Tuesday, December 30, 2008

J Niice and Julian named new B96 morning hosts

Contemporary-hit music outlet WBBM-FM (B96) has named Jamar "J-Niice" McNeil and Julian Nieh as the station's new morning hosts, replacing Eddie Volkman and Joe Bohannon, who were let go from the CBS-owned radio station on Novemeber 21.

McNeil had previously been the station's midday jock, while Nieh was working on the evening shift.

Both men are alums of WIHT-FM in Washington, D.C., where they once worked together. McNeil later worked for Clear Channel's WHYI-FM (Y-100) before moving to the midday slot at B96 this past spring, while Nieh was named B96's evening host two years ago.

The move is already drawing praise from many on Internet message boards, given the two men show more proise than the current afternoon duo (Stylz and Roman), who, according to some, were also considered for the job.

Rebecca Ortiz is replacing McNeil in the midday slot for the time being, and Andrew Wojtowicz fills in for Nieh on an interim basis in the evenings.

J Niice & Julian On The Radio airs weekdays from 5:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. beginning Monday on both B96 and B96.com.

Thought: Certainly, Chicago radio has made so many wrong moves in 2008. This isn't one of them (surprise!) Given both men - who knew each other beforehand in D.C - is going to work in their advantage. While they have big shoes to fill, McNeil and Nieh should have no problem getting up to speed quickly.

Though J Niice and Julian will have to prove themselves in morning drive, they have a very good chance to be better quality-wise than the tired Eddie & JoBo show (especially with Erica "Cousin Oliver" Cobb in the mix.) Don't me wrong - yours truly didn't like the way they were shoved out the door - but it was time for them to go.

Here's to the J Niice and Julian morning era at B96! Hopefully, they'll find the same success Eddie & JoBo have had in their long careers in the same morning slot.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

T Dog's Grab Bag - The Christmas Edition

The last bag before Christmas - unfortunately, it contains some not-so-groovy items:

- Majel Barrett Roddenberry, who was a part of Star Trek as much as her husband Gene, died last week at the age of 79. Barrett appeared in all five Star Trek shows and did voiceover work on Star Trek: The Animated Series and as the voice of the USS Enterprise in most Star Trek movies.

- Midday personality Lisa Greene is out at WCFS-FM (Fresh 105.9.; scroll down.) The CBS-owned radio station cut her for budget reasons, and it leaves just two personalities at the beleagured outlet.

On a few lighter notes:

- The Washington Post Co. has called off its purchase of WTVJ-TV in Miami after the FCC stalled on the deal and the current economic climate worsened after the deal was announced last July. The deal also faced opposition from three congressional South Florida members of Congress.

Washington Post already owns ABC affiliate WPLG-TV and planned to buy WTVJ from NBC to create an English-language duopoly - the second such one in the market.

- TV Week has the eight stories that shaped TV in 2008, and not surprisingly, the lead story was the collapse of the pathetic Heroes, whose most recent season is equivalent to the Detroit Lions' 0-15 record (likely soon to be 0-16). You know something's wrong when Tim Kring hires Lions coach Rod Marinelli as the show's head writer.

- One quick Bah Humbug: You know those Lexus ads where you have kids telling us how their back-in-the-day Christmas gifts (Big Wheel, Atari, ponies, etc.) were "the best presents ever" and then flash to the present day as adults and say the exact same thing - about a Lexus?

Oh, spare me. Whoever wrote this unimaginable crap should also write for the Lions' PR department.

Let's hope Lexus doesn't go to Washington begging for a bailout. Based on these dumb commercials, it's just another reason to get a DVR. Now that makes a better Christmas gift than a stupid Lexus (and you don't have to look at some dumb kid bragging about great his Big Wheel was. And who gives cars as Christmas presents in this fragile economy when people aren't buying them? Get real.)

The T Dog Media Blog is off for the Christmas Weekend, but will resume Monday with the latest happenings in television, radio, media, and more - not to mention the annual Top 10 list of the best and the worst in media of 2008. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy Kwanzaa!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

T Dog's Think Tank: How NOT to promote your new host

Dr. Jeremy Levitt, we hardly knew ye.

WVON-AM's choice to replace Roland Martin as morning drive-time host was mysteriously replaced last week by fill-in hosts Matt McGill and Perri Small, at least temporarily.

According to Chicagoland Radio and Media's website, the person they hired to replace Martin turned out to be owner Melody Spann-Cooper's brother-in-law and Pervis Spann's (Melody's father) son-in-law.

When Leavitt left to go on vacation two weeks ago, McGill & Small filled in for him, until December 12. Last week, the vacation became permanent and the duo were still "filling in" for him, though Dr. Leavitt was not mentioned on-air anymore and his profile was removed from the station's website.

Usually when a new on-air personality debuts on a station, the show is promoted intensely. But in a rather odd departure, WVON decided to keep the new name of the host a secret - even up to the very day the individual debuted (October 20) and hoped the suspense would build.

But the gamble didn't payoff. When listeners found out it was someone they never heard of before, they were proabably turned off - especially if the person was replacing someone with the name recognition of Roland Martin, who left to join the syndicated Tom Joyner Morning Show. And the person already had to fill those shoes Martin left behind.

Even worse, Martin's successor may have been a result of nepotism - after all, how else can you explain the Leavitt was related to the Spanns? It may work in Chicago politics (believe me, it does), but not in radio, which has its own image problems.

WVON officials flunked Marketing 101 in radio and television programming by forgetting a simple rule: don't keep your listeners and/or viewers in the dark about anything, especially when it comes to new talent. It's like a major network announcing they have a new show featuring a "mystery A-list star". When the audience tunes in for the first episode and the finds the "A-star" is not Brad Pitt or George Clooney but Tom Arnold, they'll flee for the exits faster than you can say canceled, and they'll feel alienated and disappointed. It's just bad marketing, and if you plan to do something like this, you can also plan to send your resume out.

When WVON looked at those November PPM numbers - they knew it was over for Leavitt as quickly as it began. You can't fool the audience. And despite his crednitals, they don't apply in broadcasting. The audience just doesn't care. What matters is being engaging enough to bring in an audience and keeping them. Sure, Geena Davis is a Mensa member, but her status didn't bring viewers to her Geena Davis Show, whose brand of comedy was about as dumb as Caroline in the City.

