Wednesday, September 30, 2009

"Family Feud" brings back bullseye game.

Dr. Oz debuts strong - and the rest of the week that was in syndication

Family Feud has added a new element - all right, it's not so new.

The Debmar-Mercury syndicated game show has returned the "Bullseye" round to the start of the game, which started on the series' eleventh season premiere on September 7. The round features contestants who, one by one from their family, come up to the face-off podium to answer a question from host John O'Hurley. The one who get its right wins money to be jackpoted into their bank, from $1,000 in the first face-off to $5,000 in the last one. Each family starts with $15,000 in their bank. Whomever family wins at the end of the game plays for the amount they banked during the Bullseye round in Fast Money.

The "Bullseye" element was added in June 1992 to the CBS daytime version of Family Feud Challenge and subquesquently added to the syndicated version as well. When Richard Dawson returned to replace Ray Combs as host of the syndicated version in 1994, the name of the round was changed to "Bankroll". Ratings did not improve, and Feud left the air after a seven-year run in 1995, but did return four years later.

The return of the Bullseye game is the latest in the tinkering of a format to boost ratings for a show that's had  563 hosts and nearly 800 syndicators since it premiered in 1976 (okay, five hosts and six different syndicators.) The current incarnation alone has had three different hosts and three different syndicators.

So far, the change hasn't paid off: The second week of its eleventh season, Feud averaged a 1.1 Nielsen rating, down 15% from last year. Survey said: this "Bullseye" round might not work (it didn't work the first time around, didn't it?)

But other shows fared better during the week of September 14, where the first week of Sony's Dr. Oz earned a 2.3 household rating. But his protege -Oprah Winfrey - did better. Her premiere week did a 6.1 rating - far and away, the highest-rated talk show. Another of Ms. Winfrey's Proteges (Dr. Phil) was nearly caught by Dr. Oz - the bald one averaged a 2.5.

In court, Judge Judy led with a 3.9, while Entertainment Tonight led the magazine pack with a 4.0 rating, with Inside Edition trailing it with a 3.2. All three shows are syndicated by CBS Television Distribution.

The top off-net sitcom was Warner's Two And A Half Men, but a slight surprise in this category, as Tyler Perry's House of Payne beat Fraiser.

For more changes regarding your favorite game shows - from Who Wants To Be A Millionaire to Wheel of Fortune - click on the above link in the Family Feud story.

Chicago Wolves hockey return to broadcast TV

For the first time in twelve years, Chicago Wolves hockey has landed on a local broadcast outlet.

Fox-owned WPWR-TV acquired the rights to air fifteen Wolves games starting this fall, with ten of those games on Saturday nights, starting with a game with the Milwaukee Admirals on October 3.

Five other games are scheduled for Sunday afternoons later in the season.

All other games are airing on Comcast Network 100, or CN 100, which its available only to Comcast subscribers.

The move is perfect for WPWR as My Network TV (and CW) has scaled back to programming only on weeknights (CW still programs Saturday mornings through 4 Kids TV.) My Network TV is also no longer classified a broadcast network, since it is now mainly consists of syndicated reruns and the lone first-run show on the "programming service", WWE Smackdown. As a result, Nielsen is no longer tracking My Network TV on a nightly basis, except through metered market overnight ratings.

The Wolves deal marks a return to local broadcast Chicago television for the team since WCIU-TV carried Saturday night games between 1995 and 1997. The move comes as the Chicago Blackhawks signed with WGN-TV to carry 20 games a season beginning in October 2008, marking the first local broadcast deal for the team since 1980.

The Blackhawks ended a decades-long policy in 2007, which barred home games from being broadcast.

The moves made by both the Blackhawks and now the Wolves, has exposed more eyes to the sport in Chicago - and a deep playoff run made by the Hawks last season didn't hurt either.

The Wolves did not make the playoffs last year, but did win the Calder Cup in the 2007-08 season - the trophy awarded to the victors in the American Hockey League (AHL). The Wolves began in the International Hockey League in 1994, but moved to the AHL when the IHL went belly up.

Monday, September 28, 2009

"Cleveland" off to good start

The new Family Guy spin-off got some good sampling last night.

Fox's premiere of The Cleveland Show, featuring the next-door neighbor of The Griffins who moved to Virginia to start a new life drew 9.4 million viewers and a 4.9 rating in adults 18-49, growing 17% from its Simpsons lead-in.

The premiere of Cleveland coincided with the season premieres of The Simpsons, Family Guy, and American Dad, with the entire block up from comparable year-ago levels. And keep in mind Fox did not have a late afternoon football game in most markets (with the notable exceptions of Chicago, Philadelphia, New Orleans, and Buffalo.)

The big surprise here is Brothers, did better its its encore presentation (2.1) than it did in its Friday premiere (1.0). If I were Fox, I'd move this to Sunday night.

The big losers on this night were the season premieres of veterans Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Desperate Housewives, Cold Case,  and Brothers and Sisters - all down from last year, with Housewives and Cold Case showing the biggest decreases.

Locally, we all know who the winner is: Da Bears. In Chicago, the late-afternoon game pulled a household rating and share of 27.8/51. (scroll down.) The top-prime show was the Colts-Cardinals game with a, while the top non-sports attraction of the night was Desperate Housewives, with a 9.8/15.

In Indianapolis, the Colts pulled a 39.4/53, of course.

But the biggest local ratings upset of the night was Brothers out-performing the entire Animation Domination block, with a 7.7/14. The Simpsons came in next with a 7.1/12, followed by Cleveland with a 7.0/11.

What do you think about The Cleveland Show? Not much, apparently. The jokes were surprisingly stale, though there were some sweet moments in the show. But an overall disappointment.

But keep in mind Happy Days, Everybody Loves Raymond, Seinfeld, Cheers, and even the show Cleveland spun-off from had weak pilot episodes - and in fact, first seasons. And each of these shows became television and pop-culture mainstays. And internet geek reaction has been surprisingly positive. There is room for improvement, and yours truly is willing to give it the benefit of the doubt since the show has already been picked up for 34 more episodes.

On Twitter, yours truly initially gave The Cleveland Show a D-. But upon further review, I decided to up to a D+.

Friday, September 25, 2009

T Dog's Grab Bag

Lots of items of note in today's Grab Bag:

- WCFS-FM (Fresh 105.9) has dumped morning man Mark LeBaron. Rick Hall will take over until a replacement is found. Is this a signal something big is coming? Or is the cancellation clock ticking for Fresh FM?

