Thursday, April 30, 2009

Disney joins Hulu

It looks like Hulu has nabbed another partner to join its fold.

In a move which gives a boost to the fledgling video site, The Walt Disney Co. announced it will join partners News Corp. (Fox) and NBC Universal in Hulu.

The investment means shows owned by Disney - which appear on ABC, ABC Family, and in syndication via Disney-ABC Domestic Television Distribution will appear on the site.

Shows from include Grey's Anatomy, Private Practice, Ugly Betty, and The Secret Diary of the American Teenager, while Disney-ABC Domestic Television will contribute Legend of the Seeker and the syndicated version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.

The move also puts pressure on CBS to either join Hulu or expand its online offerings to compete with the ever-growing video site.

In addition to shows owned by NBC Universal and Twentieth Television on the site, other entities present on Hulu include those from PBS, Sony Pictures Television, and Comedy Central.

WBBM-TV cuts staff; demotes State

The Church of Tisch has done it again.

CBS-owned WBBM-TV underwent numerous staff cuts, including entertainment reporter Bill Zwecker, reporter Joanie Lum, and longtime fill-in sportscaster Howard Sudsberry.

In addition, the station also demoted Anne State - who is now only anchoring the 5 p.m. newscast with Rob Johnson, who is anchoring the 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. newscast solo. State is also being assigned to reporter duties.

Assistant news director Todd Woolman was also let go.

The last time the 10 p.m. newscast was anchored by only one person was the ill-fated experiment in 2000 when the station tried a hard news format fronted by Carol Marin.

WBBM is also discontinuing their weekend morning newscasts.

Thought: As mentioned above, the last time there was a solo anchor at 10 p.m. on WBBM-TV was Carol Marin, whose Ten O'Clock News experiment (while well-intentioned) was a bust. If a single-anchor format didn't work before at 10, why do they think it would work again?

Well, ABC brought back Cupid, didn't they? Enough said.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

More Clear Channel cuts

Gone are 590 jobs nationwide, including longtime WVAZ-FM (V103) veteran Troi Tyler and Irene Mojica; and WGCI-FM overnighter Ericka "Sundance " Campbell. Clear Channel also let Jeff "Smash Ditty" Murray go as music director and on-air personality of WKSC-FM.

Don't know about you, but if this keeps up, their might be nobody left at CC's Chicago outlets - including their listeners.

And in fact, there may not be any numbers for CC to sell if this is any indication...

More cuts:



... and Windsor, too! (though by CTV and not CC... but who can tell the difference?)

Celtics-Bulls scores in the ratings for ABC

Game 4 of what is shaping up to be the best series in the NBA Playoffs (excuse the hometown bias) scored big in the ratings Sunday afternoon - between the Boston Celtics and the Chicago Bulls.

Led by Ben Gordon, the Bulls scored a 121-118 double-overtime victory at the United Center over the Celtics to tie the series at 2-2.

The game averaged a 4.0 household rating, up 33% from last year's comparable time period game (Cavs-Wizards.)

Here in Chicago, WLS-TV averaged a 10.4 household rating for the game, while Boston's WCVB-TV averaged a 10.5.

Game 5 is scheduled for tonight at the TD Bankenworth Garden on Comcast SportsNet (in both Chicago and New England) and TNT nationally, starting at 6 p.m. (CT).

Go Bulls!

Monday, April 27, 2009

The T Dog Media Blog is now on Twitter

When the T Dog Media Blog launched on September 18, 2006, the mission was to provide you with media news in an informative - and funny bent.

But since September (when yours truly finally found a real job), he hasn't had much time to tend to the site - you used to see updates on here featuring even the most menial stories. What was 80 posts a month is now only 30, at best.

But now there's a solution: Twitter. Yes, yours truly has joined the social networking revolution, for better or worse. He's dived into the social networking pool and hopes he doesn't get wrinkled from staying in too long.

Beginning today, you'll see media tidbits with the one-line zingers and the sharp commentary you'd expect from The T Dog Media Blog - only in 140 characters (or less) bursts. Think of it as The T Dog Media Blog Express. You'll find the link to the Twitter page on The Sidebar, to the right - or at the bottom of this post.

Of course, yours truly will continue to post items here, including major media news stories along with T Dog's Groovy Grab Bag, T Dog's Four Pack, and The T Dog Media Blog Think Tank.

So come on, follow yours truly on Twitter as we deluge into the deep pool of media - hopefully, you'll come out with a smile on your face.

The T Dog Media Blog on Twitter - a better media news source is here... or not

"American Dad", "Christine" headed to syndication?

The answer is yes for one, maybe for the other.

A decision will be made soon on when Warner Bros. The New Adventures of Old Christine and Twentieth Century Fox's American Dad. This comes as the recession practically froze the market to sell anything in syndication for the last few months.

Christine is currently in trouble - the Julia-Louis Dreyfus vehicle may not be back on CBS this fall, but could move to ABC instead. As of right now, Christine would need another season of episodes to have enough for off-network syndication.

Meanwhile, the future is much clearer for American Dad. With 84 episodes already in the can and with the series renewed for another season, a sales pitch to stations may be coming soon. And it may be paired with Twentieth's other animated comedies in syndication, including The Simpsons, King of the Hill, Family Guy, and South Park (barter ad sales only.)

Dad was created by Seth McFarlane, who also created Family Guy and its upcoming spin-off, The Cleveland Show.

While American Dad's performance has been solid - it drew more 18-49 viewers on April 19th than the premiere of Sit Down, Shut Up (a program unlikely to see 16 episodes produced let alone 100), Christine has been moved around the schedule a lot due to its often mediocre performance. And if the ratings are mediocre, guess how well it'll do in syndication?

ABC O&Os add lifestyle channel

The ABC O&Os are turning their digital sub-channels to the Live Well HD network.

WLS-TV - along with nine other O&Os - are launching Live Well HD, a network airing six original (yes, original) health-related programs, including Let's Dish (a cooking show featuring Chris Koteke, the dean of the School of Culinary Arts at Kendall College) and Mirror, Mirror, a beauty and fashion show.

WLS general manager Emily Barr is managing the new network, along with William Burton, who is vice president of digital media of the ABC O&Os.

Live Well HD is somewhat similar to PBS' Create digital channel, which offers the same fare on some of the same subjects.

WLS is featuring Live Well HD on its 7.2 digital channel, but if you are a Comcast subscriber on Channel 217 - all you're getting as of Monday evening - is a black screen.

