Thursday, February 26, 2009

Norman Van Lier dies

Shocking news: Former Chicago Bull and broadcast personality Norm Van Lier died in his Chicago home today at the age of 61. He was found unresponsive at 1 p.m. in his South Loop home. The cause of death is not known at this time.

Van Lier has been a long time in-studio analyst for Chicago Bulls broadcasts on Comcast SportsNet as well as now-defunct Fox Sports Net Chicago and SportsChannel Chicago. In addition, Van Lier also hosted sports talk radio shows for WMVP-AM.

Van Lier became a Chicago Bull in 1971, two years after he broke into the league with the Cincinnati Royals (now the Sacramento Kings.) He was one of the more popular Bull players in the 1970's, helping his team to five straight playoff appearences, including the 1975 Western Conference Finals series with the Golden State Warriors. Van Lier departed the Bulls in 1978 and retired a year later. He was nicknamed "Stormin' Norman" and was a three-time NBA All-Star.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Garry Meier heads to WGN-AM - for one week only

Chicago radio personality and frequent house husband Garry Meier will be getting out of the crib more in the next week - and hoping it leads to a full-time radio job.

Meier has signed on to do the 1 to 4 p.m. shift on WGN-AM next week, in a "test drive". If the stint is successful, Meier could land the slot permanently - the shift has been vacant since last December since John Williams moved to mornings to replace retiring host Spike O'Dell.

Meier filled in for WIND-AM host Cisco Cotto today.

Chicago radio fans know Meier from his association with former on-air partner Steve Dahl, whom he worked with at various stints at WLUP and WLS in the 1980's and 1990's. The duo broke up in 1993 when the relationship decidedly soured. Meier was later paired up with WLS-AM's Roe Conn, until he exited the station in 2004.

After a few years off, Meier resurfaced at WCKG-FM for a few months in 2007 until the station dumped its talk format.

Chicago's January PPM results

WBBM-AM big winner

These are based on Persons 6+ numbers.



Honorable Mention:


Down, but potent:

Lite FM (WLIT-FM), V103 (WVAZ-FM)


B96 (WBBM-FM), WGCI-FM, Q101 (WKQX-FM), Fresh (WCFS-FM)

Analysis: All news WBBM-AM - with its coverage of Inaguration of President Obama and other hot-button issues, rose to first in the January PPM report. Citadel had a good survey with both of its stations on the upswing. WGN-AM continued its swing upward to third place, and should be back in the top spot once Cubs baseball returns in the spring. WUSN-FM also went up, as did WDRV, WOJO, and WTMX.

On the downside, both WLIT-FM and WVAZ-FM were down, but not out as both stations remained in the Top 10, despite big drops from December. Fresh and Q101 continue to struggle finding an audience, while the tech-savvy young fans of pop and urban formats and their downloading of music aren't helping B96, WGCI, or Power 92 (WPWX-FM). Kiss (WKSC-FM) beats them all, but it ranked outside the Top 10. A slight drop from the last survey keeps Kiss off the winner's list.

On a positive note, Clear Channel's Gospel music station (WGRB-AM) outperformed Power 92 and WSRB-FM (Soul 106.3), WCFS, both sports stations, and Q101. And this is a music station - on an AM stick. Chicago sure loves its gospel!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

T Dog's Groovy Grab Bag

News on Heroes, WGN, and The CW.

- Stick a fork in them, they're done: NBC's Heroes hit a series low Monday night, finishing fourth in total viewers (7 million) and a weak third in adults 18-49 behind sitcom repeats on CBS and The Bachelor on ABC - not to mention landing in the loser's circle in Marc Berman's Programming Insider.

Here in Chicago (if anyone cares), Heroes earned a 3.5 household rating and 5 share, placing fourth in the time period.

- WGN-TV has promoted Sandy Pudar to executive producer of its morning newscast, succeeding Jennifer Lyons, who was promoted to assistant news director.

- The CW has renewed six of its programs for next season: Gossip Girl, 90210, Smallville, Supernatural, America's Next Top Model, and One Tree Hill. The CW also picked up a drama from Ashton Kutcher about models living in New York City, and a Melrose Place revival.

Thought: I keep wondering why The Church of Tisch and Time Warner keep throwing their money away on this waste of a network. Aside from Smallville and Supernatural, there isn't one show here that deserves to be renewed, period. A revival of Melrose Place? A rip-off of mid-90's dud Models, Inc.? Innovative ideas are bankrupt at The CW, where a 0.0 rating is considered a success. But hey, it's good news for The T Dog Media Blog, as The CW will no doubt continue to be its' whipping boy right on through 2010 (somebody has to, given Nine-FM - another low-rated waste - doesn't exist anymore...)

Chicago Journalism: The future and you

Sunday at the Allegro, a group of journalists, reporters, and media personalities gathered together for a tailgate on the future of Journalism in Chicago. It was basically a clash between old media (newspapers, television, radio) and new media (The Internet, iPhone, iPods.)

Representing the "old school" were John Calloway, Carol Marin, Robert Feder, and Eric Zorn, among others, and repping the "new school" (of Internet journalism) included Ben Goldberger of The Huffington Post (Chicago edition), Geoff Dougherty from ChiTown Daily News, and Andrew Huff from Gaper's Block.

A lot of issues were discussed from the viability of newspapers to online advertising, from theft of intellectual property to the cost of running a newsroom ($2 million to 4 million!)

The most startling statement at the tailgate came from John Calloway, who declared newspapers "dead", given the financial troubles media companies are having with them (Philadelphia's newspapers were the latest to file for Chapter 11 on Sunday.)

Also discussed was the lack of preparation of the upcoming digital TV transition, with an estimated 230,000 in Chicago proper not ready for the changeover from analog to digital television, and the lack of Internet access in some of Chicago's poorest neighborhoods.

