Thursday, February 25, 2010

More on Chicago PPM numbers for January

Here some more information on the Arbitron PPM numbers for the month of January, which were released yesterday:

- In what could be considered an upset, WLS-AM's morning duo of Don and Wade Roma won the morning drive race in January, handly defeating WGN-AM's Greg Jarrett among overall listeners. The duo have been at WLS since 1985 (when it was still a Contemporary Hit Outlet!) Among adults 25-54, the Romas finished  tied for twelveth, ahead of Jarrett's show, which finished tied for eighteenth.

- And among 25-54s, WTMX-FM (The Mix) was the top-rated station in this most sought-after demo, and when you split among genders, WSCR-AM took home the crown among men while the femmes preferred WTMX.

- And while WLS' Roe Conn continued to disappoint with his afternoon show finishing 23rd among adults 25-54, his bosses nonetheless decided to give him a two-year contract extension today. 

If you think this is uncommon, The CW recently renewed 90210 and Gossip Girl for next season with just as disastrous ratings. Go figure.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Chicago January PPM ratings

The following is based on 6+ numbers only:



Honorable mention:


Big drop as expected:



Nothing. A first!

Analysis: January was a very strong month for Chicago's radio stations as more than 15 radio stations showed period-to-period increases, debunking the myth radio in Chicago is "dying". In fact, if you look at the chart, there really isn't a negative story to be found (if you excuse WLIT's drop.)

News and talk radio proved popular once again in the Windy City as WBBM-AM, WLS-AM, and WGN-AM all took the top three spots. WVAZ-FM finished fourth (though down slightly), while WUSN-FM and WTMX surged to 5th and 6th place, respectively with strong showings.

In fact, many radio stations showed increases from last period, as patterns are returning to normal since the Holidays. But one station did take a big spill - and that was WLIT-FM, which declined a whopping 65% from last period. But the drop was expected as the station returned to its Adult Contemporary format from Holiday music on December 26. But the station still had a respectable showing in this post-holiday book and finished 11th.

The only other station to post a major drop was SBS' WLEY-FM, which fell 18%, but still managed to finish within the top 20.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

T Dog's Grab Bag - Jerry Agar, "Undercover Boss", KNBC and more

It's been a little while since yours truly has done a Grab Bag of news and notes - so here's what's going on in the world of media today:

- Was yours truly wrong on Undercover Boss? People are still tuning in, and Ben Grossman of B&C offers up a great defense of the show and reality TV in general (but he is way off the mark when he says Undercover Boss is funnier than The Big Bang Theory.)

- Jerry Agar is returning to his home north of the border: The former WLS-AM and current WGN-AM weekend radio talker has signed on with CFRB-AM in Toronto to host a daily talker in Canada's largest market. The native Canadian will continue doing weekend work for WGN, but Bill Leff is not - he has exited WGN's ChicagoNowRadio Saturday morning show.

- And like a lot of Canadians, they were sobbing on Sunday night after the men's U.S. hockey team beat Canada 5-3. But Canada did win in one category: TV ratings. While the game drew 8.2 million viewers on MSNBC in the States, on CTV, it drew a whopping 10.6 million viewers, making it the most-watched sporting event in Canada's history.

- No more tears and no Johnson & Johnson either: Earvin "Magic" Johnson and Johnson Publishing fail to reach an agreement on a sale of the company to the former basketball star.

- Litton's new Judge Karen's Court and Twentieth's Dont Forget The Lyrics have released updated clearance information for their debuts this fall. While Litton declined to identify stations who bought the show, they did release info on what groups are involved (it's likely Karen will end up on WCIU, since it was the home of her last syndicated effort.) Meanwhile, Twentieth did release an updated station list for Lyrics, which now lists 155 stations at 65 percent clearance. Among new stations joining the lineup include WFXT Boston, WJBK Detroit, KTVI in St. Louis, and WMLW in Milwaukee. In Chicago, Lyrics will air on WPWR-TV.

- As part of its station group's upcoming daytime overhaul, NBC-owned KNBC-TV in Los Angeles has canceled its low-rated midday newscast titled Midday Report, anchored by Kim Baldonado. The show was originally supposed to be bumped for the Olympics and return March 1, but KNBC officials decided to air day-old repeats of Access: Hollywood instead.

This fall, KNBC will air The Nate Berkus Show from Sony and The Real Housewives Of... repeats.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

T Dog's Four Pack - A long time coming

Been awhile since a T Dog's Four pack was published... so, let's create one. Now!