- Speaking of which, the clock is up for The Beautiful Life, which CW canceled today after two episodes. The Wednesday night program barely averaged a little over one million viewers in its twin airings. And you know where all TV programs head when they are on the air for less than three episodes.... that's right, The T Dog Media Blog TV Hall of Shame! Soon to feature not just one, but two different shows with the name Brothers!

Beautiful Life is being replaced by repeats of the new version of Melrose Place, soon to be a member in its own right.

- And I thought the reviews for The Jay Leno Show were bad. A promo for Bill Kurtis' return to CBS-owned WBBM-TV - promoting the network's heavily watched Tuesday night lineup - has been panned by ad execs. Click here to see and judge for yourself. As for the critics, aren't they being a little bit too melodramatic here? When was the last time these ad execs created a commercial that isn't worth skipping over with a DVR?

- Not exactly a strong start for new syndicated programs premiering this week: Monday's overnight rating for syndicated reruns of The Office was a 1.1 household rating and a 2 share - and this was the leader of a group that included My Name Is Earl, Everybody Hates Chris, Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?, and Cold Case Files (From Trifecta Entertainment.) Ouch.

- More good news for Chicago-based Weigel Broadcasting and MGM in their joint venture for This TV: it added Belo-owned ABC affiliate WFAA-TV in Dallas and independent KTVK in Phoenix. The network is being added to the stations' digital subchannels.

- It appears Clear Channel has dumped another program from an outside syndicator on one of its radio stations. This time it's Michael Baisden, whose syndicated afternoon show was canceled recently at WXMD-FM (Mix 92.3 in Detroit. In March, Reach Media's Tom Joyner Morning Show was dropped by Clear Channel's WVAZ-FM. (V103) Earlier this week, Reach Media sued Clear Channel to recover lost revenue from the move.

Both Mix 92.3 and V103 are Urban Adult Contemporary stations.

- Speaking of Detroit, the premiere of ABC's FlashForward Thursday night (the best new show of the season, IMHO), had government agents were investigating why people around the world collapsed and blacked out for two minutes, which happened four minutes into the show. Toward the end of the program, one of the agents looked at an online video of fans blacking out at a Tigers game.

Which is funny, given it has really happened to people attending Lions games for the last two years.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Dancing with disaster

Don't drop Cheryl, Tom! Or she'll be like The Tribune...

All right, I've seen some absurd items on Chicago Tribune's editorial page before... but this one takes the cake.

One of Wednesday's  editorials in the paper was titled "Dancing With DeLay" , about former disgraced Texas congressman Tom DeLay competing on the newest season of Dancing With the Stars.

You've got to be kidding me.

From the editorial board who once complained about nice weather in January to telling Hyde Park what buildings need renovating in their neighborhood, they wasted a half-page on this nonsense.

And you wonder why Tribune is in Chapter 11.

It's worst enough they redesigned the paper to look like a local version of USA Today, but now they devote an entire editorial to Dancing With The Stars - featuring a politician who in my opinion, has gotten way too much press coverage.

But if its good enough for Sam the Ziphead, its good enough for Chicago. When he bought the Tribune Company, we were hoping for a local media conglomerate that would keep jobs in Chicago; keeping the Windy City competitive with other media companies in New York and Los Angeles; and continue to set a gold standard in journalism excellence.

Instead, we have a company in Chapter 11 that has made massive layoffs; hiring rejects from their failed gigs at other media companies who don't know what they're doing; and a mess of a paper that puts celebrity stories on page 3. And of course, Zell had buyer's remorse after the stock market and economy collapsed.  Creditors are upset, and now want an investigation into Zell's buyout of the Tribune.

And the journalism has gone south since the redesign. Check out this post I wrote in January regarding Why Do We Live Here? (obviously not for the quality of the newspapers.) And if it's not that, it's the phony State of Corruption and Tribune Watchdog campaigns, coming from a company who pleads to the FCC so they can buy more papers and TV stations and eliminate cross-ownership rules, so they can easily dominate a market and charge advertisers much higher rates (and not to mention possible investor fraud in the Zell buyout.)

And for you "if it leads, it bleeds" fans, there's the Sirens and Blotter Blog! If you can't get enough of murders and other mayhem, this is for you! Where every shooting in Englewood is reported and idiot commenters can tell us how bad Chicago is! Wow, what a concept!

Finally, there's Chicago Now, a hokey collection of blogs from other Chicagoans - or just another example of how Big Media is always a johnny-come-lately when it comes to these idea. Really, does anyone remotely care what Miss Illinois USA is thinking?

Who says innovation is priority number one at the Tribune? And today's useless editorial is a living testament of how Sam "committed to mediocrity" Zell has completely screwed up what was once one of the finest media companies to ever be run from the Midwest. It's now nothing more than what Clear Channel and Citadel is - an unrecognizable cookie-cutter, blandless, soulless Big Media company.

So what's your next editorial, Trib? How actors from The Beautiful Life are taking away jobs from the modeling industry? Endorsing Lois Griffin to run for mayor of Quahog, R. I. ? Maybe you can lobby Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory to run for Cook County Board President. Or investigate taxpayer waste on the set of Two And A Half Men.

Or how about some commentary on some real news for a change instead of this pap? Hiring Cheryl Burke and Tom Bergeron to run the editorial department isn't a good start.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

T Dog's Four Pack - the start of a new season

The new season is here, and here's the first T Dog's Four Pack for the fall 2009 season:


The Emmy Awards. Neil Patrick Harris rocked as host with a smooth and speedy presentation - and the ratings weren't too bad either.

Glee. This Fox musical dramedy has been picked up for a full season after a strong start and a ratings increase from its So You Think You Can Dance lead-in.

The Dr. Oz Show. A positive start in the ratings for Dr. Mehmet Oz's new talk show during its first week on the air - who has a warm  and likable personality - and the guy knows what he's talking about (they don't call him "Dr." for nothing.) The man has credentials!

Chet Coppock is back. He's on a media blitz to promote his new book, "Fat Guys Shouldn't Be Dancin' At Halftime." Catch him this week on a TV show, radio program , or website near you (click here to see the tour dates.) Welcome back, Chet!


The Emmy Voters.  The same ol' shows win.Again. The same ol' stars win. Again. The Amazing Race wins for Outstanding Reality Show. Again. And why was Family Guy was nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series in the first place when it clearly didn't have the best season? Come on Emmy voters - we're asking questions - we want answers.

King of the Hill. Nothing against the final two episodes - they were great and a terrific way to end the series. Unfortunately, a new live-action Scooby-Doo movie (with 6.1 million viewers for Cartoon Network) out drew it head-to-head on September 13. Maybe the King finale should have been live-action instead...

The Beautiful Life and The New Melrose Place. Nobody's watching these shows... but you just watch, CW will renew this stuff, and it's just another reason why the broadcast networks are dying.