The launch comes as Wall Street analysts are predicting the revenues for the station group - whose stations are either number one or number two in their respective markets - could drop as much as 30 percent in the first three months of this year.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Bea Arthur dies

Emmy-winning and Tony-winning actress Beatrice Arthur (better known as Bea Arthur) died today at her Los Angeles home due to complications from cancer. She was 86.

Ms. Arthur starred as the lead in two major influential TV series: Maude (CBS, 1972-78) and The Golden Girls (NBC, 1985-92.) She was also a stage actress, who had performed on Broadway.

Before her TV roles, Ms. Arthur appeared in the Broadway plays Fiddler on the Roof and in the musical Mame, among others. Off-Broadway, she was cast in the 1954 stage play, The Threepenny Opera.

After years of bit parts in several television roles, Ms. Arthur finally nabbed a major role as Maude Findlay as the liberal cousin of Edith Bunker, the husband of blue-collar bigot Archie Bunker on the groundbreaking sitcom All in the Family. The heated exchanges between Maude and Archie Bunker were so entertaining, she was given her own spin-off.

Maude debuted on September 12, 1972, and dealt with controversial issues such as alcoholism, menopause, divorce, and abortion. In fact, two episodes of the series (titled "Maude's Dilemma") which dealt with Maude contemplating whether or not to get an abortion, were dropped by 40 CBS affiliates when it was reran in August 1973.

Maude ranked in the top ten for its' first four seasons, but by its last season (1977-78), it had dropped to 66th place. The series was revamped in 1978 in which Maude was elected as an U.S. Congressman and the series' setting was shifted to Washington D.C., but Ms. Arthur left the series three episodes in.

She returned to the small screen in early 1983 with the Americanized version of Faulty Towers, titled Amanda's (one of the few network series Viacom would produce.) The series -about a woman who ran a seaside hotel - checked out after ten episodes, with three left unaired.

She would have better luck two years later in The Golden Girls, which debuted on September 14, 1985. Ms. Arthur played Dorothy, a widower who shared a Miami house with three other other women (played by Betty White, Estelle Getty, and Rue McClanahan - who played Ms. Arthur's next door neighbor on Maude.)

Like Maude, the program often dealt with controversial subjects (though in a less serious way) including impotence, gay marriage, plastic surgery, and AIDS. The program became one of NBC's biggest hits - on a Saturday no less, and was in the top ten until the 1991-92 season, when a switch to an earlier time period sent it to 30th place. Ms. Arthur left in 1992, and the series moved to CBS with the three remaining ladies and was renamed The Golden Palace. All in all, The Golden Girls was nominated for a total of 65 Emmy Awards, and won eleven of them.

In 2002, Ms. Arthur returned to Broadway in the one-woman show Bea Arthur on Broadway: Just Between Friends and made appearances on a few television series including Curb Your Enthusiasm and Malcolm in the Middle (where she played Dewey's babysitter and earned an Emmy nomination.) She also had a guest-voice role on Futurama - and for worse, also appeared in the poorly-received Star Wars Holiday Special.

Ms. Arthur was inducted in the TV Academy Hall of Fame last year. She is survived by her sons and two granddaughters.

T Dog's Think Tank: Zucker and Silverman have got to go

When you think for losing disasters, you think of the Detroit Lions, Washington Nationals, Los Angeles Clippers, New York Islanders, etc.

And then there's NBC, who has been taking losing to a whole new level as of late.

Consider this: Recently, the network announced it was airing a "new" reality show this summer, titled I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here!, which will be stripped Monday-Thursday for a few weeks in June. It features "celebrities" wanting to get out of a jungle, begging viewers to vote them off.

Only problem is, Get Me Out Of Here has aired before - on ABC back in February and March of 2003 - and bombed in the ratings.

And NBC has now picked it up for this summer, six years after its demise. And even worse, guess who they signed as their first contestant - former governor of Illinois and future dropping-the-soap-in-prison inmate Rod Blagoveich (who was denied by a judge to participate.)

Why, you ask?

All you have to look at are the two clowns running the network: Jeff "Doogie" Zucker and Ben "I party all the time" Silverman. They have turned NBC from Must See TV to Mustn't See TV with such craptacular shows like Kings and Howie Do It. The surprising item here is, Ben Silverman is not related to Fred Silverman - the man who was successful at CBS and ABC, but produced dud after dud for NBC in the late 1970's and early 1980's. He green-lighted such low-brow fare like Supertrain and Pink Lady and Jeff, with Gary Coleman of Diff'rent Strokes the biggest star at the network. Yikes.

Already, they put a revival of forgettable 1980's sitcom Harper Valley P.T.A. - it's called Parks & Recreation, with Amy Poheler in Barbara Eden's role (wait... it isn't a revival?) And don't forget the failed revivals of Knight Rider and American Gladiators, mid-level performers who weren't even successful to begin with.

But why not stop there? Zucker and Silverman could bring back Joe Namath's The Waverly Wonders, or Love, Sidney. They can sign Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer of Epic Movie and Disaster Movie fame to head future sitcom projects. We all know they can't write anything worth of shit - but that won't stop Doogie and Mr. Partyman.

And recently, Doogie made a speech at the McGraw-Hill Summit criticizing Jon Stewart and The Daily Show for unfairly skewing Rick Santelli of CNBC and his famous rant from the floor of The Chicago Board of Trade, regarding the federal bailout. And at the same seminar, Zucker said his company is primarily in the cable business first and foremost (looking at their prime-time ratings, they stopped being in the broadcast networks business years ago.)

And then there's the matter regarding NBCs' O&O in Chicago and their handling of this incident.

Enough is enough. It's time for King Zucker and court jester Silverman to go. They have practically destroyed a network with a great tradition of success - one who introduced color and among the first to broadcast in stereo - to nothing more than a laughingstock. Their news divisions - on the national and a few on the local O&O level (look at the current state of WNBC-TV in New York and you'll know what I mean) - are utter jokes.

The business needs more visionaries like the late Brandon Tarkitoff and Grant Tinker. Sure, Tarkitoff created his fair share of crap for NBC back in the day with Manimal, The Rousters, and Yellow Rose, but the network gained credibility with critically-acclaimed programs (Hill Street Blues, Fame, St. Elsewhere, Cheers) and it all came together with smash hits (The Cosby Show, Golden Girls) and rode the top of the ratings for much of the 1980's. NBC's success continued into the 1990's with Seinfeld, Friends, Fraiser, and ER.

The current vaudeville act of Zucker and Silverman aren't even close to trying.

The network once known for producing high-quality fare is know more known for revivals of already-crummy shows, inept leadership, shoddy marketing, and letting once-good shows (Heroes) go to shit. The National Broadcasting Company now stands for Nothing But Crap.

