wednesday, the Lombardi special was leading, but the infomercial was actually ahead of the M*A*S*H* repeat.

I guess people in Green Bay have seen enough of Jamie Farr in drag.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Public TV station being foreclosed?

Let me get this straight... The nation's mortgage crisis is affecting public TV stations as well?

PBS station WTVP in Peoria is battling with two banks over the station's $6.9 million debt, and a $4 million offer to settle the debt was recently rejected. The station may ask the banks for another period of forbearance.

The station took out loans so it would move from Bradley University to a new building on Peoria's riverfront, and the upcoming conversion to digital. WTVP has taken to its viewers through pledge drives to help save the station - but it will only be paid if the station can come to a deal with the banks.

With the forbearance deadline (January 15) passed, it doesn't mean that the station will have to close immediately. However, up to 40 full and part-time jobs at the station are in limbo.

Meanwhile, Bank of America - one of the banks WTVP is battling - is set to file papers tomorrow to take over the assets of the station. That includes the physical building and equipment, but not the station's broadcast license.

Director's Guild, AMPTP reach new deal

And in only six days. All right -Writer's Guild, AMPTP - your turn. Let's end this strike.

WLS goes NextGen

ABC-owned WLS-TV here in Chicago has a new feature on its website you can use to keep track of the Presidential Candidates.

WLS (Channel 7) is using the NextGenPolitics feature so users can interact with candidates , not only in the Presidential race, but soon local races as well, including the hotly contested State Attorney's race.

Only problem is the candidates don't usually answer the user's questions - and the one who did - Democrat New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson - has already dropped out of the race.

It's a great feature - unfortunately, it works best if the interactivity is a two-way street.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

T Dog's Think Tank: The mess at Channel 2

Sure is a great time to live in Chicago. Our transit service is about to scaled back or cut all together, our taxes have been raised, and to top it all off, our sports teams continue to suck, with the dysfunctional Bulls leading the way. This squad makes the ultra-stupid reality show Crowned more watchable than most of their games (something's wrong when WGN dumps a Bulls game on WCIU to air a repeat of Reaper.)

And speaking of dysfunctional, that brings us to another mess: CBS-owned WBBM-TV's (Channel 2) news operation.

As you know by now, Antonio Mora has departed the station, after nearly six years to accept an anchor position at sister CBS-owned station WFOR-TV in Miami.

In a Sun-Times interview with Robert Feder, Mora pretty much showed his frustration with his Channel 2 bosses, even while praising the staff.

He explained that he didn't have enough to do at WBBM, especially after he lost his 5 and 10 p.m. anchor position to Rob Johnson.

He says his demotion is a setback for Latinos and other minorities, stating no Latino is at a prominent anchor position at the three big broadcast networks (he does realize there are five news operations in town, right?, Well I guess you can't consider CW a network...)

And he points out the obvious signal problems at Channel 2, a problem for the station since it moved from Channel 4 in 1953 to avoid interference with neighboring WTMJ-TV in Milwaukee - which in turn had to move from Channel 3 to Channel 4 to avoid interference from WKZO-TV (now WWMT) in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

He praises the station's news staff, and he said he was proud of Eye on Chicago - the weekly local newsmagazine he hosted - but it was clear he was disappointed with the station management - namely Joe Ahern, the vice-president and general manager of Channel 2.

Which brings us to this point. WBBM's poor ratings performance. The station has not had a successful General Manger since Jonathan Rodgers left in 1990. Ever since, a slew of GMs - Bill Applegate, John Lansing, Hank Price, etc. - have paraded through the door at the station.

From 1990 onward, WBBM viewers have been treated to tabloid-like newscasts, numerous gimmicks, and Carol Marin doing a widely-praised alternative 10 p.m. newscast, all to no ratings avail.

The station's only news success achieved in the last twenty or so years was tying WLS-TV for number one at 4 p.m. in the spring of 1993, and its' lone 10 p.m. win was in February 1994, with the Winter Olympics as a lead-in. But it's been downhill ever since. Even the 1998 Nagano games didn't help the station's 10 p.m. newscast, which still finished behind WLS.