But the good news is, Matt McGill and Perry Small are a promising duo and have a fresh perspective on the news every morning and what the African-American community is talking about (and believe me, there is a lot to talk about.) Though the numbers are likely to remain low, they'll likely bring in more listeners than Dr. Leavitt brought in. And that may be enough to keep them in the morning slot permanmently.

Syndication update

As the NATPE convention draws closer and closer (next month in Vegas - assuming it doesn't snow), you'll be seeing these updates more and more here. So, here we go...

- TNT's The Closer has been sold to all Fox-owned stations for weekend play, including WFLD/WPWR here, as Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution hopes Closer's success on TNT will translate into syndication. Closer's track record is an impressive one: It is the highest-rated original cable hour drama of all-time, according to TNT.

- NBC Universal's Law & Order: Special Victims Unit is converting from a weekend off-net offering to a daily one next fall. The off-net strip has been sold to 92 percent of the country, including WPWR. The other Law & Order strip in syndication (Criminal Intent) is being offered for a second cycle in syndication next fall.

Hopefully, NBC Universal could also serve up the original Law & Order in syndication as soon as it is able to.

- Program Partners is bringing back Degrassi: The Next Generation for not just one, but two years through 2011: The program has been renewed in nine Tribune markets, including WGN-TV here for weekend plays. Degrassi has also been renewed on ACME-owned outlets and CW Plus stations, for total coverage thus far to 60 percent of the country.

Degrassi provides these stations E/I programming, which the FCC requires broadcast outlets to air three hours a week.

Degrassi has its roots in The Kids of Degrassi Street (1982-86), Degrassi Junior High (1987-89) and Degrassi High (1989-91), all three of which aired on CBC in Canada and the latter two series airing on PBS (often edited for content) in the U.S. New episodes of Degrassi: The Next Generation currently airs on CTV in Canada and on The N in the U.S.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Rick Dees heads to ABC Radio Networks

Venerable radio personality Rick Dees is heading back to ABC Radio Networks after signing a development deal with the company.

Dees, who was the morning personality at Top 40 outlet KIIS-FM in Los Angeles for 23 years (until he was replaced by Ryan Seacrest in 2004) and now is in the same capacity at Emmis' KMVN-FM (Movin 93.9), will develop original content for a varied set of demos, including the 18-49 audience.

As part of the deal, Rick Dees' longtime countdown show (The Weekly Top 40) is being syndicated by Citadel-owned ABC Radio Networks. The program was previously syndicated by Dial Global, which has handled distribution since 2005.

The move is actually a homecoming of sorts for Dees as ABC Radio (then under Capital Cities ownership) purchased The Weekly Top 40 in 1994 to replace the then-ailing American Top 40, which was canceled by the network as a result (Shadoe Stevens was the host of AT40 at the time, which steadily lost affiliates after host and creator Casey Kasem left the show six years earlier in a contract dispute with ABC.)

When KIIS was acquired by Clear Channel Communications in 1998, the company's Premiere Radio Networks took over syndication of The Weekly Top 40 and distributed it until 2004, when Dees left KIIS. Ironically, Premiere also took over the second incarnation of American Top 40 two years later (whose hosting duties were taken over from Casey Kasem in 2004 by - you guessed it, Ryan Seacrest.)

Did you know?: Before he signed with ABC Radio in 1994, Dees had a short-lived turkey of a late night show on the television side of the network titled Into the Night with Rick Dees, which he hosted from July 1990 to July 1991, and then staggered on for three months as Into the Night after Dees left.

Into the Night
of course, is in the prestigious T Dog Media Blog TV Hall of Shame. Is your show a member? Ryan Seacrest - oh, there's that name again - get ready for your new lame reality show to be inducted...

Andy Shaw retires

Longtime political reporter Andy Shaw is retiring from ABC-owned WLS-TV after 25 years.

Shaw has covered the political beat at WLS since 1983, when he covered Harold Washington's rise to history when he became Chicago's first African-American mayor and ending with Barack Obama becoming the first African-American President - not to mention the fall of Governor Rod.

Shaw began his television career at NBC-owned WMAQ-TV in 1976 as an education reporter and editorial director. He left the station in 1982.

Shaw has been part of WLS's rise to dominance in local news. When he joined WLS in 1983, the news operation was a distant third place. Shaw became well known by many Chicago politicans - and he wasn't afraid to ask them a harsh question or two.

For a short time, Shaw even worked on the crime beat at WLS in addition to his political reporting duties.

With Shaw retiting, WLS' new politcal reporter is Charles Thomas, a sixteen-year veteran who has been a general assignment reporter.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

T Dog's Groovy Grab Bag

From the bag today:

- Comcast SportsNet announced it is splitting its signature sports news show SportsNite into two half-hours at 10 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. (Yours truly thought they were already separate.)

- It looks like an Obama-led FCC could steer the focus away from indecency, which has been the focus of the agency over the last few years. Under the "leadership" of Kevin Martin, the FCC has become nothing more than a PR agency for the Parents Television Council.

And the latest absurdity from the FCC came recently, when commissioner Deborah Tate blamed the online game sensation World of Warcraft addiction for the huge college drop-out rate. Um... maybe because it has something to do with high tuition and the struggling economy instead? (as a caller on Boers and Bernstein would say... Deborah Tate, Who Ya Crappin?) Please Obama, get Martin and his merry band of twits out of here!

- A problem with its analog transmitter may force Fox-owned WFXT in Boston to go all-digital early, while KCWE-TV in Kansas City has already pulled the analog plug. The digital transition happens February 17, when all full-power analog signals shut down forever.

- Howard Stern on his former boss (Kevin Metheny), who landed a new job as program director of WGN-AM:

"Pig Virus landed on his feet again. I don't spend my day thinking about Pig Virus, but it is amazing how guys we know who are pretty unoriginal keep landing on their feet. … Pig Virus really undermined everything I tried to do at NBC and hated me. And then after he got bounced from NBC and the other places he worked, he started programming radio stations and tried to replicate what I did on the radio."

Remember the old saying "time heals all wounds"? Not in radio, my friend.

Detroit's papers to cut back on delivery

Detroit's two main newspapers (The Free Press and News) are scaling back their delivery due to the worsening economic conditions.

Beginning in March, both papers will be delivering to homes only three days a week, while being exclusively on newsstands and retail outlets the other four in a slimmed-down version. Both papers are refocusing on their respective online sites, with an emphasis on offering more on the Web.