What's Hot:

The New Orleans Saints. ...and in fact, the city of New Orleans and the entire state of Louisiana. Their recent Super Bowl win was their first in the team's 42-year history, giving a huge lift to an area devastated by Hurricane Katrina only four years ago.

Super Bowl XLIV breaks all-time viewing record. An estimated 106 million viewers tuned in to the Super Bowl, breaking a 27-year old record set by the final episode of M*A*S*H in 1983.

The Winter Olympics. Ratings for the Vancouver games on NBC are up from the Torino games in 2006 - and are setting ratings records in the host country for CTV - where the Opening Ceremonies broke an all-time ratings record in Canada, only days after the American record fell for the most-watched program of all time.

Mancow out at WLS-AM. The Big 89 finally came to its senses and released Mancow the Moron, a hire that never should happened to begin with. Hopefully his reign of terror over Chicago's airwaves ends for good.

...and what's not:

- The networks running fresh fare opposite the Olympics. So much for counter-programming as the Olympics run ripshod over most new episodes of regular prime-time fare, including season lows for Grey's Anatomy and The Simpsons. Even American Idol was beaten on Wednesday.

- Hyde Park. President Obama's neighborhood was featured in Time Out Chicago recently - and the picture wasn't pretty - the neighborhood struggling much like the famous politician is in the White House. Sadly, Hyde Park is more closer to Harvey and Ford Heights than it is to Lincoln Park and Wilmette when it comes to retail development and respectable nightlife (which is not of the strip club caviler.)

- Sarah Palin. Can someone please put The Club on her mouth whenever she speaks? I mean really.

- Pardon the Interruption. Tuesday's episode featuring the old farts was a complete embarrassment. Michael Wilbon talking about a commercial for male enhancement products and actually endorsing it? Really, is there anyone under the age of 55 still watching this show? I guess Warner Saunders forgot to feed his son Wilbon his strained carrots and burp him before airtime.

Friday, February 19, 2010

NBC O&Os get daytime act together

Chicago's WMAQ fares better than New York and Los Angeles counterparts

The NBC-owned-and-operated stations are blowing up their daytime schedules this fall, with two new programs (and possibly a third) coming this fall while three shows are exiting.

NBC Local Media chief John Wallace explains in a recent TVNewscheck article on how the station group is preparing for the massive changeover with the acquisition of Sony Pictures Television's Nate Berkus Show and off-cable repeats of The Real Housewives. In addition, the group is looking to develop a third show, possibly keeping it in-house.

The program would be an Access: Hollywood-type show, but no details were announced. Another possibility would be an hour-long LX.TV show

NBC (as a network) has traditionally trailed CBS and ABC in the daytime race, and programs fewer hours than the other two. Therefore, NBC affiliates - and its O&Os - must rely on syndicated programming. NBC has ten O&Os, including the six largest markets, WRC in Washington, D.C., and the remaining three are in Miami, Hartford, and San Diego.

The opportunity to grab Berkus came when Martha Stewart decided to move her daytime talk show to Hallmark Channel, though at least one slot was already open with the cancellation of The Bonnie Hunt Show.

Another slot will open with the expected cancellation of Deal or No Deal. The second-year syndicated game show suffered steep ratings losses this year, and is being dropped by My Network TV in primetime this fall in favor of Don't Forget The Lyrics, which is also being stripped in syndication.

NBC hopes the moves will boost ratings in its O&O markets. Ironically, NBC-owned WMAQ-TV in Chicago performs better in the women 25-54 demographic than its New York (WNBC-TV) and Los Angeles counterparts (KNBC-TV). WMAQ is tied for second in this demo with WGN-TV during the day, and is only behind market leader WLS-TV.

Also in the O&Os stable is Ellen, which is experiencing ratings growth in its key female demos in its ninth season. It's one of the reasons NBC renewed Ellen for three more years on its stations as a key linchpin for its early fringe lineup (locally, WMAQ airs Ellen DeGeneres' show at 3 p.m. every weekday.)

While the moves are eliciting praise from media buyers and advertisers alike, a big change like this always carries some risk. Though the shows being replaced were definitely not ratings winners, there is no guarantee these new shows will do any better (it is television, after all.) While Nate Berkus has the name recognition for him to succeed, The Real Housewives could sink, given off-cable repeats have not historically worked well in broadcast syndication. Also not working in its favor is no continuity (Housewives have done editions in Atlanta, New York, New Jersey, Washington, D.C., and Orange County, Calif.) and the controversial nature of the series.