And so, CBS thought bringing in Joe Ahern would turn around the ratings fortunes of the station, as he was vice president and general manager of top-rated WLS in the late 1980's.

Keep in mind who brought WLS to number one. It was Dennis Swanson, who now runs Fox's station division. When Swanson was general manager at WLS, he hired Oprah Winfrey, purchased "Wheel of Fortune" and "Jeopardy!", and rehired familiar faces to front the station's newscasts. Swanson turned a laughingstock into a major contender. When Swanson was promoted by ABC, Ahern took his place. Swanson mainly laid the pieces into place.

Ahern later left Chicago to take jobs in London and in San Francisco (at ABC-owned KGO-TV), and returned here in 2002 to take the GM job at WBBM. When he came back, he found the local television business had changed dramatically since he left. It is much harder to turn around a ratings-deprived local station now than it did 25 years ago, with a lot of options available to viewers today that didn't exist back then.

For the past two years, the station has been swamped in controversy. First, came a lawsuit from co-anchor Diann Burns against a developer of a Lincoln Park condo that she claims was racist. Then, came last July when WBBM secretly taped WMAQ-TV reporter Amy Jacobson at Craig Stebic's house (whose wife is missing), which led to her dismissal.

Then last October, Crain's Chicago Business did a story about the station's ratings struggles. A week later, Feder ripped into Ahern and WBBM for failing to take advantage of CBS' stronger prime-time slate and sticking with unpopular co-anchor Diann Burns.

Looking at the station's ratings, the station is going nowhere - despite popular syndicated programming like Rachael Ray, Judge Judy and Dr. Phil in early fringe, even though the block is decently rated (however, WCIU's courtroom lineup regularly beats Channel 2's afternoon shows from 2 to 4 p.m.) WBBM's news lineup from 5 to 6:30 is not taking advantage of its second-place Dr. Phil lead-in.

And the station's signal issues are an outright embarrassment. That's should be an issue for CBS affiliate WIAT-TV (Channel 42) in Birmingham, Ala. - not for a CBS-owned station in Chicago. And even WIAT has posted better numbers in Birmingham than WBBM has posted here (WIAT has even beaten NBC affiliate WVTM - Channel 13 - in some time periods.) Another CBS affiliate with a high channel position - WLKY-TV in Louisville (Channel 32) - also does well.

And where you can find WBBM on Comcast cable systems? Channel 22. Yes, that's right. Channel 22. You can find WBBM on a channel number even higher than those of tiny stations WYIN and WJYS and a public-access channel.

The station's betting on a new studio at State and Washington in Downtown Chicago to bail them out of their ratings mess. But viewers don't watch news because of a cool studio set. They watch news for substance, and delivered in a way that won't insult their intelligence.

Somebody on a message board I frequently visit suggested that it's time for Ahern to step down. I respectfully second that notion, but given who runs CBS - Les Moonves - the same guy who is a key villain among the Writer's Guild in their current strike - I wouldn't place that as a given. If Ahern does leave, Moonves is going to have to find somebody who can undo this mess that was created over the last 18 years. And if they find that person, wish him or her all the luck in the world - they'll need it.

In the words of former Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints coach Jim Mora (no relation to Antonio) - Playoffs? Playoffs? Playoffs? Like the rest of Chicago's sports teams, Channel 2 is nowhere close to winning.

P.S. Yes, I know - I wrote a story on WBBM-TV's ratings before back in October. It's like I'm repeating myself (basically, I am.) But things haven't improved since then. And the ratings reflect that.

"Idol" hit lowest ratings in four years

The seventh season premiere of American Idol averaged a 18.6 metered household rating and a 13.8 rating among adults 18-49, down 13 percent from last year. Among total viewers, Idol notched 33.2 million viewers, down 11 percent from a year ago.

Still, Idol dominated prime on Fox, and should do so tonight, as the auditions head for Dallas (where I believe T.O. is still crying. Wouldn't you like to see Simon rip his and Romo's performance last Sunday?)