If NBC does get rid of Ben Silverman, don't celebrate - it could get progressively worse. Last I heard, former network star Gary Coleman is still looking for a job.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

T Dog's Groovy Grab Bag

ABC pickups; Millionaire returns to prime-time; Caprica is here; B96's new hires.

- ABC has picked up twelve veteran series for the 2009-2010 season, despite the fact some have eroded in the ratings. Renewals include Grey's Anatomy, Private Practice, Supernanny, Wife Swap, and Ugly Betty. Betty, who returns on April 30 at 7 p.m. (CT) will likely keep its time period, despite ratings down 20 percent from a year ago (and the show still exhibits some strength among key female demos.)

Believe it or not, ABC is tied with NBC for third place season-to-date among adults 18-49. With these renewals of aging shows- and unless one of ABC's new fall shows really clicks - their position is unlikely to improve.

- Is that your final answer?: In other ABC news.... to celebrate the series' tenth anniversary, ABC is bringing back Who Wants To Be A Millionaire this August with a two-week nightly event, airing Sundays through Thursday with Regis Phillbin as host. Millionaire debuted as a ten-night event in 1999 and was so successful it began airing three nights a week in 2000. But when ABC expanded it to four and five nights a week, viewers quickly got tired of the show and was dropped as a regular series in June 2002, only coming back as occasional specials until 2004.

Since September 2002, Millionaire has been airing as a syndicated strip distributed by Disney-ABC Domestic Television, with Meredith Vierra as host. The program airs weekdays at 5 p.m. locally on WGN-TV.

- Here's a review of the new Battlestar Galactica prequel Caprica by Tribune's Mo Ryan. This is basically a backdoor pilot for the new series scheduled to premiere on Sci Fi next year. The best part about this is - you can go to your local video store and pick Caprica up for viewing today - its a direct-to-DVD release.

Battlestar Galactica concluded its run last month by drawing 2.5 million viewers for its final episode.

- WBBM-FM (B96) has named Nikki its new midday host. Her last stint was at WPWX-FM (Power 92), but was best known as a midday personality at WKSC-FM (Kiss 103.5). Also, part-timer Jerzy is now a full-timer at B96. The former Stylz & Roman prodcuer and current club DJ can now be heard on evenings on the Rhytmic station.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Chicago PPMs for March


WBBM-AM, WLS-AM & FM, The Drive (WDRV-FM), The Mix (WTMX-FM)

Honorable Mention:





WBBM continued to ride the top of the PPM chart into the month of March with a 16% advantage over second place WLS-AM. If anyone tells you AM radio is dead, send them here so they can see how much it is vibrant it is.

The Drive (WDRV) pushed up to third, while V103 (WVAZ) finished fourth. Without Tom Joyner in the mix, expect a drop for V103.

Big gainers in this survey included The Mix and WNUA, who jumped 21% to tenth place for its best showing in months. Meanwhile, once-moribound Power 92 continues to gain at WGCI's expense. Another big gainer was Univision's Spanish pop outlet (WVIV), who gained 21% month-to-month.

On the other side of the coin, WLIT (-8%) and WFMT (-20%) both took it on the chin.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

T Dog's Four Pack : The Baseball Edition

In honor of the start of another baseball season, we have an out-of-the-park edition of T Dog's Four Pack:

You can put it on the board, yes!

- Super Saturday. All of Chicago's four sports teams who played on Saturday (including the Bulls and Blackhawks, who are in the playoffs) hit a home run, with each winning their games. The real question is, can they keep up their momentum? (The Bulls and Blackhawks fell back to earth Monday night by losing.)

- Southland. NBC's new L.A-based drama is a little too formulaic for yours truly's tastes, but it held its' audience in its' second week and beat CBS' Harper Island in adults 18-49.

- Tom Joyner returns to Chicago. As predicted here, the Fly Jock returns to Chicago on Soul 106.3 beginning Wednesday. Great job, Crawford Broadcasting.

- Susan Boyle's performance on YouTube. A "Britain's Got Talent" performer drew over 12 million views with her performance, worthy of a Philadelphia Phillies World Championship.

Grab Some Bench

- Miss USA. Um, this aired last Sunday night - at 6 p.m.?! (It looks like Ben Silverman was high again when he was making schedule decisions.) Way to go, NBC. Next stop: Cable obscurity, where the Miss America Pageant and the San Diego Padres already reside.

- The Amazing Race. A Yankees-Red Sox-like brawl on Sunday's edition leaves very little to be desired. Is this becoming The Bad Girls Club or Flavor of Love?

- Sit Down, Shut Up. Worst animated series ever? Speaking of annoying pieces of fecal matter, the phrase should also apply to Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa.

- I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here returns to TV. Which may feature disgraced Illinois Governor Rod Blagoveich. I'm a TV viewer, get this bullsh** off my screen! Once again, Nothing But Crap honcho Ben Silverman was high when making these type of schedule decisions...

Monday, April 20, 2009

Tom Joyner heads to Soul 106.3

It's official: The Tom Joyner Morning Show, which was bounced off of WVAZ-FM (V103) after 13 years last month, is heading to WSRB-FM (Soul 106.3) effective Wednesday (and was predicted here - and well, everywhere else.)

No details were available on the terms of the deal between The Fly Jock's syndicators (Reach Media and Radio One) and Crawford Broadcasting, the owner of WSRB-FM as well as urban contemporary WPWX-FM (Power 92.). But one thing is for sure - TJMS will be stripped every weekday morning from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. and a weekend version (featuring the week's best bits) wil run Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

As you recall, Tom Joyner's show was abruptly canceled by WVAZ after Clear Channel decided to move competitor The Steve Harvey Show from WGCI-FM to WVAZ, to launch a younger-skewing local show on WGCI to compete with WPWX-FM's increasingly popular Morning Jumpoff. Clear Channel's Premiere Radio Networks syndicated The Steve Harvey Show.

On his blog at, Joyner was more than ecastic about his return to the Windy City - a place he caled home for many years. He credits the show's fan base in Chicago for pressing WSRB to pick up the show via writing letters and tweetering.

Thought: Yours truly said WSRB should pick up the phone and grab this show after WVAZ dropped The Tom Joyner Morning Show. They listened. And they did it.

No, no, no, don't thank The T Dog Media Blog for making this happen... Okay, maybe yours truly had a small part to play in bringing the TJMS back... But seriously, the fans of the show had a major say in WSRB picking up the strip after WVAZ dropped it. And now with Joyner on board, WSRB has gone from an also-ran right into the game.