Milton Bradley. Even as a White Sox fan, yours truly doesn't find his antics entertaining. Chicago is already home to an self-absorbed, overrated jackass and his name is Kayne West. If Bradley ever steps back out into the outfield at Wrigley Field as a Cub - or a visiting team, look for Kanye to grab the fly ball Bradley would've dropped in right field anyway and proclaim him "the best right-fielder ever." 

Monday, September 21, 2009

"30 Rock", "Mad Men" take Emmys. Again.

For the 61st Annual Primetime Emmy Awards - it was deja vu - the year of the Repeat - as in repeat winners.

For the third year in a row, 30 Rock won for Outstanding Comedy Series, while Mad Men swept its way to its second straight Outstanding Drama Series win. 

Another repeat winner came in the reality category, with The Amazing Race winning its 7th straight trophy for Outstanding Reality Series. And it was the same old story with Jon Stewart and The Daily Show winning for Outstanding Variety, Music, or Comedy Series. Again.

There were few surprises, but among them was Jon Cryer winning for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for Two and a Half Men. The Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series win went to Alec Baldwin of 30 Rock (but should have gone to Jim Parsons of The Big Bang Theory.)

And Bryan Cranston won again for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for Breaking Bad - yes, the same Bryan Cranston who played Malcolm's dad in Malcolm in the Middle.

To see a complete list of winners from The 61st Primetime Emmy Awards, click here

Neil Patrick Harris was host of the Awards, and he was a marked improvement over last year's "experiment", where five hosts conducted the ceremony and was considered a disaster.

So, how did the show do in the ratings? Very well, thank you very much. The awards show averaged a 4.2 rating in adults 18-49 and drew a total of 13.3 million viewers, up from a 3.8 adults 18-49 and 12 million viewers a year ago (but it did finish behind NFL Football on NBC.)

What about Chicago? We may not turn out for Idol... but we Chicagoans turned out for the Emmys (and having a Bears and 60 Minutes lead-in doesn't hurt, either.) Last night's airing drew a 12.7/20 household rating and share locally over WBBM-TV, ranking 5th among 56 metered markets.

The highest rated was Kansas City with KCTV averging a 14.2/22. The lowest? Dallas-Fort Worth, with a 4.3/6 on KTVT- but for good reason: The Giants-Cowboys game that aired opposite the Emmys drew a whopping 41.7/61 and drew the largest crowd for a football game in NFL history with 105,121 fans!

New York City weighed in with a 12.1/18. (Jets fans?)

To see all 56 metered  markets' results, click here and scroll down.

"The Office" begins syndie life today

The off-net sitcoms are back.

After a year without any new major off-network sitcoms debuting (aside from Tyler Perry's House of Payne), three of them debut today in broadcast syndication - NBC Universal's The Office, CBS Television Distribution's Everybody Hates Chris, and Twentieth's My Name Is Earl.

Of these three, The Office is certainly the most successful, given its solid track record with adults 18-49 and numerous Emmy nominations (including a 2006 Emmy win for Outstanding Comedy Series and a 2007 win for Outstanding Writing In A Comedy Series for the episode Gay Witch Hunt.)

The other two have gone out of production this past year, due to mostly high production costs and declining ratings.

Locally, The Office is airing at 6:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Fox-owned WFLD-TV; My Name Is Earl airs at 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. on sister station WPWR-TV; and Chris airs at 7:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. on WCIU-TV.

Even though there are more off-net sitcoms are debuting this year, they face competition for time periods from first-run syndicated fare (like The Dr. Oz Show and The Wendy Williams Show), but from expanding local newscasts on Tribune stations and Fox affiliates - regulating some off-network sitcoms to lesser time periods (My Name Is Earl is on at 7:30-8:30 a.m. on WWOR-TV in New York.)

WGN-TV announced Thursday it was expanding its 5:30 p.m newscast an hour in a slot traditionally reversed for off-net sitcoms. Fox affiliate WXIX-TV in Cincinnati also announced it too was expanding its evening newscast an hour, in this case from 6 to 7 p.m. The GM for the Raycom-owned station stated it was necessary for his station to compete with his other network affiliate brethren for viewers to take its news operation seriously.

That's bad news for syndicators of off-network sitcom fare, as more and more former independent stations in large and mid-size markets are producing local news costs less than it would take to purchase an expensive off-net sitcom, since stations keep all the ad inventory.

Plus, these stations are looking to take advantage of the upcoming political season, where candidates (and the organizations supporting them) will spend lots of money and are likely to drop it on local news than an off-network sitcom.

And all three new off-net sitcoms also landed cable homes: Office and Earl are on TBS; Chris is now on NIck at Nite, where it has drawn more viewers than it did during its CW run. Cable runs of off-net sitcoms - often on at the exact same time as they are scheduled on local stations -can drain the broadcast outlets of ratings points and revenue.

Despite this, syndicators continue to roll out the laughs. For 2010, Twentieth has How I Met Your Mother ready to roll for syndication, as does Warner Bros. The New Adventures of Old Christine, and off-HBO series Entourage and Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Thought: A short bone to pick with Fox's L.A. duopoly. While KCOP slotted The Office at 7:30 p.m., why not slot it at 7 p.m. on stronger sister station KTTV, instead of Malcolm In the Middle?  There's no doubt in my mind The Office would have performed better, especially among adults 18-49. But don't fear: KTTV is airing the second run of The Office at 11 p.m.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Off to see the doctor... The Wonderful Doctor of Oz

The early returns for Dr. Oz have been positive and Sony Pictures Television and Harpo Productions hope Oz can lead the company down the Yellow Brick Road to riches.

The three day average of Dr. Oz - a new medical talk show hosted by Mehmet Oz which premiered on Sept. 14 - had a three day average of a 1.7 household rating and a 5 household share, according to Nielsen, up 31 percent from its lead-in and year-ago (September 2008) time-period averages.

Dr. Oz is cleared mainly on Fox stations in top markets, including WFLD-TV in Chicago. Among the six Fox-owned stations carrying the show, positive stories have been reported in every market, except KTBC-TV in Austin, TX, where it is down from year-ago time-period shares.

In Chicago at 4 p.m., WFLD is flat from year-ago time period averages (Cops and King of the Hill), but is up 200% in the key women 25-54 demographic. At 10 a.m., Dr. Oz scored increases over September 2008 occupant Morning Show with Mike & Juliet by 67% in women 25-54 and 20% in households.

Sony hopes the new talk show - produced by Oprah Winfrey's Harpo Productions - become the hit the syndicator hasn't had since the heyday of Ricki Lake over a decade ago.