Yours truly listened to this conference via podcast and it is a very interesting, entertaining, and educational listen. It provided a rare glimpse into what Chicago's media personalities are thinking in this era of unprecedented change in the industry.

The town hall meeting has its own blog page - there, you can view video highlights, find a link to download the podcasts, and links to the panelists' blogs on the event.

Chicago Public Radio also has a blog on Sunday's meeting, with a twitter feed on the front page. The podcast pages to download and/or listen to the meeting are here and here.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Oscar ratings up from last year - thanks to a Slumdog?

Dark Knight who?

Or is that your Final Answer?

The 81st Annual Academy Awards were up in household overnight ratings, total viewers, and 18-49 demo from last year. The increases come despite the lack of a big name in the Best Picture category, which Slumdog Millionaire won - as well as seven other Academy Awards.

The movie of course, revolves around a plot featuring the Indian version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, a real-life game show import from Britain which took off here in the States a decade ago, making host Regis Phillbin a household name and made the phrase Is that your Final Answer? into pop-culture lore.

Millionaire faded from ABC's prime-time lineup in 2002 (after the network ran it as many as four nights per week), but has since resurrected itself as a successful first-run syndicated strip hosted by Meredith Vierra.

Here's how the Oscars fared Sunday night:

- The Oscars drew 36.3 million viewers for ABC, up from 32 million last year.

- Here is a listing of the Oscar household ratings in the ten largest markets, courtesy of Mediaweek and Douglas of (you'll find ratings for the Barbara Walters special, Jimmy Kimmel, and even NASCAR.) In Chicago, the Oscars earned a 31.6 household rating, up from last year's 28.5. Chicago's rating was second only to New York (34.0/51).

- The Oscars recorded across-the-board increases in most demos, including 18-49 (+13%) and men 18-34 (+22%).

Saturday, February 21, 2009

T Dog's Four Pack - Liars, losers, and Joaquin Phoenix

Didn't do one last week, so this is for the last two weeks: The winners and losers...

Fab Four

- Survivor. Another winning edition of Survivor, both in the ratings and in quality. And it drew more viewers in the 18-49 demo than its' lead-out, CSI Thursday night - a first.

- The Simpsons in HD. Had the look and feel of The Simpsons Movie. And the episode wasn't bad, either.

- Conan O' Brien. Yours truly thought Late Night with Conan O' Brien wouldn't last past 1994 (and so did a lot of people.) But persistence paid off for O'Brien, who leaves the post-Tonight Show slot after sixteen years this week to take over The Tonight Show itself June 1. (A side note: Conan O'Brien used to write for The Simpsons way back when.)

- David Letterman slams Joaquin Phoenix. Nice to have the old Dave back. (Click link to read comments and look at interview.)

Flop Four

- Roland Burris. Did you really lie? Not cool.

- Alex Rodriguez. And the same goes for you.

- Bud Selig. You say the steroid allegations annoys the you-know-what-out-of-you? You destroyed the game of baseball, so I say the feeling is more than mutual if we continued to accuse you of turning a blind eye to what was going on all these years, you sniveling jackass. You, Alex Rodriguez, and Roland Burris all should get a room.

- My Network TV. The "network" has decided to cut back on original programming by acquiring repeats of Law and Order: Criminal Intent and now are calling themselves a "programming service" instead of a "network". I call it "throwing in the towel".

Thursday, February 19, 2009

ESPN launches new Chicago website

The Worldwide Leader in Sports is going local.

ESPN announced it will plan to launch a new Chicago-themed sports site in April named It will feature local breaking sports news and original content, including three-to-five minute local SportsCenter video segments. Also, ESPN Chicago plans to add social networking to the site as well.

Already, MillerCoors is on board as a prominent advertiser.

Contributors include ESPN writers with Chicago ties: Former Tribune sportswriter Gene Wojciechowski and Chicago native Scoop Jackson, plus WMVP-AM personalities Tom Waddle and Bruce Levine.

Thought: So, the Worldwide Leader in B.S. is getting into the Chicago sports game. Judging from the look of the screenshots I've looked at, this site has a very good chance of drawing Chicago sports fans in, even if many of them hate ESPN (look at the comments section of the linked story. You'd think the site would prominently feature Roland Burris...) The screenshot looks clean, neat and well-organized. I also like the fact it will feature breaking news, and emphanize syngeries between the site, WMVP-AM (ESPN 1000), and WLS-TV. All three are owned by The Walt Disney Company.

The site also plan to staff some Chicago writers, which is a good thing. ESPN Chicago also does not plan to hire Jay Mariotti, which is even a better thing.

If this works, ESPN could launch local websites in other sports-crazed cities including New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Boston, Detroit, Dallas, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Sirius-XM saved by Liberty Media

It looks like Sirius-XM received a bailout plan of its own: and it's not from the government....

Liberty Media (headed by John Malone) has come to the rescue of the beleaguered satellite radio operator, with a $530 million dollar investment. The money will come in two phases - both in the form of loans. One of the phases is being used to pay debt owed to investor Echostar at $171.6 million, due today.

Echostar owns Dish Network; Liberty owns arch-rival Direct TV.

As a result of today's deal, Liberty gains several seats on Sirius-XM's board.

Amy Jacobson vs. CBS: Round one goes to Amy

A Cook County judge is allowing a lawsuit filed by former WMAQ-TV reporter Amy Jacobson against CBS and its O&O here (WBBM-TV) to go forward after the station videotaped her at Craig Stebic's house in July 2007. The tape aired on the station and cost Ms. Jacobson her job. Stebic is a suspect in the disappearence of his wife, who still hasn't been found.

Four of the eight counts in the lawsuit are going forward, including "Intentional inflection of Emotional Distress" and "False Light".

