Friday, October 31, 2008

MRC pulls plug on "Valentine" and "Easy Money"

Media Rights Capital, who is buying time to program CW's Sunday night lineup, has canceled Valentine and Easy Money.

Both programs had achieved numbers usually seen for late-night infomercials and religious programming - really bad. And I mean WJYS-TV, Channel 62 bad.

Yep, you know you failed when your show can't even outdraw Joel Osteen and Paula White Today.

No word on any replacements, but with numbers these low, it's perhaps time to give Sunday nights back to the affiliates next season, as they can't be happy with these ratings.

Studs Terkel dies

A true Chicago treasure has passed away at 96. Louis "Studs" Terkel, the literary giant and Pulitzer Prize winner who had a radio show on WFMT for an amazing 45-year run, died Friday afternoon.

Terkel was a well-known author, activist, and Chicago icon. His latest book, P.S. : Further Thoughts From A Lifetime of Listening, was due out this month. His first, Giants of Jazz, came out in 1957. In all, he wrote eighteen books.

Terkel also contributed to Chicago's television history: In 1950, he hosted a unique talk show called Studs Place, which was basically set in a tavern. It was there people discovered his interview style, where he basically engaged in conversations with his guests.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

"King of the Hill" canceled

After a run of fourteen seasons, King of the Hill is stepping down from its throne.

Fox officials confirmed the venerable animated series will end its long run during the 2009-10 season, which it is scheduled for thirteen episodes.

The program, created by Mike Judge, was about a propane salesman living in Texas with his wife Peggy and his son Bobby, along with niece Luanne and his three hapless buddies. Judge (who also created the controversial Beavis & Butt-head for MTV) voiced the lead character, Hank Hill in a voice similar to the Tom Andersen character on Beavis.

Hill debuted on January 12, 1997 and became a big success, but instantly faltered when it moved to Tuesday nights during the 1998-99 season, when it went up against ABC's Home Improvement. Hill moved back to Sundays in the 1999-2000 season, where it has been ever since.

Hill earned $3 million per episode in off-network syndication sales, but the program had been deemed a disappointment for stations, which thus far, has failed to measure up to the syndication success of The Simpsons. Hill is currently in its eighth season in off-net syndication.

Meanwhile, Fox has renewed American Dad for a fifth season, basically ensuring a place for the animated series at the syndication poker table.

Emmis cuts positions in Chicago

The economic downturn has affected every corner of our economy, and the radio industry is no exception. Layoffs were prevalent today at Emmis' classic rocker WLUP-FM (The Loop) and WKQX-FM (Q101). A total of five individuals were laid off.

The causality list: WLUP Program Director Bill Klaproth; Imaging Director Kevyn Howrd; Marketing Director Tommy King; Sales Assistant Carly Keenan; and Webmaster Jessie Goodman.

Replacing Klaproth as PD at WLUP is afternoon jock Eddie Webb, and two others were promoted to promotions - Jeannine Moose and Jimi Hendrix (no, not that Jimi Hendrix...)

The six degrees of Chicago radio seperation

Patrick Kampert of the Chicago Tribune gives you six reasons why morning radio has become so tame (or lame... yeah, you saw that one coming.)

Among the factors include the absence of Howard Stern, the crackdown of lewd material by the FCC (which is one of the reasons Stern left terrestrial radio), and the maturing of the jocks themselves - not to mention the audience.

Then there's cost-cutting - another reason why don't see the "morning zoos" around anymore.

Mix all of these together and a you have a recipe for morning radio "jumping the shark."

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

T Dog's Groovy Grab Bag

Another edition of The Groovy Grab Bag:

- A report in the New York Post states the long-running The Simpsons may be picked up for not one but three more years, taking the program through 2012. After this season, The Simpsons will become the longest-running scripted program in television history (the all-time champ is NBC's Meet the Press, which has been on since 1947.)

Also, CBS Television Distribution's daily strips Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! have contracts running in syndication until 2012. Both have been running since 1975 (1983 in syndication) and 1984, respectively.

- Your tax money at work, or at least Canada's: The CBC (the nation's public broadcaster) is spending $24 million on HD broadcasting trucks. It's nice to know you can see the Toronto Maple Leafs lose on Hockey Night in Canada in glorious high-definition.

- The long national nightmare is over: Cloris Leachman is finally done with Dancing With the Stars. Okay everyone, it's safe to come out of your homes now.

- Another Monday, another rock-bottom ratings low for Heroes: The NBC drama finished fourth with a weak 4.9 household rating and a 7 household share, according to Nielsen. What the linked article doesn't tell you, is that Heroes tied for first in the 8 p.m. Central hour among adults 18-49 - but with only a 3.9 rating, a season-low and nabbed 8.15 million viewers, also a season-low.

Heroes won't air this coming Monday, but at least it gives people (including yours truly) a week off from griping about it.

CBS, Tribune hook up for new T.D Jakes show

CBS Television Distribution has announced it has cleared a new talk show featuring preacher T.D. Jakes on the Tribune station group beginning in September 2009.

The Jakes project is being produced by Stage 29 Productions, who is headed by Jay McGraw, son of talk show host Dr. Phil. Already, Stage 29 is producing The Doctors for CBS.

T.D. Jakes is a pastor at The Potter House, a mega-church in the Dallas-Fort Worth area with about 30,000 members. He is also a successful author and has appeared on The Tom Joyner Morning Show (which is also based in Dallas.)

The program is expected to air on all the Tribune stations, including WGN-TV in Chicago. However, it is unclear what time period the show will end up. A possibility may be at 2 p.m., where The Steve Wilkos Show currently airs, if the show doesn't come back for a third season (Wilkos' season-to date rating is 0.9.)

It also remains to be seen how a show featuring a preacher will fit into a daytime lineup of a station group that features schlocky talk shows hosted by Maury Povich and Jerry Springer.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

T Dog's Groovy Grab Bag - The X Edition

- CBS X's out The Ex List - Yeah, the lead in this show is hot. And I mean very hot. But that alone won't bring the viewers to the set. CBS dropped The Ex List from its Friday after four episodes, and is being replaced by NCIS repeats. But man, I wish I was on her "Ex List"... Somebody, splash cold water on me!

- Beaumont's KBTV has X'd out NBC - Okay, where was I... oh - yes, the Nexstar-owned station in Beaumont, Texas announced it was switching to Fox effective on January 1, 2009. No word on who will assume the NBC affiliation. NBC currently ranks fourth in prime-time and has struggled out of the gate this young season. Earlier this year, Fox grabbed Tribune's KSWB-TV from The CW.

Of course, this isn't the first time an affiliate dumped a Big 3 network. In a deal that shocked the broadcasting world in 1994, New World Communications switched twelve of its Big 3 network affiliates to Fox, with CBS losing eight stations.

NBC went through the same phoenoemon in the late 1970's and early 1980's (when they were in the third place), with affiliates in Atlanta, Minneapolis, Charlotte, San Diego, and Green Bay jumping ship to ABC, with Baltimore's station jumping to CBS (though CBS actually cut ties with then-affiliate WMAR-TV, and hooked up with NBC affiliate WBAL-TV in 1981, because of too many network pre-emptions. NBC returned to WBAL in 1995 after WMAR dumped NBC for ABC and WJZ-TV became a CBS affiliate. WMAR's pre-emptions would continue, with the station keeping The Tonight Show off the air for a few years.)

WPIX brings back the X- WPIX-TV in New York is returning to its "PIX" branding, effective in December. The Tribune-owned station, which signed on in 1948, is joining other Tribune stations de-emphasizing its CW branding. The station branded itself as "WB 11" (when it was a WB network affiliate) and later "CW 11" before deciding to return to its "PIX" branding, last used in 1994.

