Saturday, May 31, 2008

Local May sweeps numbers, Part 2

Continuing our look at local May sweeps numbers:

Denver: NBC affiliate KUSA-TV swept local news (except 9 p.m. on KTVD) in all time periods. At 10 p.m., KUSA was up a share point from May 2007.

Buffalo: CBS affiliate WIVB-TV won at 11 p.m., but the big story here was NBC affiliate WGRZ-TV's 11 p.m. news show improving from its prime-time lead-in by a whopping 85 percent. ABC affiliate WKBW-TV finished in third place across the board (and this station was number one just a few years ago.)

Orlando: Cox's WFTV (ABC) finished first overall and in all news time periods.

Baltimore: This market bucked the trend of eroding prime-time ratings with viewing levels up 2 percent from last year (The article noted that prime ratings were up in the top major markets, including Chicago - news to me!)

On to the numbers... NBC-affiliated WBAL won at 11 p.m. (and all other news time periods), but CBS' WJZ-TV surged 31 percent from May 2007 in the same time period. WBAL and WJZ tied for first in total-day ratings, while troubled ABC affiliate WMAR finished third overall. Sinclair's Fox affiliate (WBFF) finished fourth, but its' news did well at 10 p.m.

Columbus, Ohio: Dispatch-owned WBNS-TV (CBS) took the May sweeps crown in all time periods, except at 6 p.m. when NBC affiliate WCMH-TV beat WBNS by the slightest of margins. Like other NBC affiliates and O&Os, WCMH's late news jumped from its' prime-time lead-in.

Cincinnati: Further to the southwest in Ohio, NBC affiliate WLWT didn't do as well as its' Columbus counterpart - the station finished third in all news time periods (fourth if you count the 6-7a.m. news hour), with CBS affiliate WKRC-TV finishing first at 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. Fox affiliate WXIX-TV won from 7 to 9 a.m., and won at 10 p.m. over WKRC-TV's newscast on WSTR-TV. In August, WKRC is moving the newscast to its' digital sub-channel (Channel 12.2.)

Norfolk/Portsmouth/Hampton Roads: Belo-owned ABC affiliate WVEC-TV and Lin's NBC affiliate WAVY-TV spit news leadership (WAVY won mornings and 11 p.m.; WVEC won at Noon, 5, and 6 p.m.), while CBS affiliate WTKR-TV languished in fourth place in several time periods, behind WVEC, WAVY and CW affiliate WGNT-TV. Click here to see ratings (scroll down.)

Local May sweeps numbers, Part 1

Overall analysis: While the major networks lost steam in the recently concluded May sweeps, many local stations actually saw increases year-to-year in late news and in other time periods. Translation: Viewers are tuning out the prime-time shows on the major networks, but not local programming or local news on their affiliates.

Boston: CBS-owned WBZ-TV pulled off a major upset by finishing No. 1 at 11 p.m. among adults 25-54.

Detroit: Scripps' ABC affiliate (WXYZ-TV) finished first total-day in households and key demos, but it was NBC affiliate WDIV taking the crown at 11 p.m. in households (HH) and demos. Fox O&O WJBK was third total-day (but first in the mornings in demos) while CBS-owned WWJ lagged in fourth.

Dallas: ABC affiliate WFAA-TV is back on track by sweeping its' competitors in households and demos. Fox-owned KDFW beat NBC programming at 9 p.m. with its newscast. Poor book for CBS-owned KTVT: The station for the most part finished third or fourth in HH and demos (but did finish second in HH at 10 p.m.)

Seattle: NBC affiliate KING-TV finished first in newscasts and total-day ratings in both HH and demos.

Pittsburgh (households only): CBS had better luck in Steeltown, where KDKA swept the PM newscasts while ABC affiliate WTAE-TV nabbed the AM newscasts. NBC affiliate WPXI's newscast finished second at 11 p.m. Interesting: Oprah finished third in Pittsburgh at 4 p.m. behind KDKA's news and WPXI's Judge Judy. Also: The networks are seeing erosion nationally in prime-time, but in Pittsburgh, four of the six networks (including CW and My Network TV) saw year-to-year gains. Notable here is KDKA's sis station (WPCW) 10 p.m. newscast earning a 5.5 rating.

St. Louis: CBS affiliate KMOV beat NBC affiliate KSDK (who usually dominates the St. Louis market) in the 10 p.m. news race in households.

Richmond: NBC affiliate WWBT swept all local news time periods, which included a beatdown of Oprah at 5 p.m (scroll down.)

Part 2 is coming up, so stay tuned.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Wings beat Pistons in TV ratings in Detroit

The Stanley Cup Finals continue to roll on the Motor City with the Red Wings vs. Sid the Kid.

Game 3 of the Detroit Red Wings-Pittsburgh Penguins series on NBC beat the competing Game 5 of the Eastern Conference NBA Finals between the Detroit Pistons and Boston Celtics on Wednesday in Detroit, with hockey getting an 18.8 rating and 29 share (in households) on WDIV compared to a 15.9/25 for the Pistons on ESPN.

The number would have been higher though, if it didn't have to compete with "Hockey Night in Canada" on CBC, which is available over-the-air to viewers in the Detroit market through Windsor's CBET-Channel 9, which is right across the border. Viewers who didn't have Versus (or just wanted the CBC coverage) for the first two games in Detroit turned to CBET in droves.

In Pittsburgh, the game on WPXI-TV drew a huge 33.1/47, easily dominating its' time slot.

Nationally, NBC drew 4.5 million for Game 3, up from last year's games three and five of last year's Anaheim-Ottawa final. But the game still placed fourth in the ratings.

Trivia: Before 1975, CBET was known as CKLW-TV, sister station to legendary Top 40 outlet CKLW-AM. The station signed on in 1954, and was later sold to General Tire/RKO. CKLW-AM-FM-TV were the only Canadian media outlets ever owned by an American company. That prestige came to an end in 1969, when the Canadian government forced General Tire/RKO to sell the trio.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Harvey Korman dies

The Chicago-born comedian, best known for his roles on The Carol Burnett Show, has died at the age of 81. The comedian died after suffering complications from the rupture of an abdominal aortic aneurysm. Korman won four Emmys and a Golden Globe award on Carol Burnett, and also appeared in numerous films, including Blazin' Saddles and the Pink Panther movies.

Korman was also was the voice of The Great Gazoo on the final season of The Flintstones.

Tribune TV Critic hooks up with Tivo

Tivo announced on Wednesday a new partnership with the Chicago Tribune to offer Maureen Ryan's TV picks to users who sign up for the service in the Chicago area. Ryan is also hosting bi-monthly videos summarizing her picks.

If the move is successful, Tivo could develop more partnerships with other newspapers' TV critics, whose jobs are being eliminated as the papers are cutting expenses in a tough advertising environment.

You can find a link to Maureen Ryan's columns on the right in The Sidebar.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

WGCI, WVAZ surge in trends

This blog usually doesn't do trends - but there is something of note - Clear Channel-owned Urban radio stations (WGCI and WVAZ - V103) surged in part 1 of the Spring trends, with WGCI taking over first place and V103 jumping to third overall. WGN dropped to second and its share actually decreased. This is surprising, given WGN's numbers usually rise when Cubs baseball begins.

Also: Bonneville's WDRV-FM (The Drive) went up, landing in a tie for 11th place.

Mark Madden out at ESPN's Pittsburgh outlet

Mark Madden, who is a former wrestling commentator for WCW, can now add another "former" to his resume: talk show host. Madden was fired by the Disney-owned Pittsburgh sports radio station for comments he made about Ted Kennedy, who was recently diagnosed with a brain tumor.

Is there something in the state of Pennsylvania that makes radio personalities act like total jerks, or something?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

WISN dominates Milwaukee's ratings

... except at 10 p.m., where NBC affiliate WTMJ (despite lousy network lead-ins) won. But WISN, Milwaukee's ABC affiliate owned by Hearst-Argyle, dominated everything else. WISN won at 5 and 6 p.m. and in prime-time and total-day numbers, but finished behind WTMJ at 10 p.m. by a hair. WTMJ actually increased its rating at 10, while WISN dropped two share points.