Originally known as Columbia Pictures Television, the company hit it big in 1993 with its first first-run syndicated effort in years with Lake, a successful young-female skewing talk show which ran until she retired from the grind in 2004. But the effort to launch another hit show of that caliber stalled in the past decade with the failures of Men Are From Mars Women Are From Venus, Shipmates, Pyramid, Pat Croce: Moving In, Life & Style, The Greg Behrendt Show, Judge Maria Lopez, and Judge Karen.

The worst of these shows were Shipmates, Life & Style, and Greg Behrendt - all three salvaged by critics and barely watched by viewers.

A major syndicated hit for Sony would be terrific since the studio is one of the few in the business without a major station group at its disposal to launch a show on (a.k.a. "vertical integration")

Sony does produce Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!, but does not handle distribution (CBS Television Distribution handles domestic and international syndication rights.)

Much like Dr. Phil before it, Dr. Oz made appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show once every week before getting his own talk show. But while Dr. Phil is syndicated by CBS Television Distribution, Oz is distributed by Sony - it picked up the rights since a similar show (The Doctors) is already distributed by CTD - and is produced by Jay McGraw, the son of Dr. Phil McGraw.  

With the backing of Oprah Winfrey, Dr. Oz may finally break Sony's losing streak.

T Dog's Four Pack - The Jay Leno edition (updated)

(This was supposed to been up Tuesday night, but somehow it didn't get up here. - T.H.)

UPDATED: See below.

It's a special Jay Leno Show edition of T Dog's Four Pack - here are the highlights and lowlights from night one of the show, plus other relevant information ( I was flipping back and forth between Leno and Star Trek: The Next Generation, so I'm reviewing what I was only able to catch:)


- Headlines. Always reliable and funny - it was a great idea to move this to the end.

- Leno's monologue. It was funny, though a bit short.

- "Cheaters" skit. Great segment - and promotion for a show most most people didn't know was still on the air.

- The Car Wash Skit. - Wasn't half bad - actually funny.


- Kanye West. Leno - and the studio audience - went way too easy on him regarding the stunt he pulled on the VMAs Sunday night.

- The opening theme music. Bring back the old theme! Please!

- Jerry Seinfeld. Besides Bee Movie, has Seinfeld done anything since his show ended?

- Stealing bits. Aaron Barnhart of TV Barn and the Kansas City Star pointed out on Twitter Leno's first line - "This is not a promo. This is the actual show!" was stolen from David Letterman's first CBS show - way back in 1993.

In all, kind of a disjointed first show - it's has to flow better than this in the future. Leno is funnier than Letterman - but let's face it, Letterman's a better interviewer.

Enough of what you think. Gimme the numbers. In his first night, Leno drew a whopping 18.4 million viewers - easily finishing number one in its 9 p.m. time slot. In adults 18-49, it drew a 5.3 rating and 14 share, according to Nielsen. Quite Impressive!

That's great, but what about Chicago? Okay, Leno did quite well in Chicago. According to information I acquired from Chicagoland Radio and Media, Leno averaged an average quarter hour rating/share of 6.9/13, beating its closest competitor (CSI: Miami) by a whopping 138% in rating and 140% in share.

It seems Leno - who is a strong draw among the 25-54 news demo - drew viewers away from WGN-TV's and WFLD-TV's 9 p.m. newscasts, with both recording much lower-than-average scores.

Did this help WMAQ-TV's 10 p.m. newscast? Yes! WMAQ-TV scored a rare 10 p.m. news victory Monday night, thanks to the Leno lead-in. WMAQ had an average quarter hour rating/share of 6/15, followed by WLS-TV's 3.7/9, WBBM-TV's 2.8/7, and WFLD's 0.5/1. Keep in mind WFLD has canceled its 10 p.m. newscast and is running The Office at 10 p.m. starting Monday.

Meanwhile, WGN's Family Guy scored a 1.2/3.

By the way, can anyone remember WLS' 10 p.m. newscast ever scoring so low?

At 10:35 p.m., WMAQ's The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien tied WBBM's Late Show with David Letterman in households, with ABC's Nightline placing third. Meanwhile, WGN's Two And a Half Men rerun beat the Simpsons on WFLD by a decisive margin (are viewers finally tiring of the three-times-a-day run of America's favorite animated family? Fox Chicago management should have eliminated at least one of the runs and kept an episode a day of Seinfeld on the station instead.)

More information from Lewis Lazare: The Sun-Times' Lewis Lazare had a story on Monday's and Tuesday's local ratings for Leno and WMAQ. Monday's ratings are basically the same, but uses a different method of measuring audiences - just not the AQH method (measured in 15 minute blocks) used in the CRM post.

Tuesday night's ratings showed a drop for Leno - but still won its time period locally. But WMAQ's newscast did not benefit, falling to second place at 10 p.m. behind WLS-TV. 

Nationally, Leno's numbers did drop during its second night, but still won its time period in households, total viewers, and adults 18-49. Click here to see the numbers and look at The Jay Leno Show near the bottom of the post.

Wednesday night: Night 3 of The Jay Leno Show showed a sharp increase from the night before - thanks to a strong lead-in from the finale of America's Got Talent, which drew 15.7 million viewers.  Leno earned a HH 8.5/15, with a 3.5/10 among adults 18-49, and 13.3 million viewers. Click here and scroll down to see the numbers.

The bottom line: We won't get a picture of how Jay Leno is doing until the end of October, at least, when we have several weeks' worth of numbers to analyze, which will include first-run dramas on CBS and ABC and the baseball playoffs on Fox. But one thing is certain: Leno won't be drawing 18 million viewers every night.

updated at 8:28 p.m. on 2009-09-17

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

WGN-TV expands midday, evening newscasts

WGN-TV announced it has expanded its news and shuffled its weekday programming lineup, just two days into the new syndication television season.

Beginning October 5, WGN expands its 5:30 p.m. newscast an hour, starting at 5 p.m. Its midday newscast expands to 11a.m. and now run two hours until 1 p.m.

And to go along with the expansion are some anchor shuffles. Allison Payne will now co-anchor the midday newscast with Steve Sanders, moving from 5:30 p.m. Both Sanders and Payne co-anchored WGN's 9 p.m. newscast for over a decade, until health problems forced her to cut back her workload.

Joining Mark Suppelsa for the expanded 5 p.m. newscast is Lourdes Daunte, a reporter at the station.

Meanwhile, Micah Materre - who had replaced Ms. Payne on an interim basis at 9 p.m. now has been named permanent co-anchor, joined with Suppelsa.