The re-branding effort is in no way a retraction from The CW, which has enjoyed ratings gains and buzz from Gossip Girl, One Tree Hill, and 90210 this young season.

The move also bring back its classic "Circle 11" logo, which had been used for decades, and is re-branding its newscasts "PIX Morning News" and "PIX News at Ten."

In addition to its CW programming, WPIX airs syndicated fare such as Maury, Jerry Springer, Judge Mathis, The Honeymooners, The Jeffersons, Family Guy, Two and a Half Men, The Odd Couple, According to Jim, and the return of a longtime staple - Star Trek. The stations also airs New York Mets games. (Check out the comments section here.)

Yeah, I'm making a lot of friends...

Click here and scroll down.

And I actually found myself defending Philadelphia. Ewwww.... (only kidding.)

And maybe yours truly needs to tone down the know-it-all rhetoric a bit. It really gets you nowhere in life (if I want to make myself look like an ass, I'll do it here and not on other boards...)

Monday, October 27, 2008

"This" launches Nov. 1

What's "this" you ask? This TV.

The new classic movie digital channel from MGM and Weigel finally debuts on Saturday on WCIU digital channel 26.4, WDJT digital channel 58.3 in Milwaukee, and in 30 other markets.

The channel features movies from MGM libraries (not the pre-1986 library, which is owned by Warner Bros./Turner Entertainment) as well as a handful of programs from MGM's library of TV shows, including The Addams Family and Daktari. The schedule is flexible (much like Retro Television Network) and affiliates can move around programs to fit their needs.

The move comes as three digital networks folded shop in the past year. NBC's Weather Plus recently closed, while music-video channel The Tube shut down in September 2007 and the World Championship Sports Network went away last spring after being bought out by NBC Universal (which relaunched as Universal Sports. The closures however, have opened a door of opportunity for others, such as LATV (seen on WGN-DT 9.2), .2 ("dot" 2), and RTN.

Already, Weigel has the low-power WWME-TV and WMEU-TV (MeTV and MeToo, respectively) on digital channels 26.2 and 26.3 in Chicago, and WBME-TV in Milwaukee (MeTV Milwaukee) on digital channel 49.1. WBME was formerly known as WJJA-TV until Weigel purchased the station last year.

This TV in Chicago launches officially Saturday, but a sneak preview may be planned for Friday, with some Halloween movies from the MGM library.

To give you an idea of what programming This TV will air, here is a list of film libraries MGM currently owns. Among the libraries MGM owns include include films produced by Orion and the post-1952 United Artists catalog.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Lions knocked off TV

And the first NFL blackout of the year goes to... the Motor City (and not Oakland for a change...)

The Detroit Lions game against the Washington Redskins won't be seen in the Detroit area on Sunday over WJBK-TV, the market's Fox affiliate (an O&O - or owned and operated.)

WJBK will air two reruns of Cops and a movie instead in the 1 p.m. time slot originally reserved for the game.

The blackout also has a domino effect - The CBS singleheader game, originally scheduled for 4 p.m. on CBS-owned WWJ-TV, has now moved to 1 p.m. (Jets-Chiefs.) Had the Lions game sold out, a CBS game would have aired at 4, to avoid competitng with a home game on TV.

The Lions are winless this year, and the team rcently fired its clown of a GM, the oft-maligned Matt Millen.

Usually, an organization or the TV station carrying the game would step up and purchase the remaining tickets to avoid the blackout. But that's not the case this time, given the current economic conditions.

The Lions had a streak of 51 straight sellouts.

And if you think you're going to drive out of town and see the game at a motel - think again. Since the blackout is in a 75-mile radius, the Lions game is also blacked out on Fox affiliates in Toledo (WUPW), Flint (WSMH), and Lansing (WSYM). Though given the way the Lions are playing, it's something fans wouldn't be itching to do anyway. They can stay at home and watch another NFL team (the Chiefs) screw up and not waste any gas.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

T Dog's Four on the Floors - Edition 9

One more on the floor! I've decided to add an extra item to both the Fab Floor and the Flop Floor this week, so instead of Four on the Floor - it's Five. And when was the last time you saw both Family Guy and South Park on the same floor?

T Dog's Fab Four (make that Five)

Lindsey Lohan cut from Ugly Betty. It looks like there was more than Lohan's and America Ferrera's alter egos from Ugly Betty getting into it. Lohan and Ferrera were at each other's throats outside their roles as well. As a result, Lohan's stint was cut from six episodes to four. Look, if Lohan didn't like it there, she should've have guest-starred on Heroes instead. Medicore actress fit for a mediocre show - sounds good to me.

Gary Unmarried. The program continues to grow in the ratings on Wednesday night for CBS. Here's an idea - why doesn't CBS move Gary to Mondays after Two and a Half Men and move Worst Week to Wednesdays? (Believe it or not, CBS is trying Gary out on Mondays for one week.)

Deal or No Deal (Syndicated). The program recently hit another season-high - 1.7. But time will tell if this will rank with Wheel and Jeopardy - or even Ellen as syndication hits.

Family Guy. After what a certain political party tried to do to three Northwest Indiana cities over the last several weeks regarding early voting, the joke where "that button" showed up was so dead-on.

South Park. Another winner. And a multi-story arc to boot. Can't wait until next week! Viva Craig!

T Dog's Flop Four (make that Five)

TV Week. This article on Wednesday night's ratings. Philadelphia is a small market? (It's the fourth largest TV market in the country, with more than two million people.)

World Series whiners. Okay, this World Series between Philadelphia and Tampa Bay won't be the highest-rated ever, with ad exces wanting a Red Sox-Dodgers series. But if the ad community really knew what's best for television, then they wouldn't have wasted millions in ad spending at the upfronts last spring on a whole bunch of lousy prime-time programs this season.

Heroes (again.) Here's another critic jumping off this train wreck of a show as St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Gail Pennington takes Heroes to tack, as the formerly cool show hit another ratings low this week. Earlier, Tribune critic Maureen Ryan threw in the towel. Heroes is now nothing more than a lousy run-of-the-mill Saturday morning cartoon.

NBC renews Knight Rider for a full season. And this is one of those lousy prime-time shows I'm talking about. This era of NBC programming is making past blunders such as Pink Lady and Jeff, Supertrain, and Hello, Larry look like major successes. They're partying like it's 1980 over there at NBC.

The return of the radio zombies. Just in time for Halloween, those wonderful bedrocks of quality - Mancow and Delilah - are returning to the Chicago media scene on Monday. My fear is Jay Mariotti may not be far behind.

More on Mancow

Here's some more info regarding Erich "Mancow" Mueller's new gig at WLS-AM from 9 to 11 a.m.:

- Mueller's contract is for two years.

- Mueller's syndicated show will continue but is now on a tape-delayed basis for its affiliates. The program begins taping at 5a.m. and wrap up at 8:55 a.m. - just in time to start his WLS show at 9:05 a.m. As stated before, WLS is not carrying his syndicated show.

- Other co-hosts may pop-in from time to time to join Mueller. Pat Cassidy is joining Mancow the first week.

- There will be no characters from Mancow's Morning Madhouse on the WLS show.

- Jerry Agar - the previous occupant of the 9 a.m. slot - has been let go.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Mancow to return to Chicago radio

Feder called it.

Erich "Mancow" Mueller, who left alternative rock WKQX-FM in 2006, is returning to Chicago radio.

Beginning Monday, Mancow will front a new morning talk show running from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Citadel's WLS-AM. For the first week, he'll be paired with WBBM-AM alum Pat Cassidy.

Mueller replaces Jerry Agar, who has been dropped from the station's weekday lineup.

Mueller is expected to continue to do his syndicated radio show, which won't air on WLS.