The race for third place at 10 p.m. between Fox affiliate WITI and CBS affiliate WDJT tightened substantially with both stations virtually tied. Both were down from last year.

Finally in this same time period, WCGV's repeats of the ageless Simpsons surged 22 percent, going from a 2.7 household rating and 5 share in May 2007 to a 3.3/6 this May. Meanwhile, WVTV's King of Queens dropped 24 percent from a 2.9/5 to a 2.2/4 in the same timeframe. Both stations are owned by Sinclair.

MRC unveils CW Sunday slate

Independent studio Media Rights Capital unveiled its Sunday night schedule for The CW, and is as follows (all times Central:)

- 5:30 p.m.: In Harm's Way, a reality show in the mold of fare seen on Discovery and TLC.

- 6:30 p.m.: Surviving Suburbia, A new sitcom whose creator wrote a script, tucked it away, and forgot all about it (from the looks of it, he should have kept it in the drawer.)

- 7:00 p.m.: Valentine, Inc., a new dramedy featuring Greek gods who run a dating service.

-8:00 p.m.: Easy Money, a new Sopranos-like drama about a family of loan sharks (two of the producers are actually former producers of The Sopranos.)

The schedule targets adults 18-49 - older than The CW's female 18-34 weeknight lineup - a request made by Tribune, who owns CW affiliates in six of the top ten markets, including WGN-TV in Chicago.

The schedule also begins at 5:30 p.m. Central - harking back to the days when the three networks (ABC, NBC, and CBS) began prime-time on Sundays at 5:30 p.m. They did so until 1971, when the now-defunct Prime-Time Access Rule forced the networks to start programming at 6:30 p.m. or 7 p.m. on Sundays (until 1975, when the FCC let the three nets reclaim the 6-7 p.m. hour.)

Superstation WGN changes name to WGN America

Kids' WB changes name to CW 4 Kids on same day

While were you sleeping in.... With little fanfare on Saturday, Superstation WGN changed its name to WGN America, while Kids WB' officially became CW 4 Kids. However, no programming changes took place at either network - at least not yet (WGN America's new logo resembles the old Movie Channel logo from the 1990's.) WGN America officially started using the new logo and graphics package on the network yesterday.

Meanwhile, 4 Kids Entertainment is programming The CW's Saturday Morning lineup with its' own fare beginning in September.

Monday, May 26, 2008

WBBM's new digs

This story in the Tribune Sunday features the impending move of CBS-owned WBBM-TV from its longtime home at 630 McClurg Court on the North Side's Streeterville neighborhood to Block 37 in the heart of The Loop.

McClurg Court has been home to WBBM-AM-FM-TV since 1956 and was home to the nation's first televised debate between John Kennedy and Richard Nixon in 1960. The facility was also home to Donahue, The Lee Phillip Show, Siskel & Ebert, and its predecessor, Ebert & Roeper (until the program moved to WLS-TV a few years ago.)

The radio stations moved out of McClurg Court in 2006.

With the move to the Loop, WBBM-TV also brings HD-produced newscasts to the station for the very first time - joining ABC-owned WLS-TV and NBC-owned WMAQ-TV as stations broadcasting news in HD, with a new street-level studio. The building also comes with a Jumbotron, where CBS programming is going to be prominently featured.

But the question is, will they come? WBBM continues to lag behind its' competitors for a number of reasons, and more than a few point out the station's lousy signal (in analog and digital) in the comments section of the story (you won't see my name there. Yours truly has learned his lesson.)

WBBM though, has taken steps to right the ship - ratings in the just concluded May sweeps have inched upward, despite the fact CBS and other networks saw ratings erosion in prime-time, partly due to the recently concluded writers' strike. And some fresh faces at the station - notably Ryan Baker and Anne State - haven't hurt.

Tribune meets with syndicators

Recently, The Tribune station group invited almost every syndicator in the business - CBS Television Distribution, Disney/ABC Domestic Television, Program Partners, and more - to discuss new programming strategies with new Tribune COO Randy Michaels in its Tribune Tower offices in Chicago. The station group is considering overhauling its' daytime lineup - or at least stepping back from the fare they have on their schedules now.

Currently, Tribune sublets five hours of programming a day to NBC Universal on most of its stations - featuring The Steve Wilkos Show and double-runs of The Jerry Springer Show and Maury (in Chicago, it's only three - Springer airs on Fox-owned WPWR-TV.)

Ratings for both Jerry and Maury have declined over the years, and while both programs still perform well enough to stay on stations' schedules, revenue derived from the shows are lower than other daytime programming in the marketplace because because of their controversial content - for example, it's not uncommon to have fights on Jerry three or four times an episode. Since the Janet Jackson episode at Super Bowl 38, marketers have been increasingly weary about placing ads in decidedly more raunchy fare.

Tribune is looking to move toward more mainstream court, talk, and local programming - which brings in traditional advertisers and more importantly - more dollars.

2007-08: The season from hell

This slogan isn't just for Chicago Bulls and Chicago Bears fans... It's also used for a TV season that has been plagued by audience erosion, increases in alternative viewing options, and of course - a writer's strike. TV Week analyzes the season remembered more for viewers fleeing for the exits from prime-time television more than anything else.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

NBC revamps fall lineup

To no one's surprise, NBC has revamped its fall lineup, announced a few weeks before the upfront. The changes are:

- NBC's premiere week will now take place the week of Sept. 22 instead of after the Olympics in August. This means NBC will launch its new shows alongside the rest of the other networks (except Fox, which still plans to rollout its series in late August.)

- NBC has scrapped plans to air comedies on Tuesdays, and instead is shifting Kath & Kim to Thursday nights, to join the other comedies airing there. NBC expands The Biggest Loser to two hours (!) on Tuesdays when it returns in October.

- NBC is also adding a new reality show called America's Toughest Jobs. It'll premiere on Friday, Sept. 12 at 7 p.m. (CT) for a six-week run, then moves to 8 p.m. on Friday, October 24. It replaces Deal or No Deal, which after that date, will air on Wednesdays only (However, Deal is airing as a weekday strip this fall in syndication.)

To see the schedule changes, click here.

Friday, May 23, 2008

WVON to rewind, too

WLS-AM is not the only one flashing back to the days of yesteryear... WVON-AM is also doing a Memorial Day rewind, with a flashback to the days when the black-oriented station played a lot of jazz, blues, and R&B music courtesy of Pervis Spann, Herb Kent, and "The Good Guys".

Click here to see Monday's lineup.

More sweeps numbers

Philadelphia: Like WLS here in Chicago, ABC-owned WPVI-TV swept away its competition in households (demos were not available.) Fox-owned WTXF also scored with its 10 p.m. news, thanks to American Idol, and managed to tie CBS-owned KYW-TV in rating in late news.

Yay for local content? NBC O&O WCAU-TV's 10! news/talk show, finished dead last in its' 2 p.m. time slot, while Tribune's WPHL-TV beat the network newscasts on NBC and CBS with Two and a Half Men repeats at 6:30 p.m.

Washington, D.C.: NBC-owned WRC-TV won at 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. in total viewers - but barely - holding off a charge from ABC affiliate WJLA-TV. Of note is WRC growing 26 percent out of its' prime-time lead-in at 11 p.m. Fox-owned WTTG however, had the market's top-rated late newscast at 10 p.m. in total viewers.

WLS sweeps May, but WMAQ shines in demos at 10

Staying on the subject of local news, it was a good May book for all of Chicago's news outlets -(second item) despite the fact the networks lost audience share due to the after-effects of the recent writer's strike with something for everyone to crow about: ABC-owned WLS-TV's newscasts won the May sweeps in households (second item) - however, NBC-owned WMAQ-TV did very well at 10 p.m. in the key 25-54 news demo.

CBS' WBBM-TV's ratings were up (thanks to the departure of Diann Burns?), while WGN finished first in the mornings and also did well at 9 p.m. in households and demos (despite poor lead-ins from the struggling CW.) WFLD can tout to increased ratings at 9 and 10 p.m., thanks to American Idol.