But still, the moves bring fresh programming initiatives to the NBC O&Os and are an improvement over the stuff they currently air.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

WMAQ cleans up on Olympics

NBC-owned WMAQ-TV is having a blast this month, thanks to the Vancouver Winter Olympics.

Ratings for the games have more than tripled its nearest competitors in prime-time - none of which have come even close, proving the games are a big draw in Chicagoland.

For example on Saturday, the Olympics drew a 15.2 rating (share not available) on Saturday night February 13, outdrawing a Atlanta Thrashers-Chicago Blackhawks game, which did a 2.7 (which still isn't a bad number for a Saturday night outing on WGN-TV.)

While American Idol beat The Olympics on Tuesday night, Chicagoans tuned in to the Olympics in greater numbers than Idol, which beat the Fox show 14.0 to 12.5. Historically, Idol has always underperformed in Chicago and did so this time, even with a few local area hopefuls in the mix on "Hollywood Week". Last May, the local household rating for the American Idol finale was the fifth-worst among the 56 metered markets.

On Wednesday night, the Olympics turned the tables on Idol, handing the venerable talent show its first defeat since May 2004 - thanks in part to several Gold-medal winning performances by American athletes. The Olympics bested Idol across-the-board in households, adults 18-49, and total viewers.
Wednesday night's Olympics also pulled in strong numbers here, with a 20.2/31 household rating/share, ranking 20th overall out of 56 metered markets, fueled in part by South Sider Shani Davis' Gold Medal win in speedskating (Milwaukee's WTMJ was tops with a 23.7/37.

Locally, the Olympics have averaged a 17.1 rating (though six nights), and nationally has done a 14.5 (though five nights), far higher than the network programming it usually has in prime-time.

Meanwhile in Canada, CTV continues to soar for its Olympic coverage in the host country. CTV, its owned-cable nets, and Rogers SportsNet have draw a combined 40 million viewers since the Olympics started on Friday, with CTV drawing 4.5 million in prime-time Wednesday night.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Meet your new ruler of Earth: "American Idol"

Not even the mighty Winter Olympics could slow down American Idol, which is now the undisputed ruler of the Nielsen Kingdom (with the expection of the Super Bowl, of course.)

Tuesday night's ratings showdown featured Idol, the Olympics, and a new episode of Lost.

Idol won the 7-9 p.m. time slot with a 9.1/22 rating/share among adults 18-49 (and 24 million viewers) while the Olympics drew a respectable 5.1/12 among adults 18-49 and 20 million viewers.

In household overnights, Idol easily cleared the Olympics with a 15.2/22 to 14.4/21 advantage.

Meanwhile, Lost wasn't really affected by the tough competition: it drew a 4.5/10 among adults 18-49 and 9.8 million viewers, with a household overnight rating/share of 6.7/9.

Regularly-scheduled programming beating the Olympics isn't new - Idol did it before in 2006 when it defeated the Torino Winter games; and in February 1992, a first-run episode of The Simpsons on Fox defeated the Albertville Winter games on CBS and NBC's The Cosby Show in its 7 p.m. Thursday time slot.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

NBC, CTV score big with Winter Olympics Opener

A week ago, a 27- year record fell when Super Bowl XLIV between the New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts drew more than 106 million viewers, marking it as the most-watched television event ever in the United States.

Now its Canada's turn.

Friday's Opening Ceremonies for the Winter Olympics drew the largest audience ever for a television event in Canada.

The 13.3 million who watched all or part of the Opening Ceremonies in Vancouver broke the record set at the 2002 Salt Lake City games when Canada defeated the U.S. in the gold-medal hockey game, which aired on former rights holder CBC.

The Olympic games are being carried by CTV and its owned-cable properties (all-sports TSN, French-language sports cabler RDS, and OLN, among others.) Some Olympic events are alos being carried by regional sports cabler Rogers SportsNet.

Meanwhile in the U.S. , NBC scored Friday night with its coverage of the Opening Ceremonies, drawing 67 million viewers between 7:00 p.m. and 11:15 p.m., Central Time.

Among the largest markets, Seattle (which is about 100 miles south of Vancouver) came on top Friday with the largest ratings, despite being time-delayed for the Pacific Time Zone (in Canada, the Olympics are being shown "live" in all time zones, coast to coast.) Milwaukee was second, with Denver third.