As you recall, Mueller was dropped from WKQX (Q101) in July 2006 after a eight-year run, when station management decided he was no longer a good fit with the station's music format - not to mention Mancow was not advertiser-friendly to Q101, or so they say.

Since then, Mueller has continued to do commentary on Fox News Channel and for WTTW's Chicago Tonight.

In Robert Feder's final column for the Sun-Times last Friday, he boldly predicted that Mueller would soon return to Chicago radio and to WLS.

Mueller is not the only familiar face to return to Chicago's media scene after a prolonged absence. On Monday, Clear Channel's Adult Contemporary WLIT-FM announced the return of Delilah's syndicated show to evenings after a year off the air.

Warner Saunders to retire

Warner Saunders, a veteran of NBC-owned WMAQ-TV's news team for 28 years, is expected to retire in May 2009.

Saunders currently anchors the 5, 6, and 10 p.m. newscasts with Allison Rosati, and they've been anchoring at 10 p.m. since 1997, when both Ron Magers and Carol Marin exited WMAQ after the Jerry Springer debacle (Marin has since returned.)

Saunders will relinquish his 5 and 6 p.m. duties in December, and exit the 10 p.m. newscast after the May sweeps.

No word on a replacement for Saunders, but there is strong speculation that Bob Sirott may be considered for the early fringe newscasts. Sirott appeared on the station's 6 p.m. newscast Monday, in a segment on managing finances.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

EliteXC knocked out

Meet the latest victim of Floptober (a.k.a. Darkmane strikes again.)

In the end, it wasn't Kimbo Slice, Seth what's-his-name (McFarlane? nah...), and UFC that knocked EliteXC out. It was a foe that has been knocking everything out left and right as of late:

The weak economy.

Due to a lack of funds, Showtime Networks and ProElite have shuttered the Mixed Martial Arts league, effective immediately. EliteXC was home to ultimate fighters Kimbo Slice and Ken Shamrock and the league had their events broadcast on pay-per-view, Showtime, and on CBS (CBS and Showtime areboth owned by CBS Corp.)

Three EliteXC events aired on CBS this year, providing mixed rating results. Two of the events featured Slice, which garnered the highest ratings. However, Slice lasted just fourteen seconds in the main event in the last prime-time special on October 4, being knocked out by unknown fighter Seth Petruzelli, who was a last-minute replacement for Ken Shamrock, who was ordered not to fight by medical personnel.

The stunning upset was even more shocking (at least to yours truly) than the Los Angeles Dodgers' sweep over the Chicago Cubs in the first round of the National League Divisional Series, which occured on the same night. But it will be the baseball playoff that'll be remembered far more longer than a fourteen second main event fight in a now-defunct MMA league.

Tower involved in plane crash wasn't WBIG's

It turned out the radio tower involved in a deadly plane crash that killed four people last week did not belong to Aurora's WBIG-FM, but an old tower once used by the former WYSY-FM (107.9), according to Radio-Info's Tom Taylor (through his newsletter, which is subscription-only.). WYSY is now Spanish-language WLEY-FM, which does not use the facility.

Meanwhile, those lights on the radio tower - which some said wasn't working when the plane crashed into it - turned out to be working after all.

Monday, October 20, 2008

T Dog's Groovy Grab Bag

- The ALCS Game 7 between the Boston Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays on TBS last night drew a record-setting 13.4 million viewers, making it the highest-rated baseball game in cable TV history. Boston made a historic comeback in Game 5 being down 7-0 and winning the game 8-7, and winning Game 6. But the Rays beat Boston in Game 7, so its the Rays and the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series.

- Not so groovy news: The economic downturn has now arrived at television's doorstep. My Network TV affiliate WBFS-TV in Miami has canceled its morning show Jim and Jade in the Morning, which featured former WBBM-TV sportscaster Jim Berry and Jade Alexander. The CBS Corp.-owned station (in a duopoly with sis station WFOR-TV) has cut back on local programming, and laid off several staffers, including Dr. Sean Kaniff, who participated in the first season of Survivor.

For those of you who remember, WBFS used to a sister station to WGBO-TV here in Chicago and WGBS-TV (now WPSG) in Philadelphia when they were owned by the late Milt Grant, and were transfered to Combined Broadcasting when the stations went bankrupt in 1987. WGBO was sold to Univision in 1994; WBFS and WGBS were sold to Viacom in 1995, which the duo split off to CBS Corp. in 2006.

- Program Partners' new courtroom strip Family Court with Judge Penny has added clearences in a few key metered markets, including KSTC-TV in Minneapolis, WBFS in Miami, and Nashville (WNAB-TV) among others. The program has also added double runs in Milwaukee (WMLW) and Birmingham (WIAT-TV.) The additions of new markets and double runs in existing ones should help boost its low rating number.

- Finally, I made a permanent link for J.P. Kirby's NFL TV Distribution maps on The Sidebar, so you can see where your game is showing in your area every Sunday afternoon. You can find it on the right.

Delilah out at the Lite... check that... make that back IN at the Lite

She's back...

Adult contemporary station WLIT-FM ("The Lite") has fired John Symons (poor guy, can't catch a break in the Chicago market) and replaced it with the returning syndicated Delilah show. As you recall, her show was removed from WLIT's nighttime schedule last Novemeber (and this blog celebrated... a little too much, perhaps) and replaced by John Symons' "Love Notes", a program he hosted at WILV before they showed him the door.

Delilah returns on October 27, and will air from 7 p.m. to midnight.

Look it at this way, Chicago media fans... it least it's her and not Jay Mariotti returning to work in any capacity in the Windy City.

Nine-FM says goodbye

Since radio stations changing formats don't say goodbye on the air anymore, the best way to do so is through an e-mail to your listeners. This was posted on Chicagoland Radio and Media's website earlier today, as well as on Nine FM's own website. I've said my piece on Nine-FM, so I'll let the now-defunct station have the floor:

This is a difficult letter to write to our most loyal listeners. Over four years ago, our local company invested millions of dollars in purchasing the three FM frequencies that make-up 9FM. We gave Chicago radio listeners a choice in music that they did not have and over those years, we believe we did succeed in building a wonderful listening experience.

However, the competitive landscape has been changing with radio stations that broadcast from the big downtown buildings. We found ourselves with new stations that suddenly adopted music that was not all that different from what we play. Although we think that we do it better than the other guys do, the simple fact is that there are so many music stations in Chicago, we simply cannot compete effectively for the ad dollars.

At the same time, we put a new Progressive Talk radio station on the air, on a daytime-only AM station. In the midst of an historical political, cultural and economic climate, our little daytime-only station has been alone, spreading a message against two full-time Conservative Talk radio stations. It is simply not fair to the hundreds of thousands of listeners who have to wait until 7:00 in the morning for Chicago's only Progressive Talk radio voice to sign-on, while at the same time, there are over thirty FM music stations broadcasting to the Chicagoland area.

Thus, we have made the decision to move WCPT-AM's programming to the three stations that have been the home to 9FM. Everyone from the programming, promotions and sales staffs fought the good fight, but given the state of the competition on both the AM and the FM dial we feel that Chicago needs more alternatives to the voices from the Conservative spectrum. It is never easy to say goodbye. However, the one thing that remains constant in radio is change and it would not surprise us if at some point down the road, there will be another, "We Play Anything" radio station for the Chicago area. Until that time, we invite you to listen to Progressive Talk radio on the former 9FM radio stations from 5:00 am until 9:00 pm. And if you have been a fan of the "Dance Factory" show, we invite you to continue to listen to that program on 92.5-FM, 92.7-FM and 99.9-FM seven nights a week as you have in the past. We are proud of what we have accomplished and want to thank you for listening.