WFLD to add 9 a.m. newscast?

Fox-owned WFLD-TV is once again considering expanding its news operation - this time to extend Good Day Chicago to 10 a.m. This comes as more and more stations are expanding local content to stay relevant as more and more viewers are getting their content from places other than traditional media sources.

And WFLD is not the only ones thinking about news expansion. Tribune's WGN-TV is also considering expanding its newscasts, with a late afternoon program possible (WFLD had a proposal on the table for a 5 p.m. newscast a few years ago.) The CW is adding first-run fare in the afternoons beginning this fall, with the possibility of adding another hour of original fare later down the road.

Weigel Broadcasting also hired some new individuals (Harvey Moshman and Randy King) recently to explore adding local content to the station.

WFLD's possible plan to add a 9 a.m. time slot isn't new - back in the 1990's, NBC-owned WMAQ-TV had a 9 a.m. local news show for a short time.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The NHL is back on track

Ratings for the NHL Conference Finals airing on NBC over the weekend scored ratings increases from year-ago matchups in 2007.

Last Saturday's game between the Detroit Red Wings and Dallas Stars earned a 1.5 household rating and 4 share. While that may not seem like much, it is up 25 percent from 2007's Buffalo Sabres-Ottawa Senators matchup from a year ago. NBC affiliate WDIV in Detroit scored a 14.1/34 for the game in Detroit.

The Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers game last Sunday was up 6 percent from the comparable matchup from a year ago (Anaheim-Detroit). NBC affiliate WPXI in Pittsburgh netted a strong 26.1/46 from the game.

Both Detroit and Pittsburgh will meet in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals beginning on Saturday. Ratings are expected to be up from last year's Anaheim-Ottawa match mainly because of two stronger hockey markets, the popularity of the Red Wings, and the growing interest of hot new superstar Sidney Crosby, who plays for the Penguins.

The first two Stanley Cup games is airing on Versus; the rest are airing on NBC. Detroit viewers without cable or satellite (or Versus) can watch the first two games on CBET-Channel 9, the CBC owned-and-operated station in nearby Windsor, Ontario, Canada. CBC is carrying the entire Stanley Cup Finals.

Thought: The first think tank I wrote on this blog was critical of the NHL, the Blackhawks, and Broadcasters. Wow, what a difference eighteen months make! The NHL's ratings are up, the Blackhawks are turning it around (by being more fan-friendly, putting a competitive team on the ice, and finally putting all their games on TV), and Chicago broadcasters are making small strides in addressing community concerns (all right, it's only one thing. Broadcasters still have a lot of work to do.) But what the hey, it's a hat trick!

David Cook wins "American Idol"

And the early overnight numbers are in: The two-hour season finale (which was surprisingly entertaining), averaged a 17.5 household rating and 27 share, down from the 19/30 the 2007 finale earned.

UPDATE: The adults 18-49 ratings are in, and Idol drew a 11.0/29, down slightly from 11.5/31 achieved for last year's finale. On the other hand, Idol drew 30.6 million viewers, compared to 29.5 million last year.

Um, what Idol decline? The show is still a powerhouse (much as yours truly hates to admit it.)

Updated at 12:19 p.m. on 2008-05-22

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Welcome to the Boomtown

Tonight, American Idol will crown its seventh winner, with a David and David finale: David Archuelta and David Cook are competing to win.

But does anyone care? I mean, besides Tony Kornhiser's constant harping of Idol on Pardon The Interruption every day (which is a shark jump ready to happen. Do sports fans really care about Idol?), ratings for the karaoke contest are down this year, with numbers down double-digits in adults 18-49 and in households.

Aside from Paula Abdul's screw up (which was over-analyzed by the media - what's the big deal?), there was really no controversy or pop-culture wannabe like Sanjaya to hook viewers in this year. There's hardly any buzz about the Idol finale, as Maureen Ryan points out.

And whom ever David wins Idol tonight, will he even be as successful as David + David? This Los Angeles-based duo had only one Top 40 hit with the solid Welcome to the Boomtown (one of my personal favorites), which peaked at No. 37 on the Billboard Hot 100 in November 1986.

But I'll tell you one thing: David+David sold more albums than 2006 Idol winner Taylor Hicks did.

WLS-TV to host another special on youth violence

ABC-owned WLS-TV will host another summit on youth violence this Thursday.

The station plans to air Stop the Violence: Conflicts and Solutions in HD at 6:30 p.m. The special is being hosted by Ron Magers and Cheryl Burton, and is being joined by reporters Charles Thomas and Paul Meincke. WLS aired a similar special last spring after 16 year-old Blair Holt was gunned down on a CTA bus by a gang member.

This is the second special to air this month regarding youth violence in Chicago - on May 10, WBBM-TV air a two-hour town hall meeting on the subject

Thought: Although I was only able to catch the last hour of the WBBM-TV special on May 10, the WBBM squad did a good job in moderating the debate on youth violence, with community leaders and residents interacting with each other trying to find solutions. I plan to view the entire special online at (look in the video library and the May 11th date), and come back with a full review in the coming days ahead.

As for these specials, Chicago's local stations are moving in the right direction is discussing issues vital to our communities, though there is room for improvement (how about airing these type of specials in prime-time?)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Big 89 Rewind returns

Thanks to the popularity of last year's well-received Big 89 Rewind, WLS-AM is doing it again this Memorial Day, with an all-new edition. Here is the scheduled line up...

5am-6am: Kickoff Show
6am-9am: Chuck Knapp
9am-Noon: Larry Lujack with Lil' Tommy Edwards
Noon-3pm: Fred Winston
3pm-6pm: Bill Bailey
6pm-10pm: John Records Landecker
10pm-12:00 Jeff Davis

WLS news alumni will also be on hand, including Les Grobstein, Catherine Johns, Linda Marshall. WLS also plans tributes to past on air personalities including Chuck Weber, Dick Biondi, Gary Gears, and Bob Hale.

For more information, go to

The NBA scores on Sunday

In what is defiantly good news for the NBA, Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals between the Cleveland Cavailers and the Boston Celtics averaged a 6.9 household Nielsen rating, up 70 percent from the game airing in the year-ago time period (San Antonio Spurs-Utah Jazz Western Conference Semifinal).

The Celtics won, and they are facing the Detroit Pistons in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, which begins tonight on ESPN (on now as I speak.) It's the first time these two teams have met in the ECF since 1988, when Isiah Thomas and the "bad boy" Pistons eliminated Larry Bird's Celtics to go on to the NBA Finals, where they lost to Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers (the Pistons would sweep the Lakers in the 1989 finals.)

ABC plans to air Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Saturday.

Meanwhile, The Lakers are playing the Spurs in the Western Conference Finals on TNT, which begins Wednesday. If the Lakers and Celtics advance to the NBA Finals, it could net a ratings windfall for ABC, which along with ESPN and TNT, have seen rating increases in key demos airing NBA fare this year, reversing a years-long ratings decline. The Lakers and Celtics have a storied rivalry, meeting in the NBA Finals three times in the 1980's, with the Lakers winning in 1985 and 1987, and Boston taking the prize in 1984. The Lakers-Celtics finals were a big ratings draw for CBS (who held the rights to the NBA back in the day.)

Monday, May 19, 2008

T Dog's Think Tank: The Naive and the Stupid

Welcome to "The Naive and the Stupid", the newest soap opera about the changing media world and those who are too stupid to understand it....

I usually don't write two Thinks Tanks in one day (writing just three posts a day is tough enough), but this story must be told... Yours truly goes on the Internet and explains about the future of media and how this business operates. And guess what? He's criticized for his thoughts, from people who don't know anything about the business, especially people making drive-by potshot comments, dispensing ignorance more than knowledge.