Thought: Not about this case (I've said a lot on that already), but to the linked article and the haphazard way this story was written: Come on Eric Zorn, can you do a better job in writing this? The second paragraph of your story looks like it was written by someone in the sixth grade. You can do better than that!

Monday, February 16, 2009

T Dog's Groovy Grab Bag

Syndication switcheroo; Universal Sports add more clearances; Young files Chapter 11.

- With another ratings period ahead, two Chicago stations have made some major changes to their syndicated lineups:

* Beginning today, WCIU-TV is swapping time periods with Warner Bros.' The People's Court and Sony's now-canceled Judge Karen. With Karen now out of production, WCIU has moved the show to 10 a.m. with The People's Court moving to 2 p.m. (in addition to another run at 4 p.m.)

* Next Monday, CBS Television Distribution's Dr. Phil and Judge Judy exchanges time periods on WBBM-TV, with Dr. Phil moving to 3 p.m. and Judge Judy to 4 p.m. The move is being made to give WBBM's 5 p.m. newscast a better lead-in. Judy leads into local news in many major markets, including New York and Washington, D.C.

If you recall, WBBM aired the original version of The People's Court at 4 p.m. from 1987-93, leading into a 4:30 p.m. newscast, which usually placed a solid second behind WLS-TV.

- Universal Sports recently added 19 million homes to bring its total distribution to 45 million. The digital subchannel network was known as World Championship Sports Network until last August, when NBC Universal bought it. Here in Chicago, Universal Sports is carried on WMAQ-DT 5.3, Comcast channel 251, and RCN channel 51.

Before you get too excited, the sports channel mainly features sporting events usually seen in the Olympics. So if you're into downhill skiing, track and field, and equestrian, this network's for you.

- The latest broadcasting company to land on the Bankrupt space of the Wheel of Financial Misfourtune is Young Broadcasting, which filed for Chapter 11 over the weekend. Young owns KRON-TV in San Francisco, a one-time NBC powerhouse now a lagging independent station.

Young also owns ABC affiliates WBAY-TV in Green Bay/Appelton, Wis. and WKRN-TV in Nashville.

T Dog's Think Tank: The state of syndication, Part 2

Second of two parts.

A new morning show which debuted on Comcast SportsNet last month pairing up former WSCR-AM (Score) partners Mike North and Dan Jiggetts titled Monsters in the Morning.

While the three-hour program offers up sports news and weather every morning from 6 to 9 a.m., the deal on how the show got on the air - is something producers - especially syndicators - should be taking a look at.

It's a groundbreaking business model (for local TV at least) where the host of the show - in this case, Mike North - has a stake in the program's financial future and burdening some of the risk.

The program is not owned by CSN - it's actually part-owned by North himself - and he actually is one of the show's sales reps.

CSN isn't paying North a salary - his production company (Licorice Ltd.) is producing the show and paying the talent - including Mr. Jiggetts and other behind-the-scenes staff. Comcast SportsNet is paying a license fee to air the show.

CSN and Licorice are splitting the commercial time to sell (similar to a traditional barter syndication arrangement where the syndicator gets time to sell to national advertisers and the station carrying the show gets some to sell locally.) Any profits will be split equally between CSN and Licorice.

And North's company is doing a good job in selling the show so far, closing in on $1 million in ad revenue - with $300,000 coming from a medical staffing firm for the title sponsorship.

With North shouldering some of the risk, the program could become profitable even without a big rating. On its first day on the air, Monsters averaged a meager 0.31 household rating - but did better in its targeted male demos, where it passed competing fare on two network-owned outlets.

This business model may be something other producers in the television business - especially syndicators - need to take a look at.

With more and more projects getting shelved and existing first-run programming being canceled, or on the verge of being canceled, sharing the risk - especially in this economy - is a good idea. Already, several syndicated programs - from Trivial Pursuit: America Plays to Judge Karen have been axed, due to low ratings and poor national advertising sales.

With ratings fragmentation the norm in daytime programming, there has to be a better way of producing - and keeping programs on the air.

Instead of hiring just the talent to host the show, why not involve the person in the risk? (While you say Oprah Winfrey is an example, keep in mind she did not have any financial stake in her talk show when she started.)

The business needs more than just hosts - it needs entrepreneurs - with talent (and for better or worse, Mike North does qualify.) The failure of first-run syndicated product will continue to be high unless the studios find a more innovative way of making their product profitable. They need to look at new alternatives instead of paying such and such millions of dollars to host a talk show and watch it fail within six months.

So far this season, only one show (CBS Television Distribution's The Doctors) you can qualify as a hit with its medical news in a talk show-discussion format, which continues to grow in the ratings every week (now that's what I'm talking about - finding an original, innovative concept - and letting it work for itself. Unfortunately, this does not happen too often in syndication. )

Comcast SportsNet knows they're not going to find the next Matt Lauer and Meredith Vierra. Apparently, syndicators are still trying to find the next Oprah - a strategy that hasn't worked for the last 23 years. It's time for a strategy that does work - and who here would have thought Comcast SportsNet may have come up with it?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

"Simpsons" debuts in HD

The Simpsons finally went HD starting with tonight's episode, which also included an all-new revamp of the opening credit sequence, which has been used in various forms since the series debuted in 1990.

Last Sunday (Feb. 8) King of the Hill went HD, as does Comedy Central's South Park when it returns for its season premiere on March 11.

Tonight's episode of The Simpsons was titled Take My Life, Please - a journey in which Homer Simpson wonders what would his life be like if he was elected high-school president back in 1974 (and thankfully not 1984, if this episode was any indication...)

The episode looked great in high definition, having the same feel as The Simpsons Movie, which aired in HD last year on HBO. And the new opening was pretty good.