All the best,
The Staff of 9FM

Saturday, October 18, 2008

T Dog's Four on the Floor - Edition 8

In this week's edition, we have a renewal, a couple of layoffs, and two firings...

T Dog's Fabulous Four

Gossip Girl and One Tree Hill. Say what you want about The CW (I know I have), but last Monday's duo finished second in its time period among women 18-34 (with One Tree finishing first among women 12-24), doing what the network set the shows out to do.

Project Runway and South Park. This duo isn't together, but they are showed a punch against network TV last Wednesday with Runway drawing 4.8 million viewers and South Park drawing 2.9 million. Another winner of an episode for South Park - so far this young season, this program alone is better than Fox's Animation Domination Sunday block (excluding King of the Hill.)

Of course, I raved about the new season of The Simpsons around this time last year, and look where it ended up...

The Mentalist. You're a freshman program nabbing fifteen million viewers a week. So what do you get? A full season pickup and maybe a shot at another season.

Joe Ahern fired from WBBM-TV. The reign of terror unleashed by this tyrant mercifully ended last week.

T Dog's Flopulous Four

Chicago Sports. Floptober continues for our local sports teams: The Bears blew a 20-19 lead in the last minute of a game against the Atlanta Falcons and lost while the Chicago Blackhawks fired coach Dennis Savard after just four games of the new season after a 1-2-1 record. Judging by snide remarks made by a lot of people about the Hawks, this team has a long way to go before they can be taken seriously. Looking at Chicago's teams, these guys (notably the Cubs) are making the broadcast networks' troubles look good by comparison.

MRC's Sunday night lineup. Speaking of pathetic, the numbers for Media Rights Capital's Sunday night lineup on The CW are close to hash-mark hell with the company shutting down production on Valentine and Easy Money, basically sealing their fate. Hey, MRC - you can't go wrong with The Billy Graham Hour.

Sirius-XM layoffs. Yes, I know they had to do what they had to do, but did the cost-cutting have to come almost solely from the XM side? I think you misrepresented your intentions, Uncle Mel.

Nine-FM. Yeah, like anyone saw this coming. What's amusing is this morning, they ran a promo on how to sign up to be "a Niner" and have a chance to win a free lunch. Obviously, someone forgot to tell the genius running the station (the Automator 3000) that on Monday this dump is "a goner". Good luck trying to score that free lunch - knowing their budget, it would've only consisted of a can of soup.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Nine's lives run out

Nine FM, we hardly knew ye.

After a four-year run, the suburban simulcast of WDEK-FM, WKIE-FM, and WRZA-FM will dump its Adult Hits format on Monday and switch to a simulcast of WCPT-AM (820). The move will increase the reach of the Progressive Talk outlet, which has languished on the AM dial due to its signal and the frequency's inability to broadcast at night (which has been a problem of previous occupants WAIT and WSCR.)

In an rather odd move, the triplecast is contuning with Dance Factory, a brokered program that runs evenings from 9 p.m. (8 p.m. Saturdays) until 5 a.m., assumingly until its contract runs out.

When the AM side signs off at sunset, the FM side continues to air the format until 9 p.m. when Dance Factory takes over.

For my thoughts on Nine FM, here's a Think Tank I wrote about the station on September 1, 2007. Yours truly's stance hasn't changed at all regarding this mess of the station, though I was surprised the plug wasn't pulled sooner. The format was so 2005, it became passe on January 1, 2006, if not sooner.

The next thing you knew, the staff - both on-air and off - exited: Sky Daniels, Johnny Mars, Matt DuBiel, Joey Fortman, and a few others. When this station started becoming a turd, they were wise and fled for the exits.

Then came the decisions that made the station jump the shark: The high-school football games, the paid programs (Sunday morning trucking shows? On a Adult Hits music station?), voicetracking, and cutting off your format to air the younger-skewing Dance Factory every night. With all of these changes, it was the audience - what little it had - that also fled for the exits.

What began as "Give corporate radio the finger" slowly became what it was supposed to be against. The clowns running the dump were nothing but backstabbing sellouts who couldn't even run a Dairy Queen in Bourbonnais let alone a radio station. You guys can come up with all the dumb ass slogans you want (We play anything, It's mostly upbeat music, etc.), but this is a fact: catchy phrases doesn't make a successful radio station. No wonder the station never broke an one share in the rating books.

Nine-FM was waiting for the axe to swing for the last three years and it finally came. Nine-FM won't be missed. Good riddance.

How this for a catchy slogan? This weekend, they should change their slogan to "Thanks for Nothing". That's how the very few listeners left feel about Nine FM. On Monday, it will be "We Play Nothing." Because Nine-FM was nothing.

Feder's final column

Ladies and Gentlemen, Robert Feder's final column.

And in the words of one of his idols, Walter Cronkite: And that's the way it is.

And it most certainly is, Mr. Feder. Thank you for everything.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Items of note

Usually this post would be called "T Dog's Groovy Grab Bag", a roundup of media notes, but an item here is a tragedy and it involves a helicopter and a radio tower:

-Four people were killed Wednesday Night when a medical helicopter slammed into the radio tower in Aurora of west suburban WBIG-AM. Three adults and an one-year old were in the aircraft headed for Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago when it hit the tower. The crash has knocked WBIG off the air indefinitely.

WBIG is a talk radio station based in Aurora that airs mostly brokered programming. It is not related to WBIG-FM in Washington D.C., which is a classic hits station.

In other news:

- Mark January 16 and March 20 (tentatively) on your calendars, everyone - those are the dates Battlestar Galactica will have its season premiere and series finale, respectively.

- Cartoon Network has picked up a new animated series based on the line of Hot Wheels toys made by Mattel. Titled Hot Wheels: Battle Force 5, the series is set to debut next year on Sunday mornings.

This isn't the first time a cartoon has been made about the line of racing cars: ABC aired a Hot Wheels Saturday morning animated series from 1969-71, but the show was unsuccessful (ABC aired reruns in the second season) and was later banned by the FCC because the program was basically a 30-minute commercial for the toy.

The 1969 version of Hot Wheels featured the voice talents of Casey Kasem and Albert Brooks.

- Viewers in Philadelphia had a choice between the Presidential debates and the Game 5 of the National League Championship Series. Guess what they picked?

The baseball game. But it also helps if the team is the Philadelphia Phillies and they were playing to go to the World Series.

Fox-owned WTXF won its time slot with the broadcast of its parent network's telecast, and it earned a 32.3 household rating and 44 share, according to Nielsen, beating the other broadcast channels combined. Among adults 25-54, WTXF dominated with a 24.5/45.

ABC-owned WPVI (the market's news leader), finished second with a 7.3/10 in households and 3.9/7 in adults 25-54 with ABC News' coverage of the debate.

The Phillies beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 5, winning the series 4-1 and now they face either Tampa Bay or Boston in the World series.

Opportunities run out for ABC's "Knocks"

After three episodes, the opportunities have run out for Opportunities Knocks.

ABC pulled the plug on the Ashton Kutchner-produced game show after languishing in its Tuesday night time slot against CBS' NCIS, NBC's The Biggest Loser, Fox's House, and The CWs 90210.

The program was hosted by J.D. Roth, who also hosted the kids' game show Fun House, which ran from 1988-90 in syndication and from 1990-91 on Fox's Saturday morning lineup.

Nine episodes were ordered - no word on when or if the six remaining episodes will air.

UPDATE: ABC now says Knocks is not canceled, but "pulling it" for an expanded Dancing With the Stars recap. The networks says it will air the six remaining episodes "somewhere" either in another time slot or different time of year.

Um, excuse me, but if you guys pull the show and not plan on airing it until next year - obviously burning it off, doesn't that mean Opportunity Knocks is canceled? Sounds like it to me, so stop your backpedaling.