Phil Rosenthal had a story online in the Tribune on Sunday regarding the weak network upfronts and the English-language networks' slipping ratings performance. But below that was a short blurb on a hire Weigel Broadcasting made for its Chicago stations. A clueless poster in the comments section ripped the decision, making all kinds of false inaccuracies about the station. So I corrected him, and I explained how many local station owners are strapped for cash, and how the television and radio business are becoming more and more irrelevant through changing media habits - especially among adults 18-34, and the media companies' own screw ups.

And it was on. And I mean Richie Sexson charging the mound and hitting the pitcher with his helmet on. The poster launched a personal attack against me, being a smart ass in asking me why did hire the guy (how the hell I'm supposed to know? Ask them!) Subsequent posts became nastier. I tried to explain to him what goes on in this business, but all he was interested in was bashing Weigel and some washed-up sportscaster on the station. This poster clearly lacks intelligence, since now I guess computers are not just for smart people anymore, as President Bush owns one. This jerk apparently didn't bother to read my posts, preferring to stay in his 1960s fantasy world of media, where a lot of people (including the RIAA and other media executives) still reside in. This guy obviously is so stupid, he can't tell the difference between a television and a toaster.

(Yes, that's me: "T Dog from Chicago" posting on the comments page on the Tribune, apparently for the last time. Now yours truly would never be a cheerleader for a local TV or radio station. If that were the case, I'd shut this blog down right now. I've been critical on everything as big as WBBM-TV to locally-owned rimshotter Nine-FM.)

I've should've known better to post on a forum when the only thing 90 percent of posters on the Tribune and Sun-Times comments pages know is "Cubs suck", "White Sox suck", "so-and-so politician sucks", and "Get rid of Rex Grossman." (seriously, he should go.) Most people who post on these mainstream media forums are - well, let's just say very, very stupid. So why am I wasting my time there since most people there can't comprehend or understand anything? You think the people who comment on Feder's and Rosenthal's columns would at least know something about TV and radio. But that's not always the case. TV Barn's Aaron Barnhart turned off his comments function on his blog recently, though for somewhat different reasons. I won't be doing that on this blog, since hardly anyone posts on here anyway (UPDATE: AB recently returned comments to his blog, but moderated.)

And it's not the first time yours truly has been bashed by simpletons. I was ripped by Drudgies back in November on TV Week's comments page. I posted on the Tribune a few months ago that newspapers are dying. Again, ripped by most people on the comments page. A month ago, I ripped into the Sun-Times on its own website. Two clowns mocked me there.

When I tell people the reality of the business, they want to shoot the messenger. Why rip on me? Because no one wants to hear the truth? Because some people want to still live in their fantasy world and pretend things never change? Of course. Big Media brainwashes these people thinking the media world is never going to change. But it is. And it's happening right now. If you speak the truth about this business, be prepared to encounter a lot of closed-minded individuals.

I'll say this again: If you think I'm overrated, that's fine. If you are not impressed with my work, or my knowledge of this business, or my blog, that's also fine. If you agree or disagree with me and my views, no problem. But if you want to assail me for telling you what goes on in this business and the harsh realities facing it, then you're out of line. What pisses me off is when I explain the logistics of this business and someone comes along with a snarky comment about something else. It's like explaining how Sidney Crosby gets the puck in the net and someone replies asking who is he dating. It is real frustrating.

And about the name-calling - I call them as I see them. I call a spade a spade. If you are going to rip on me, then I'll rip right back. It's only fair. I admit it's not professional, but it's fair. When you make a stupid comment online about this business, I'll call you out on it (though more than likely, just correct you.) I'm really a nice guy, but get on my wrong side - watch out.

If you want to talk about media, here are some sites I personally recommend: Chicagoland Radio and Media, PI Feedback, Radio-Info and Radio-Insight. TVNewstalk is another good board, and if you live in Michigan or Ohio (around Toledo), Michigan Buzzboard is the place you want to go. If you want to talk about media-business issues, this is where you go, without interference from outsiders (you'll find all of these on The Sidebar at the right.)

So to sum it all up, those living in denial about the changes in this business are fooling no one but themselves. The media business is changing. Deal with it. For those of you who want to ask questions on trivial issues like why such and such got hired, there's a spot for you at the next presidential debate hosted by ABC News.

Will the future of media continued to be shaped by the nation's young people who are changing the way we consume our media through receiving content from the Internet, cell phones and video-on-demand, rendering the traditional way media is delivered obsolete? Or will it controlled by dinosaurs who still live in 1965 and try to wish the way we get content back into the stone age? For all of this and more, tune in tomorrow for the next episode of "The Naive and the Stupid!"

T Dog's Think Tank: The upfronts? Meh.

The excitement of Upfront week. The new shows. The glitz. The glamour. The parties.

But not this year. Or maybe ever again.

This year's upfronts had about as much excitement as a Kansas City Royals-Baltimore Orioles game, and if you read the Chicago Tribune this week, you wouldn't even know the upfronts were taking place. That's a far cry from many years ago, when the paper's media writers covered the event in the business section (this year's upfront was only covered on Maureen Ryan's blog on Chicago Tribune's website and in an article in Tempo - and it wasn't much.)

While industry and TV geek websites extensively covered the events (some of them you'll find on The Sidebar of this very blog), this year's upfronts were ignored by the mainstream media for the most part.

What is the upfronts you ask? Well, let me take you to school. The upfronts is put on by the major networks trot out their fall schedules and their stars to media buyers and advertising reps in New York (the cable nets do this a few weeks earlier.) It's the network's job to sell the presentation to these groups of people so they can spend their money advertising on the network's shows. Once the dog and pony shows are over, the negotiation periods begin - which could take anywhere from several days to two weeks to complete.

Only this year, things are different.

For one, NBC decided not to do a traditional upfront presentation, opting for an "NBC Experience" instead. It announced its fall schedule several weeks early and forgoed producing expensive pilots. And of course, there was the recent writer's strike. At its upfront presentation last week, ABC announced only two new series, and decided to bring back the majority of its programming because it was affected by the strike.

And then there is the economy. With a recession in full swing, the networks decided to cut costs and scale back (thankfully) on the lavish presentations and parties that has been the norm for the last several years. So, there was no big Ugly Betty number at the ABC upfront, or Pete Townsend performing at the CBS show this year.

But perhaps the biggest thing affecting the upfronts this year - is interest, or lack thereof. The public seems to be disinterested in network prime-time television, a situation that was dire even before the writer's strike. And the ratings are telling us that. Or are they?

Ratings are down across the board this season for most shows, for several reasons - the writer's strike, the rise in use of digital video recorders (DVR), increases in online viewing, more viewing choices in the average home, the ability for cable networks to roll out their original programming year-around, and on and on. The total household share of the five major English-language networks don't even come close to a 50 household share.

So what do the nets do? Send out press releases and spin, spin, spin. The Top Model finale last Wednesday was deemed a success - with a mid-2 rating in adults 18-49. It's sad state of affairs when a 2.3 rating in a key demo is qualified as a hit, when a 5 or a 6 was years ago.

Then there's Gossip Girl. Never in the history of television where a show is christened a hit - and finishes behind programming on Univision. But you also have to consider other factors, like DVR use, Internet buzz, Internet downloads, and those female 18-34 demo numbers. There's your hit. Man, how the business has changed. You have to wonder if Nielsen numbers even matter anymore. These days, it's harder to tell the winners and losers apart.

Which brings me to my next point. Worn-out shows like According to Jim, The Bachelor, Scrubs, and many others are coming back next season, despite declining numbers. It's now all about how much revenue a show brings in as opposed to what ratings it gets and how much it costs to make - not to mention the networks now own most of the shows they run, as well as their syndicator (thanks to the demise of fin-syn.) With this method, Nielsen numbers are somewhat meaningless. If the fin-syn rules stayed, According to Jim and Scrubs would be long gone.

And so, this year's upfronts provided no surprises and with the possible exception of Secret Millionaire and Fringe, there is nothing that will get people back in front of the TV. The schedules are pretty much the same stuff served over with no major scheduling moves (aside from The Unit and Without A Trace airing on new nights) and no real breakthrough programming concepts. Comedies are mostly absent, with The CW bailing out on the genre almost entirely, and sending its existing comedies to the Friday Night Death Slot. And there are still too many look-alike drama and reality programs in prime-time, with both genres still saturated.