Meanwhile, Sean Ross of Edison Media Research writes that Top 40 radio stations (like WBBM-FM and WKSC-FM - a.k.a B96 and KISS FM respectively), are better off with Idol artists than without them and points out every Idol who had a hit record has crossed over to every major genre of music - except Hip-Hop.

I hope the music directors at both stations are reading this.

Updated 3:01 p.m. on 2008-01-16 (changed link from James Hibberd's TV Week article to Marc Berman's article from PI feedback)

Parents Television Council erupts again

Over two indecency incidents: Diane Keaton's F-bomb on ABC's Good Morning America and people giving an obscene gesture (aired live on the Eastern Time Zone only) on CBS' 60 Minutes Sunday Night.

Meanwhile, in a welcome bit of news (of sort), FCC Chairman Kevin Martin says it might be difficult to take action against ABC affiliates over the accidental airing of the F-word.

Thought: Yours truly would like to give the Prick Tofu Crud an obscene gesture. Lord help us if this becomes an issue in the Presidential campaign, at a time when people are losing their homes and their jobs. It's nice to see where the PTC's priorities lie.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Apple TV now more useful

Hey, it looks like Apple TV is being touted more than a box sitting on top of a TV gathering dust.

At MacWorld in San Francisco today, Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled plans to make Apple TV into a media on-demand service. New features include (in which current Apple TV owners can download software for):

- Renting movies. So much for making this a Blockbuster night. Jobs unveiled a new online movie rental service, in which users can rent movies directly from the iTunes store on their sets. The service has support from all the major studios, and will offer 30-day rentals for $3.99 (new releases - to be available 30 days after DVD release) and $2.99 (library product.) Viewers have only 24 hours to watch a movie after it's started.

-HD product is available as well, for a dollar more.

- Music and TV programs now can be purchased through Apple TV as well, and can be synced back to your computer via the iTunes software.

- And if you don't have an Apple TV, don't worry: The online rental service is available to anyone who has a Mac, PC, iPod Video and iPhone (HD content however, is only available to those who have Apple TV.)

- The price of Apple TV's 40 GB model has gone down from $299 to $229.

Also today, Apple unveiled a new laptop called MacBook Air, the world's thinnest computer (but not thin on price.)

Oprah launches cable network with Discovery

Oprah's production company (Harpo) and Discovery Networks have announced a joint venture to launch OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network.

Oprah Winfrey Network replaces Discovery Health, which now joins Nick GAS, Court TV, and The Tube as digital and/or cable networks in the trash bin in the past year.

The network will be chaired by Oprah Winfrey in the joint venture. It is scheduled to launch in the third or fourth quarter of 2009.

Thought: Wonder if Comcast customers will get OWN before The Big Ten Network. Don't be surprised if that's the case.

WBBM-AM tops WGN-AM in revenue dept.

2007 was a good year for WBBM-AM, even if the Bears didn't win the Super Bowl.

In a stunner, the news/talk station ranked first in revenues for 2007 with $47.5 million - up from $45.9 million a year ago, surging ahead of arch rival WGN, which had $43.5 million. WGN ranked first for the last three years.

WTMX's demo-friendly upscale audience landed the Hot Adult Contemporary station in third place as the market's top billing FM station, ahead of Urban Contemporary WGCI-FM, who came in fourth. WGCI is the market's highest-rated FM station in 12+ and key demos.

Overall, radio revenues were down in Chicago from last year - reflecting a trend nationwide.

Mora departs Channel 2 for WFOR in Miami

Antonio Mora is going back home to South Florida - the co-anchor of WBBM-TV's 6 p.m. newscast is leaving for an anchor job in Miami at WFOR-TV, where he will front the news at 5 , 6, and11 p.m. He begins on January 28. His final day at the station is Friday.

WBBM and WFOR are both owned by CBS.

Mora was hired from ABC's Good Morning America with fanfare in 2002 and was paired with Diann Burns in 2003. However, the chemistry was never really there, as the station continued to languish behind its rivals in the ratings. Mora was replaced last year at 5 and 10 p.m. with Rob Johnson.

Johnson will assume the duties at 6 p.m. as well as the station's public-affairs program, Eye on Chicago.