And you wonder why network execs are such idiots.

Updated 10:55 p.m. on 2008-10-16.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Sirius-XM slashes jobs

Or its more like slashing XM jobs: reportedly eighty people have been laid off since Tuesday, though the cuts were discovered Monday by an employee routinely logging in to a payroll system. Oops...

The names axed are too long to list here, but among the fired include '70's on 7 PD John Clay, Kandy Klutch (midday personality on '80's on 8) and Matt the Cat (from '50s on 5.), and almost all the staffers from XM black music-oriented channels.

And there are rumors some channels - mainly from the XM side - may cease operating by Nov. 5, the day after the elections. And DCRTV (a Washington D.C. area media site) reports the recent economic crisis have forced Sirius-XM to abandon its plan to create two separate lineups for each service.

Could we be seeing the end of XM? Stay tuned.

Bruno the Great

More on Joe Ahern's sudden departure from CBS-owned WBBM-TV in Chicago:

- The Sun-Times Robert Feder looks back at the The Life and Times of Joe Ahern - his rise at WLS-TV and his fall at WBBM. It's a rather critical look at what he accomplished - or actually didn't accomplish - at the station.

- Phil Rosenthal has a profile of WBBM's new boss, Mark "Bruno" Cohen (his nickname is "Bruno", named for the former WWE wrestler, Bruno Sammartino.)He comes over from CBS' duopoly in Sacramento-Stockton of CBS-owned KOVR-TV and successful UPN-turned-CW affiliate KMAX-TV. Bruno oversaw the successful morning news show Good Day, Sacramento during his tenure and finally made KOVR competitive after years of being wasted away as a Sinclair Broadcasting-owned station, which it unloaded in 2005.

Fans of Guiding Light - don't worry, your soap will continue to air in Chicago. KOVR currently doesn't air Light - a provision that dates back to its Sinclair and River City Television ownership eras and is still in effect today even as a CBS-owned station.

KOVR was an ABC affiliate until 1995, when CBS affiliate KXTV dumped the Tiffany network to hook up with ABC. KOVR switched to CBS and was acquired by Sinclair in 1997. KOVR is also the only station on the West Coast to start its prime-time programming at 7 p.m.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Ahern out at Channel 2

One of the deacons at The Church of Tisch has been shown the door.

WBBM-TV General Manger Joe Ahern was fired today after six years at the CBS-owned station, this after they moved into new digs on Washington Blvd. in the Loop and started broadcasting their news in HD.

Replacing Ahern is Bruno Cohen, who is currently GM at CBS' duopoly in Sacramento, KOVR-TV and KMAX-TV.

Ahern was brought in to boost the ratings for the perennial low-rated station in 2002 by conducting talent raids, purchasing more viable programming (including Rachael Ray, Judge Judy, and stealing Dr. Phil from crosstown rival WMAQ-TV), and increasing the station's presence in the community.

But it was all to no avail as WBBM continued to struggle in the ratings, well behind the station he used to work for, ABC-owned WLS-TV.

Ahern recently made headlines for all the wrong reasons from having employees foot the bill for an expensive lunch to marble showers installed in his private bathroom. He was also named in a lawsuit by Amy Jacobson and one member of the Stebic family, for secretly videotaping Jacobson at their house and putting the video on the air. As a result, Jacobson lost her job at WMAQ.

Thought: For anyone who thought Joe Ahern turned WLS-TV into a powerhouse and thought he would do the same for WBBM, you're wrong. Keep in mind when Ahern started at WLS in 1985 succeeding Dennis Swanson, Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy!, and The Oprah Winfrey Show were already there - not to mention WLS' hiring of familiar faces like Jerry Taft, Linda Yu, Roger Ebert, and John Drury. All of this happened under Swanson's watch. He bought the shows, he hired those personalities, he turned WLS around from a laughingstock to a ratings dynamo. When WLS took over the top spot in local news in March 1986, Ahern was only there a couple of months.

Give Ahern credit though, for keeping WLS on the top of the ratings charts during the twelve years he was there. Though he acquired hit syndicated shows under his watch (Win, Lose, or Draw and Inside Edition), there were misses as well (game show strip The Challengers, and talk shows hosted by Carnie Wilson and Byron Allen.)

But one of the most asinine things he did at WLS was forbade the station's personalities from appearing on local telethon or on WTTW's Chicago Tonight because they aired on competing stations. It's understandable for your talent not to appear on your rivals - but not for a telethon or a non-profit public TV station? Give me a break.

When Ahern arrived at WBBM, he did acquire Judy and Phil - but accomplished little else (he did hire Diann Burns away from WLS. Does that count?) There was no Oprah Winfrey to groom (that was Swanson's job, anyway.) There was no Wheel or Jepoardy! -type of blockbuster for them to air. The station is no better off before he arrived.

If he really wanted to accomplish something, maybe he could have improved both the analog and HD over-the-air signal (which I still can't get) for WBBM. Instead, he did nothing and decided to dump WBBM's signal on Channel 22 on cable for Comcast subscribers. One person from Indiana noted on a local message board that he can get a clearer signal on nearby WSBT-TV in South Bend than over WBBM where he lived. And WSBT is on an UHF channel.

It's a shame America's most watched network is ranked fourth or fifth in the ratings locally. Poor programming decisions have been part of the problem, from whomever decided to schedule the schlocky Real TV at 3 in the afternoon back in 1998 to canceling the 6 p.m. newscast for Hollywood Squares two years later (and the all-time toppers - airing the very horrid Dr. Joy Browne and Dr. Laura afternoon talk shows in 1999 and 2000, respectively.)

And oh yeah, the newscasts. When the station debuted in HD on September 22, the station unveiled what I thought was the worst news set I've ever seen in any market. Are all those monitors behind the anchors really necessary? Or is that the legacy of Joe Ahern in the back? (or perhaps Bill Applegate?)

No, Ahern's legacy will be remembered as a tyrant who made people do what he wants the way he wanted it. Whether it's making you pay for his lunch or his marble shower, he symbolized the boss every employee loved to hate. And to think this man was employed by the same people who employed Bill Kurtis, Walter Jacobson, and Walter Cronkite. But when the ownership changed from the legendary William Paley to Larry "Cheapskate" Tisch, everything started to suffer. And much like the days when Tisch ran CBS - and into the ground mind you - someone had to take the fall when things go wrong. And that's true not only under current CBS ownership, but of all the major broadcast networks and a few broadcast groups (like Sinclair.)

You know what they say: What goes around - comes around. Ahern may be gone - but his stench remains and will take a lot of time to get rid of. With the ghost of Larry Tisch hanging around, it's not going to be easy.

T Dog's Think Tank Archive: The Mess at Channel 2

Monday, October 13, 2008

T Dog's Groovy Grab Bag

Back to the future with KOFY

Granite Broadcasting has decided to bring back the KOFY calls to Channel 20 in the Bay Area. The call letters were in use on the frequency between 1986 and 1998.

The independent station, which serves the San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose market, was previously known as KBWB-TV, a holdover of when it was a WB affiliate. The WB merged with UPN to become CW, which moved to KBCW-TV (formerly KBHK) in 2006. The station maintained its KBWB calls even after the network folded.

The station plans to air original local programming in prime-time on Monday and Tuesdays, featuring local versions of HGTV programs; hold trivia contests; cruise around in the Bay Area in a KOFY van and asking people what's on their mind; plus letting viewers vote on what retro shows they want to see in prime-time on Sunday nights. Viewers can also join the KOFY club on the station's website ( and register to become a guest host and win prizes.

Also, KOFY is taking a page from WCIU's playbook by featuring dogs in the station's top and bottom of the hour IDs.