Both The Free Press and News are published jointly, but owned by different companies. (Gannett owns The Free Press; The News is owned by MediaNews.)

The move is expected to open up opportunities for Detroit three local television news operations, including grabbing more available advertising dollars. However, those dollars are becoming harder and harder to come by as many national advertisers have stopped buying local spot time in the market. According to TVNewsday, local spots make up a whopping 65 to 70 percent of a station's revenue in the Detroit market.

Fox-owned WJBK dominates in the morning, while NBC affiliate WDIV and ABC affiliate WXYZ-TV slug it out in other time periods throughout the day. Under Fox's current ownership, WJBK has become a bigger player in news, more so than the days when it was a CBS affiliate when its newscasts would often lose to The Jetsons in the ratings (I'm not making this up.)

CBS-owned WWJ-TV still does not have a news operation. WWJ (on Channel 62) became a CBS outlet in 1994 after the Fox-New World deal ousted CBS from its longtime home at WJBK, which was owned by New World at the time. WWJ shut it news operation in 2002.

Meanwhile, WMYD-TV (My Network TV) launched a new 10 p.m. newscast last July to compete with WJBK's, but it's produced by Independent News Network in Iowa.

Detroit's economy has been battered for decades, and has gotten worse in the last few years, thanks to the Big Three automaker's woes, massive job losses, and a political scandal featuring the city's mayor which gave Detroit a black eye nationally (though the recent pay-for-play scandal featuring Governor Arrogant hurting Chicago's image may even top that.)

Worse, political spending froze after John McCain condeded Michigan to President-Elect Barack Obama in the recent election.

And, the Detroit Lions may become the NFL's first 0-16 team. On the other hand, the Detroit Red Wings won the Stanley Cup last June, the Detroit Tigers went to the World Series two years ago, and the Detroit Pistons remain competitive on the hardwood four years after winning their third NBA Chamionship.

With the auto industry in decline, Detroit's stations has had to refocus on other ad categories. While media outlets have been successful in filling holes left by the automakers, the revenue coming in is nowhere near what the car companies brought in. Like newspapers, local television and radi outlets are hoping a beefed-up online presence will ease the revenue pain.

While the economic slowdown is hurting cities from coast-to-coast, this is proof it is hurting more cities than others.

T Dog's Groovy Grab Bag

- NATPE Time: It's that time of year again - the annual programming conference is taking place next month in Las Vegas, though scaled down in size from recent years because of the economy. Here's a list of projected programs (courtesy of TV Week) due out in syndication for 2009 and beyond. Among the list of shows offered for next fall is a second cycle of Law and Order: Criminal Intent and a return of Star Trek: The Next Generation repeats to broadcast syndication (yes!)

- Despite some reports some first-run syndicated strips may get axed because of ultra-low ratings, NBC Universal has renewed The Martha Stewart Show for a fifth season next fall covering 60 percent of the country despite averaging a rating of 0.7 in November, down from last year. So, can anyone tell me how the economic model of this show works with a rating this low? Is it the same one that somehow keeps Q101 around?

- Good news for fans of Dr. Horrible: The DVD version of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog is available Dec. 19, just in time for Christmas, featuring the Rodney Dangerfield of mad scientists. The bad news: It's not available in stores or even though an 1-800 direct marketing offer from Time-Life (get a free Hoveraround chair with each order!) It's only available though Amazon. But it has a boatload of extra features including two commentary tracks and "A Making Of..." featurette. So order yours today and watch the mailbox...

- Survivor: Gabon concluded Sunday with Bob winning the million and another $100,000, awarded by fans of the show via Sprint. While Gabon was not as good as the previous edition of Survivor, it was still entertaining and better than the glorified crap served up as Survivor: China last year. But the group of people in this edition are the most pathetic bunch of losers I have ever seen assembled on any reality show, particularly Randy and Corrinne.

Corinne became the ultimate heel after making nasty comments about a contestant's dead father. She has the kind of crappy attitude that makes her more than qualified to become the next Governor of Illinois. And when she's elected (because we all know how smart Illinois voters are), she'll wind up going to jail. Works for me!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Restore the roar

Yes, it's still hard to believe, but it's amazing how the Chicago Blackhawks have changed their fortunes - on and off the ice.

At a time when a few NHL teams are struggling financially and the Arena Football League is ceasing operations for the 2009 season, the Blackhawks are thriving at the gate. After years of being in the bottom five in total attendance in the league, the Hawks has bolted first so far this season, with season ticket sales zooming from 3,400 last year to more than 14,000 this season. Ratings are also up this season on Comcast SportsNet.

All of this is due to marketing - a sport team's best friend. After owner Bill Wirtz died last year, the team was taken over by his son Rocky - and he implemented a marketing plan that took effect almost immediately. This included hiring John McDonough away from the Cubs to run the marketing department, centering around the team's two young stars - Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, and televising all the team's games for the first time - including home games, something Bill Wirtz staunchly was opposed against. The team also struck a deal to carry games on WGN-TV and brought back Pat Foley as play-by-play.

The team's media coverage has increased as well, with both the Tribune and Sun-Times recently introducing blogs on the Blackhawks.

And the team is playing better since coach (and former Hawks player) Dennis Savard was dropped for Joel Quinnville.

Now the Blackhawks are getting ready to hit the big time - they will play their arch nemesis Detroit Red Wings in the NHL's second Winter Outdoor Classic on January 1 from Wrigley Field, airing on NBC in the U.S. and CBC in Canada. Bob Costas is anchoring the event, with Mike Emerick and Hawks commentator Eddie Olczyk calling the game. Last year's inaugural Winter Classic between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Buffalo Sabres at Rich Stadium in Orchard Park, N.Y. - the first regular-season game held outdoors in the U.S. - was a ratings hit.

This year's classic will likely do better, given the fan bases of Detroit and Chicago and their longtime rivalry.

Kiernan named news director at WBBM-TV

Jeff Kiernan has been named the new news director at CBS-owned WBBM-TV (CBS 2), being charged of cleaning up the mess former news director Carol Fowler left.