This is not the first time Mora has worked in Miami - he was an anchor and reporter for NBC-owned WTVJ there in 1992-93.

Analysis: In yours truly's opinion, the wrong person departed. It's obvious who should have left. Mora was screwed around by WBBM-TV management way too much. What a shame. If there's any consolation, Burns' contract expires in October. This is surely in jest, but if there's any Burns I want to see on the newscast is C. Montgomery Burns from The Simpsons. Wouldn't that be cool? Despite the fact he's blocked out the sun, he's actually less evil than Diann Burns. Excellent.

Monday, January 14, 2008

TV Week declares Blu-Ray the winner

After Warner Bros. announced on January 4 that they were releasing its content exclusively on Blu-Ray, with the possibly of Paramount joining them, leaving NBC Universal as the only studio exclusively in the HD-DVD camp.

And according to the article, viewers might not want to fork over $300 for a Blu-Ray player but get downloadable HD content from Apple's iTunes and Amazon's Unabox instead, not to mention satellite and cable adding more HD choices (just two days ago, Comcast announced it will offer Sci-Fi, TLC, and WCIU in HD to its Chicago-area customers starting later this month.)

Plus, more people are renting DVDs than buying them.

HD-DVD or Blu-Ray? It may be just expensive coasters to some people.

Syndicated "Idol" jumps to Fox stations

A month after acquiring the syndication rights to air American Idol Rewind from now-defunct Tribune Entertainment, Trifecta has sold the series' third season to thirteen Fox O&O markets.

That means Idol Rewind in Chicago will switch this October from Tribune-owned WGN-TV to Fox-owned WFLD-TV and WPWR-TV. The program will also shift from Tribune to Fox stations in New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston, and Washington D.C.

Idol Rewind currently airs on WGN Saturday at 4 p.m. and Monday at 2:30 a.m.

This is the second time in many years that Tribune has lost a top property to the Fox stations. Earlier, Tribune lost the syndication rights to Everybody Loves Raymond in those same markets (with the exception of Washington, where Raymond already airs on WTTG/WDCA-TV.)

Idol Rewind already airs on some Fox O&Os, including WJBK-TV in Detroit, KSAZ-TV in Phoenix, KMSP-TV in Minneapolis, WOFL-TV in Orlando, and WHBQ-TV in Memphis.

For Trifecta, the move to Fox makes sense, as new episodes of Idol airs on Fox, and it gives the program a year-around presence on those outlets.

Idol's new season begins Tuesday on Fox, where it is expected to dominate the ratings this year, thanks to the writer's strike that has sidelined scripted series.

Ratings are down for Idol Rewind this season, as it is focusing on Season 2, which featured Clay Aiken and winner Ruben Studdard. The program still ranks in the top ten however, among syndicated weeklies.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Fall Arbitron books, Part II

Wondering how the recently-released Fall Arbs fared demographically? Well, here you go, courtesy of All Access (As a bonus, you get San Diego numbers in the article, too!):

- Urban contemporary WGCI-FM swept the adults 18-34, 18-49, and 25-54 categories by finishing first.

-Thanks to Christmas music, WLIT soared back into the top ten in key 18-49 and 25-54 demos.

-Clear Channel dominates the 25-54 portion of the book with WGCI (1st), WLIT (2nd), and Smooth Jazz WNUA-FM, finishied fourth among 25-54's, ahead of sister WVAZ-FM (V103), which finished fifth.

- Say what you will about WKQX-FM (Q101) - but it returned into the top ten among adults 18-34.

- Adult Hits WJMK-FM (Jack-FM) continues to ascend upward among its target 25-54 demo, up 25 percent in the last three books. Those numbers should only get better for the CBS-owned radio station, thanks to the addition of Steve Dahl in the mornings.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Mo' Radio Ratings

Because there's more to life than Chicago and Milwaukee...

Peoria: It's a trifecta for Triad as the radio station owner holds the top three spots with Country outlet WXCL-FM leading the way. Regent's Rhymtic outlet (WZPW-FM) finished fourth. The biggest loser here was Regent's Active Rock station (WIXO-FM) which fell from first place in the Spring book to eighth. Ouch!