WGN's announcement today comes at a time when other Tribune stations are also adding newscasts.  WPIX-TV in New York has a new 6:30 p.m. newscast starting Monday; KIAH-TV in Houston is adding a 5 p.m. news hour beginning September 28; and Fox affiliate WXMI-TV in Grand Rapids recently announced it was jumping into the early-evening newsrace as well with an one-hour show at 6 p.m..

KTLA in Los Angeles recently launched an hour-long evening newscast at 6 p.m.

KDAF-TV in Dallas announced an early evening newscast to begin this Monday at 5:30 p.m.

The moves are coming at a time when quality syndicated programming- first-run and off-network - is hard to come by. Shows that are available are mostly being sold for barter (with the syndicator keeping up to 3 1/2 minutes per half-hour to national advertisers), meaning the local station would have less ad inventory to sell. With local news, stations get to keep all ad inventory to sell themselves. 

WGN's news expansion gives the station eight hours of news a day - more than any other station in Chicago, eFox-owned WFLD, which is losing a half-hour with the cancellation of its 10 p.m. newscast effective Friday (in fact, WGN's general manager took a veiled shot at its crosstown competitor: "at a time when other television stations are cutting back on news, WGN-TV is proud to be devoting more programming hours to local and breaking news than any other station in Chicago", noted GM Marty Wilke.)

The move means a shuffle of WGN's syndicated lineup. The show losing time periods to news expansion  (Disney-ABC Television Distribution's Who Wants To Be A Millionaire) moves to 1 and 1:30 p.m., respectively, replacing a Maury repeat.

WGN recently acquired Rachael Ray from CBS Television Distribution to run at 10 a.m.and added Tyra Banks' talk show (courtesy of The CW) from 3 to 5 p.m.

The Steve Wilkos Show, which ran at 2 p.m. on WGN for the previous two seasons, is now on WCIU-TV at 11 a.m.

I was right! Back when WGN announced its 5:30 p.m. newscast, I predicted it would expand to an hour within two years. Victory is mine! Oh my goodness, I'm scared.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Upon further review...

This is not the way I wanted to kick off the fourth season of The T Dog Media Blog.

Okay, it seems yours truly generated a lot of heat from TV Week readers on my bashing of Adam Buckman over whether or not Ellen DeGeneres was qualified to be a judge on "American Idol". Yes, yours truly had a Kanye West moment of his own.

Well, I stand by my opinion.

But the way the statement was worded - that's another story. Yours truly went overboard in his critisism of Buckman and it crossed the line to become a personal attack. I apologize to anyone who was offended.

Even worse, I played the Jay Mariotti card - which I use quite often against columnists I don't like. I'm still seething from Buckman giving way plot points to a Family Guy episode in a New York Post article in November 2007 before the episode aired.

I also used inappropriate language toward another poster in the same thread.

While I call it as I see it - and often criticize those who have a different point of view on media issues than I do, the way I ripped Buckman was unprofessional, juvenile, and outright mean. In fact, it makes yours truly no better than Mariotti - engaging in the same type of mean-spiritness and slimeball tactics I have rallied against in the past.

And the fact I still mention Mariotti here - a year after he left the Chicago Sun-Times - indicates the shtick is getting old.

As you can tell, I'm not a fan of Idol - or Ellen DeGeneres and her show. And I will not be watching either one. But I have the right to say what I think on any television or radio program - whether I watch them or not, and any media issue - regardless of what a few humanoids think.

If you've read this blog for the past three years, you know where I stand on many media issues, from the lack of diversity of voices in the media to media consolidation and vertical integration. When a radio company fires employees on Inauguration Day - even denying you a chance to watch the President being sworn in- and having a low-level employee escort you out the door and having your stuff thrown out after you - how can you NOT have an opinion? When your local morning host is fired only to be replaced by a voice-tracked humanoid from Beaver Bay, Oregon so the el cheapos can save some bucks, how can you NOT have an opinion? Big, greedy media companies (and record labels) continue to dominate the entertainment landscape and stifle creativity in the process - how else can you explain why Britney Spears and Kanye West still have jobs? My frustration level only rises when all people want to talk about is those two and Idol, while no one talks about a court decision throwing out cable ownership caps so companies like Comcast can only get bigger and charge consumers even more money.

I'm passionate about these issues, but sometimes yours truly gets carried away here and on numerous message boards, and the message gets lost. And it's hard to rally people to your cause when you lob harsh insults at the very ones you rally against. Worse, you could put your credibility at risk.

If people care about the evils of media consolidation, that's great. If they don't care, that's a problem. And laying into the people who don't care hurts your cause more than helps it - you want to educate people, not berate them.While yours truly will continue to lay into those who deserve it, I'll be more respectful to those individuals and the companies they work for.

Welcome to the fourth season

Wow. It's been three years already?

Welcome to the fourth season of The T Dog Media Blog. Yes, as of today we enter season number four of the blog with yours truly's twisted, satirical take on the media business and the incompetent fools who run it.

Yours truly started this blog on September 18, 2006, and to date more than 10,000 individuals have visited this site. Once again, I thank you for stopping by and showing your support, whether you agree or disagree with me on certain issues.

There has been a significant change, and I alluded to this before. In the past, I posted breaking media news stories on the blog, with a peak of a whopping 81 items in September 2007 (stories posted included items on Jay Mariotti, FCC hearings in Chicago, why Nine-FM was failing, and the closure of The Tube music network.) Some of the stories during the first two years were of the "who cares?" variety (like a relationship expert joining B96's Eddie & JoBo show - well, when they had a show.) Time to tend to this site also became an issue, as I was no longer available to update the site during the day as of August 2008.

And so, I launched a Twitter page earlier this year and now break media news stories there - or more accurately, break them after 6 p.m. weeknights, since I have a gig and can't tweet on the job (conflict of interest issues...) Plus, it helps cut down on clutter on the mothership, without devoting space to minor items - while allowing me to comment on TV events as they happen in real-time. Yours truly is up to 70 followers and could use more. So come on over to The T Dog Media Blog Twitter Page and read my own twisted take on the media items of the day, by clicking here. You can also read Twitter updates right here on this blog on The Sidebar.

But I'm not abandoning the blog by any means - in fact, there will be more items posted here with more in-death analysis of major media stories affecting Chicago, the major networks, radio, television, and more - not to mention coverage of Comic-Con, TCA, and NATPE  in addition to the twisted, satirical humor (yes, there will be times I will be serious here.) And if Big Media screws up, yours truly will call them out on it, as I have always done.

And of course, you'll still find T Dog's Groovy Grab Bag, T Dog's Think Tank, and T Dog's Four Pack only here on the blog. (Yours truly finally settled on a name for the latter feature, whose name ran the gamut from Who's in Your Four to T Dog's Freakin' Four to T Dog's Four on the Floor. Yikes!)