What WSRB needs to do now is to hold on to those Tom Joyner listeners throughout the day. While it already has the syndicated Michael Baisden in the afternoons, it needs live personalities in the mornings and evenings - not to mention improvement to its signal, which does not cover all of Chicagoland.

Oh - and welcome back, Tom.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

This just in: Local news trumps reruns

KRON-TV San Francisco to dump Dr. Phil?

It looks like these days viewers prefer the corruption, depression, politics, and crime to escapist fare.

It what could be yet another blow to the syndication business, a story by Bloomberg News suggests local stations are dumping entertainment fare to air more local news especially in major markets.

This comes as the fight for time periods are escalating in the light of several recent cancellations, and many stations are filling those vacant time slots with local news, or other programming. Local stations have lost faith in syndicated programming, thanks to a glut of daytime court shows, and a lack of quality off-network sitcoms.

Recent examples include Fox-owned WJBK-TV moving Seinfeld repeats to 11:30 p.m. in favor of re-establishing an 11 p.m. newscast. The last time WJBK aired an 11 p.m. newscast was in 1994, when it was still a CBS affiliate.

Other stations have decided to take the national network newscasts. WGN-TV here in Chicago added a 5:30 p.m. last September while sister station KTLA-TV in Los Angeles added a 6:30 p.m. newscast in January. Fox affiliate WXIX-TV in Cincinnati added a 6:30 p.m. last September as well.

In Chicago, the early-fringe news race could get crowded this fall if Fox-owned WFLD-TV adds a 5 p.m. show, which has been in the works for the last few years.

The reasons? Local news cost less to produce than acquiring syndicated programming, especially off-network sitcoms. And speaking of those, they have become more and more scarce as networks have filled their prime-time schedules with more reality shows and dramas. And most existing off-net sitcoms have shared cable/broadcast windows. For example, TBS holds the rights to many popular off-net sitcoms, including Friends, Seinfeld, and Family Guy - all of which drain rating points from broadcasters airing the same programming.

More importantly, stations get to keep all their ad inventory during local news - whereas in most syndicated programming, they have to give up anywhere from three and-a-half to eight minutes of ad time to syndicators for them to sell to national advertisers for barter purposes, not counting fee spots.

And given the way the world is today, viewers want to be more informed on issues that effect them the most, including the recession. Politics is another fueling factor, with interest still sky high - even in an non-election year. Chicago's top-rated radio stations are AM outlets who are either news, talk, or both.

And much like you can get your music anywhere, anytime these days - television programming is now readily available on demand on the Internet, DVDs, and other sources - rendering "appointment TV" obsolete.

Despite local news' reputation for crime, violence and other "it bleeds, it leads" content, demand among advertisers is still high- since local news is basically DVR-proof.

And the article points out many stations' local newscasts draw higher ratings than most prime-time programs. This is true for ABC-owned WLS-TV in Chicago at 10 p.m., whose top-rated newscast often outdraw ABC shows like Lost and Life on Mars.

The same holds true for NBC affiliates WTMJ-TV in Milwaukee and KSDK-TV in St. Louis, whose strong news operations hasn't really been affected by NBC's prime-time woes (though KSDK has often been beat at 10 p.m. by rival CBS affilaite KMOV.)

Meanwhile, independent KRON-TV in San Francisco could drop Dr. Phil from its schedule when the program's contract expires in the next three years, according to the station manager, who was quoted in the article. This isn't a surprise, given the fragile condition of its owner (Young Broadcasting, who recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.) Currently, Dr. Phil runs at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. weekdays.

Many in the industry feel there is still a great need for quality syndicated programming. But the key word is quality. It is missing from syndicated programming these days. It seems to be missing from local news as well.

Extra credit: Here are the recent local news ratings for Kansas City, pretty much a snapshot of how the local television business is these days. At 4 p.m., CBS affiliate KCTV's news is in striking distance of ABC affiliate's KMBC-TV airings of The Oprah Winfrey Show, which is still number one in its time period, but not as dominant. Despite a declining Ellen as a lead-in, KCTV was up in all afternoon and early-evening time slots, while KMBC slipped in every one of them.

Meanwhile slipping ratings for Fox affiliate WDAF-TV's court shows and American Idol are taking a toll on the station's newscasts.

The lesson learned here is: while some stations aren't really dependent on lead-ins, others are - and when the lead-in tanks, so does the station's newscast.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Sun-Times names Paige Wiser new TV Critic

Longime features columnist Paige Wiser was named the Chicago Sun-Times' new TV Critic today, and she'll begin writing on Sunday. The gig was previously held by Doug Elfman, who was dropped amid a flurry of budget cuts last year.

The move marks the first time TV scribes at two of Chicago's biggest newspapers are female - Maureen Ryan was named TV Critic of the Chicago Tribune in 2005.

Among her favorite shows on the air right now is Lost (if she can understand it, she's got the job!)

And her TV influences range from better (Gigglesnort Hotel, WKRP in Cincinnati, Freaks and Geeks, Arrested Development) to worse (Joanie Loves Chachi, Tyra Banks, and Big Brother. Hey, Paige - you should hook up with Marc Berman for that last one!)

As soon as she gets her columns up and running, you'll find her with Marc, Maureen, Aaron Barnhart and the rest of the gang on The Sidebar.

And to the haters - be thankful it's her and not Lewis Lazare.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

John Madden retires

Boom! The big guy is riding his bus into the sunset with his telestrator.

Football color commentator John Madden retired today from the booth after 30 years of service. He was the only broadcaster to work for all four networks - CBS, Fox, ABC, and NBC.

Madden was the longtime coach of the Oakland Raiders and led them to victory in Super Bowl XI over the Minnesota Vikings. He retired from the Raiders shortly afterward and joined CBS, where he was later paired with Pat Summerall. The duo called games together for more than 20 years, the most successful duo in sports broadcasting history.

When the NFL left CBS for Fox in 1994, Summerall and Madden followed - continuing their partnership until 2002, when Fox cut him loose.

Madden joined ABC later that year and was paired with Al Michaels for Monday Night Football. When NBC acquired the rights to air Sunday Night Football in 2006 (ending ABC's 36-year hold on MNF), Madden and Michaels jumped to the peacock network.

Madden's expertise and his love of the sport made him one of the most trusted names in football - and one of the richest. Madden developed a video game football series for Electronic Arts in 1989 for the Apple II Computer. Today, it stands as one of the most successful video game franchises in history, selling millions of copies worldwide.

With Madden retiring, NBC has tapped Cris Collinsworth as a replacement.