Bloomington: Regent holds the top three spots in nearby Bloomington, with Hot AC outlet WBNQ-FM and Country station WBWN-FM tied for first. Just as impressive is five Chicago stations showed up in the book with WLS-AM seventh, WGN-AM twelfth, and WSCR-AM thirteenth.

Rockford: Cumulus held the top two spots here with Country outlet WXXQ-FM first and Top 40 outlet WZOK-FM second. Cumulus also had good news from its Oldies station (WKGL-FM), which saw a 100 percent ratings increase and finished fourth. Chicago's WGN-AM finished seventh.

South Bend: Schurz Communications, which already has the market's top-rated TV station in WSBT-TV, also has the market's top-rated radio station: AC-formatted WNSN-AM topped the Fall book. The company's WSBT-AM came in third, while Artistic's Top 40 outlet (WNDV-FM) topped Dille& Erlacher's Rhymtic outlet (WYPW-FM). But Dille & Erlacher can claim the market's top-rated rock station (WRBR-FM).

Artistic has the market's lowest-rated station (WWLV-AM), which sits at the bottom of the chart, finishing even behind Chicago's WLS-AM and WMVP-AM. Maybe the station's Soft AC format - on an AM station - is one of the reasons...

San Francisco's KRON up for sale

The Bay Area's former dominant NBC affiliate-turned-My Network TV also-ran is up for sale by Young Broadcasting.

Calling Rupert Murdoch....

Harvey, Dahl big winners in book

The Fall Arbitron book released yesterday didn't really provide much surprises (even with WLIT's annual surge due to Christmas music), but a couple of new arrivals shook up Chicago's already competitive morning-drive race:

- Steve Harvey's syndicated show on Clear Channel's WGCI-FM finished third overall and topped all FM morning drive shows in 12+. The controversy regarding "Crazy" Howard McGee's ouster seems to have faded as Harvey matched McGee's numbers from last year.

- Another Steve - Steve Dahl - scored good numbers in his first book in the A.M. at WJMK-FM, finishing in sixth place in the target men 25-54 demo. This comes as the often-criticized "Jack FM" posted one of its best books yet.

- Melissa Forman's live, local show on Clear Channel's WLIT improved the time period share over the disastrous Wake Up With Whoopi syndicated morning show, by finishing in ninth place.

- Meanwhile, WMVP widened its lead over WSCR in the men 25-54 demo.

- On the other hand, WVAZ-FM's (V103) Tom Joyner Morning Show dropped a full share point, and into eighth place, as competition from Harvey's show ate into Joyner's numbers.

- And Drex In The Morning on WKSC-FM (KISS 103.5) topped WBBM-FM's (B96) Eddie & JoBo, as the latter show has stepped up its on-air attacks on its rival host (you think I'm kidding? You should've listened to the "suburban crime report" on B96 this morning...)

In other daypart news:

- In middays, Clear Channel's WNUA-FM took top honors with Rick O'Dell, followed by WGN and the Jerry Agar/Rush Limbaugh combo on WLS-AM.

- In afternoons, WGCI's Tony Sculfield eked out a win over WLIT's voice-tracked Melissa Forman show, while WGN's Steve Cochran dropped nearly a full share point to land in fourth place.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Doug Banks returns to Chicago

A Chicago radio icon in coming home - well, at least on the air.

Chicago radio veteran Doug Banks is back on the airwaves thanks to a deal with Urban Adult Contemporary WVAZ-FM (V103), which will see it become the first station to carry his new syndicated radio show, which is being distributed by ABC Radio Networks (which is actually owned by Citadel.) WVAZ is owned by Clear Channel Communications.

Beginning Monday, Banks and co-host DeDe McGuire will appear weekdays on WVAZ from 2 to 6 p.m. The move puts him in direct competition with Michael Baisden's syndicated show (also syndicated by ABC Radio Networks), airing on WSRB-FM (Soul 106.3).

Doug Banks had a syndicated morning show syndicated by ABC for eleven years, but that ended on Dec. 31. WPWX-FM (Power 92) was one of Banks' affiliates, but dropped the program a few years ago to launch their own morning show. The program hasn't been heard in Chicago since.