Kiernam is a native of nearby Munster, Ind., and has been in charge of news operations for CBS O&Os stations in Minneapolis (WCCO-TV) and Boston (WBZ-TV.) While at WCCO, Kiernan kept WCCO competitve with NBC affiliate KARE-TV, often dueling for the number one spot. In Boston, Kiernan improved WBZ-TV's news ratings, which had been lagging since its switch from NBC to CBS in 1995.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Tribune bankruptcy could affect syndication business

The ongoing saga of Tribune bankruptcy will have a big effect on the syndication business.

Tribune owes four major syndicators money: Warner Bros., NBC Universal, Disney-ABC, and Twentieth. As a result of the Chapter 11 filing (with Tribune restructuring debt), the studios aren't going to see a dime of the cash anytime soon.

This puts some stress on the studios' bottom line, which may force them to write-off the payments they were supposed to receive.

And if other broadcasting groups file for Chapter 11, they will likely ask for the same thing, according to experts close to the matter.

Tribune is a major buyer of syndicated fare for its' 23 television stations, including WGN-TV in Chicago. Programming includes Two and A Half Men, Jerry Springer (though not on WGN), Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, Live with Regis & Kelly, Family Guy, and The Simpsons. One show it bought for its station group (CBS' T.D. Jakes project) has now been put on hold and may not launch as planned.

Despite the filing, Tribune has plenty of cash on hand to help with operating expenses and to pay the bills. But it may not shop aggressively for first-run and off-network programming as in years past.

Of course, this isn't the first time a station group filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, though Tribune may be the biggest. In 1986, Grant Broadcasting, owners of three TV stations (including WGBO-TV here) filed Chapter 11 after spending too much money on programming and not seeing any successful returns from them - particularly from WGBO, whose ratings were disastrous (WGBO's average total-day share in 1988 was a 2.) The three stations later went into receivership, with creditors running the stations under the name Combined Broadcasting.

WGBO was sold to Univision in 1994 and flipped to Spanish-language programming, while Paramount (now CBS Corp.) bought the other two stations (WGBS-TV in Philadelphia, now WPSG and WBFS-TV in Miami) in 1995.

Though its unlikely Tribune will face the type of situation Grant Broadcasting did, it nonetheless make the studios quite nervous.

Post No. 1500! Celebrate by ushering in new PDs at WLS-AM and WGN-AM

1500 posts, Yay! Alright, put away the champagne and let's get down to business...

WGN-AM and WLS-AM both have new program directors this evening.

WGN hired Kevin Metheny, who previously ran Clear Channel's cluster of radio stations in Cleveland (including rock outlet WMMS-FM "The Buzzard"), as their new program director. He replaces Bob Shomper, who now moves to the same capacity at WLS-AM, replacing Kipper McGee in the process.

Methany was once PD at WNBC-AM in New York City in the early 1980's, and the boss of Don Imus and Howard Stern - the latter referring to Metheny as "Pig Virus" (now you tell me if that's positive or negative...)

WGN is entering a new era today, as John Williams took over the morning drive from now-retired Spike O'Dell.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

And the number one show in African-American households is...

No surprise here, it's Tyler Perry's House of Payne.

But there is a surprise when compared to other programs in the viewer's landscape: When you take the rating from its' syndication airings and its cable runs on TBS, Payne tops everything else among African-Americans in all of television among adults 18-34, 18-49, and 25-54, including network prime-time, beating Grey's Anatomy and The Game.

House of Payne is a big hit here in Chicago, airing on independent WCIU-TV weeknights at 7 and 7:30 p.m. In October, the program outperformed My Network TV programming on WPWR-TV and is competitive with CW programming on WGN-TV [1]. Payne is also strong in other urban markets including Detroit, Atlanta, Cleveland, Charlotte, and Baltimore.

It is the number one show in syndication among African-Americans, topping perennial favorites The Oprah Winfrey Show, Wheel of Fortune, and Judge Judy. Payne also topped runner-up Family Guy (yes, Family Guy) in prime-time and in syndication among African-American adults 18-34.

In the top 25 list of most-watched cable TV programs among African-Americans the week ending Dec. 7, Payne claimed six of those spots - including the top three.

Payne's dominance comes as programs featuring mostly African-American casts have faded from the airwaves, thanks mainly from the folding of UPN and WB, which featured such shows.

Last year's top show in black households (Girlfriends) was unceremoniously dumped by CW, a casualty of the writer's strike - but would likely would've been canceled anyway. The program spent six seasons at UPN before moving to CW for its' final two seasons.

And the successes come even as the program is salvaged by critics - though a lot of fare usually is and is also popular with audiences. That's been the case since the beginning of TV. Keep in mind while programs like The Brady Bunch, Full House, and Three's Company were wildly popular with audiences, they never were with critics, as are current shows Family Guy and Gary Unmarried, among others.

So the next time TBS airs one of those promos claiming House of Payne is the most watched cable sitcom of all-time, don't scoff: because it's actually true.

Debmar-Mercury distributes House of Payne in syndication and Twentieth Television handles barter ad sales.

Source: Nielsen, Katz Programming Newsletter Multi-Day Grids, October 2008 [1].

WPWR scores big with Bears

Fox-owned WPWR-TV and the NFL Network scored big with Thursday night's telecast of the New Orleans Saints-Chicago Bears game.

Locally, the game scored a combined 25.2 rating on both outlets. In October, WPWR (as a My Network TV affiliate), finished seventh among English-language households in prime-time, behind WCIU-TV's House of Payne and The Bernie Mac Show and CW programming on WGN-TV.

Nationally, the game earned a 6.2 household rating - the second highest rated game this year on the NFL Network.

While play-by-play man Bob Papa was better than Bryant Gumbel, listening to Cris Collinsworth was like listening to nails on a blackboard.

T Dog Media Blog Flashback (from December 2007): Get reacquainted with WPWR ; Gumbel sucked as much as game did

Friday, December 12, 2008

T Dog's Groovy Grab Bag

An extended version of The Bag. Here what's been going on the last couple of days:

- Spike O'Dell signs off: The WGN-AM host wrapped up his eight-year stint in morning drive today with a live show at the Metropolis Theater in Arlington Heights. The building was sold out for the show, as people were lining up as early as 1 a.m. The show was a stop on the station's Hometown Voices Tour. John Williams replaces O'Dell next week.

- Doctors get second season: CBS Television Distribution's The Doctors has been picked up for a second season - basically easy because most stations signed on for two-year contracts. This comes as the medical advice strip recently tied Deal or No Deal as this season's top-rated syndicated rookie.