Meanwhile, there is no word on what Frank Caliendo will do now Madden is retired. Madden was one of the characters Caliendo imitated on Fox's Sunday NFL pre-game show and on his now-canceled Frank TV "comedy" program (maybe now he can look for a real job?)

Updated 10:05 p.m. on 2009-04-17 (corrected the Super Bowl John Madden won - round numerals were switched around)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

WBBM-AM tops 2008 revenue list

CBS-owned all-news outlet WBBM-AM was Chicago's top billing radio station in 2008, according to BIA Financial Network.

WBBM-AM earned $44.9 million in revenue for 2008, according to the report. Tribune's WGN-AM came in a close second with $44.5 million, no doubt fueled by Cubs baseball. WGN's huge haul comes despite an older-skewing audience.

The top music station was Bonneville's WTMX-FM, whose upscale-targeted demo help net them $34.8 million. Rounding out the top five were Urban Contemporary WGCI-FM ($29.7 million) and Spanish-language WOJO-FM ($22.9 million.)

Among the battle of the Top 40 stations, WBBM-FM topped WKSC-FM by a score of $18.5 million to $16.7 million.

Overall, Chicago radio stations were down 6 percent from 2007's revenue figures.

Despite WBBM-AM's huge haul, no Chicago radio station made the nation's top ten billing list for 2008. Topping the national list was Clear Channel-owned KIIS-FM in Los Angeles, with the Top 40 station earning $66.3 million. In fact, Bonneville's all-news WTOP-AM in Washington, D.C. - a smaller radio market than Chicago (#8) - topped all Windy City stations with a haul of $51.8 million.

To see the complete list of radio stations and their revenue, click here.

Oh, now he gets it

You ever hear of buyer's remorse? Well, Sam Zell has a huge case of it. In an interview with Bloomberg News, The Tribune owner said buying the debt-ridden media company was "a mistake", saying he was "too optimistic."

Zell said he didn't know the economy would crater like it did, and wouldn't do the deal if he had to do it again. In other words - he gambled, and he lost. It's like taking a big pile of money to a casino, betting it all on red, and losing your shirt (and pants, meaning you're walking home in your underwear.)

Hopes for a local media congromlate keeping jobs in Chicago and maintaining Chicago's presence in the media world has instead degenerated into mass layoffs, a diluted and an awfully redesigned newspaper, and Chapter 11 bankruptcy. What was once known as a great newspaper has turned into a shell of its former self (fluff stories on page three? Come on.)

So much for all that "change" he was talking about. With its rival Chicago Sun-Times also in Chapter 11, the great newspaper town we once lived in is no more.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Movin' out the door

Los Angeles' KMVN-FM is moving out the door and so is the station's morning man, Rick Dees.

As of tomorrow, the legendary Radio Hall of Fame personality is moving his act to his own website. Titled All Number One Hits ( the new site features contemporary hit music, live hosts (including games), videos, games, and an iPhone application, along with social networking capibilites (Facebook and Twitter, of course.) The site is being run by Dees Entertainment, is also being offered on his other website,

Not bad from a former Memphis DJ, who hit number one in 1976 with his novelty single "Disco Duck".

As you recall, Dees was bounced from KIIS-FM's morning drive spot in early 2004 after 22 years and replaced by Ryan Seacrest (in an ironic twist, Seacrest also replaced Casey Kasem as host of American Top 40 around the same time. Dees hosts a rival countdown show, The Weekly Top 40.)

The move comes as more and more radio-like projects are launching on the web. Recently, Mike North launched a new Chicago sports radio station on the web titled Chicago Sports Webio (, with live hosts part of the day.

Dees and the rest of the staff of low-rated KMVN-FM, or Movin 93.9 in Los Angeles, were bounced after owner Emmis Communications made a deal with Mexican-based Grupo Radio Centro to lease airtime and provide Spanish-language programming on the station on a full-time basis. Movin', which featured a rhythmic adult contemporary format targeted to women 25-44, was also bounced from a St. Louis outlet last October after the owner (Bonneville Communications) decided to launch an all-new sports-talk station (memo to Alan Burns and Associates: the only place Movin' is Movin' is right into the trash can.)

KMVN initially played rhythmic currents and recurrents dating back a decade, but later shifted to a more gold-based 1970's and 1980's rhythmic product.

With terrestrial radio abandoning high-priced talent in an economy continuing to go south, these former radio stars are taking matters in their own hands. More power to them.

Monday, April 13, 2009

T Dog's Groovy Grab Bag

- Among women 18-34, which talk show is second only behind Oprah Winfrey?

Tyra Banks? Nope. Ellen? Try Again. Come on. You've got to be talking about Jerry Springer... Um, no.

It's Maury Povich. Yes, 70-year old Maury Povich. Yes, the same guy who brought you A Current Affair back in the day.

NBC Universal's Maury (in its 11th season - not counting the seven he had beforehand with Paramount) is currently second in the women 18-34 demo among talk shows, with the median audience for Maury's show second only behind Tyra.

Topics on the show pretty much run the gamut from paternity tests to crazy home videos.

In Chicago, WGN-TV airs Maury weekdays at 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m, where in the latter time slot last Monday (4/6), the rabid talk show finished first among women 18-34. WPIX-TV in New York City won its 10 a.m. time slot among the same demo on the same day on in while its sister station in Los Angeles (KTLA) won the demo at noon and 2 p.m.

WPIX, KTLA, and WGN are all Tribune-owned CW affiliates - the network trying to make a name for itself among women 18-34 in prime-time. If it need a spokesperson to promote the lineup, maybe they should hire Mr. Povich...

- Usually, news crews cover crime and violence on the streets - but on their own news sets? Get this: A fight broke out on a news set at CBS affiliate WTOC-TV in Savannah, Ga. last Thursday night. Police were called in around 9 p.m. where two employees were literally fighting. One person was taken to the hospital.

- ESPN's new Chicago website launched today, titled ESPN Chicago. The site has sponsors (Hawthrone Race Course and StubHub, with MillerCoors coming aboard later) It's basically the same as ESPN's national site only with a Chicago theme. Click here to check it out.

- If you thought NBC's programming is bad now, then check this out: A Los Angeles-based blog named Franklin Ave. served up a post on what a typical Friday night was on the peacock network back in 1981. Back then, NBC was a distant third place behind CBS and ABC - a spot they held for nearly a decade before The Cosby Show helped them dig out of the cellar in 1984.

Hey, if you loved Parks & Recreation, then you'll love Harper Valley P.T.A. with Barbara Eden. And check out the "new hit series" The Brady Brides (yes, they were lying in promos back then too.)