Despite the loss, Banks has still been viable on the local media scene here, as a contributor to ABC-owned WLS-TV's 190 North magazine show and co-host of the station's recent New Year Eve countdown special.

Banks got his Chicago radio start at the old WBMX-FM in 1982, and later jumped to WGCI-FM where he later became morning host. He reunites with another WGCI alum - Tom Joyner - who worked afternoons at WGCI from 1985 to 1993 (as well as morning jock at KKDA in Dallas.) Joyner's morning syndicated show is heard on WVAZ.

Banks' and Joyner's programs will continue to based from Dallas.

Lineup Adjustment

To make room for Banks' new show, WVAZ made some adjustments to its weekday lineup - with Joyner continuing from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m., but now adds a extra hour exclusively for Chicago listeners at 9 a.m. The rest is as follows:

- Troi Tyler, 10 am-2pm
- Doug Banks, 2pm-6pm
- Ramonski Luv and Joe Soto 6pm-9pm (previously heard from 2pm-7pm)
- Irene Mojica 9pm-1am (also Saturdays from Noon-5pm)
- Ericka Campbell, 1am-5am

The moves come as WVAZ turned in a not-so-great performance in the recent Fall Arbitron book, where the station slipped from fifth place to eighth.

The Fall Arbitron books

Here are your radio Fall Arbs (+12) for:


Quick analysis: Tribune's WGN is first, but stumbled. Clear Channel's Urban Contemporary WGCI is back in second place, while sister Urban AC WVAZ fell from fifth place to eighth (they announced a huge schedule change today - more on that later, so watch the blog.) CC's WLIT surged to fifth place*, thanks to Christmas music (asterisk noted.) Citadel's WLS-AM surged to seventh, thanks to the upcoming election season. And CBS' new WCFS-FM (Fresh) improved on WCKG's old numbers, but has a way to go to catch WLIT (well, not that much.) Finally, ESPN-owned WMVP-AM beat CBS-owned WSCR-AM in the battle of all sports stations, but the men 25-54 target demos will tell more of that story.


Quick analysis: WTMJ-AM is still first, and by an overwhelming margin over second-place WMYX-FM. Clear Channel's Country outlet (WMIL-FM) took a huge tumble - down three full points - but hung on to fourth place. Saga's Urban AC outlet (WJMR-FM) finished fifth, ahead of urban contemporary WKKV-FM, which finished in a tie for seventh with Saga's Rock station The Hog (WHQG-FM).

It's the People's Choice Awards! And the winners are...

If the "people" can't elect the right politicians (particularly in Illinois), what makes you think they would pick the right TV shows and movies? (The Simpsons excepted - the only one the "people" got right.)

UPDATE: The award show bombed in the ratings, so justice is served.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Paramount to kick HD DVD to the curve, too?

According to this report, Paramount (with the DVD rights to most of the CBS library), may follow Warner Bros. lead and dump HD-DVD for Blu-Ray, possibly leaving NBC Universal as the only studio left using the format. Initally, Paramount supported both HD-DVD and Blu-Ray.

Guess the HD in HD-DVD stands for Hung Dry.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Broadcast of Golden Globes canned

Finally, some good came from the writer's strike... NBC will air a paired-down version instead. In other news, the guild has signed a side deal with United Artists, allowing the writers who work there to return to the job. This latest incarnation of the studio is partly joint-owned by Tom Cruise and long time production partner Paula Wagner.

"Gladiators" smashes competition

The return of American Gladiators was a huge ratings success story, drawing a 5.9 rating among adults 18-49 for NBC, according to Nielsen.

The two-hour premiere even drew numbers that it never achieved in its syndication run (1989-95). It also drew the highest-rated program for any new show this season.

Gladiators will move to regular day and time tonight (8 ET/ 7 CT).

Meanwhile, Fox's red-hot Sunday night lineup of animated comedies took a big hit from Gladiators and Deal or No Deal, with season-low numbers for new episodes of King of the Hill, American Dad, The Simpsons (which was surprisingly lame). It's not encouraging when the overexposed Deal or No Deal draws higher ratings than your show.