- Litton Entertainment has announced it will launch a new one-hour variety show in syndication next fall featuring R&B and pop star Brian McKnight. The program features comedians, musicians, and other entertainers.

This is the second time Litton has tried a variety show - it produced a syndicated hour featuring "fly jock" Tom Joyner during the 2005-06 television season.

- Layoff watch: The cannings continue courtesy of NPR and Raycom, who laid off a staggering fifteen employees at NBC affiliate WMC-TV in Memphis.

- Kansas City station dumps sports from news: I knew the Chiefs and Royals were bad, but man... CBS affiliate KCTV in Kansas City has completely dropped its sports segments from its newscasts after the station did not renew its agreement with Metro Sports, the video production company that produced the segments for the Meredith-owned station (can you imagine a newscast in Chicago without any sports segments? Impossible.)

Metro Sports plans to continue producing pre-season Chiefs games for KCTV, but with the team in the crapper, good luck getting an audience. Earth to coach Herm Edwards: "Hello... you play to win the game!"

- Don't forget: The second installment of Jonathan Brandmeier's Almost Live airs this weekend over WMAQ-TV. You can catch it Sunday after the station's sports show (around 11:15 p.m.)

Did you know? Almost Live was also the title for KING-TV's long-running, Emmy-winning sketch comedy/talk show in Seattle from 1984-99, running before Saturday Night Live at 11:30 p.m. Reruns of the series can still be seen on the NBC affiliate. Alumni included Ross Schafer and Bill Nye "The Science Guy".

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Think Tank Flashback: Grow up

With the national media - and everyone else shitting on Chicago in the aftermath of Governor Arrogant's arrest, I thought I would revisit this Think Tank from May 19, 2007 titled Grow Up, Chicago.

Though it deals mostly with then-WSCR-AM windbag Mike North feuding with White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, the antics are just part of the dysfunctional culture we as Chicagoans must deal with on a daily basis.

I guess in the year-and-a-half since this article was written, we still have a very long way to go toward respectability - and despite helping to elect the next President from the United States who is from here, it has done little to change the image some people have about Chicago (I'm afraid getting rid of Jay Mariotti isn't enough.)

In other words, we're closer to Detroit than we are to Paris or Rome. And I don't mean just by distance.

This says it all....

Mine and everyone else's sentiments exactly.

WFLD, WBBM-AM scores with Blago coverage

Score one for Chicago's perennial news underdog: Fox-owned WFLD-TV's coverage of the arrest of Governor Arrogant finished first in the ratings among adults 18-49 and second in adults 25-54 with its continuous coverage from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Moreover, they beat archrival WGN-TV at noon in adults 18-49.

Also, all-news WBBM-AM's website surged on Tuesday with page views jumping 253 percent from the usual averageand daily unique users were up 204 percent.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Jay Leno to stay with NBC - at 9 p.m. Central

And that's 9 p.m. every weeknight.

In a stunning and historic announcement, NBC is keeping Jay Leno by giving him a hour a night - in primetime.

Leno is expected to take over the 9 p.m. time slot (that's 10 p.m. Eastern and Pacific) every weeknight as a strip beginning next fall. Excluding special events (and My Network TV's short-lived telenovela attempt), this marks the first time in television history a single television program has been stripped five nights a week in the same time slot in primetime on a major television network.

The format of the show is expected to retain some the elements of the program Jay Leno is currently hosting.

Leno became Tonight Show host in 1993, succeeding the late Johnny Carson. Leno agreed to step down in May 2009 so Conan O'Brien - who took over late night from David Letterman in 1993 when he left for CBS - can become host of the Tonight Show (the saga of NBC choosing Leno over Letterman for Carson's throne was wonderfully documented in Bill Carter's The Late Shift book.)

The move is being greeted as a way to cut down on expenses and become less reliant on the network's entertainment division, as parent NBC Universal is grappling with layoffs and a company-wide restructuring. Plus, NBC is considering giving

Leno's move to prime-time is seen as a victory for NBC, who was being wooed by ABC, Sony, and Fox.

Thought: Yours truly is a hard-core writer, and you are probably thinking, "Oh, Terence must be against this deal because it takes food out of writers' mouths by eliminating five-nights of scripted programming."

Um, no. And besides, the five hours of scripted fare would have sucked anyway, if more fare like My Own Worst Enemy were being churned out.

I actually think it's a good idea - not from an expense and bean-counter standpoint, but from a creative and counter-programming one. Think about this: at 9 p.m. Central - or 10 p.m. for those of you who don't live in the middle part of the country - the networks put on either crime dramas, female-targeted dramas, or some newsmagazine.

But don't forget - the 9 p.m. hour is also where cable networks bring out their best programming - Comedy Central airs South Park, SciFi airs Battlestar Galactica, Bravo with Project Runway, and so on. The good news for Leno is, these shows air once a week and their seasons are rather short.

Plus Fox, CW, and My Network TV affiliates and independents air either syndicated programming or local news at 9. WGN-TV and WFLD-TV have local newscasts, while WCIU airs syndicated repeats of Fraiser and WPWR airs Malcolm in the Middle and Scrubs in the hour (no Raymond? What gives?).

In New York, WNYW (Fox), WPIX (CW), and WWOR-TV (My) all air news at 10 p.m.

Their are plenty of options to choose from in the last hour of prime-time. So why not air a talk show? There is precendent: In the 1990's Montel Williams' issues-oriented daytime talk show had a successful run at 9 p.m. on WPWR - though Vibe - an urban-oriented nighttime talk show featuring the awful Chris Spencer (in the first few weeks before he was mercifully replaced by Sinbad) which replaced Montel in 1997 - faltered in the time period.

The one concern I have is what kind of effect this will have on NBC affiliates' local late news. While Leno does well in the 25-54 demo, will he attract news viewers to newscasts? Since local news also attracts large numbers of 25-54 viewers, the flow is not a given. On the other hand, Leno could give NBC affils struggling in news - notably KSHB-TV in Kansas City and WLWT in Cincinnati - a boost, given both stations' ratings are about as bad as their pro sports teams.

While Leno averages 5 million for NBC late night, he could actually attract more viewers, who aren't interested in news, crime dramas, or anything cable has to offer. Leno adds to the wide variety of genres in the time period available to viewers. Aaron Barnhart of the Kansas City Star points out higher HUT levels may also benefit Leno.