To see the promo, click here and then click on the video.

Here's a local take: Despite NBC's lousy prime-time lineup, WMAQ-TV finished second in the overall ratings back in 1981 and 1982 behind CBS-owned WBBM-TV - who had the popular Bill Kurtis and Walter Jacobson fronting their newscasts. Believe it or not, the dog station in town was ABC-owned WLS-TV, who usually finished fourth or even fifth. But two people - one named Oprah Winfrey and another Vanna White - would soon change that.

Today, just like then, WMAQ is still second - this time behind only WLS, which is now a huge powerhouse.

WHDH backs down on Leno

WHDH-TV in Boston has agreed to air Jay Leno's new 10 p.m. (ET) show after all beginning in September as originally planned.

The NBC affiliate two weeks ago announced they were going to regularly pre-empt the show to air a local newscast. NBC threatened to yank its affiliation and move it to their Telemundo affiliate, WNEU (NBC owns Telemundo) or an other outlet.

But cooler heads have prevailed, and WHDH has agreed to air Leno's show at 10 p.m. Both sides apparently realized breaking up a successful relationship over ONE SHOW wasn't worth it and wasn't worth angering Red Sox Nation.

Friday, April 10, 2009

All Access: Tom Joyner to move to Soul 106.3

Have the suits at Crawford Broadcasting been reading this blog? (Scary.)

A few weeks ago, yours truly suggested Crawford should go after The Tom Joyner Morning Show for its WSRB-FM (Soul 106.3) after it was dropped by crosstown rival WVAZ-FM (V103).

Well, it looks like they may have taken my advice.

According to radio trade website All Access, WSRB acquired the rights to air TJMS. Final details are being worked out, but several inside sources expect Joyner to join WSRB (as of this writing, the story is on their front page right now.)

This news comes as a story appeared in the Chicago Tribune this morning on how Steve Harvey is handling his show's move to WVAZ. In the article, Clear Channel - who still owns the rights to Joyner's show in the Chicago market - must OK any deal Joyner's syndicators (Reach Media and Radio One) can make before the end of the year - despite WVAZ pulling Joyner off the air a few weeks ago.

Judging by today's news, it looks like Clear Channel gave Reach Media and Radio One the permission to move their show over to WSRB.

Joyner's show - with a built-in audience - will likely boost WSRB's profile in the Chicago market. Ratings and revenue for the Urban AC outlet have been hampered due to its notorious signal problems. Steve Harvey's show aired on WSRB until 2007, when Premiere Radio Networks (who is owned by Clear Channel) moved Harvey to Clear Channel-owned WGCI-FM, replacing local morning personality Howard McGee.

Harvey: Don't blame me for Joyner's departure

Back to today's Trib article, Steve Harvey talked with Phil Rosenthal and said he's not the reason Tom Joyner was unceremoniously dumped from WVAZ. He says the idea for the move was Clear Channel Chicago's, and not his.

The article also revealed something surprising - Harvey's move and Joyner's cancellation happened indirectly, meaning Joyner was the sacrificial lamb for WGCI's mistake.

Harvey was shifted to WVAZ from WGCI so the station could launch the younger-skewing Morning Riot, to compete with a surprisingly rising WPWX-FM (Power 92), who also has an urban contemporary format. In the most recent PPM survey, WGCI's lead over its rival shrink to only half in the 6+ demo and Power 92 made the top ten among 18-34s - a key demo for the Hammond, Ind. - based outlet.

Another interesting note in the article is management from Clear Channel Chicago actually asked Harvey to play more hip-hop on his show. If you recall in his KKBT days in Los Angeles when he did morning drive, Harvey often criticized some of the station's music - which had a hip-hop/urban format - similar to WGCI's. In other words (and as yours truly pointed out when this deal was made nearly two years ago) - Harvey's older-skewing show (which targets the 25-54 demo) did not fit with WGCI, whose main demo is basically 18-34 and 18-49 (though it is in the top ten in the 25-54 demo.)

And as expected, Power 92 benefited with its morning show (hosted by Trey) showing ratings gains.

As for Steve Harvey, his show should do well on WVAZ though he may have a tough road ahead to match Joyner's numbers. It's a better fit for V103 while The Morning Riot is a better fit for WGCI while Joyner and WSRB's match is perfect, despite the weak signal. After two tumulus years in urban radio in Chicago, all seems to be right - for now.

Side notes: And props to Steve Harvey for coming out and talking to the Trib telling his side of the story. Harvey should not be the fall guy for Joyner's cancellation. Clear Channel was correcting a mistake that never should have been made in the first place - putting his show on WGCI and displacing Howard McGee.

And speaking of HowardMcGee... he returns to Chicago radio this weekend, hosting an one-hour Sunday Afternoon show with attorney Jeffrey Leving- of all places, WSRB-FM. Leving was often a guest on McGee's old WGCI show, in which he discussed Father's Rights.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

WGN America unveils new logo and programming

Yes, a two-for-one offer. Say goodbye to the eyes and hello to the blocks.

WGN America announced another overhaul, with a new logo and announced new programming, including several reality shows.

According to Chief Innovation Officer Lee Abrahms (yes, it's an actual title), the moves are being made to better reflect the diversity of America, particularly the middle part of the country.

The new lineup includes a new show from the WWE (Superstars), which airs Thursday nights and Sunday mornings (including an airing here locally over WGN-TV at 11 a.m.); a Saturday morning celebrity cooking show (Hollywood & Dine); a Thursday night documentary (Around the World for Free) where a person travels the world - with NO money (a lot of hitchhiking in this one); and Cultivating Life, a public-TV like program airing on Saturday mornings.

WGN America adds this to a lineup filled with other fare including Star Trek: The Next Generation, Scrubs, and The Bob & Tom Show (which also airs on WTTV in their home base of Indianapolis.)

As part of WGN America's makeover, the channel is doing away with traditional voiceovers and music, and plans on having a five-note chime being adopted for individual shows.

Despite all the changes, some Chicago programming remains on the channel, including news, sports (except Blackhawks and some Bulls games), public-affairs shows, and The Bud Billiken Parade.

WGN America is only available in the Chicago area through Direct TV.

Official Press Release

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

March Madness ends without the madness

Monday night's NCAA College Basketball Championship between Michigan State and North Carolina turned out to be the lowest-rated of all time (how often have you heard that phrase?)

But what we are mad for now is baseball.

The game, in which North Carolina blew out Michigan State drew only a 10.8 household rating and an 18 share, according to Nielsen, drawing just 17.6 viewers overall.