The Most Bankable Stars in Syndication in 2008

Oprah No. 1; Family Guy and Two and a Half Men tie for No. 10; CBS dominates list

TV Week's annual 10 Most Bankable Syndication Stars issue is out this week, and it boasts a few surprises:

- Oprah Winfrey's star power continues to shine as she repeats at No. 1. (well, that's not a surprise), thanks to her public endorsement of Illinois Senator Barack Obama for President and other ventures.

- Ellen DeGeneres is sixth this year, as she was last year (despite the fact that her daytime show is quite hokey.)

- A nice welcome back to Pat Sajak and Vanna White of Wheel of Fortune, who did not rank last year, appeared at number seven in this year's survey.

- Meredith Vierra, who took over as co-host of Today, ranked ninth with the underrated Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, which continues to be a quiet success story.

- Family Guy and Two and a Half Men ranked tenth. The surprise here is these two new off-network comedies ranked on the survey, replacing other off-network series that have appeared in the list in the past, including Seinfeld, Everybody Loves Raymond, Friends, and The Simpsons, perhaps reflecting the decline in the ratings for each in the last year.

- Tyra Banks is also off this year's survey, as she has been surrounded in controversy this past year, with a looming Top Model scandal and goofy antics on her ratings-challenged talk show, which all of a sudden may not be a lock for a future after 2009.

- CBS Television Distribution's personalities dominate the list with six entries (including one that is shared with Warner Bros.) - the most of any syndicator.

- Last year, yours truly scolded the panel for not including evergreen sitcoms such as I Love Lucy and The Andy Griffith Show as most bankable stars in syndication, and they do so again this year. Many of these classic shows continue to perform well for broadcast stations across the country. What's wrong with giving props to the old school? At least create an honorable mention section.

To read the entire list, click here.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Warner says "screw you" to HD-DVD

Racketing up the HD home video format wars up a serious notch - and just in time for the 2008 International Consumer Electronics Show - Warner Brothers announced today that it was ending its support for HD-DVD and going solely with arch rival Blu-Ray.

Warner was previously releasing its material on both HD-DVD and Blu-Ray.

The HD-DVD/Blu-Ray battle is reminiscent of the Betamax/VHS videotape machine wars in the early 1980's, it which JVC's VHS won over the Sony-backed Betamax system.

Many studios have gone with the Blu-Ray format exclusively (including Disney, Fox, and Sony). Does this mean the end of HD DVD because of the lack of studio support? Stay tuned.

CW reshuffles the deck

The CW is finally out with its midseason schedule, which you can access here. Among the changes:

- Gossip Girl moves to Monday at 7 (CT) with the Pussycat Dolls' reality show at 8.

- The CW comedies move to Sunday (good luck, they'll need it)

- Supernatural is being replaced by Reaper on Thursdays at 8, beginning February 28

Strike gets nastier

With the Screen Actors Guild boycotting the Golden Globes and the WGA about to enforce its strike rules against Jay Leno (which NBC said is a violation of Federal labor laws), one could think that this mess in Hollywood between the WGA and AMPTP would get any worse...

But don't laugh Chicagoans - if our version of the WGA and AMPTP - i.e. The Governor and the House Leader can't come to terms on a deal to fund public transit, we'll end up like the striking writers - walking a lot.

If you thought 2007 was the year of the selfish ego... you haven't seen nothing yet.

Trump's got bump

Last night's debut of The Apprentice: Celebrity Edition on NBC notched a 4.5 adults 18-49 rating, up 9 percent from last January's edition.

The good opening numbers for the reality program marks a continued trend of such shows with increased ratings for The Bachelor and Survivor, two once-struggling reality shows that are hot again.

With the absence of scripted programs because of the strike, reality shows might as well have a big feast ratings-wise this winter. American Idol returns January 15, While Survivor begins next month, and The Bachelor is expected to begin its new season in March.