And coming soon, yours truly is launching a Facebook page - which will not only feature this blog, but some of my other material I have written over the years, including journal entries, short stories, plays, and some original content (and it's copyrighted, so don't even think about it...) As you know, I love to write, and expanding to Facebook would help get more of my work out to the public to enjoy or suffer through.

Of course, I said some of this stuff last year, before yours truly totally underestimated how much time he had to actually pull this off. But I'm working on it. Hey, at least the Twitter page launched!

And in an attempt to eliminate more unnecessary clutter, there will be no more ads on the blog as of today, as we're going back ad-free (I made only 47 cents so far on this venue, so this tell you how much this is worth...)

The T Dog Media Blog's expansion continues... First the blog itself, then Twitter, soon Facebook, and whatever the next flash-in-the-pan-social networking fad is. We're going places! And thank you for coming along for the ride as the fourth season of The T Dog Media Blog begins. Enjoy!


Terence Henderson

Sunday, September 13, 2009

For Leno, it's time to put up - or shut up

You've heard about this for the last nine months. And it arrives tomorrow night.

For the first time in the history of television (and excluding special stunts, like Millionaire or Deal or No Deal), there is a five night a week strip in prime-time on a major broadcast network on a regular basis.

The Jay Leno Show debuts Monday night at 9 p.m., Chicago Time on NBC over WMAQ-TV. Leno, a hard-working comedian who has hosted The Tonight Show for the last seventeen years, makes the jump from late-night to prime with a hour-long variety show. This is a huge gamble for NBC, which has money - and its reputation - on the line. NBC is betting it can save money in the long run since producing Leno every weeknight would cost less than airing a drama that comes with a huge license fee or major production expenses.

Leno agreed in 2004 to give up the Tonight Show throne to Conan O'Brien in 2009 and step aside. But the workaholic had seller's remorse, and was considering jumping to another network - notably Fox or ABC - for a whole new show in 2010. To prevent him from exactly doing just that, NBC decided to renew his deal five more years - and move him in to prime-time.

Critics and advertisers have been divided on wheter or not Leno can do well at 9 p.m. Not only he'll face successful dramas like CSI: Miami and The Mentalist (the latter drew 20 million viewers last season), but he'll also face successful 9 p.m. (or 10 p.m., depending on where you live) newscasts on Fox affiliates and other stations, not to mention cable programs like The Real Housewives of Atlanta, Project Runway, and South Park, which successfully draws more younger and ethnically diverse audiences.

In Chicago, Leno will face stiff competition from newscasts on WGN-TV and WFLD-TV, and sitcom reruns on WPWR and WCIU. WGN's 9 p.m. newscast usually draws anywhere between a 4 and a 5 household rating - a huge worry for Leno, who usually goes after the same audience, the news watching 25-54 audience.

And the effect on NBC's affiliates' late news could also hinge on how well Leno performs as a lead-in. While it might not be a problem in markets where the local NBC affiliate dominates the ratings in news (Detroit; Washington, D.C.; Seattle; St. Louis; and Denver among others), it could be a problem in markets where it doesn't - mainly NBC O&Os in top markets.

Here in Chicago, WMAQ (at 10 p.m.) was nearly beat in late news in August by WGN at 9 p.m., with one-tenth of a ratings point separating the two. Leno as a lead-in could swing the advantage to WGN's advantage.

Meanwhile, Leno is making some tweaks to his show to drive viewers to NBC's late newscasts on local stations, including moving some of his well-known Tonight Show staples like "Jaywalking"and "Headlines" toward the end of the show.

If NBC succeeds with this, they will receive praise from industry analysts - something NBC has lacked for years. If this doesn't work - some executives may be looking for another gig. And maybe that someone could be Jeff Zucker.

Let the fun begin.

T Dog's Media Blog Archive: Jay Leno to stay with NBC - at 9 p.m. Central

Saturday, September 12, 2009

T Dog's Four Pack

Haven't done it for awhile, so let's bring it back! It's another edition of T Dog's Four Pack:


- Diane Sawyer to World News Tonight. She replaces the retiring Charles Gibson, and she certainly has the ability to anchor a major network evening newscast - unlike a certain former Today co-host (and the ratings more than tells that story.)

- The Vampire Diaries. Could this be the show that saves The CW? A record-breaking performance - with 4.9 million viewers for its premiere, but let's see what week two holds.

- Sons of Anarchy. Lost in the "hype" of the return of The New Melrose Place, was this FX drama, whose second season premiere outdrew the season premieres of CW's Melrose and 90210 with 4.3 million viewers. So where's the trade press hype over that?

- Michael Jordan's Hall of Fame Speech. Some called it arrogant. Some called it a sad display. I call it brilliant. The PC crowd just doesn't get it (and that's PC in "politically correct", not John Hodgeman from those Apple ads.)


- Tyra Banks. With a ratings decline of this week's season premiere of America's Next Top Model from a year ago and a combative interview with Nightline's Cynthia McFadden, this may mean the public is finally tiring of Tyra's unbearable diva act.

- White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. For slamming the Fox broadcast network (not Fox News) for not airing Obama's speech Wednesday night, when the speech was available on Fox News Channel, CNN, PBS, the Big 3 networks, and C-SPAN. Quote from Gibbs: " I do hope the viewers of Fox will find a way to watch the speech tonight. I know that the network, instead of dealing with the reality of millions of people on health insurance reform, have decided to show a reality show called something like, So You Think You Can Dance. I do hope that people will check into the reality of what’s going on in America rather than the distraction of a reality TV show."

Well, here's some reality you and the Obama administration need to face - this health care overhaul is in serious trouble. Maybe you need to focus on that instead of what Fox is doing.

And in case you're wondering, Dance tanked in the ratings Wednesday night.

- South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson. And speaking of the speech, this guy yelled out "You lie!" to President Obama during his speech Wednesday Night after he said the health care plan would not cover illegal immigrants. You can disagree with the President on any given issue, but show some damn respect will ya?

- American Idol. For picking Ellen DeGeneres to replace Paula Abdul as a judge on the music talent show. Seriously, what the hell the producers thinking? They could have picked many, many others with solid credentials (Queen Latifah, Mya, Billy Corgan, Missy Elliott, Deborah Gibson, Jody Watley, Bette Milder, Peter Cetera, etc.), but they went - with a comedian? And one who has an absolutely hokey and stupid daytime TV talk show? Bullshit. Complete bullshit. What credibility this show had - or had left - is gone now.