And better yet, That '90's Show episode is now considered non-canon, so yours truly can finally stop bitching about it... so, this is the last time this blog will mention the episode and the Think Tank I wrote about it (alright, stop your cheering...)

Friday, February 13, 2009

News & Notes

The alternative title is being used to describe today's News & Notes, as there is sad news to report:

- Chicago Defender sports journalist Larry Gross passed away Wednesday at the age of 59 due to complications from lung cancer. Gross covered mostly local sports for the paper, including Chicago Public School Prep action.

The wake will be held Feb. 18 from 3 p.m. until 8 p.m. at Gatlings Chapel, 10133 South Halsted (Illinois Route 1), Chicago, IL 60628-1814.

- Fisher Broadcasting, owners of ABC affiliates KATU in Portland, Ore. and KOMO in Seattle, have became the latest outlets to add This TV to their digital subchannels. The deal also includes Fisher's three other Oregon stations. This TV is a joint venture between Chicago-based Weigel Broadcasting and MGM.

- Fox O&O WFLD-TV is adding a new Sunday morning show from the Chicago Urban League titled next TV, which debuts on Feb. 22 at 8 a.m. The program features the stories of African-American entrepreneurs in Chicago. WFLD is getting a fee from the Urban League to air the show and split the ad inventory. WPWR is also airing a same-day rerun of next TV.

The move means Fox Chicago Sunday (a public-affairs program), is being cut to a half-hour and moves to Sundays at 8:30 a.m.

- Disney-ABC has renewed action hour Legend of the Seeker for a second season in 70 percent of the country, including WGN-TV in Chicago.

The FCC says no to Rockford (or yes?)

Updated story

The FCC has rejected an application for all of the stations in the Rockford-Freeport area (northwest of Chicago) to switch to all-digital broadcasting.

The stations: CBS affiliate WIFR, NBC affiliate WREX, ABC affiliate WTVO, and Fox affiliate WQRF were among four of 123 stations whose applications to change over on the original switchover date (Feb. 17.) Those stations will have to wait until June 12.

Meanwhile, 368 other stations' applications were accepted, and they can turn off their analog signals on Tuesday.

But here's the rub... Turns out the FCC let Rockford's TV stations switch to digital after all on Tuesday, according to the Rockford Register Star. The story regarding Rockford's analog status in TV Week was wrong (nice job, TV Week. Is Philadelphia still a small market?)

Local station managers in Rockford say the switcher went over quite well, with few complaints.

The T Dog Media Blog apologizes for the error.

Updated at 9:43 p.m. on 2009-02-17.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Chicago stations to stick with analog until June 12

Don't look for Chicago TV stations to dump their analog signals until June 12.

Chicago, along with a lot of other large markets, are keeping their analog signals on the air to avoid confusion from viewers (and perhaps protests from community groups.)

President Obama signed a bill today that would keep analog signals on the air until June 12 instead of February 17, the date those signals were supposed to be shut off.

Stations do have the option to shut off their analogs on February 17, but must have approval from the FCC to do so. Yesterday, the agency released a 49-page document on who would be switching off their analog signals and who would keep theirs on. Many of the 491 stations who are planning to shut their analogs off on the original shut-off date are from smaller markets.

In Illinois, the following are shutting down their full-power analogs on Tuesday, if all go to plan:

- In Champaign-Springfield-Decatur, all stations, except for CBS affiliate WCIA-TV and My Network TV station WCFN-TV

- In Carbondale, Southern Illinois University's WSIU-TV plans to stop analog broadcasts.

- In Peoria-Bloomington, all stations except for ABC affiliate WHOI-TV.

- All stations in the Rockford-Freeport DMA.

- All stations in the Quincy, IL-Hannibal, MO-Keokuk, IA DMA.

- Just two stations in the Paducah, Ky-Cape Giredeau, Mo.-Harrisburg, IL market: Fox affilate KBSI-TV and My Net affiliate WDKA-TV.

- Three stations in St. Louis: My Network TV affiliate WRBU-TV, Independent KNLC-TV, and ABC affiliate KDNL-TV.

- Outside of the state to Milwaukee, Sinclair's duopoly of WVTV and WCGV also plan to shutter their analogs. Sinclair also owns KDNL. In fact, most Sinclair stations plan to end analog broadcasts on Tuesday.

No stations in the Rock Island-Moline-Davenport DMA plan to shut off their analog signals until June 12.

Sirius-XM continues to sink like a rock

So much so, a rock is actually worth more than their stock.

Sirius-XM's shares tumbled to an all-time low of 5 cents per share on reports the satcaster is headed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Sirius-XM is in talks with Echostar, the owner of Dish Network about a buyout, since the company assumed some of Sirius-XM's debt. It is also in talks with Liberty Media, who owns properties such as DirectTV, the Atlanta Braves and WFRV-TV in Green Bay, Wis.

If it files for Chapter 11, Sirius-XM may beforced to terminate some contracts of high-priced talent, including those of Howard Stern and Martha Stewart.

Thought: Turned out CEO Mel Karmazin turned down an offer from Echostar CEO Charle Ergen to buy the company. Another brillant business move by Mr. Karmazin. Sorry Sirius-XM, but the axe is waiting to swing. And a shame, too.

Monday, February 09, 2009

T Dog's Groovy Grab Bag - The Cable Edition

An all-cable edition of the Grab Bag, with the NBA taking center stage:

- The rematch of the last year's NBA Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics was a ratings blockbuster for TNT Thursday night, with the cable network drawing its highest ratings in 13 years (a Feb. 2 1996 between the Chicago Bulls and Lakers - a season where the Bulls went 72-10), and the highest-rated NBA cable game in five years, since the December 2004 matchup between the Detroit Pistons and Indiana Pacers (a month after the infamous brawl that took place between the two teams at the Palace of Auburn Hills in Auburn Hills, Mich.)