And perhaps the best news of all - it gives NBC exec Ben Silverman five hours less to screw up in primetime.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Tribune files bankruptcy

In a move that comes as surprising and shocking, The Tribune Co. - home to the Chicago Tribune, WGN-TV and WGN-AM and the Chicago Cubs, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

It's no secret Tribune has been under heavy debt load since the company was taken over by Sam Zell for $8.2 billion and was taken private last year. Under Zell, Tribune assumed more than $13 billion in debt.

But with the economy continuing to go south and the worsening credit crisis, Tribune had no choice but to file for Chapter 11, as the prognosis for its newspapers, television businesses, and WGN-AM are growing worse by the day.

It is possible some television stations in markets outside of the ten largest and WGN America could be sold. But with the ongoing credit crisis, it would be impossible to make such deals.

But despite that, Tribune continues to operate its businesses normally. The Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field are not part of the bankruptcy filing.

Zell purchased Tribune, but had to get waivers from the FCC to keep in television stations in markets where it also owns newspapers, which were New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago (Newsday in New York has since been sold to Cablevision owner James Dolan.) Despite objections from media activists, the FCC approved the waivers in a 3-2 partisan vote.

Thought: Well, this what happens when Big Media gets - well, too big. We knew the sharks were circulating the water when Tribune bought the Los Angeles Times a few years ago. And Tribune, which 18 years ago had just six television stations, now has 23 (at one time, they had 26.)

And so what happens when you expand and buy, buy, buy? You go deeper and deeper into debt. Then when the economy goes south like it just did recently, your ass is up the creek without a paddle. It's as simple as that.

Too bad the Federal Communication Commission didn't get the message. The three Republicans on the board, including Kevin Martin, voted to approve the deal in a very partisan vote. He and his ilk thought bigger was better. While Chicago Democrats and Illinois politicians initially supported the deal, they didn't say a word when the sale became final - though fellow Dems Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein had plenty to say.

Interestingly enough, Martin - who is more concerned about protecting children from dirty words on television rather than keeping a competitive balance in the marketplace - had nothing to say about Tribune's bankruptcy.

And now, look at the media business. Along with the rest of corporate America - which sold out to Wall Street instead of Main Street - you have firings, mass layoffs, downsizings, and now bankruptcies. In fact, another station group owner filed for bankruptcy today (Equity Media Holdings.)

How many layoffs and firings have their been the last two years in Chicago? Too many to count. Though some deserved it (Joe Ahern and Carol Fowler of WBBM-TV come to mind), others did not. And a few others (Eddie & JoBo, Steve Dahl, and "Crazy" Howard McGee) were highly paid radio stars whose large contracts and declining ratings were no longer justified in keeping them on the air, at least as far as their employers is concerned - though you don't need declining ratings to get canned. Ask Mr. McGee, who was fired from WGCI last year - despite being in the top five in morning drive.

While yours truly admittedly supported the deal at first, I thought the sale would keep jobs in Chicago, keep the media conglomerate together, and serve all of Chicagoland better. Boy, was I wrong on the first (Tribune has made numerous layoffs since) likely wrong on the second, and definitely wrong on the third (the "Breaking News" section full of mostly crime blotter stories on the Trib's website is not what I call serving Chicagoland better.) It's more proof Zell took us for a bunch of saps and dips (maybe Tim Kring has a point...)

And look at WGN-AM. The station has gone from a top dog to just a dog, as the new Portable People Meter surveys show the station falling to seventh place overall and failing to show up in key demos - especially the all-important 25-54 age bracket in November.

Zell thought he could take a mountain load of debt and make it work, taking a huge gamble in the process - a gamble he now has clearly lost.

And now, Tribune may be facing even more layoffs and firings. May I suggest they start - and end - with the editorial board, who endorsed media consolidation - and Zell himself. But that's wishful thinking, right?

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Report: Tribune may consider bankruptcy

And the media heartbreak continues... It is possible Tribune Co. may file for bankruptcy as soon as this week. The move could come after a huge third-quarter loss this year.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Media's Black Friday - or week

Believe it or not, there were even more layoffs and firings outside of Steve Dahl this week alone:

- Fred Huebner, 16-year veteran of WSCR-AM as the sports news reporter

- Overnight jock "Wild" Bill Garcia, US99 (WSCR-AM) veteran

- Chicago Public Radio lays off eleven

- ABC affiliate KSTP-TV in Minneapolis cut eighteen people from its newsroom

- Real Networks lays off 150

- NBC Universal slashes 500 jobs

- Viacom, a.k.a "The V of Doom" lowers the boom and axes 850 people

The media business is stating to resemble a MASH unit!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Steve Dahl out at Jack FM

(Editor's note: I apologize for the lateness of this post, as I had Internet connection problems that knocked me offline for awhile this evening. - T.H.)

The ax swung again at CBS Radio at a highly-paid radio personality - and this time - and to no one's surprise - it was Steve Dahl.

The venerable and legendary personality left WJMK-FM (Jack FM) after his show ended at 9 a.m. this morning, ending speculation about his future at the CBS-owned station. Dahl had two and a half years left on his contract.

Dahl anchored afternoons at the old WCKG-FM, where he did very well in the male 25-54 demo. But the station did not draw an audience outside of his show, and Dahl agreed to move to the morning drive at the struggling WJMK on November 5, 2007 after CBS decided to flip WCKG to adult contemporary.

Dahl's new morning show actually got off to a good start in late 2007, when his morning show finished did well among key demos under the old diary system. But when the new Portable People Meters became active in this market, the new measurement showed Dahl's ratings plummeting among those same key demos.

The move was disastrous, as his audience didn't follow him to his new time slot - similar to what Larry Lujack went through- only in reverse, as he moved to afternoon drive in 1986 after years of being in morning drive at WLS-AM (he retired from the station a year later.) The conversion to PPMs and Dahl's show being shortned by a hour last August were apparently the final nail in the coffin.

Rumors have circulated about Dahl's future at the station ever since Ed Volkman and Joe Bohannon were fired from sister station WBBM-FM two weeks ago. All three personalities made huge salaries, which were clearly being cut from the company. The evidence of his possible departure was piling up more and more during the last 48 hours, as message boards were buzzing.