As far as Chicago viewers are concerned, they shifted their interest to baseball - particularly the Cubs. Monday night's Cubs-Astros season opener was the averaged a 8.1 household rating from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., with a peak of 10.4 at 7:45 p.m.

The game beat everything in the key adult 25-54 demo, including the NCAA basketball game and Dancing With the Stars.

Meanwhile, Tuesday's delayed opener between the Royals and the White Sox did well for CSN, averaging a 3.2 household rating from 1 to 4 p.m. - respectively good for the time period given the lower homes-using-television levels in this daypart - which Lewis Lazare did not mention in this article.

Just how did he get his job again?

Monday, April 06, 2009

T Dog's Four Pack : The Final Four Edition

What's worked the last two weeks - and what didn't - in the world of media with a basketball theme:

Four slam dunks

- March Madness. Ratings for the annual NCAA tourney have been pretty good, outperforming the rest of the competition on the boards with year-to-year increases. And tonight's title game should do well with Michigan St. and North Carolina in the title game.

- Garry Meier signs with WGN-AM. The free agent (which he is often) signs with the legendary station to fill its afternoon slot. Good move.

- Battlestar Galactica. The retirement of one of the all-time sci-fi greats pulled in 2.5 million viewers in it's final game. The word "frak" will be retired up in the rafters at Sci Fi Channel Arena (or is it SyFy? See the "four airballs" section below.)

- The Heineken Scream. Ahhhh!!! Heineken scores a three at the buzzer with this ad, featuring how guys would react if we had a closet full of something (and shoes are so overrated... Except for Jordans and Air Force Ones.) Click here to see the video.

Four airballs.

- Osbournes: Reloaded. Much like a Clippers-Warriors game, it was pretty much lame as advertised, with no buzz (the press practically ignored it) and low ratings. You know your outrageous, envelope-pushing program is a bomb when even the Parents Television Council doesn't care about it.

- WHDH dumps Jay Leno new prime-time show. Boston station thinks it could grab more revenue by airing the same crime, corruption, accidents, and fires other stations are airing at 10pm (and on newscasts throughout the day, in fact.) NBC threatens to yank affiliation and risk ratings by moving it to a little-watched outlet. Who's right here? NBC or WHDH? It's like being a Duke fan and trying to figure out who to root for in a North Carolina-Maryland game.

- SyFy. A missed dunk of a name, changing the cable channel from SciFi to "SyFy", which is B.S. - Beyond Stupid. Evidence New York Knicks management is running this operation.

- Fight Night at the UC. A 4-0 victory by the Vancouver Canucks over the Chicago Blackhawks on March 29 turned into "The Jerry Springer Show" in the third period at the United Center, with fighting, name calling, and even hair-pulling. The only thing missing were the hookers, transvestites, and Springer himself.

And not to mention Ron Artest.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Sweeping up

From the recently concluded March ratings period:

Chicago: WLS-TV remained on top, as usual at 10 p.m., but CBS-owned WBBM-TV is up 50 percent in the same time period in households. At 9 p.m., WGN-TV's newscast had a 43 percent advantage over an above-average WFLD-TV, despite popular Fox prime-time lead-ins.

Milwaukee: And lead-ins didn't matter here either, as NBC affiliate WTMJ beat its competition at 10 p.m. in households. NBC's primetime lineup finished fourth, while Fox's WITI finished first.

Dallas: ABC affilate WFAA-TV won at 6 p.m. and 10 p.m., but was upset by NBC O&O KXAS-TV at 5 p.m., despite WFAA's Oprah lead-in.

Boston: Fox-owned WFXT's 10 p.m. newscast beat all three network affiliates' 11 p.m. newscasts in total viewers, thanks to Fox's prime-time lineup. ABC affiliate WCVB-TV won early fringe; NBC affiliate WHDH-TV (who plans on not running Leno at 10 p.m. this fall) won mornings.

Columbus, Ohio: Longtime ratings leader WBNS-TV finished first in every daypart in households and all in all news time periods. The CBS affiliate bested NBC affiliate WCMH-TV and ABC affiliate WSYX-TV. Fox affiliate WTTE meanwhile, saw rating boost at 10 p.m., thanks to Fox's prime-time. Both WSYX and WTTE are owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

WHDH to Leno: Get lost

In a move that could put its fourteen-year NBC affiliation at risk, WHDH-TV in Boston has told NBC it plans not to run Jay Leno's new weeknight show at 10 p.m. (ET) but instead run a prime-time newscast.

Leno got the 10 p.m. time slot after losing his longtime 11:35 p.m. Tonight Show slot to Conan O'Brien. Leno leaves Tonight next month and moves to prime-time in September; O'Brien takes over June 1.

NBC reacted quickly to the move, saying it would strip WHDH's affiliation with the network if it went ahead with it, saying "[The move] is a flagrant violation of the terms of their contract with NBC."

If it goes ahead and removes itself from its Boston affiliate, it would have limited options. The peacock network could move the affiliation to WNEU-TV (Channel 60), which is a Telemundo affiliate (NBC Universal owns Telemundo) - or start a station from scratch. Boston is the largest market (#7) whose NBC station is not an O&O.

The owner of WHDH (Ed Ansin) said he believes Leno would not be a good lead-in to the station's late-night newscast, whose 11 p.m. show already gets pounded by rival newscasts on CBS-owned WBZ-TV and ABC affiliate WCVB-TV. The 10 p.m. newscast is dominated by Fox-owned WFXT-TV, which on some nights beats one or two of the 10 p.m. dramas on the networks. WHDH already runs a newscast at 10 on co-owned CW affiliate WLVI-TV.

Ansin belives WHDH's newscasts would outdraw Leno's prime-time show. If Leno's show does not air in Boston, the move could hurt NBC and Leno big time.

Yes, this is the same Mr. Ansin whose WSVN-TV in Miami lost its NBC affiliation in 1989 after the network bought another station in town (WTVJ). WSVN sued NBC and dropped some network programs months prior to the switchover; the lawsuit was later dropped. WSVN is now a Fox affiliate.

In 1995, WHDH became the market's NBC outlet after the network's longtime affiliate of 47 years (WBZ-TV) jumped to CBS after then-owner Westinghouse aligned all five of its stations with the Tiffany Network (CBS later bought Westinghouse's radio and TV properties.)

As for NBC, it and the rest of the networks have taken a much harder line on regular pre-emptions of network programming than in years past. For awhile in the 1980's, NBC affiliates WTMJ-TV in Milwaukee and WMAR-TV in Baltimore (now with ABC) did not carry The Tonight With Show With Johnny Carson - something that certainly won't happen today with something like Leno's or O'Brien's shows.