And you wonder why viewers weren't excited about the upfronts. And they won't be excited about the 2008 fall lineups either. When do the Orioles and Royals play each other again?

Friday, May 16, 2008

WYSP fires DJ over racist parody song

Rock outlet WYSP-FM in Philadelphia fired on-air morning personality Kidd Chris after an in-studio guest performed a racist parody song on March 21. The song also was played throughout the day and again three days later, and posted all over the Internet, including YouTube and MySpace. Kidd Chris lasted just six months in morning drive.

The move cost PD John Cook his job as well.

Thought: And you thought radio here was bad... Philadelphia is even worse - all you have to do is look at the Radio-Info Philly board where some of the posters are bigger idiots than the DJs themselves. Look for Kidd Chris' "defenders" to show up there shortly. Just something to think about as advertisers - who don't play around these days when it comes to offensive content - ponder their options.

And you wonder why the radio business is in such a mess....

CW down for the count?

The Wall Street Journal today has an article regarding The CW, and its not pretty. If this upcoming season's female-friendly slate doesn't click, one of the principals in the network (either CBS or Warner Bros.) could pull their support. This comes as ratings for the troubled net are down double digits in key demos.

Technology made simple

Fox-owned WFLD-TV has a new way you can track the station's chopper: through Google Maps.

Viewers can log on to the station's website ( and track AirFox (the name of the station's chopper) through a link (, and see where the chopper is on Google Maps, using a live GPS track. On the map is a bubble where the chopper is located in real-time, which gives you information including the speed and altitude.

The website also features live video from AirFox, and shows Chicago's skyline when the chopper isn't flying.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Fox's new 2008-09 lineup (Fall and Winter)

Fox has announced its lineup for next season, with separate Fall 2008 and Winter 2009 lineups. The sked includes only two new shows, but one of them is getting a big push: Fox is expected to heavily push Fringe, a new drama from Lost creator J.J. Abrams. Fox plans to launch its new slate the week of August 25. However, this is the same week the Democratic National convention is held, with the nominee chosen on August 28.

The schedule also features the landmark 20th season of The Simpsons, tying Gunsmoke for the longest running prime-time scripted show in history.

To see the schedule, click here (all times Eastern, the programs air one hour earlier in Chicago and the rest of the Central and Mountain time zones.)

Fringe gets the coveted slot out of House and premieres August 26. Monday in the fall features Terminator and Prison Break, but come January, is expected to be replaced by new drama Dollhouse from Joss Whedon and the returning 24. Tuesdays has House and Fringe, with American Idol taking over House's time slot in January. Wednesdays has Bones and comedies 'Til Death and Do Not Disturb (formerly The Inn), but Idol replaces the comedies in January and they are expected to relocate to Friday.

Thursday is reality night with The Moment of Truth and Kitchen Nightmares, but the latter is being replaced by Secret Millionaire. Friday has 5th Grader and Don't Forget The Lyrics, but the latter is being replaced in January with the relocated Wednesday comedies. Sundays remains unchanged until the spring, when Sit Down, Shut Up and Family Guy spin-off The Cleveland Show arrive.

Analysis: Look to Fox to maintain its ratings lead in the money demo, thanks to American Idol and the NFL. 24 is likely to be down a bit because of the long layoff. Secret Millionaire looks to be a very interesting concept (a millionaire who goes undercover working for minimum wage, befriending his fellow working-class co-workers), and may be worth tuning in. As for Fringe, this series may become a breakout hit - but it sounds more sizzle than steak. The actors who portrayed the young married couple on 'Til Death have exited, and Do Not Disturb sounds dumb (a blatant rip-off of The Jamie Foxx Show), and hopefully be put out of their misery quickly. But if According to Jim can somehow manage to stay on the air... If you've read this blog the last couple of days, you know this phrase by now: Dumb comedies are always in fashion.

CBS buys CNET for $1.8 billion

Yeah, but will Buzztown be the same? CBS Corporation purchased CNET Networks for $1.8 billion today, giving CBS an even bigger footprint on the Web. The acquisition includes CNET, ZDNet,, and CNET The CNET website is home to the popular Buzz Out Loud podcast, and other audio and video properties.

CNET is headquartered in San Francisco, while CBS' home is in New York.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

CBS' new schedule for 2008-09

CBS is introducing a total of six new series: four new comedies and two dramas, and is moving existing shows to new nights. To see the complete schedule, click here (all times Eastern; programs air one hour earlier in Chicago and the rest of the Central and Mountain time zones.)

New comedy Worst Week is slotted after Two And a Half Men on Monday nights, while Tuesdays has a new drama The Mentalist slotted between NCIS and Without A Trace, which moves to a new night. Wednesday has a new home for The New Adventures of Old Christine, paired with new sitcom Project Gary to lead into returning dramas Criminal Minds and CSI: New York. Thursdays has a new drama leading out of CSI called Eleventh Hour, with new drama The Ex List heads to Fridays between Ghost Whisperer and Numbers. The Unit shifts to Sundays.

Midseason pickups include Rules of Engagement and a new drama, Harper's Island. Canceled shows include Moonlight, Shark, Cane and Kid Nation.

Analysis: Look for CBS to maintain competitive with ABC and Fox, as the Tiffany Network continues to roll. But potential weak spots may surface, especially with Worst Week (not a good fit with CBS' Monday night sitcom lineup); Wednesdays with Christine and Gary; and Fridays, where The Ex List not likely to do any better than previous occupant Moonlight. Aside from Without A Trace shifting to Tuesdays, no real surprises in CBS' fall lineup.

Local TV roundup

- The Chicago Sky has signed a TV deal with Weigel's WWME-TV to carry eight games this summer. The WNBA Team previously had those games on sister station WCIU-TV. Of note is the June 3 game against the Los Angeles Sparks, which features former Naperville hoops star Cadence Parker.

-Phil Donahue is returning to the home that made him famous - the studios of WGN-TV. Donahue is appearing on the station's morning newscast on Thursday to promote his new anti-war documentary, Body of War. In addition, there is a re-enactment planned of the format he practically invented - complete with a live audience. Donahue did his talk show in Studio 2 at 2501 West Bradley Place from 1974 to 1982.

Donahue's show got its start in Dayton, Ohio at WLWD (now WDTN-TV) in 1967. Production moved to Chicago when WGN picked up the series in 1974 from WMAQ-TV. Donahue shifted production of his talk show to WBBM-TV in 1982, but left for Rockefeller Center in New York in early 1985. Ratings dropped against newcomer The Oprah Winfrey Show at 9 a.m., and the program moved to WFLD-TV in 1987, back to WMAQ (and in a 3 p.m. time slot) in 1990, and back to WBBM for one final season in 1995-96.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

CW unveils 2008-09 lineup targeted to young women

If you are a female between the ages of 18 and 34, let it be known: The CW wants you.

The CW unveiled its female-friendly lineup on Tuesday, programming five nights with two comedies and lots of dramas. To see the schedule, click here (all times Eastern; programs air one hour earlier in Chicago and the rest of the Central and Mountain time zones.)

Monday is unchanged with Gossip Girl and One Tree Hill; Tuesdays has the new 90210, the sequel to the original Beverly Hills, 90210 series and a new drama called Surviving the Filthy Rich (formerly How To Teach Filthy Rich Girls); Wednesdays has Top Model and new fashion reality show Stylista; Thursdays remains unchanged with Smallville and Supernatural; and Fridays has Everybody Hates Chris and The Game, followed by a repeat of Top Model.

The new schedule is launching as early as Sept. 1, with Smallville and Supernatural launching later and the new Friday night lineup launching after Friday Night Smackdown leaves on Sept. 12.

Reaper is being held off until midseason. Canceled shows include Aliens in America and Beauty and the Geek.