KOFY's syndicated lineup includes Desperate Housewives, Punk'd, According to Jim, and Tyler Perry's House of Payne, plus classics like The Munsters and favorite son The Streets of San Francisco. The stations also airs news from ABC-owned KGO-TV at 9 p.m. every weeknight.

The station signed on as KEMO-TV in 1968, and became KTZO in 1980, before assuming the KOFY calls in 1986.

Stations returning to their previous calls isn't new. In 1985, then-CBS affiliate WJKW-TV in Cleveland returned the calls to WJW-TV after eight years (WJW is now a Fox affiliate.)

- How's Friday Night Smackdown doing on My Network TV? Quite well, thank you - the program (recently relocated from CW) grew week-to-week from 3.2 to 3.5 million viewers, and beat all networks in the men 18-49 demo. And CW said it wouldn't miss the show...

- As for the Media Rights Capital block on CW Sunday nights, let's just say this - these numbers are even worse than those for infomercials at 2 a.m. or for paid religion on Sunday mornings. The good news keeps coming for The CW!

WMAQ relaunches website

WMAQ-TV here in Chicago has become the first station in the NBC Local Media Group to re-launch its website. The site's new name - - provides photos, improved traffic and weather information, separate sections for news, sports, and entertainment, as well as videos, blogs, and other goodies.

Compare this right now to sis station WNBC-TV in New York. WMAQ's website is cleaner, more organized, easy to navigate, and less cluttered than it was previously (don't worry New Yorkers, your site and WVIT in Hartford will be getting the same upgrade on Oct. 27.)

In fact, all of the nine NBC O&Os are getting the upgrades this month with KNBC-TV in Los Angeles (, KNSD-TV in San Diego (, whose domain is already in use by the station); and KNTV in the San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose market ( launching Thursday, and the rest (Washington, D.C.; Dallas; and Philadelphia) launching next Monday.

The monkier for the sites is "Locals Only".

Saturday, October 11, 2008

T Dog's Four on the Floor - Edition 7

Yes, the four feature is back! But with a new name. The feature that was Who's in your four is now the much-catchier T Dog's Four on the Floor. Why the name change? Because the previous one no longer made sense (and T-Mobile has scaled back national advertising, meaning no more "who's in your five" spots.) And it's not original.

There are four items on two floors each: A Fabulous Floor and a Flopulous one. It's been awhile since we did one, and here it is:

T Dog's Fabulous Four

- Windows Vista ads (that do not star Jerry Seinfeld.) Though yours truly loves those PC vs. Mac ads, Microsoft's ads featuring the lonely PC as someone who can do more than stand around in a suit and tie was awesome. This generation's McDonald's vs. Burger King.

- South Park. The season premiere scored its highest ratings in nine years, thanks to Matt Stone and Trey Parker sticking it to two people who thoroughly deserved it (though yours truly hated yet another edition of the Butters & Cartman show.)

- Matt Millen fired as the Detroit Lions' GM. Finally, the worst sports executive in history gets canned by the Detroit Lions, who went 31-84 under his watch. Next stop for Millen? Maybe low-rated outlets WKBD-TV (CW) and sister station WWJ-TV (CBS). After all, they are owned by The Church of Tisch and they know a thing or two about hiring bad executives...

- Robert Feder. It sucks he's leaving soon, but a toast to the man who peaked inside the door of Chicago's Media outlets and brought us all the dirt.

T Dog's Flopulous Four (the non-Chicago baseball and non-Heroes edition)

- The Emmy Awards. Regarding the opening sketch: all right, what the hell was that? Five hosts bumbling, stumbling around like they're drunk and not knowing what they're doing? Weak. This lousy skit, along with low ratings are more than enough to put award shows out of existence.

- Family Guy. For a lame Jennifer Hudson joke in the season premiere. Which manatee came up with that one? Whatever the case, he probably works on the Heroes writing staff as well.

- ABC Wednesday. How about those ratings for Pushing Daisies, Private Practice, and Dirty Sexy Money? Makes you long for the days of Dinosaurs and Doogie Howser, M.D. -mid-level fare that ran on the network on Wednesdays in the early '90's.

- Rush Limbaugh vs. Mary Mitchell. Really, who cares?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Reasons No. 345 and 346 why network prime-time TV sucks

NBC renewing the awful Knight Rider revival for four more episodes and ABC renewing the very ultra-lame I Survived a Japanese Game Show for next summer. And you wonder why the networks are losing audiences. Maybe they should bring back National Bingo Night as well...

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Layoffs hit Denver's KWGN-TV

As expected, Tribune Co.'s KWGN-TV announced layoffs after the station agreed to merge its operations with Local TV's KDVR-TV.

KWGN, the market's CW affiliate, laid off "a significant amount of employees", including its news director and veteran anchorman Ernie Bjorkman.

Despite the fact both stations are under separate ownership, the stations are being run jointly, in a "local marketing agreement"- type of fashion, something that was commonplace before duopolies became legal by the FCC.

KDVR was owned by Fox until a year ago when Local TV brought it and seven other stations, while Tribune has owned KWGN since 1966 (when it was known as WGN Continental Broadcasting.)

T Dog's Groovy Grab Bag

- WWE's move of Friday Night Smackdown to My Network TV drew 3.2 million in its first airing Friday night, finishing first in the time period among males 18-34 and 18-49, and giving the small net its largest audience ever. However, the premiere of Star Wars: The Clone Wars on Cartoon Network drew 4 million viewers, setting a record as the most-watched debut of any program in its' 15-year history.

- TBS has renewed My Boys for a third season, in early 2009, while FX dumps The Riches.

- Finally, a place where Darkmane hasn't shown up, at least not yet: CBS has renewed crime drama The Mentalist for the full season. The program looks to be a bona fide hit, with an average of 15 million viewers.

- Is DirectTV's Poltergeist ad in bad taste given Heather O'Rouke's tragic death some 25 years ago? (Yes.)

- A new book from Scott Childers is coming out on October 20, celebrating powerhouse WLS-AM. Titled Chicago's WLS Radio, the book mentions Herb Morrison's famous description of the Hinderburg crash and the Prairie Farmer days, but covers WLS' Top 40 era in significant detail, when the place was run by Larry Lujack, "Animal Stories", and of course, the spirited feud with rival WCFL.

WLS-AM's Top 40 era came to an end in August 1989 (it actually came to an end sooner, when the station dropped Top 40 for a Soft AC/MOR mix) and flipped to all-talk, the format it currently holds.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Welcome to Floptober

Forget the goat, it's this guy's fault the Cubs didn't win.

There's only one Floptober...

Remember when I said Darkmane (from those X Games spots) couldn't foil the X Games but could show up at Wrigley to foil the Cubs chances at going to the World Series?

Not only he succeeded, but he also managed to find time to show up at U.S. Cellular Field to foil the White Sox's chances, too. Leave it to a character created by ESPN to promote (if you can call it that) last summer's X Games to summarize what has gone wrong with the month so far (and judging by his MySpace page, Darkmane would make a great radio executive...)

Welcome to Floptober, the month of shocking surprises and twists and turns - more of them than you find in a pretzel.

What a month so far - and it's only eight days old. The theme of the month is the song Free Fallin' by Tom Petty. It's going to be played all month long.

The Chicago Cubs, who were favorites to win the World Series for the first time in one hundred years, were swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers in three, breaking the hearts of Cub fans everywhere. That was followed by the White Sox being eliminated from the preliminary round by the Tampa Bay Rays two days later, creating a spectacular baseball playoff flop for the city.

On September 21, the Chicago Bears lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. So now we can't beat teams from Tampa? When did this happen? I hope the Blackhawks can beat the Tampa Bay Lightning this season - it's our only hope...