Ironically, Leno hails from Boston.

Thought: It looks NBC's plan to move Leno to prime-time has hit a road bump. Is NBC really this droll to dump an affiliate because it won't air one show? Well... not really. The network paid a lot of money to keep Jay Leno and all affiliates should be on board to support this effort. What WHDH is doing is mainly a land grab to make more revenue by airing "local news" at 10 p.m. After all, do people in Boston want another outlet airing news filled with crimes, murders, rapes, and fires in this time period? (CBS' procedurals already has that covered, LOL.) But NBC's threat to remove WHDH over Leno's pre-emption is a little bit extreme, given it really has no other viable options in the Boston market.

WHDH- which already had a tumulus history (from losing its broadcast licence under RKO in 1980 to losing CBS to WBZ in 1995), the loss of NBC could hurt its news operation if it became an independent. While going indie may have worked for WSVN in '89, lightning probably won't strike twice for Sunbeam in this case.

While other stations have had success going independent (i.e. KTVK in Phoenix after losing its affiliation with ABC in 1994), others have not had a successful go it at (KRON in San Francisco and WJXT in Jacksonville.) Both sides better chill out and assess the situation here.

WGN-AM signs Garry Meier

Well, it's about time. Garry Meier now can finally lose the moniker "house husband".

Tribune-owned WGN-AM has signed Garry Meier to fill the vacant 1 to 4 p.m. time slot beginning tomorrow.

Meier filled in a month ago for a week, and received rave reviews from listeners and posters who frequent media-related message boards. Meier has not been active in Chicago radio since he lost a short-lived gig with WCKG-FM in a format change in 2007.

Everyone remembers Meier's run with Steve Dahl, who worked together with each other for fourteen years on three different radio outlets.

With Meier on board, WGN has a good chance of bringing younger listeners to the station. In recent PPM surveys, the station did not make the top 20 in many key demos, despite a fourth-place finish overall.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Official press release

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

"Guiding Light" extinguished

The light has gone out for Guiding Light.

CBS has pulled the plug on the serial after 72 years on television and radio. The soap began on radio in 1937, went to television in 1952 (its radio run ended in 1956), and is the longest-running soap currently on the air. It marks the first CBS has canceled a soap in 22 years, with Capitol the last serial departing in March 1987.

Recent times have not been kind to Guiding Light, as the program has been moved to mornings in some major markets over the years and vanished altogether in at least one (Sacramento.)

A one-time 2 p.m. (CT) mainstay, CBS-owned WBBM-TV here in Chicago moved Light to 9 a.m. in September 1997 to make room for syndicated fare such as The Gayle King Show and Martha Stewart Living (the title of her show before she went into the slammer.) Opposite The Oprah Winfrey Show, Light had no chance, with the series barely averaging above a hash mark in the ratings.

The soap ends on September 18; there is no word on a replacement series, but a number of game shows have been branded about - including a revival of Pyramid, which ran on CBS in 1973 (before moving to ABC a year later) and again from 1982-88.

Several scenarios about what to do with the open time period is under consideration:

- Slot the new programming at 3 p.m. (ET) in-pattern

- Or, give the 3 p.m. slot back to affiliates and take back the 10 a.m. (ET) time slot back to fill with game shows to pair with The Price Is Right, which was the case before 1993. However, many CBS affiliates (who are airing Light at 3 p.m. ET) may turn down this option and may stick with syndicated fare in the time slot. For example, WRAL-TV in Raleigh, N.C. already dominates the 10 a.m. time period with Dr. Phil.

But those stations need something to fill at 3 p.m. If they are game shows, it would ruin programming flow. Network-programmed game shows often never did well in an afternoon time slot - the panned Match Game/Hollywood Squares Hour lasted just one season on NBC in 1983-84 in that time period. (However, the original Match Game did very well in this daypart for CBS in the 1970's.) Stations may also refuse to clear the programs at all, filling it with more syndicated fare instead.

The last network-scheduled show to air on CBS at 10 a.m. was Family Feud, with Ray Combs as host.

- Or, just give the 3 p.m. slot (or whatever morning time slot Light was airing in) back to affiliates. But this option is not likely.

Despite Light's struggles, CBS is still number one in daytime, and has been for more than 20 consecutive years. This is only the sixth daytime serial to depart the network's lineup in the last 35 years. The others:

- The Secret Storm (which began in 1954) was dropped by CBS in early 1974, after years of declining ratings and affiliate clearances. The ratings downturn began in the late 1960's when the network disposed of the Ames family, one by one.

- The Edge of Night. After CBS decided to expand As The World Turns to an hour, the network dropped Edge, but was quickly picked up by ABC in late 1975. The Edge of Night became the first daytime serial to switch networks. Edge of Night ended in 1984.

- Love of Life. Another long-running soap (est. 1951), a move to 4 p.m. (ET) in its later years meant lower ratings and lots of pre-emptions. The show expired in early 1980.

- Search for Tomorrow. This series (which debuted on CBS in 1951) became the second soap to switch networks, to NBC in 1982 (which expiried there in late 1986) to make room for Capitol. And speaking of Capitol...

- Capitol. The network canceled this joke of a soap after five seasons, with perhaps the most unsatisfying ending to any daytime serial in history - when a major character faced a firing squad - and... fade to black. It's like The Sorpanos ending, but even that made more sense than what happened - or what didn't happen - on Capitol.

Detroit's WWJ-TV re-enters the new game - sort of

CBS-owned WWJ-TV in Detroit is returning to the news business.

This is not a April Fool's joke.


WWJ, which has been out of the news business since 2002, is hooking with the Detroit Free Press to produce a new morning newscast airing from 5 to 7 a.m. with cut-ins during The Early Show (you mean its no longer called CBS This Morning?)

Titled First Forecast Mornings, the new newscast will provide the staples of local wakeup news - headlines, weather, traffic, and sports on the go, all provided by the Freep. The new effort debuts next month.

The station hopes this arrangement elevates the status of this pernnial also-ran network affiliate on Channel 62, which became a CBS-owned outlet in 1994 after the network lost former affiliate WJBK-TV to Fox in the Fox-New World deal, forcing CBS to buy WWJ (then WGPR-TV.) WWJ launched a news operation shortly thereafter, but it and sister station WKBD-TV's were shut down in Decemeber 2002.

WJBK usually finishes first in households from 5 to 9 a.m.

Despite the new venture between WWJ and the paper, there are no plans to expand to other dayparts, where other Detroit stations regularly air newscasts.