Analysis: The CW launched two years ago, meshing the best of folded nets UPN and The WB, and was criticized for not having a direction. In its third season, the net has now found where it wants to go - the lucrative female 18-34 audience. The upside: this demo spends a lot of money. The downside: this demo are primarily lights users of television - many of which spend their time watching online video. Is this where The CW wants to go? For the sake of the network, they better hope the fickle demo flock to their offerings. There is nowhere to go but up for this network, and this fall schedule is a good start.

One complaint, though: Is it really necessary to run Top Model twice a week?

Media Rights Capital lineup

As reported here earlier, The CW has sublet its Sunday night lineup to indie studio Media Rights Capital. So far, the programming plan includes two sitcoms (Murphy's Law and Surviving Suburbia); a drama (Valentine's Day); and a procedural crime drama (F.A.T. City.) No further information about these programs were available.

CBS cancels "Moonlight", " Shark"

CBS pulled the plug on Moonlight and Shark, so expect the fanboys and fangirls (of Moonlight, anyway) to deluge CBS with a lot of protest letters - or peanuts. Or even pairs of fangs. Meanwhile, CBS did renew The Old Adventures of New Christine, The Unit, and How I Met Your Mother.

ABC unveils new 2008-09 lineup

ABC released its fall schedule today, and you can view it by clicking here (all times Eastern; programs air one hour earlier in Chicago and the rest of the Central and Mountain time zones.)

Not much in the way of changes: ABC announced only two new shows this fall with Life on Mars and Opportunity Knocks on the sked. Also, Boston Legal moves to Mondays at 10 Eastern/ 9 Central. Eli Stone shifts to Tuesday in this same time period. 

Midseason shows include former NBC comedy Scrubs, and The Goode Family, a new animated comedy from Beavis and Butt-head and King of the Hill creator Mike Judge (The alphabet net's recent history with such fare has not met with success: Capitol Critters, The Critic, and Clerks all bombed in the ratings a few years back.) A beauty pageant show from producers Ashton Kutcher and Tyra Banks is also on tap.

Also returning midseason is Lost and According to Jim. Canceled shows include Big Shots, Oprah's Big Give and Just for Laughs. Cavemen was also officially axed (but who here didn't already know that?)

Analysis: Because of the writer's strike, a lot of shows that should have been canceled - weren't. ABC is making a mistake leaving the declining Ugly Betty on Thursdays, and don't ask me why According to Jim is still on the schedule (as I said before, dumb comedies are always in fashion.) Meanwhile, Oprah's Big Give is the surprise cancellation here: but that's what you get when you lose to an original episode of The Simpsons. (Oprah actually decided not to produce Big Give anymore.)

With just two new shows on ABC's fall schedule, there is not much to get excited about here. Expect the alphabet network's ratings to decline further in 2008-09. 

Monday, May 12, 2008

It's Late Night with Jimmy Fallon

Jimmy's got the moves. Jimmy has the style. And now, Jimmy has a talk show.

As expected, Jimmy Fallon gets the post-Tonight Show slot in 2009, succeeding Conan O'Brien, who of course, is taking over for Jay Leno's Tonight Show job in this same time frame. NBC made the announcement official in New York today.

O'Brien, a former Simpsons writer, took over the post-Tonight time slot in September 1993 after the longtime resident of this time slot (David Letterman) bolted to CBS after being denied the Tonight Show gig, which went to Leno. 

The casualty list grows

The latest from the Upfronts:

Here is what you won't see on the fall schedules - i.e. the programs that have been canceled:

ABC: Men in Trees, Miss Guided, October Road, Women's Murder Club.

CBS: Cane, Welcome to the Captain (Wait a minute. This show was on the air?)

FOX: Back to You, Canterbury's Law, New Amsterdam, The Return of Jezebel James

CW: Aliens in America

Meanwhile, The CW has renewed The Game and renewed Reaper for next season, but with only a 13 episode order. The network also picked up the 90210 sequel and Stylista, a new reality show from the producers of America's Next Top Model. Also: How to Pick Up Filthy Rich Girls was also picked up (Editor's Note: The linked article said Aliens in America was part of CW's sophomore slate, but ratings fell below the cutoff line, and wasn't picked up.) 

- CBS has picked up six new shows, including four new dramas and two comedies.

- So far, ABC has added two shows: new drama Life on Mars (no, it is NOT a sci-fi show) and a reality show called Opportunity Knocks, from Ashton Kutcher's production company, and is picking up Scrubs from NBC.

Here is an overall take on this year's Upfront, and where each network stands. Apparently, the real world issues (the economy, the Writer's Strike, etc.) have taken their toll, and it's going to be a scaled-down party this year. 

Fox renews "Til Death", cancels "Back to You"

Fox has renewed Til' Death, putting the Sony Television Pictures production on the track for an off-network syndication debut in fall 2010, while canceling Back to You and picking up a new comedy called The Inn.

Twentieth Television is shopping Back to You to several networks, including CBS.

Thought: Chalk up Back to You's demise to several factors: Expensive production, weak time period, and the fact Fox's comedies are molded in the Married... With Children/Simpsons/Martin/Living Single/Malcolm in the Middle/That's '70's Show style (a.k.a. wild and dysfunctional.) Remember the Charles S. Sutton vehicle Roc that ran from 1991-94? The critically acclaimed sitcom never fit into Fox's criteria, despite the program's best efforts.

Last year, I said Back to You and 'Til Death would have been better off paired with The Simpsons and Family Guy on Sundays, but Fox did not want to break up its successful animated block, which draws in the hard-to-reach male 18-49 demo very well, and decided to stick with King of the Hill and American Dad instead. Good thing, too - both animated shows regularly outdrew You and Death in men 18-49 and adults 18-49. Fox seems more committed to animated comedies than ever before, picking up several projects including Sit Down, Shut Up from Arrested Development creator Mitchell Hurwitz, and an inkubation project committed to finding the next animated hit, as well as a new animation division.

As for 'Til Death, the phrase "Catch 'Til Death five days a week this fall" in 2010 sends shivers down my spine, just like it did when I heard the phrase "Catch According to Jim five days a week this fall" did several years back. I guess dumb comedies are always in fashion, despite what you hear about the sitcom dying.

Friday, May 09, 2008

CW cancels "Aliens in America"

Critically acclaimed + low audience numbers = cancellation. Obviously, the first casualty of CW's decision to outsource its Sunday night lineup to an outside company (see below.) But good news for Reaper fans: Your show may be coming back for next season after all.

CW to turn over Sunday night to someone else

The CW is selling three hours on Sunday night (most likely the 6-9 p.m. slot Central time) to the Media Rights Capital production studio, and they will develop the programs and sell the ad time. The move means the two remaining original-episode programs on the schedule (Everybody Hates Chris and The Game) are likely to move to another night (with Fridays the most obvious choice.)

This comes as The CW has near-invisible ratings on Sundays this season, with the low point coming opposite the Super Bowl, where some programs wound up with a zero share.

MRC is expected to announce what plans it has for Sunday Night at CW's upfront presentation on Tuesday.

Thought: This means The CW's Sunday night is now someone else's headache. According to a recent item in the Chicago Tribune, WGN pulled in better ratings and revenue on April 20 with its nostalgia specials than The CW programming it was recently airing on Sunday. It will be interesting to see what the affiliates think of this plan.

Updated 5:23 p.m.

Wilmington, NC to shut off analog early

The FCC will test how well the analog shutoff is going to do by enticing stations in Wilmington, N.C. to shut off their analog transmitters early and go all-digital in September.

As some of you know already (or don't know), the government will shut off analog television on February 17, 2009, and all television broadcasting is going to digital. To continue watching, you must have a TV with a digital tuner, or a converter box to receive digital signals (digital cable and satellite viewers won't be affected.)

Wilmington is the 136th largest television market in the U.S.
, and is home to five over-the-air stations: NBC affiliate WECT-TV, ABC affiliate WWAY-TV, CBS affiliate WILM-LP, Fox affiliate WSFX-TV, and PBS affiliate WUNJ-TV, which is part of the University of North Carolina's statewide network (WUNJ has declined to take part in the test.)