The Lakers' 110-109 victory over the Celtics drew 4.31 million viewers, and topped the charts among all key male demos.

TNT is having a great year with NBA coverage, with ratings up across the board in total viewers and key male demos from a year ago. TNT hopes to continue the momentum with All-Star Weekend coming up from Phoenix this Saturday and Sunday.

- Cartoon Network has renewed Star Wars: The Clone Wars for a second season. Panned by critics (and most other adults), the series does well in its targeted demo of males 2-11 and 6-11.

- TLC has canceled Trading Spaces after eight seasons. Spaces was one of TLC's longtime signature shows. But don't feel bad for host Paige Davis: she's out shopping a Life for Dummies show in syndication.

Judge Jeanne Pirro sold to Fox O&Os

Warner Bros' move of Judge Jeanne Pirro from The CW to syndication is now complete, with a group deal with the Fox Television Group.

The all-barter deal, which includes Fox's duopoly of WFLD and WPWR, gives Pirro a clearance rate of 75 percent of the United States. Pirro may have benefited from the cancellation of Cristina's Court on Friday, which was carried on those very same stations.

Pirro has also cleared 27 Sinclair markets, as well as stations owned by CBS, Tribune, Raycom, and Belo, among others. In Milwaukee, the series will air on Sinclair's WVTV and WCGV (but not in Sinclair's home market of Baltimore, where Fox-owned My Net affiliate WUTB gets Pirro.)

Pirro currently airs at 3 p.m. on The CW, but is being dropped to make room for Tyra Banks' talk show, which is moving there in September. Pirro is produced here in Chicago at WMAQ-TV.

"Wilkos" moving to WCIU?

NBC Universal's The Steve Wilkos Show has been renewed for a third season according to officials at the syndicator, with 70 percent of the country on board.

According to this article in TV Week, Wilkos has cleared Tribune stations in New York, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia - but in Chicago, the article cites a renewal for the "Weigel's station in Chicago", which is identified as WCIU-TV.

The program is still currently airing on Tribune's WGN-TV at 2 p.m. , where it has aired for the last two seasons.

WGN may have dropped the show to make room for Bishop T.D. Jakes' new talk show, which all Tribune stations acquired. However, its' debut has been pushed back to September 2010 due to current economic conditions. There is no word on what will take Wilkos' time slot on WGN in the meantime.

As for WCIU, this is the second syndicated talk show pickup it has made in recent weeks - it recently - or was close to - acquiring Marie from Program Partners, which features Marie Osmond. The last time WCIU had aired a daytime talk show on its schedule was The Montel Williams Show in 2006.

Meanwhile, Sinclair has renewed Wilkos on its stations in Pittsburgh, Columbus (Ohio), and Baltimore, with WLVI-TV in Boston and WESH-TV in Orlando on board.

Wilkos' pickup coincides with the renewal of two other NBC Universal talk shows - Maury and Jerry Springer, all on board until 2010, including Tribune stations (with WGN the notable exception on Springer and Wilkos.)

Wilkos is only two daytime talk show showing year-to-year increases in household ratings, with the program recently hitting a series-high 1.2 rating. (Ellen is the other show showing year-to-year growth.)

Thought: Interesting NBC Universal renewed its trio of talk shows - Maury, Jerry Springer, and Wilkos - but has yet to renew its higher-rated rookie strip Deal or No Deal. Is there something going on behind the scenes with NBC Universal, Endemol, and stations carrying the show we don't know about?

My Network TV no longer a network (updated)

Instead, call it a "programming service."

My Network TV is revamping its programming model, with the service airing ten hours of material a week instead of twelve this fall with Saturday nights handed back to affiliates.

My Net is also cutting back on original programming, adding a movie night, and instead airing a two-hour block of Law & Order: Criminal Intent and keeping WWE's Friday Night Smackdown on the schedule.
Law & Order: Criminal Intent had been running as a syndicated strip for the last two years. It is unclear whether or not the program will continue in this form this fall with the My Net prime-time clearance. NBC Universal has cleared Law & Order: Special Victims Unit as an off-network strip to debut this September in syndication.

In a strange twist, NBC Universal will keep half of the advertising time to sell itself, while My Network TV's local stations get the other half. Those terms are similar to what is usually offered in syndication.

My Network TV's ad sales staff is also being folded into the sales staff of Twentieth Television, The syndicator is now going to act as the national advertising representative for all My Network TV programming, except for Criminal Intent.

The moves comes as My Network TV posted the most growth of any broadcast network this fall in household ratings and key demos, driven by WWE Smackdown. The network began on September 5, 2006 by stripping English telenovelas, but broadened its programming menu months later by adding more reality fare and movies.

Updated 11:30 p.m. (added Rosenthal link)

Friday, February 06, 2009

Breaking News: Matt Millen, you still suck

Remember a few days ago when I said Chicago media is one big freak show? Well, I think Detroit may have us beat...

WDIV in Detroit ran a crawl during NBC's Super Bowl pre-game coverage when former Detroit Lions GM Matt Millen appeared on-screen and the station ran a crawl ripping into him stating: “Matt Millen was president of the Lions for the worst eight-year run in the history of the NFL. Knowing his history with the team, is there a credibility issue as he now serves as an analyst for NBC Sports? ... " You can view the video here (for now.)

The Lions went 0-16 this past season, a record for NFL futility. Millen tenture as Lions GM netted the team a 31-84 mark. Millen was fired after Detroit lost the first three games of the season in 2008. Last December, he was hired as an analyst for NBC's pro football coverage.