Chicago tied with Buffalo for 20th place, with a 20.1 household rating and 33 share.

CTV is celebrating its 50th anniversary this fall, launching as Canada's first privately-owned broadcast network in 1961. What was the top-rated show on CTV's first season? Believe it or not, it was The Andy Griffith Show.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

"Ellen" renewed on NBC O&Os through 2014

You can take Ellen DeGeneres off the list of potential replacements for Oprah Winfrey on ABC's O&Os.

Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution's Ellen was renewed by all ten of the NBC owned-and-operated stations (including WMAQ-TV in Chicago) through 2014, when it reaches its 11th season.  The NBC stations have been with Ellen since day one, when her show began in 2003.

Her daytime show - which airs in early fringe opposite Oprah in numerous markets - has done well in its target female audiences of 18-49s and 25-54s, and the show's ratings are up this season across-the-board in all key demographics.

With the NBC O&O renewal, it takes Ellen off the market as several ABC O&Os are looking to replace The Oprah Winfrey Show in September 2011.

Ellen DeGeneres' show is likely to benefit this season from her duties as a judge on top-rated American Idol.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Mancow, Cassidy out at WLS-AM

Mancow Mueller has wore out his welcome at yet another Chicago radio station.

He and his on-air partner (former WBBM-AM personality Pat Cassidy) were shown the door at WLS-AM after their show concluded today, ending a run of only sixteen months (or nine more months than The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien.)

As of Thursday morning, Cisco Cotto will replace the two in the 9-11 a.m. time slot. Cotto previously was heard on WIND-AM and was recently paired with Roe Conn on WLS in the afternoons.

The program paired up the oddest of Odd Couples: news reader Cassidy and former shock jock Erich "Mancow" Mueller and ran between Don and Wade Roma's morning drive program and Rush Limbaugh's syndicated show.

While Mueller - a known libertarian - wanted to distance himself from his shock jock past, his interviews with Drew Peterson and a "waterboarding" stunt he performed (which some say was staged) were scorned by critics. Some of his antics - which he brought directly from his syndicated morning show (and his old Mancow's Morning Madhouse) - turned off more conserative listeners. Pat Cassidy seemed out of place on the show, which Mancow dominated (and was proabably thinking... I left WBBM-AM for this?)

Mueller meanwhile, has exited a Chicago radio station for the third time in the last twelve years. After his contract was not renewed at the former WRCX-FM, he jumped to alternative rocker WKQX-FM in 1998, where he lasted eight years. He often clashed with WKQX executives over creative direction of his Mancow Morning Madhouse, which became syndicated during his tenure there. He moved to WLS-AM in October 2008 to be paired up with Pat Cassidy, who now is expected to return to his old post at WBBM.

The changes being made at WLS is due to new general manager Michael Damnsky, who is hoping to reverse a recent ratings slide. He replaced Michael Fowler, whose close friendship which Mueller helped him landed the gig at WLS. When he was dimissed, the cancellation clock was ticking on Mancow and Cassidy.

In another move, Daminsky has brought back WLS-TV anchor Ron Magers as a contributor and to provide news updates to Roe Conn's afternoon show Magers' position was eliminated a few weeks ago in a budget-cutting move.

WLS-TV and WLS-AM are former sister stations; WLS-AM was sold by ABC to Citadel in 2006.

Thought: Can we send Mancow the Moron back to obscurity where he belongs? The backstabbing sellout flopped on WLS-AM because nobody took him seriously as a talk-show host because of his past, which included partying with porn stars and staged stunts. This latest venture was a joke - he dominated this "partnership" over Pat Cassidy - who was lucky to get a word in edgewise. No, this was more about Mancow the Moron and his infatuation with phony waterboarding stunts, daily rantfests, and murder suspect Drew Peterson, who is another waste of human life.

Before the human waste disposal dried up on WKQX in 2006, Mancow already became irrelevant to the local media scene. As I alluded to in this post from over a year ago, he was mentioned in this blog only fourteen times out of some 1300 posts up to that time. While others were willing to give this man the time of day, yours truly wasn't going to.

Mancow the Moron is a hypocritical, unfunnny, lying jerk  - the same kind of qualities which make you more than qualified to host The Tonight Show these days.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

ESPN, ABC affiliates tussle over sports

Many affiliates are upset with ABC and ESPN over a decision to remove several Sunday afternoon NASCAR races from the broadcast network to ESPN, leaving them with just three prime-time races to carry.