If it isn't the Cubs and White Sox, it's the stock market and the economy, which continues to bottom out every day. Congress recently passed a $700 billion bailout of Wall Street. Wow, more money coming out of our pocket, making you and me more broke.

And if it isn't that, it's the Oakland Raiders, who continue to re-define "Commitment to Excellence" by firing their coach in the most embarrassing way possible. Owner Al Davis is actually making the late Bill Wirtz look good. Maybe Davis should black out home games next - oh wait, that's probably happening, with the NFL doing the job for him because nobody in Oakland wants to go to Raiders games.

And if it isn't that, it's the fading fortunes of the broadcast networks' prime-time schedules, whose ratings are down 5 percent from a year ago with season premieres of Grey's Anatomy, Private Practice, Ugly Betty, House, The Simpsons, Family Guy, and others all down from last year. Fox has already canceled Do Not Disturb, with Hole in the Wall likely next. And The CW continues to stumble, even though their Monday night lineup has stabilized. Have you looked at the ratings for their new outscored Sunday night lineup from Media Rights Capital? Even The 700 Club draws better ratings than this sorry group of programs (though I'm rooting for Easy Money to at least draw a decent number.)

And let's not forget the ultimate symbol of Floptober: Heroes, whose amazing ratings and creative decline have even hard-core fans giving up on the show (I'll have a future Think Tank on this.) If I wanted inconsistent material, mediocre performances, and people who just don't outright give a shit anymore, I'll watch the Detroit Lions (or a Cubs playoff game.) Sylar, Hiro, Roy Williams, Carlos Zambrano, what's the difference?

And not even radio have escaped from Floptober, as two radio stations in Peoria recently closed their doors and a possible debacle involving Arbitron's new Portable People Meter looming.

And hell, not even ultimate fighting escaped, with one of the more established and well-known stars of the sport (Kimbo Slice) losing in the first round in fourteen seconds in an Elite XC match Saturday night to an unknown fighter who was a last-minute replacement for Ken Shamrock in the main event.

And to top it off, it's election time so we're punished further with campaign ads featuring self-serving windbags who make promises and later do nothing.

So there you go. If October 2008 will be known for anything, it'll be known as Floptober. So boys and girls, get on down there and join Darkmane's Army. If you want to be a winner, this is the place you want to go, because it seems Darkmane has been winning all month long.

Updated 10:18 p.m. on 2008-10-08

NBC subtracts Weather Plus

NBC and its affiliate board announced it was pulling the plug on NBC Weather Plus, a digital subchannel network focusing exclusively on weather, much like cable's The Weather Channel, which NBC Universal recently acquired.

A total of 90 stations used NBC Weather Plus, which launched as the nation's first all-digital subchannel network in 2004. It provided stations with 24-hour weather reports.

No word on what Weather Plus will be replaced by on stations' digital subchannels. NBC recently launched Universal Sports as a digital and satellite network in June, when it bought World Championship Sports Network. It already airs on digital subchannels in 22 markets, including nine NBC O&Os (including WMAQ-TV, where you can find it on channel 5.3.)

Weather Plus is the second digital network to go under in the last thirteen months, with The Tube (a music video network) ceasing operations in September 2007 due to financial constraints.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Chicago's PPM results are here

Here they are... the first official Portable People Meter results for the Chicago market. Arbitron decided to release the numbers today instead of Wednesday for Chicago, New York, and six other markets to avoid an injuction by the New York State Attorney General, who isn't happy with the system because he feels the system discriminates against minorities (never mind that those results released today showed Steve Harvey's morning show on New York City's WBLS-FM tied for first among adults 25-54.)

Moreover, those "pre-currency" numbers Arbitron released in July and August are now "currency".

Borrowing a page from Marc Berman's Programming Insider, here's how the stations fared. Remember, these are based on persons 6+ shares only, with demos (other than what Arbitron put in their press release) hopefully coming later.



Honorable Mention:

- WUSN-FM (US 99), WKSC-FM (Kiss FM), WILV-FM (Love FM)



Waiting For the Axe to Swing:

- WPWX-FM (Power 92), Nine-FM, WSRB-FM (Soul 106.3)

Of note, Spanish-language WOJO-FM finished first among adults 18-34 in morning drive, with WUSN-FM taking second and Drex on WKSC taking third. WLS-FM finished fourth while Spanish-language WLEY-FM finished fifth.

The PPM results (also released in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco area markets) showed higher listenership among minorities than previously thought.

This just in: Here's how Chicago's stations fared among adults 25-54.

Inside "Soul Train"

As Soul Train rides into the into the rail yard for good (for now, anyway), an article in the Chicago Reader Thursday features a new book that takes a behind-the-scenes look at the dance program's Chicago days at WCIU-TV in the early 1970's.

Titled A Critical History of Soul Train on Television, author Chris Lehman takes a look at the program's WCIU era, unearthing many little-known facts. Among the findings:

- Though most programming of the era was produced and shown in color, the Chicago version of Soul Train was produced and aired in black-as-white, as WCIU did not broadcast in color until the late 1970's (the major American networks had full color prime-time schedules by September 1966; Canadian public broadcaster CBC didn't broadcast fully in color until 1974.)

- Soul Train actually continued as a local daily show in Chicago until 1976, even as the show went national as a weekly syndicated version from Hollywood debuted in 1971 (according to a TV listing I have from the Chicago Tribune dated August 10, 1974, the weekly version of Train aired locally Saturday afternoons on CBS-owned WBBM-TV.)

- Soul Train aired live from WCIU's Board of Trade headquarters at 141 West Jackson Blvd. on the 43rd floor, in a very cramped space. The size was about the same as a studio apartment.

- The program's Chicago version also featured some well-known political activists in the black community, including Rev. Jesse Jackson and Father George Clements of Holy Angels Church.

- Before the days Tom Joyner became known as "the fly jock" (flying between radio gigs in Chicago and Dallas simultaneously), you could assume Don Cornelius held the title first - from 1971 to 1973, he flew back-and-forth between Chicago and Los Angeles to produce and host both versions of Soul Train.

- There were significant differences in both versions of the show, in the size of studio and the way dancers performed.

- After Cornelius went to Los Angeles to stay, Chicago's version of Soul Train had a new host - childhood friend Clinton Ghent, who coordinated the show, which included booking the dancers and picking the music. Chicago's version of Soul Train ended in 1976 when Ghent became Cornelius' assistant in L.A.; reruns would continue on WCIU until the summer of 1979.

Soul Train continued as a weekly syndicated show until 2006, when new episodes ceased airing. It segued into The Best of Soul Train - featuring reruns of the series from the 1970's and 1980's. But airings of this program ended a week or so ago, when contracts with stations expired.
The show's previous syndicator (Tribune Entertainment) closed last December, forcing Don Cornelius Productions to sign with another syndicator, in which they did with Trifecta Entertainment. But Trifecta declined its option to bring Soul Train reruns back into syndication for the 2008-09 television season.

MadVision Entertainment - which recently acquired the rights to the series - plans to bring the show back in some kind of form in the future. Soul Train still holds the record for the longest running first-run syndicated program at 35 consecutive seasons, with the second-longest (Entertainment Tonight) currently at 28 seasons.

T Dog Media Blog Archive: Soul Train Derails

Minneapolis, Cleveland TV stations worry about LPMs

If you think radio stations in Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles are worrying about Arbitron's Portable People Meters - then you haven't seen anything yet.

Television executives in Minneapolis-St. Paul and Cleveland are sweating it out over the next several months as Local People Meters - or LPMs, become the standard of measurement for television ratings measured by Nielsen. Both markets' new systems went live Aug. 28.