At the end of today's show, Dahl said he was "being pulled from the air" and management asked him at least to finish out the year. Dahl declined and left, mentioning that he wasn't retiring. He said "Aloha" and the last song he played was "If You See Me Getting Smaller, I'm Leaving." by Jimmy Webb.

Also out was Dahl's entire staff, including Buzz Killman and producer Mary Van Deele.

Thought: Personally, I can't really comment about the quality of Dahl's program in recent years since I've never really listened to it. But I'll say this: the way Dahl's bosses handled this - from the WCKG format flip to his move to the mornings - was quite poor. Dahl clearly was not the perfect fit for the WJMK-FM's music format, as he could not connect with the music they played, especially if he didn't want to talk about Huey Lewis, Rick Astley, or Def Leppard (and who here really does?)

With Dahl gone from Jack FM, the future of the station is up the air. With WJMK in sixteenth place in the core adult 25-54 demo and sinking, the axe is getting ready to swing. Despite his poor ratings, Dahl was basically the only attraction to the station. And because of those ratings, he was being pulled off the air - with nobody going in. Without Dahl, the station is back to being a terrestrial MP3 player, playing anything it wants. We saw how that worked out for Nine-FM here and WCBS-FM in New York, which dumped "Jack" last year to return to an oldies format.

CBS clearly wasn't getting a ROI with Dahl, so they cut him loose. And now they're stuck paying the man for the next two and a half years, with a buyout unlikely for the cash-strapped radio conglomerate. But the bad news for Dahl is, his active contract keeps him off the air for the next 36 months, or so.

And of course, the recent axings at the network's radio division locally shed some light on the business practices at The Church of Tisch, a place more known for cost-cutting than for hiring and nurturing talent. It's been that way since 1986, when el cheapo Larry Tisch bought CBS and has had the stigma ever since. I was surprised Steve Dahl wasn't hit up for a "mandatory donation" to pay for former WBBM-TV boss Joe Ahern's lavish lunches and marble showers.

With the ghost of Larry Tisch showing up more often, it's little wonder we never see the ghost of legendary CBS founder William Paley. It's probably because Tisch has Paley locked in a Public Storage locker somewhere in heaven.

As for Dahl, his career in radio was indeed a great one - and quite interesting. From Disco Demolition to his often turbulent relationship with Garry Meier, if he ever writes an autobiography about his career, his readers would never get bored. It's too bad this chapter of his story turned out to have a very bad ending. But at least he has time now to work on that book.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

"Doctors" ties "Deal" in frosh syndie race

CBS Television's new Doctors has tied NBC Universal's Deal or No Deal in the first-run syndication race among new series, with both shows tying each other at 1.9. GAA rating.

Doctors was up 12 percent from last week; Deal was flat.

But Disney-ABC's new weekly hour Legend of the Seeker beat them both, with a 2.1 rating, up 5 percent.

Meanwhile, another weekly Disney-ABC syndicated program is having a tougher go at it.

At the Movies with new co-hosts Ben Lyons and Ben Mackiewicz are having a rough time since replacing longtime hosts Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper. Ratings have dropped 23 percent from last year to just 1.7 million viewers this season so far. Ratings are also down 25 percent in the adults 25-54 demo.

At the Movies continues to be shot at WLS-TV's 190 North State Street studios here in Chicago.

Amy Jacobson speaks

Former WMAQ-TV reporter Amy Jacobson speaks out in candid detail in this interview conducted by Chicago Magazine's Lucinda Hahn. Ms. Jacobson talks about the events that led to a downfall of her career - and her personal life, including the infamous videotape shot by rival WBBM-TV (the management running the station at the time has since departed) while she was at the Stebic household wearing a bikini top and a towel wrapped around her waist.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

T Dog's Groovy Grab Bag

Yes, it's another edition of the Bag. Reach in...

- It's the 2008 version of an Edsel: NBC has announced it has halted production of its revival of the television series Knight Rider, meaning the show is finishing its run in February, then likely vanish never to be seen again. It may have been worse: NBC might have tried to revive My Mother, The Car...

- In other NBC news, the network has given The Office the post-Super Bowl slot on Feb. 1. The decision was originally announced last spring, but there was word circulating over the last few weeks the network might use another show to put in the plum slot, like the upcoming Kings - or a revival of My Mother, The Car...

- CW affiliate KCWE-TV in Kansas City and My Network TV affiliate WMZY-TV in Derry, N.H. (Boston) are the latest stations planning to shut off their analog transmitters early, ahead of the February 17 cutoff date. KCWE cans their analog signal on Dec. 15; WMZY already has, using its analog signal to run DTV information.

- It's not often yours truly reports on happenings from the local Los Angeles market - mainly because such info is very hard to come by, with no Rob Feder or Phil Rosenthal-like columnist to keep people informed on the local radio and TV beat. But here's an item of note - Fox-owned KTTV plans to launch a noon newscast effective Monday. The new newscast is a half-hour in length, and is up against a competing newscast on KCAL-TV.

Chicago PPM results for November (updated)

The results from November's PPMs are here, just three days after the radio ratings period ended. Isn't it great to get results like this so quick? (Just don't ask WGN-AM...) Borrowing the formula from Marc Berman's Programming Insider from Mediaweek:

WBBM-AM, WLS (AM and FM), The Drive (WDRV-FM), V103 (WVAZ-FM)

Honorable Mention:

Disappointing (like the Bears):
The Score (WSCR-AM), ESPN 1000 (WMVP)

WGN-AM, Love FM (WILV), Q101, Power 92 (WPWX-FM), Jack FM (WJMK-FM)

The November PPM book certainly brought some surprises - like the decline of WGN-AM, which went from second in October to seventh in total-day 2+ numbers, and not ranking in the top 20 at all in adults 25-54. With this surprisingly poor performance, I'm sorry WGN - it's off to the loser's circle.

All news WBBM-AM took top honors in 2+ and in adults 25-54 cume, while V103 (WVAZ-FM) took first in total day 25-54 numbers. V103 also surged in midday (Troi Tyler) and afternoons (Doug Banks), finishing third and second, respectively. Citadel had a great book - WLS - both AM and FM, occupied the second and third spots in 2+, with WLS-FM finishing eighth in total day 25-54s.

Bonneville's WDRV is another winner - The Drive finished second in total day 2+ , total day 25-54s, in 25-54 cume, and second in morning drive in 25-54s. Its' sister station (WTMX) finished first in 25-54 in morning drive with Eric & Kathy - thanks to the strong female demo.