Tony Kornhiser and Michael Wilbon of Pardon the Interruption weren't amused, ripping WDIV for the stunt (it helps to note the parent company of the paper both Wilbon and Kornhiser write for - The Washington Post - also owns WDIV. For more on the PTI boys, see the post below.)

While reaction from Lions fans were mostly positive, WDIV's newscasts aren't usually known for its quality; the station is often critizied for its tabloid approach to journalism. Reaction to the Millen crawl on Michigan Buzzboard were decidely mixed.

It isn't likely the station will face any sanctions from the NFL or NBC. But wouldn't be cool if some local station in Dallas would rip on Tony Romo every time he was on-screen with a crawl reading "Overrated" and "No Super Bowl rings"?

T Dog's Four Pack

It is sad I could barely scrape up four positive items to put in this week's four pack. It just goes to show you how bad this business has really become.

T Dog's Fab Four:

- Bones. The procedural's move to Thursday nights finally puts Fox on the map with a 3.2 A18-49 rating, defeating ABC's Ugly Betty.

- NCIS. How can a repeat of this program draw more than 10 million viewers on Tuesday night?

- The FCC. No, you're not reading a misprint. The FCC decided not to investigate how 30 seconds of porn wound up on a Comcast cable feed last Sunday in Tuscon, Ariz. (3rd item), interrupting the Super Bowl because it doesn't have jurisdiction. I guess common sense has returned to the agency since Kevin Martin left.

- Super Bowl XLIII. What a game! And what about those numbers? 98.7 million viewers, the most watched Super Bowl ever (I think.) And how about Santonio Holmes and that touchdown catch? Congratulations, Pittsburgh - Six Super Bowl titles!

T Dog's Flop Four

- Michael Phelps. What was he thinking?

- Warner Saunders. Seriously, what was he thinking ?

- DTV transition pushed back to June 12. This means Chicago viewers of CBS-owned WBBM-TV - which nobody can get on an over-the-air digital TV - won't be able to switch to digital Channel 12 from Channel 3 until June 12, meaning no Big Bang Theory or Survivor or other WBBM programming in OTA HD for anyone in the Windy City until then. - Michael Wilbon. Okay, So you didn't like the Coke Zero Super Bowl ad - or the Super Bowl commercials, or popular culture, or anything fun. This, from someone who thinks Jim Belushi has talent. What do you know about talent?

Instead of calling for those behind the Coke Zero ad to be fired, how about YOU being fired? You can hang out with your BFF Warner Saunders after his retirement, reminiscing about the days the both of you were constantly screwed over by the press, and I hope it's soon, you arrogant prick. And that goes for your equally dumb-as-shit co-host Tony Kornhiser as well.

For a person who claims he had a Catholic high school education here in Chicago (like I did), you sure aren't showing any. And by the way, tuck in your shirt.

Twentieth drops "Cristina's Court"

Another courtroom show has bit the dust.

Cristina's Court became the third courtroom to get the ax this season, following the cancellations of Judge David Young and Judge Karen, both from Sony Pictures Television.

The economic climate is partially to blame, but the third-season show wasn't doing itself any favors by averaging around an 1.1 Nielsen rating overall.

Twentieth plans to continue producing Divorce Court and Judge Alex.

In Chicago, Cristina's Court airs weekdays at 10 a.m. on WPWR-TV.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

WGN-TV, CLTV to intergrate operations

I'm surprised this didn't happen sooner....

The Tribune Co. announced it was streamlining its two local news operations in Chicago - those of WGN-TV and cable channel CLTV.

Beginning soon, CLTV's news operations (currently based in west suburban Oak Brook) will move to WGN's Bradley Place headquarters in Chicago.

CLTV is Chicago's first and only around-the-clock local news channel (aside from infomercials running from 1 to 4 a.m.) CLTV signed on in 1993, and is only available on Comcast cable (not available to RCN, WOW, or satellite TV subscribers.)

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

DTV date moves again

It's now June 12 again - the House passed a bill that moves the transition date from February 17 to June 12. However, stations can still shut their analog signals on February 17. A somewhat similar bill was defeated in the House last week.

President Obama said that he would sign the legislation.

Warner Saunders, Robert Feder square off

Before I report this, I just want to mention this item was posted on Chicagoland Radio and Media on Monday night and yours truly pondered whether or not to post this story, since it was hearsay at the time and this blog can't post gossip items which may or may not turn out not to be true, since a written story or audio link wasn't available (plus, this place could get sued and I have no money...)

Well, it turned out to be true - confirmed on Mancow & Cassidy's show Tuesday morning on WLS-AM and now posted on Phil Rosenthal's Tower Ticker blog. And so, here we go:

WMAQ-TV 10 p.m. anchor Warner Saunders confronted former Chicago Sun-Times media reporter Robert Feder at an AFTRA meeting Monday night, accusing him of bias against African-Americans reporters and anchors in his columns.

In a prepared speech, Saunders compared Feder to Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke and made a refrence to a Jewish circumcision.

Feder appeared on Mancow & Cassidy on WLS-AM Tuesday morning, and denied that he wrote about anybody on the basis of race.

Feder has written columns criticizing former WBBM-TV Diann Burns, current WBBM-AM personality Felicia Middlebrooks, and former WFLD-TV reporter Tamron Hall, all African-American. The former two he criticized for their stance during their contract negotiations with their respective stations.

Saunders, who plans to retire in May after 40 years at WMAQ, told the Tribune he has no apologizes for what he said to Feder, adding: “I simply wanted to confront him, face to face, I just spoke ‘my truth’ in front of a person who I felt has been unfair to me and to black journalists in this city. ... Very few people who are not in our skin can understand this.”

Thought: Deep breath, here... Get ready, this isn't going to pretty.

This is what I posted on Chicagoland Radio and Media, where the story broke, at 9:02 p.m. Tuesday evening:


Wow, so many responses I didn't know where to post...