Meanwhile, Dish Network is offering Wilmington residents digital-to-analog converter boxes for $39.99. The boxes should arrive in time for the switchover on September 8.

Updated 4:55 p.m. on 2008-05-09 - added CBS affiliate and link to Dish Network story

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

T Dog's Think Tank: The Greatest Hits Collection

As promised, here is my take on Chicago media's coverage of the city's minority neighborhoods in the aftermath of a recent crime spree...

Wait a minute... Haven't I written about this before?

In fact, I have. I was getting ready to write this Think Tank about media coverage of crime in minority communities, but I realized I would be only repeating myself. If you've read my past Think Tanks on Chicago issues, then you know where I stand.

A few weekends ago, around 40 people were shot in Chicago and eight people were killed. In a recent post, I quoted that this could hurt the city's image around the world and possibly cost the city a shot at the 2016 Olympics (in fact, I think it already has.)

Of course, this was before Rev. Jeremiah Wright opened his mouth and after Ozzie Guillen opened his, and Cedric Benson's arrest.

As usual, the Chicago media was shameful in their coverage of Chicago's crime fiasco, while the Sun-Times thought it was more important to put Ozzie on the cover of it's worthless newspaper rather than the Obama-Clinton showdown in neighboring Indiana yesterday. Man, where is the Chicago Defender when you need it?

And the Sun-Times "Stop the Violence" campaign is a mockery more than anything else. It's self-serving at best. What's next, a "Save the Whales" campaign? How about a "Save Jericho" campaign? Send in your peanuts to the Sun-Times. If you're lucky, maybe someone in management has a peanut allergy.

Oh, yeah. This is a paper who allows racists to comment on their website, but let won't anyone comment on the garbage Mariotti writes daily. Ah... there's nothing like giving the middle finger to your readers - what's left of them. Their stock price, as of Wednesday, is a measly 69 cents a share, and is being delisted from the NYSE. Enough said.

I can tell you what I really think of all this, from Ozzie to Chicago's image. But why repeat myself? Instead, I point you to these recent Think Tanks I wrote:

The T Dog Think Tank Greatest Hits Collection (The Chicago is so screwed edition):

"Let's Get Into It"
"Ten Years Later"
"Grow Up, Chicago"
"Local Media Blows It Again"
"We Are Pissed"
"We Are Pissed: The Sequel"
"The Mess at Channel 2"
"Bashing the South Side"

Of course, there is an underlying theme in all of these Think Tanks: Chicago's news media is greedy, stupid, selfish, unethical, and totally inept. Why should I write a Think Tank about this again? Wait a minute... I think I just did.

Randy Michaels promoted

In a just a short time at the Tribune Co., Randy Michaels has already received a promotion - to COO (Chief Operating Officer) - responsible for all the publishing, broadcasting, and interactive divisions at Tribune.

B96 morning show in peril?

There could be trouble brewing at WBBM-FM's (B96) morning show after one of the co-hosts walked off the set after a bit she found lacking of taste.

Erica Cobb stormed off the Eddie & JoBo & Erica show after Eddie Volkman did an impersonation of the controversial Rev. Jeremiah Wright during yesterday's show. The incident happened during a discussion of another controversial topic, the White Sox blow-up doll in their locker room, when Volkman went into a character pretending to be Rev. Wright.

Cobb wasn't happy about it, and she walked off the show for a half-hour (ironically, she didn't find the White Sox blow-up doll stunt offensive.) She returned after regaining her composure.

Cobb said she didn't find the bit offensive, but was tired of the controversy surrounding Rev. Wright.

Thought: Oh boy... where should I start? This morning show is the by far the worst in the Chicago market. We all know Eddie & JoBo jumped the shark when Erica arrived (The Cousin Oliver Syndrome), and made the show even more unlistenable. This comes as no surprise. What Cobb pulled yesterday was totally bush league. Chicago radio is an embarrassment enough, and we don't have Mancow anymore. If she hasn't figured out by now what much of the radio business is all about (pandering to the lowest common denominator), then she has no business being in it. This has nothing to do with race, as much of the unimformed posters on the Tribune want you to believe. It has a lot to do with being stupid. Cobb was brought in to add an intelligent female element to the show (yeah, right) - not throw childish hissy fits. And listening to her, she's far from intelligent.

And remember what I said last week about Eddie & JoBo & Erica and Channel 2's planned tailgate on Saturday night about violence among Chicago's youth? Forget it. A guess there is a reason Channel 2 decided to partner with NewsRadio 780 and not B96.

Yours truly used to be a listener of Eddie & JoBo, but is no longer. It's time for them to hit the road when their contract expires next year.They are clearly past their prime. But of course, they'll get a contract renewal (which they don't deserve), they'll continue on with their tired and stale act, and their show - and Chicago radio in general - will continue to suck.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Saints owner buys WVUE

Tom Benson purchased Fox affiliate WVUE-TV from Emmis communications for $41 million Monday, giving the station a local owner instead of an out-of-town or network owner. But check out the comments section below on this story from the New Orleans Times-Picyaune, where most of the posters are clearly retards.

Bulls shake up their broadcast team, too

Not a good day if you're a local play-by-play analyst...

The Chicago Bulls have fired Wayne Larribee and Tom Dore as play-by-play men for WGN-TV and Comcast SportsNet respectively, while Johnny "Red" Kerr has been removed from his analyst role on both channels, but will remain to do pre-game and halftime shows. Kerr reportedly was tiring of the traveling he had to do with the team.

Neil Funk moves from the radio booth to TV (assuringly on both channels) while former WGN-TV sports personality Chuck Swirsky will take over on the radio side as play-by-play man.

This comes just a day after the Chicago Blackhawks fired Dan Kelly after just two years (see post below.)

Dan Kelly out as Hawks play-by-play man; Foley to return?

No surprise here: Blackhawks play-by-play man Dan Kelly was fired by the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday, which could pave the return of Pat Foley, who handled the chores for a little over twenty years before being unceremoniously dropped for Kelly in 2006.

Foley currently is the play-by-play man for the Chicago Wolves (Chicago's AHL franchise.) Even Wolves owner Don Levin admitted that the Blackhawks should go after Foley - but only after the Wolves playoff run is over.

Thought: While yours truly thought Dan Kelly did a decent job in calling Hawk games - he's no Pat Foley. Much in the same way fans of American Top 40 did not accept Shadoe Stevens as host after Casey Kasem left in a contract dispute with ABC in August 1988 (which led Casey to launch a rival countdown show with Westwood One in January 1989), Hawk fans never accepted Kelly in Foley's role, and he had a tough time filling Foley's shoes. As the Blackwawks are becoming more fan-friendly and admitting past mistakes, Kelly's departure comes as no surprise.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Presenting your new Loop girl

She is Kelly Campbell, from west suburban Lombard. She gets the lucky job of the representing the classic rock station for the next year - a.k.a. making appearances at high-profile events and promotions.

Oh yeah...

ION unveils new lineup for Fall 2008

Thanks to major acquistions as of late, the ION network is no longer known as the "infomercial network" or the "Mama's Family Network."

The net formerly known as PAX unveiled its new lineup on Thursday at its upfront presentation at the New York Public Library, and it consists of newly acquired off-network fare including Ghost Whisperer, ER (seasons 11-14), Criminal Minds, The Dead Zone, Boston Legal, and Quantum Leap.

and The Dead Zone both begin in June.

Also on tap are repeats of The Steve Harvey Show, Family Feud (with John O'Hurley), Hangin' With Mr. Cooper, and M*A*S*H.

ION also plans to air made-for TV movies from Robert Halmi Entertainment on the weekends, with 12 original presentations.

To see the schedule, click here.

Lynne "Angel" Harvey dies

The wife of Paul Harvey succumbs to leukemia at the age of 92. She died in her River Forest home peacefully Saturday morning. Heavily involved in the business, Ms. Harvey was a producer for her husband's popular radio show, and became the first producer to be admitted into the Radio Hall of Fame and received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Women in Radio and Television.