WLIT warmed up for its holiday music drive by showing increases in total day overall ratings, while V103 and WBEZ scored ratings increases across the board (though V103 was flat in total day 2+).

Also showing a healthy increase was WIND-AM, thanks to the recent election.

On the flipside, it's clear Chicago radio listeners don't want to hear callers bitch about how bad the Bears are as ratings for both sports radio stations took a dive after Chicago's baseball teams' playoffs were over, which itself was disappointing.

Aside from WGN, the losers were pretty much the usual suspects - and as for Steve Dahl's morning show - once again borrowing a phrase from Marc Berman - the axe is waiting to swing.

To read the total day PPM numbers click here. To read the 25-54 rankings, click here.

UPDATE: Here are the rankings in the adults 18-49 demo, and it shows Spanish-language WOJO-FM in the top spot in all but one of the dayparts (weekends went to WVAZ-FM), while WGN-AM once again, does not show up in the top 20 any of the rankings, while alt-rock Q101 (WKQX) shows up in the top 20 only on weekends. Ouch!

Updated 10:26 p.m. on 2008-12-04

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

T Dog's Groovy Grab Bag

- SciFi orders new Caprica: The SciFi Channel has greenlighted a new prequel for Battlestar Galactica titled Caprica. The prequel is set fifty years before Galactica's Cylon attack, with two rival families dealing with life on Caprica, including an emerging artifical intelligence sector on the planet.

- The Big three networks have announced their new mid-season prime-time schedules, if you care. Click here for ABC, here for NBC, and here for CBS. The big project is CBS' new serial Harper's Island, a serial running for thirteen weeks, if its' lucky. Otherwise, skip the rest - especially NBC's crappy schedule, from the mind of Ben "Bulls Ballboy" Silverman.

- William Shanter has a new program on the Bio Channel titled Shanter's Last Nerve. Shanter has stated he's always wanted to host a talk show. Let's hope syndicators aren't listening. Or we might see him on every morning at 11.

-WKRP is on the air in Cincinnati. Really. WBQC-CA, a low-powered independent station in Cincinnati has branded itself "WKRP TV", after the TV series WKRP in Cincinnati, which ran on CBS from 1978 to 1982.

The name change does not include the station's current call letters - they're staying WBQC. The WKRP call letters reside with a low-powered TV station in Nashville. The branding should not be confused with WKRC-TV, the CBS (and former ABC) affiliate in Cincinnati.

WKRP of course, was a sitcom about a fictional radio station in Cincinnati. The program entered off-network syndication in September 1982, and performed very well for stations airing it. A sequel titled The New WKRP in Cincinnati debuted in first-run syndication in 1991, but was cut down two years later because of high production costs.

Currently, the original WKRP runs on WGN America's Sunday night lineup, as well as American Life's Monday night lineup. Ironically, WKRP isn't running on the branded WKRP, as over-the-air broadcast rights of the show aren't available (music rights issues, perhaps?) So no Me-TV appearences for WKRP...

Syndication rights to WKRP are held by Twentieth Television, but in the past was held by MTM (who produced the show) and Jim Victory Television, who handled all of MTM's properties in syndication back in the day (except for The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Bob Newhart Show - those two were handled by Viacom.)

Monday, December 01, 2008

This is catching on

The new digitial subchannel from MGM and Weigel Broadcasting titled This TV - a channel featuring movies and television shows from MGM's library, has gotten off to a good start, and has now lined up 40+ stations across the country.

Station groups signing affiliation agreements include Fisher Broadcasting, Sinclair Broadcasting, Hearst-Argyle Television, and Post-Newsweek stations. According to Wikipedia, stations cleared include KPRC-TV Houston, WDIV-TV Detroit, and WRGB-TV Albany, N.Y. Both KPRC and WDIV are replacing the soon to be shuttered Weather Plus with This TV.

Early ratings reports show the new network is drawing viewers in Chicago, Milwaukee, and Columbus, Ohio. This airs on the digital subchannels of Weigel-owned WCIU-TV, WDJT-TV, and Sinclair-owned WSYX-TV, respectively.

In Milwaukee, a 1972 horror movie titled Frogs beat a college football game on sister station WMLW-TV on a recent Saturday, and also beat programming on Sinclair's My Network TV station, WCGV-TV.

Movies scheduled to run on This the next couple of days include China Moon, The Mighty Quinn, and The Terminator.

"Rosie Live!" dead on arrival

Dancing cupcakes? People spinning on their heads? Alanis Morrisette signing adult contemporary? It's little wonder no one watched Rosie Live on Wednesday night, which tied ABC's now-canceled Pushing Daisies as the lowest-rated original show of the evening. And judging by the reviews, no one missed anything.

You'd think Rosie O'Donnell would bring back the fun of her old daytime show (at least from the early years - before she got political), but I guess that's too much to ask from her, right?

NBC announced there would be no more Rosie Live specials, due to Wednesday night's poor performance.

If the special was successful, NBC could have picked up Rosie Live for six more episodes. Talk about dodging a bullet.

More syndie cancellations coming?

The president of Debmar-Mercury is calling out the first-run syndication business.

In an interview with Broadcasting & Cable, Mort Marcus says we might be seeing more syndie cancellations coming in the next several months as the economy continues to become worse.

Marcus, who runs the company responsible for syndicating South Park, Family Feud, Trivial Pursuit, and the upcoming Wendy Williams Show, points out that syndicators aren't going to be taking on deficit-financed programming during a recession, and many low-rated programs on the air now could end up going away as a result. Plus, he says sales of new shows are being slowed because of the recession.

So far, only Dr. Oz from Sony, T.D. Jakes from CBS, and Debmar's own Wendy has been sold into first-run syndication for next fall.

There are reports many syndicators are struggling financially, as the economic situation has gotten worse. According to Marcus, many stations are balking at renewing some programs because they simply can't come up with the cash license fee.

Marcus also talks about the hazard of stations signing long-term deals for syndicated programming, and the possibility of Oprah Winfrey departing her talk show come 2011.

He certainly has some valid points here. After all, can anyone explain why Comics Unleashed and Jury Duty (with an average rating of 0.2 - yes, 0.2) are still on the air? As far as the latter is concerned, somebody must be busting the bank to keep the show in production (and if it is, the bank probably won't be around for long in this economy.)