As an African-American, I am totally disgusted and saddened by this. I read Feder for over two decades and he's always come off to me as a fair man. Sure, I disagreed with on him over a few things, but still, I respected his opinion. In fact, his column is one of the reasons I follow this business.

Saunders should be ashamed of himself. This is an insult to everyone who have fought for civil and equal rights in this country and to minorities who broke into the business over the years. For him to play the race card is totally disgusting. He's a total dick, and nothing more than a male Tyra Banks, who hasn't met a racial stereotype she'd like to exploit on "Top Model".

But I'm not surprised. Chicago media is nothing more than a total freakshow, and you wonder why our media outlets are often a nationwide laughingstock. The media scene is no different than the reality TV garbage that airs on some of these stations. It's no wonder a lot of people has given up on local news. Nothing but crime, accidents, and nonsense. It's junk.

I'm surprised Channel 5 is second in the ratings at 10 p.m., given NBC is in fourth place and much of its prime-time lineup is total crap, from "Heroes" to "Momma's Boys".

And no, NBC isn't going to get rid of Saunders. If they can keep a cokehead like prime-time chief Ben Silverman and "Heroes" dipshit Tim Kring around, what makes anyone think Saunders is going anywhere until he retires? Plus, keep in mind Saunders only got the anchor job after Ron Magers quit after the Springer debacle, which was another boneheaded move by the Nothing But Crap network.

Warner Saunders is irrelevant to a younger generation of African-Americans such as myself, who don't even bother tuning in to the garbage served up on the local news every night. I've never seen him at a Bud Billiken Parade, or community event, or anything. If he's looking for defenders against Feder, don't even bother looking here. Screw him. What a sellout.

Sorry for the long rant, but thanks for reading.

And to that I'd like to add...

Wow, I did not think there would be someone more disgusting than Jay Mariotti on the Chicago media scene. Boy, was I wrong. After what he said, Warner Saunders is a total disgrace to Chicago journalism - even more so than Mariotti.

And for all of you ready to hang me or label me as an "Uncle Tom" for saying this - go right ahead. From the day I started this blog, I said everyone is fair game - white, black, Latino, whatever. If you've read this blog over the last two-and-a half years, I have ripped on Tyra Banks and America's Next Top Model, Steve Harvey, and a sitcom titled The Game - not to mention Jim Belushi, conservative watchdog group PTC, and Kevin Martin of the FCC. If I can't rip my own race in the media on this blog for producing inferior and mediocre material, what's the point in even writing it?

Just because I'm African-American, Do I have to like every African-American celebrity or journalist? Maybe you should ask yourselves that before you blast me in the comments section (just keep it clean.)

We as African-Americans should challenge people like Tyler Perry and the rest of Hollywood into producing better material. Instead of classy fare like Roc, Frank's Place, and Soul Food, we get crap like Flavor of Love, Baldwin Hills, and Keyshia Cole's stupid reality show - not to mention racy hip-hop music videos - many of them who degenerate women and depicts them as "ho's" (where's Saunders' stance on those issues?) I've attended plays at ETA Creative Arts here on the South Side (where I took playwriting classes) and the material presented there is far better than anything Tyler Perry has produced. Television and radio programming featuring African-Americans has become nothing more than around-the-clock buffoon fests filled with racial stereotypes.

Challenging our own is a better strategy than attacking some TV critic who criticizes an overpaid news anchor who happens to be black.

Yeah, Mr. Saunders, do you really think Feder is worst than rappers Flavor Flav, 50 Cent (a great role model for kids right here), or Young Buck - who stabbed someone during a hip-hop awards show? You can take you community activism and... well, you know.

When the race card is played, we all lose. Everyone knows Chicago's race relations are poor, and not even Obama's election has changed that. It's sad that some people who work in the media industry choose to divide this city rather than unite it (perhaps because there's no profit in unifying anybody?)

Warner's comments are an total embarrassment to me, my race, media fanboys and fangirls everywhere, and to all of Chicago.

From his reprehensible antics to the way NATPE is being run into the ground, from Tim Kring calling fans of his show "dipshits", to Clear Channel's massive firings and the way they showed WNUA-FM personality Rick O'Dell the door, I have never been so disgusted with the media business the way I am now. And I've followed this business for 24 years.

When Barack Obama became the first African-American President, I was hoping for change. Turns out, the first thing that needs to change is the media business in Chicago. There is nowhere else in the country you can find such a freak show element (except maybe Philadelphia and Detroit.)

It looks like that's not going to happen.

Man, I can't wait to return to playwriting...

Eddie Schwartz dies

Longtime WGN-AM and WIND-AM personality Eddie Schwartz passed today at the age of 62. Schwartz worked the overnight shift on both station for many years, and is remembered fondly as a person who would listen to anybody and his or her problem. Schwartz also started a food drive at WGN, to help Chicago's poor.

Schwartz hasn't worked in radio since he left WLUP in 1995, but became a syndicated columnist for Lerner Newspapers.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

T Dog's Groovy Grab Bag

Sunflower Cable cries Uncle; More Super Bowl numbers; Costas leaves HBO; No Super Bowl bump for NBC

- NBC hoped it would get an audience for its Monday lineup of Chuck, Heroes, and Medium. Didn't work.

- But NBC did get some good news: Super Bowl XLIII viewership was adjusted upward to 98.7 million viewers - making it the most-watched Super Bowl in history, which the Pittsburgh Steelers won its sixth Super Bowl title.

- Bob Costas has left HBO to join Major League Baseball's new cable network, which launched January 1. Costas will host special programs on its network and also will handle play-by-play announcer duties on its baseball coverage. Costas remains with NBC Sports.