Like Arbitron's Portable Peter Meters (PPMs), Nielsen's LPMs uses an electronic device which essentially replaces paper diaries as a way to measure audiences. Both devices also measure demographics more accurately, which is more value to advertisers. LPMs establishes overnight ratings from demos quickly in a market - instead of the standard four books a year from the old diary system. The current meter system in both markets measures household numbers only.

Usually, younger-skewing outlets (like CW, My Network TV affiliates, and independents) are happier with the new method since ratings usually go up after a switch from diaries, but older, established stations aren't usually happy because their ratings usually go down.

That's the case with CBS-owned WCCO-TV and Hubbard's ABC affiliate (KSTP-TV) in Minneapolis. Ratings for both stations dropped in a trial run earlier this summer (known as pre-currency.) But Fox's KMSP and Gannett-owned NBC affiliate KARE-TV were actually pleased.

Ironically, Fox was opposed to LPMs in 2004 -when Rupert Murdoch blasted Nielsen officials for their under-measurement of minority audiences on his UPN stations, which aired programs targeting African-Americans. However, their concerns "disappeared" in 2006 when UPN folded into The WB and became The CW, leaving Murdoch's stations behind. Those former UPN stations later became My Network TV affiliates.

In Cleveland, many stations were unhappy with the system - either with the lowered ratings or the high cost of it, or both. Strangely enough, while KARE was happy with the LPMs, its sister corporate station in Cleveland (former NBC O&O WKYC-TV) was not.

Meanwhile, Raycom's respective CBS and My Network TV affiliates (WOIO and WUAB) hopes to persuade Nielsen to rethink its cost for the new system. And the expense is also likely to affect locally-owned CW affiliate WBNX-TV as well.

Nielsen is pushing the LPM as a more accurate way of measuring ratings in both households and demos, by using larger samples and better technology - much in the same way Arbitron is pushing the PPM to measure radio. Usually when LPMs are introduced in a market, stations targeting younger audiences generally do better in the ratings; older-skewing outlets fare a little worse. However, when LPMs were introduced in Chicago in 2004, it didn't drastically shake up the market like many thought: ABC-owned WLS-TV remained on top, while others (like CBS' WBBM-TV and Fox's WFLD-TV) still struggled in a few dayparts.

Nielsen plans to have all of its 56 metered markets using LPMs by 2011. This month, Miami and Denver rollout their systems; that will be followed by Orlando, Sacramento, and St. Louis come January. Milwaukee gets its LPM system launched in April 2010.

Whether stations, community groups, and others like it or not, the Local People Meters - and the Portable People Meters - are here to stay. Their whining isn't likely to deter Nielsen or Arbitron from what they need to do -to provide a more accurate system of audience measurement, which has been lacking for decades.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Peoria radio stations go dark

Man, how bad is the economy? So bad that now you even have radio stations shutting down. Two Peoria stations threw in the towel on Friday: Adult standards-formatted WOAM 1350 and Oldies WPMJ-FM, both owned by local businessman Bob Kelly due to "financial reasons".

The stations had been up for sale, but the current credit crunch had scared off many buyers.

WOAM played "Adult standards" music, generally from the '40's to the '60's. WPMJ aired Scott Shannon's True Oldies Channel, which can be found here in Chicago on WLS-FM (94.7).

As a result of the stations closing, ten people who worked at the station were laid off.

It is rare a radio or television station literally goes off the air. For the record, the last time a television station went off the air for good was on August 30, 1983, when WKBS-TV in Philadelphia went dark after then-owner Field Broadcasting (which also owned WFLD-TV in Chicago until 1982) could not find a buyer and instead shut down the station and returned the license to the FCC.

NFL TV Distribution Maps: Week 5

(Sorry for failing to post last week's maps - a busy weekend kept me away from the blog. Also: this week's Bears-Lions came this close to be blacked out on WJBK-TV in Detroit. But the tickets sold, and the game will be on TV.)

Fox: Single Game

CBS: First Game Second Game

Friday, October 03, 2008

Norman Ross dies

Former WLS-TV reporter Norman Ross died today from heart failure at his Chicago home. He was 86.

Ross had been in broadcasting since the 1950's, working at WFMT and WGN-AM, and was a reporter for ABC-owned WBKB-TV (now WLS-TV) in the 1960's.

He left media shortly after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated and the riots that followed. Ross went into banking, hoping to bring together the city's financial institutions and the African-American inner city.

Ross also traveled the world, opening an office in China for the City of Chicago in the 1980's. He retired in 1986, but three years later, rejoined WLS in 1989 (reporting around the world) and retired again in 2001.

Ross is survived by a daughter, Diana Ross Fairweather (no relation to the famous singer.)

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Senate passes Webcaster Settlement Act

There may be light at the end of the tunnel for Internet radio fans.

The Senate passed the Webcaster Settlement Act on Tuesday, which enables Internet streamers to negotiate lower rates with SoundExchange and the RIAA.

The bill sailed though the House on Saturday, and is now headed to President Bush's desk for signature. It allows SoundExchange to negotiate with Webcasters through 2015 and keeps them running while Congress is in recess. If the bill is signed (which is likely), the rates would be set retroactive back to 2006 (before the Copyright Royalty Board hiked them in 2007) and allow a framework that would resolve future disputes through 2015.

Webcasters have said the current royalty rates are too high for them to make a profit - so high it could put many of them out of business.

The bill had some rather strange alliances and distractors: The RIAA was actually on the side with Pandora and Webcasters to keep the bill afloat while the National Association of Broadcasters - which had opposed the recent Sirius/XM merger - said the bill was unfair to terrestrial radio broadcasters. The NAB later dropped its opposition.

Keep in mind this bill does not guarantee a settlement between the Webcasters and the RIAA and Sound Exchange. They now have until February 15 to reach a deal.

T Dog's Groovy Grab Bag

In celebration of post number 1400, let's see what's in the bag (some celebration, huh?)

- How about this? With the White Sox victory over the Twins in last night's tiebraker game for the American League Central Division Title, both the Cubs and the White Sox are in the postseason for the first time in 102 years. But if you don't have cable (all the divisional game and the ALCS are on TBS), you're out of luck.

- NBC-owned WMAQ-TV debuts a new weekly lifestyle series this weekend titled LX. TV after Saturday Night Live. The program is a half-hour look at entertainment hot spots in the Chicago area (similar to WFLD's Upscale Chicago, which airs a half-hour later at 12:30 a.m.) The LX. TV concept started out on NBC-owned stations in New York (WNBC) and Los Angeles (KNBC) and is landing on NBC's six other O&Os as well. LX. TV was purchased by NBC Universal earlier this year.

And case if you are wondering, yes, Comics Unleashed with Byron Allen is still on the air - with NEW episodes?

- Arbitron has rejected a plea by Ilinois senators - Presidential Candidate Barack Obama and Dick Durbin to delay the PPM measurement, which launches next week in Chicago and several other cities. The two claim the Portable People Meter does not measure minority audiences accurately.

Excuse me, but where were they in this fight over the royalties regarding Internet radio? Haven't heard a word. Luckily, a settlement is near - hopefully. But it is disappointing our two senators haven't recoginzed the fact that diversity is threatened if Internet radio goes away. Regardless of what the PPM entails, WGCI and other terristial radio stations - urban and non-urban - will survive.

- And you thought the stock markets are cratering: Ratings for the five major networks during premiere week were down 4. 3 percent from last year. When you have shows like Opportunity Knocks and a remake of Knight Rider - a show nobody cared about when it first aired in 1982 - on network schedules, you can see why.

And as for Heroes (down 28 percent), it may be time for NBC to do the same thing the Bears did with Rex Grossman this season - send it to the bench.