Did anyone see Ellen's "judging" on So You Think You Can Dance? Horrible. She offers no insight on anything related to music. In addition, she is not funny or entertaining at all.

And they could have keep the judges at three, as it was before Kara DioGuardi came on board. Why do they still think they need four judges?

Chicagoans have already tuned out this waste-of-time talent show (the May finale ranked 51st here out of 56 metered markets nationwide), as evidenced by the screw-over job hometown favorite Jennifer Hudson got in 2004. With this choice, America will do the same. Stick a fork in it, Idol is about as done as the Cubs and White Sox are this baseball season.

And yeah Ellen fans, you can hate on me all you want for my opinion on this decision. But it doesn't change the fact that American Idol - whose ratings have been declining for the last several years, will decline even further.

But they could have made an even worse decision... they could have picked Jim Belushi.

Updated 11:25 p.m. on 2009-09-14.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Chicago's August PPM results

Here are the results for the August PPMs for 12+ and for adults 25-54. Among the findings:

- Winners include WSCR, WPPN, WXRT, WUSN, and drumroll please.... Q101! Yes, Q101 - or WKQX-FM grew 27% in 12+ month-to-month.

- The biggest winner of all is WTMX-FM (The Mix), who dominated the 25-54 ratings and 12+ with Eric & Kathy leading the way.

- Steve Harvey on WVAZ-FM (V103) continues his growth.

- WKSC-FM continues its run over rival WBBM-FM, but B96's numbers are up month-to month in 12+.

- All-sports WSCR trounced WMVP in the 12+ ratings, but let's see what the male demos have to say.

- Sliding to the losers' side, WOJO and WSRB-FM (Soul 106.3) saw decreases month-to-month. Given Soul 106.3 acquired The Tom Joyner Morning Show earlier this year, the station's performance should have been better.

- WGN-AM remained number one, but slid the new Greg Jarrett morning show is a disappointment, down 19% from July and finishing 22nd overall. Given these circumstances, it keeps the station off the winner's list, but the #1 ranking keeps them off the loser's one.

- Another morning loser is WGCI's new Morning Riot, which was anything but with a 23rd-place finish overall among morning shows and did not even make the top 20 among the adult 25-54 demo.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

"Cold Case Files" heads to syndication

WBBM-TV picks up series, bringing Bill Kurtis back to station.

CBS-owned WBBM-TV has picked up repeats of a reality series titled Cold Case Files, hosted by Bill Kurtis. The series will air on the CBS O&O in a 1:07 a.m. Tuesday thru Saturday time slot, beginning Sept. 22.

But in a rather odd twist in the deal (but a positive one), Bill Kurtis will do one-minute Cold Case Update vignettes during WBBM-TV's 10 p.m. newscasts, which provides updates on local and national unsolved homicides (vignettes are one-minute inserts stations can air during newscasts, such as the Mr. Food segments that appears on WLS-TV's midday newscasts.)

The move marks a homecoming of sorts for Kurtis, who is best known in local circles for pairing up with Walter Jacobson to co-anchor WBBM's newscasts, which dominated the market during the late 1970's and early 1980's.

Kurtis left the station in 1982 to anchor CBS' morning newscasts, but returned to WBBM in 1985 where he faced a station whose ratings - in news and syndicated programming (America, anyone?) were in very quick decline. While at WBBM, Kurtis started his own documentary company and departed the station in 1996 to devote full time to those projects. A&E has aired many of them, including Cold Case Files from 1999 to 2005.

Kurtis has also become a pitchman for AT&T Mobile Internet services.

The acquisition fits like a glove for WBBM, which already airs procedural dramas Without A Trace and Cold Case on weekends.

Did you know? The last time WBBM aired reruns of any off-network reality series in late fringe was during the 1994-95 season with the former CBS series Top Cops, which was distributed by Genesis Entertainment.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

T Dog's Think Tank: The white flag

On Monday, the Chicago White Sox traded veterans Jim Thome to the Los Angeles Dodgers and Jose Contreras to the Colorado Rockies, bringing back memories of the July 1997 White Flag Trade which sent Wilson Alvarez and two others to the San Francisco Giants.

The move was sent as a signal the White Sox has given up on the season - as GM Kenny Williams traded the two for basically nothing. After winning the division last year, the White Sox are back in Chicago's sports basement just four years after winning the World Series - a scenario yours truly wrote about in a think tank two years ago (even worse, Sean Kingston still has a musical career.)

But if the White Sox have slid into oblivion - network television certainly has followed - most notably NBC. During the recent Television Critics Association tour, producer Peter Tolan of Rescue Me had this to say about NBC's decision to strip The Jay Leno Show five nights a week at 9 p.m. (CT):

"I feel they should take the American flag down in front of [NBC's]building and just put up a white one, because they've clearly have given up. They've clearly just said, 'Look, we can't develop. We can't develop anything that's going to stick. We have - clearly can't find anything with any traction, so we quit.' "

Yes, Ken Williams' inspiration may have came from those guys at the Nitwit Bumbling Company, who practically gave up before the season began by announcing an abomination of a prime-time schedule - with a Jay Leno strip as its' centerpiece (anyone who thinks Jeff "Doogie" Zucker and Ben "Party All The Time" Silverman is an inspiration for anything should be rushed into intensive care. ) While yours truly praised the idea back in December, now he's having second thoughts: given NBC's pathetic fall line-up, Leno now might not get the lead-in he needs to succeed. Given they had only ten hours a weeknight to deal with, NBC could have - and should have - done better than this.

But while this summer has been dreadful for the White Sox and the Cubs, it has been worse for network television. An item in Marc Berman's Programming Insider on Tuesday caught my eye: A study done by Turner Broadcasting on summer TV ratings showed in a decade's time, ad-supported cable nets grew by 48 percent in household rating and 67 percent in adults 18-49, while the Big Four broadcast nets dropped 39 percent and 48 percent respectively, in those same demographics. This summer, the Big Four have recorded historical rating lows.

While increased cable and satellite distribution factored in cable's rating increase, it doesn't underscore the fact the networks continue to lose audience in the summer (and in all seasons), even though they're offering fresher fare and other first-run programming. But when the programming consists of I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here, Crash Course, and Shaq vs... , you have a sense the networks have indeed raised the white flag this summer by just throwing crap on the wall to see what sticks, hoping to find the next Survivor or Who Wants To Be A Millionaire by luck.

But here's the difference: CBS with Survivor and Big Brother, ABC with Millionaire, and to a lesser extent, NBC with America's Got Talent and Fox with So You Think You Can Dance?, invested money in promoting those programs and viewers have responded. The rest is basically throwaway fare to fill time period. The nets are better off bringing back Busted Pilot Theater.