Ms. Harvey was also heavily involved in charity work, serving on the boards of many child welfare and mental health organizations, as well as the USO and The Joffrey Ballet.

"Family Guy" renewed through 2012

Yes, I'm going to be around for four more years, so deal with it. I credit Dr. Smith from Lost in Space for my wonderful character change. He's quite smart! He deals with that robot... I deal with Brian. It's the same thing, basically...

Television's wackiest animated family (besides The Simpsons, that is), is returning for four more seasons.

In a new megadeal, Twentieth Television has inked a deal with Seth MacFarlane to keep not only Family Guy and American Dad on the air for four more seasons, but also enables him to develop a Family Guy movie in addition to a spin-off called The Cleveland Show, and developing more programs through his Fuzzy Door production company. By the time the deal expires, MacFarlane could net more than $100 million in revenue.

With this deal, it is likely Family Guy will have a second cycle in broadcast syndication, since the current deal expires in 2011, and has been a tremendous success for local stations. Family Guy finished a strong second to Two and a Half Men this season among new syndicated fare.

Family Guy launched after the Super Bowl in 1999, and wound up being canceled twice - in 2000 and again in 2002 - but strong DVD sales put the program back on the air (a first), where it has been a successful addition to Fox's Sunday night animated lineup.

Thought: This is bad news for the Parents Television Council, which has lobbied to take both Family Guy and American Dad off the air. I revel gleefully in their defeat. Now... what's this about Stewie taking advice from Dr. Smith from Lost in Space about going from a evil mastermind to a wimp? It's going to be a long four years... Oh, the pain, the pain....

Chicago to get new courtroom show

New court show from Warner Bros. featuring Jeanine Pirro to be taped here; new show is part of new Warner-supplied daytime block on CW

Chicago is getting another television production to be beamed coast-to-coast.

The new show from Warner Bros. is Judge Jeanine Pirro, a new daytime courtroom strip, which will be taped at NBC Tower, where Warner's Judge Mathis and NBC Universal's Jerry Springer is taped. Of course, Chicago is also home to The Oprah Winfrey Show.

But instead of launching the show in syndication like it originally planned, it's launching on The CW in daytime instead as a Warner Bros.-supplied block from 3 to 5 p.m. in all time zones.

Beginning in September, Pirro airs from 3 to 4 p.m., while reruns of former WB comedies The Wayans Bros. and The Jamie Foxx Show will air from 4 to 5 p.m. The moves replaces current sitcoms All of Us, What I Like About You, and Reba. Jamie Foxx had been airing in off-net syndication while Wayans recently had a stint on ION (Wayans also ran in off-net syndication from 1999-2003, where it aired locally on WGN-TV and later WCIU-TV.)

CW's early fringe block came into being in 2006, where it replaced the Kids' WB animation block with reruns of early episodes of ER and 8 Simple Rules.

Friday, May 02, 2008

"Ugly Betty's" ratings get ugly

Trouble ahead: It looks like the party's over for ABC's Ugly Betty, as the series appears to heading for a ratings free fall.

Last Thursday's episode hit a season low, earning a 2.3 rating and 7 share in the Adults 18-49 money demo, and 7.9 million total viewers. The results were down 30 percent in total viewers and 35 percent in 18-49 from May 3, 2007's telecast (which were slumping down even then.) The mediocre numbers were enough to land the show in the loser's circle for the first time in Marc Berman's Programming Insider.

Analysis: To be fair, a lot of scripted shows are off in the ratings since their return from the writer's strike. But in Ugly Betty's case, their ratings have been declining even before the strike began.

Personally, I would have moved Ugly Betty to another time slot - perhaps to Wednesday at 8 p.m. (Central) to face off against NBC's Bionic Woman - though Betty would have to go against Fox's American Idol later in the season. Grey's Anatomy spin-off Private Practice - which currently holds the Wednesday 8 p.m. time period - should have been slotted after Grey's, at 9 p.m. on Thursdays.

While a 8 p.m. move does not guarantee success (ABC's crime drama The Rookies was moved to an 8 p.m. Tuesday time slot in September 1975 from Monday at 7 p.m. because of the arrival of the "family hour" mandate - which cost the show ratings and was subsequently canceled), putting Ugly Betty on in the middle of prime time and in a more adult time slot this season would have served the show better. Instead, the program is languishing in its current time slot, where it is outrated by Survivor, Fifth Grader, and whatever program Univision is airing.

Another problem is the overuse of guest stars. The producers are in talks to have Lindsey Lohan appear either in one episode or a story arc. When you try to land tabloid stars as guests, there is a whiff of desperation in the air (though it did work for How I Met Your Mother and Britney Spears.)

And when they use some of those those guest stars, the results sometimes backfire. The recent use of talented actress Gabrielle Union in a story arc, where she played a psychotic lover of Daniel (Eric Marbus), was clearly a stereotypical "crazy black woman" role, and was straight out of a Tyler Perry movie - reducing her to nothing more than a cartoon character. Another guest star in Thursday's episode was a recent Project Runway winner. Since I don't watch the show, I didn't know who he was. While Runway is a hit with viewers on Bravo (it's moving to Lifetime next year), it's not a mass-appeal hit.

So far, one change has been made. Rebecca Romijn's character has been drastically scaled back, and is expected to make only make a few appearances next year. Many more could follow. Either way, Ugly Betty needs a dramatic, fashion-like makeover for next season - before the writers go in real desperation mode by having Betty fall in love with her boss. If that happens, it will head into the - oh, I 'm going to say it again - "Jump the Shark" territory Grey's, The Simpsons, and Family Guy have ventured into recently. The only difference is, those three are still going to be around while Ugly Betty won't.

"Fuego" is En Fuego

While The CW is out touting its latest numbers for Gossip Girl, here's the real story: Univision's new telenovela called Fuego En La Sangre (Burning For Revenge) trounced CW in every key demo on Monday night, save for teens. And in Adults 18-34, Fuego beat a number of shows on the major networks, while in Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston, and Phoenix, it was the number one show in prime in Adults 18-34 and Adults 18-49.

Maybe its Fuego that should be on the cover of New York Magazine...

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Chicago's CBS stations to join forces to talk about crime

CBS-owned WBBM-TV and WBBM-AM are teaming up to air a town hall meeting on Saturday, May 10 called Speaking Truth: A Town Hall Meeting On Violence, which airs on both WBBM-TV and WBBM-AM (Newsradio 780) from 10 p.m to 11:30 p.m., with Channel 2 preempting their local newscast for this night only.

The special is being held to call attention to the rising violence in the Chicago area. Over one weekend last month, more than 40 people were shot and at least eight people were killed.

Participating in this summit include Channel 2 anchor Rob Johnson and Newsradio 780's Felicia Middlebrooks, along with many public officials and community leaders to discuss solutions to the problems plaguing many Chicago communities.

Also participating include new arrivals Ryan Baker and Anne State of Channel 2, and Pat Cassidy of Newsradio 780.

Thought: While I commend WBBM-AM and TV for addressing this issue, here's what I would do to make this special better:

- Why is this airing at 10 p.m. on a Saturday night? Why not air this special in prime-time? CBS (and NBC and ABC as well) air mostly low-rated repeats on Saturday nights anyway, so why can't Channel 2 pre-empt or delay CBS programming for this tailgate? (And don't tell me because they are an O&O; this excuse is so old.)

- Why not involve sister station WBBM-FM (B96) in this discussion? Why not simulcast this special on B96 as well? The hip-hop/rhythmic station's audience is mostly made up of teens and young adults - the group that is being most impacted by this violence. Invite morning jocks Eddie Volkman, Joe Bohannon, and Erica Cobb to this discussion, as they have more of a connection to young people than a lot of others think.

- Nothing against Anne State, but she is too new to this market to understand the decades-long cycle of violence in Chicago.

While the two CBS stations made a good move, this special has the potential to become a sloppy, disappointing effort.

Meanwhile, yours truly plans to address media coverage of Chicago violence in a future Think Tank (I've said it twice now, and believe me, it is coming.)