- In another follow up to an article posted here on January 7, Sunflower Cable has restored Hearst-Argyle's TV stations to its subscribers in Lawrence, Kansas. Both (ABC affiliate KMBC-TV and CW affiliate KCWE-TV out of Kansas City) were yanked from the system on Dec. 31 because of a contract dispute.

Earlier, KTKA-TV - which is owned by the same company who owns Sunflower Cable, which kept the two stations off its system - returned to Dish Network on January. The General Manager of KTKA just happens to be Sunflower COO Patrick Knorr's wife.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Super Bowl XLIII Ratings Box

The Super Bowl XLIII matchup between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Arizona Cardinals drew 95.4 million viewers, making it the third most-watched TV show of all time, trailing the 1983 series finale of M*A*S*H and Super Bowl XLII between the New England Patriots and the New York Giants. Here's the breakdown:

- In the 56 markets metered for overnight and/or LPM ratings by Nielsen the game averaged a 42.5 household rating and a 65 share for the entire game (5:31 p.m. to about 9:17 p.m., Central Time.)

- Among adults 18-49, the game averaged a 33.3/66 (based on the prime-time portion from fast affiliate count - the 5:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. portion was not factored in)

According to information provided by Douglas at (scroll down to see household overnight ratings for all 56 metered markets for the Super Bowl and The Office):

- In Pittsburgh, NBC affiliate WPXI-TV drew a whopping 53.6/79 in households, while Phoenix's NBC affiliate (KPNX-TV) earned a 47.5/80.

- Here in Chicago (on WMAQ-TV), the game drew a 41.1/64 household rating, while Milwaukee (WTMJ) drew a 43.2/64. KSL-TV in Salt Lake City drew the lowest household rating at 34.1.

The Office

The post Super Bowl episode of The Office drew 22 million viewers (final), ranking it as the third most-watched entertainment program this year, behind two episodes of American Idol. Among adults 18-49, Office drew a 10.6 rating, and a 12.5 among adults 18-34. The Office reguarly airs at 8 p.m. (Central) on NBC and has been sold into off-network syndication for this fall.

In Chicago, Office earned a household rating/share of 13.2/23. Baltimore's NBC affiliate (WBAL-TV) scored the highest household rating for the comedy at 16.1/26.

Best and Worst Super Bowl Commercials - 2009

This is the third annual review of the Super Bowl commercials. Believe it or not, this year's crop was actually better than those that ran during last year's game. Here are the best and the worst ads of Super Bowl XLIII (Click the link to watch the commercial):


1. Free Doritos. This spot was created by two amateurs who won an online contest sponsored by Doritos to create a Super Bowl Commercial. It features two co-workers who possess a crystal ball and trying to predict the future. The future told them they would be eating Doritos. So what do they do? They throw the ball at a vending machine containing the snack and volia! Free Doritos! Very funny stuff.

2. and 3. Bud's Clydesdales. Two spots finished second and third, respectively. The first one (Clydesdale Circus) features a Clydesdale romance with a circus horse in a funny but touching story; the other features a story regarding generations of Clydesdales (Clydesales Generations). Both spots were a hoot.

4. High Steppin' (NFL) This one features the New Orleans Saints' Usama Young, who discovers his talent is more suited to football than being a snow-cone salesman. You suppose he was fired from the gig because he was high steppin'? Or because he allegedly sold yellow snow-cones?

5. Mean Troy (Coke Zero). This funny ad is a sendup of the 1979 Super Bowl Coke commercial featuring Troy Polamalu in the Mean Joe Greene role - only with quite different results.

Honorable Mentions: I'm Good (Pepsi Max), Lizard Lake (Sobe), Refresh Anthem (Pepsi), Tips (Career Builder), Pepsuber (Pepsi), One Second Ads (Miller High Life.)


Go Daddy. The alleged hotness of Danica Patrick sells Go Daddy again in two forgettable spots: 1. Enhanced and 2. Shower, both forcing us to go online to see the rest (which was quite lame.) Hey kids, you can grow up to be Danica as well: all you have to do is drive around a track and never win and show your T&A to 100 million viewers. What a great role model. And no, she's not hot. Or talented.

3. Cash4gold. Wait, this advertiser actually had money to buy time on the Super Bowl? The advertiser that has never bought any spots outside of Judge Hatchett reruns? Maybe we should ask the two financial experts who were in this commercial on how to do exactly that and not lose your shirt - or your house. One of them used to be a spokesman for Publishers Clearing House. Man, how times change. Maybe he could use the million dollars...

4. Teleflora. Talking flowers in a box insult a woman. Would've been funnier if it was Rod Blagoveich receiving the flowers instead. Or Danica Patrick.

5. Vizio. The Little Guys Home Electronics in Glenwood advise you to steer clear of Vizio high-def sets. This self-absorbed commercial for these junky TV sets just proves them right.

Halftime show: The halftime show this year featured Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, performing a few songs and promoting his new album, Working on a Dream. His energy and enthusiasm made the halftime show quite fun to watch. And to this critic saying he "misread the national mood" - lighten up. Who do you think was more appropriate to perform, then? Helen Reddy or Debbie Boone?

Further Reading

-Bob Garfield from Advertising Age reviews the spots. Click here to read his reviews.

- USA Today's annual Ad Meter ranked Free Doritos first, ending the ten-year reign of Anheuser-Busch. On the other hand, Vizio ranked far and away dead last.

- For the third straight year, YouTube is rating the Super Bowl spots in its Ad Blitz promotion. You have until February 4 to pick your favorite.

- Of course, there's always someone saying how bad the Super Bowl Ads are. Click here and here and find out. Their assessment is about as tiresome as some of the ads.

Past Super Bowl Ad Reviews: 2007 (best), 2007 (worst), and 2008.