And the troubles will definitely continue through the fall: many experts are predicting the median age for the average prime-time viewer will rise this fall, thanks to Leno and the lack of youth-oriented fare of the Big Four prime-time skeds. Cable is now premiering new programming in September, no longer fearing the networks. The effect will be felt at 9 p.m. when young viewers - if any are left watching the broadcast networks - will flee for racier fare on cable, which they have done for years.

And let's not forget another reason viewers are turning away from the dreadful summer programming, White Sox and Cubs included: the burgeoning alternatives from DVDs to the Internet (mainly YouTube) to VOD from your cable and satellite providers. Unless you're a very die-hard Chicago baseball fan, you're not going to waste your time given the wealth of entertainment options out there - especially if you are a younger viewer (baseball is an older-skewing sport, even in Chicago. And those under 30 who do show up usually are there for the liquor or chat on their cell phone.)

And given the teams' mediocre front-office dealings this season, the Cubs and White Sox (not to mention the Nationals, Orioles, Royals, Reds, A's, and Pirates) have proven they are no better running a business than the major networks are - especially at NBC, where it has been one embarrassment after another. All you have to do is watch Heroes to figure that out.

And so, the white flag has been raised at U.S. Cellular Field. What's so uncanny about this is after the trade was made, NBC decided to move its headquarters to the ballpark while opening up a satellite office at Wrigley Field. What a coincidence.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Weigel's Chicago stations new fall lineups

Weigel Broadcasting, owner of independent WCIU-TV in Chicago and classic TV stations Me-TV (WCIU-DT, 26.2) and Me-Too (WMEU-TV and WCIU-DT 26.3) has released its fall schedules for the 2009-10 season. Click the links to view each schedule, all in PDF form:

WCIU 2009 Fall Schedule

Me-TV Fall Schedule

Me-Too Fall Schedule

Similar to what Turner has done to TBS and TNT and the WWE has done to its roster (splitting up between Smackdown and Raw), Weigel has split its classic TV stations into different genres: Me-TV is mostly comedy while Me-Too is drama.

Among the highlights:

- My Wife & Kids moves to WCIU from WGN-TV, where the sitcom will air at 8 p.m. (My Wife also moves in New York, from WPIX-TV to WWOR-TV.)

- You & Me, a new local lifestyle-news show hosted by Jeanne Sparrow airs weekdays at 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m.

- Scrubs shifts to Me-TV at 4:30 p.m. and WCIU at 12:30 a.m.

- The new Brian McKnight Show airs at 7 p.m. Sundays on WCIU, beginning Sept. 27

- Even though Star Trek: The Next Generation repeats were sold to the Tribune station group, CBS Television Distribution bypassed WGN-TV to sell the series to MeToo. It'll run weeknights at 9 p.m. beginning Sept. 14.

Usually when the trades announce a sale of a program to a major station group, it is assumed all stations in the group will air the show - and sometimes this isn't the case. For example, even though the trades reported the NBC O&Os renewed Deal or No Deal and Martha for another season, NBC's WRC in Washington doesn't air either show.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Heard around the blogs...

Yours truly had a thing or two to say about Thursday's White Sox-Cubs interleague game on Steve Rosenbloom's blog Monday night:

Cubs-Sox game on Thursday? Yawn. Thank god I have a job. The players and management on these two loser teams shouldn't have theirs.

I don't know what's more pathetic...The Cubs... The White Sox... or the fact "Heroes" is still on the air.

Chicago baseball sucks.

When does "Dancing With The Stars" begin again?

It's just amazing yours truly can bash Chicago's baseball teams and slip in a shot at Heroes in the same paragraph. All three are pretty much a trifecta - of a toxic waste dump.

Pat Mullen out at Fox Chicago duopoly, Renda in

Another GM shake-up at Fox-owned WFLD-TV and WPWR-TV has led Pat Mullen out the door after three rather unproductive years at the duopoly, and was replaced by Michael Renda of sister station WTXF-TV in Philadelphia, which is also a Fox O&O.

In turn, Patrick Paolini takes over the WTXF job after his stint as vice president and director of sales at WNYW and WWOR, Fox's O&O duopoly in New York.

Under Renda's watch, WTXF launched a successful 5 p.m. newscast where it finished first among adults 18-49 and adults 25-54 during May, ending the decades-long dominance of ABC-owned powerhouse WPVI-TV in the time period. (WPVI still won in households.)

But this is going to be more challenging: Renda will be running a station which is generally considered the weakest in the Fox O&O chain in a market which is home to one of the highest-rated ABC affiliates in the country.

As for the departing Mullen, he came to WFLD in April 2006 from Tribune (where he was head of the company's station group), replacing Debbie Carpenter as GM. During his tenure, he expanded WFLD's newscasts to 9 a.m. and 10 p.m., with disappointing results. News personalities Walter Jacobson, Mark Suppelsa, and Mike Barz departed the station in controversy, while ratings for the newscasts have not improved. The station's 10 p.m. newscast was recently canceled.

Currently, WFLD does not plan to launch a 5 p.m. newscast - given WGN-TV's ratings for its local newscast at 5:30 p.m. (which also have been disappointing), but WGN is sticking with it for the long-term in the hope of ratings improving.

Meanwhile, ratings for WFLD's syndicated programming - notably aging reruns of The Simpsons and Seinfeld have declined due to tougher off-network sitcom competition from WGN and WCIU, though TMZ is somewhat of a ratings hit. WPWR has been a disaster, with ratings for most of its shows hovering around a 1 while Everybody Loves Raymond - which it lured from WGN back in March 2008 - has not lived up to expectations.

Another of WPWR's somewhat reliable ratings performers (The Tyra Banks Show) is leaving for a daytime slot on CW beginning next week. First-run shows on the station - notably Temptation and Trivial Pursuit - have bombed and were not awarded second seasons. Other programs (like Jerry Springer and Cops) have clearly overstayed their welcome.

But the good news for WFLD and WPWR is the arrival of some new highly anticipated programs to the duopoly this fall. Reruns of NBC's demo hit The Office begins airing on WFLD weeknights beginning Sept. 21 at 6:30 P.M. and 10 p.m, while My Name is Earl reruns are expected to land on sister station WPWR.

Dr. Oz, a new talk show from Oprah Winfrey's Harpo Productions and Sony Pictures Entertainment, takes the 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. time slots on WFLD beginning Sept. 14, while The Wendy Williams Show (which premiered July 13) owns the 3 p.m. and 12:05 a.m. time slot on the same station. Wendy Williams has done well in several key demos at 3 p.m. (in women 18-34 and women 18-49.) thus far.