This celebrities included in this edition include Gold Medal softball winner (and Chicago's own) Jennie Fitch (go Jennie!), KISS star Gene Simmons, and first-season villain Omorasa (of course, she's an angel compared to real villains - like our politicians. Isn't that right, Governor Blagoveich, Mayor Daley, Commissioner Beavers, and Kevin Martin?)

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Adult Swim news

The Aqua Teens are back: A movie and a Boston bomb scare later, the trio is back with more wild irrelevant adventures. Aqua Teen Hunger Force returns to Adult Swim to begin its sixth season on January 20. The last new episode aired on December 20, 2006 (not on March 25, 2007 as the linked article states).

While Aqua Teen is one of Adult Swim's constantly highest-rated programs, the movie that was released last spring did mediocre business at the box office (mainly because it was limited release), while The Simpsons Movie grossed more than $100 million last summer.

Yours truly saw The Aqua Teen Movie in a Chicago Heights theater (it wasn't playing anywhere else in the Southland) and yes, I was the only one there. Love the show, but please Aqua Teen guys - do what South Park did - don't do any more movies.

- Meanwhile, a Futurama goodbye marathon airing on Adult Swim last week - all 72 episodes of the Matt Groening-created series - gave the network its highest ratings all year among key young demos.

Futurama's rights were acquired by Comedy Central, outbidding Adult Swim in the process. Futurama aired on Adult Swim for the final time Monday night.

Observation: For those of you wondering why Adult Swim ran a Futurama marathon when it was clearly a lame duck show, the answer is simple: Futurama was one of Adult Swim's best-performing shows, and the network thought it would squeeze every ratings point it had left in the show. On the other hand, it may have served inadvertently as a promotion for upcoming airings on Comedy Central - a competitor.

WGN (locally in Chicago) and a few other stations recently lost the rights to Everybody Loves Raymond, and has buried the show at 12:30 a.m. and 1 a.m. (Don't look for a goodbye marathon there.) In a few weeks, Raymond moves to Fox-owned WFLD-TV and WPWR-TV to begin its second cycle in syndication. Ratings for Raymond on WGN had been decent, but the lame-duck show had to move to make room for new off-network acquisitions.

If Futurama hadn't been performing well for Adult Swim, then all of this would be moot - the show would've ended up buried at 3 a.m. instead.

We're Back

Happy New Year! This is The T Dog Media Blog. Welcome Back.

Took a New Year's breather, so let's catch up on what's been going on:

- Giants-Patriots draws large audience: The NFL triplecast of the New England Patriots - New York Giants game Saturday Night, in which the Patriots beat the Giants to become the first team in NFL History to go 16-0 in the regular season - drew a cumulative 34.5 million viewers over CBS, NBC, and the NFL Network - plus WCVB-TV in Boston, WMUR-TV in Manchester, N.H., and WWOR-TV in New York. It was the highest-rated regular-season game since November 26, 1995 when NBC aired a Thanksgiving Day game featuring the Kansas City Chiefs and the Dallas Cowboys.

- The holidays also brought good tidings to the NHL: The Winter Classic, which featured a game featuring the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Buffalo Sabres - in the first-ever outdoor game in the United States - drew a 2.6 overnight household rating and 5 share - the highest rated regular-season NHL game on network TV since February 3, 1996, when Fox nabbed a 3.0/9 for its regional coverage.

Not surprisingly, the game drew in highest ratings in Pittsburgh (WPXI) and Buffalo (WGRZ). As for Midwestern cities, only Minneapolis (KARE) and St. Louis (KSDK) made the top 10. Chicago didn't make the top 10 (neither did New York and Los Angeles), and the game was pre-empted in Indianapolis.

- The late-night talk show hosts returned last night with David Letterman and Craig Ferguson and their writers, and Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien, and Jimmy Kimmel without theirs. It seemed that Letterman and Ferguson had the advantage of having their writers, while Leno and O' Brien did not. Sad part about this is, a joke WMAQ-TV sports anchor Bruce Wolf during the station's 10 p.m. newscast (about how long it would take for the Illini to return to the Rose Bowl and the Bears to return to the Super Bowl) was funnier than anything Leno had to say. Heck, make Wolf the host of The Tonight Show.