The move rankled affilates - particuarly in Southern television markets, where NASCAR is very popular.

NASCAR - whose season begins this Sunday with the Daytona 500 - splits its season up among broadcasters with Fox carrying the first portion of the season, followed by TNT for a few weeks, then ESPN/ABC taking over for the rest of the season until the season concludes in November.

While ABC affiliates are unhappy, ESPN claimes the races can pull better Nielsen numbers nationally on their network than they would on sister ABC, where those afternoon races had to compete with the NFL.

Both ESPN and ABC are owned by The Walt Disney Company, and the sports' divisions of both merged several years ago.

This reflects a growing trend of many sporting events - many of which used to air on the broadcast networks - heading to basic cable. Other recent ABC-to-ESPN moves include The Rose Bowl (and the entire BCS package picked up from Fox), The British Open, NBA Conference Finals, and college basketball, leaving the network with bare-bones programming on weekends, outside of the NBA and college. On Saturdays outside the college football season, ABC usually aired fare like Wide World of Sports, which ended its 37-year run in 1998 (What's on Saturday afternoons these days? In Dallas, ABC affiliate WFAA-TV recently aired a infomercial block.)

Locally, the Chicago Cubs announced its new 2010 schedule with the majority of games on Comcast SportsNet, leaving longtime rights holder WGN-TV with only around 60 games.

The reason why this is occurring because team owners and cable networks can benefit from a dual-revenue stream: one from advertising; the other from subscriber fees. ESPN and other networks usually collect them from cable and satellite providers, aka MSOs (Comcast, WOW!, and RCN) on a per-subscriber basis for the right to carry their channel on their system.

While ABC affiliates are unhappy with these turn of events, media buyers feel no sympathy towards them mainly because with ESPN and TNT, sporting events can reach their male-targeted targets better, and the pricing is lower.

And some media buyers dismiss the whining from affiliates since they still draw - and profit from - the networks' popular entertainment fare in prime-time.

As for NASCAR itself, many loyal fans have been upset with ESPN/ABC's coverage of the auto races for a wide variety of reasons, ranging from technical gaffes to bumping races to another ESPN outlet because of a last-minute programming conflict.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Best and Worst Super Bowl Commercials 2010

Ladies and Gentlemen... welcome to the fourth annual roundup of the best and worst Super Bowl commercials:

Forget Tivo... these ads are worth watching.

1. Kia. Sock Puppets are living it up - driving a Kia, going to parties and clubbing... then is back to reality: in back of a SUV with some kid in the suburbs. One of the most creative ads yours truly has seen in a long time.

2. Bud Light's Lost Ad (Stranded). Very funny Lost parody. The only thing missing was Hurley getting his groove on.

3. KGB. One person uses KGB's answer service to find out what "I Surrender" means in Japenese. One used a search engine to find out what the term means and he gets hammered. Awesome spot (though the KGB spot with the clowns at the birthday party was even funnier.)

4. Betty White and Abe Vigoda for Snickers. At her age, Betty White can still prove she's one tough cookie - excuse me, candy bar.

5. Motorola's Motoblur. Megan Fox in a hot tub? She sends her pictures out... and it affects America's productivity. 

Skip these with your DVR

1. Go Daddy and Danica Patrick. Here we go again... the low rating of both spots in USA Today's Ad Meter proves this concept is tired. And speaking of tiring... Isn't everyone sick and tired of hearing about Miss Never Won A Race? Good luck in NASCAR lady, you'll need it. Second year in a row Go Daddy has topped the worst category in Super Bowl advertising.

2. Audi's Green Car Ad. Overzealous eco-cops? Yes, it can happen - wait until they get their own TV show.

3. Boost Mobile. The Chicago Bears Super Bowl Reunion proves you can't go home again. At least one-time Boost Mobile pitchman Master Shake from Aqua Teen Hunger Force didn't show up saying "Where you at, dawg?" (Wait... it would've made the ad more tolerable..)

4. Any Doritos Ad. None of them funny. Period. (In one spot, I wanted to see more of the hot mom - not "Webster".)

5. ...and at age 17, saved everyone from a tornado. Different script, same awful execution from last year's spot.

Other thoughts:

- Hard Hitting. A lot of hard-hitting plays in this year's Super Bowl. And that was just in the commercials!

- For the Super Bowl Halftime Show, entertain yourselves dammit! Reading the tweets about The Who's halftime performance was more entertaining than watching the  show itself.

- D'Oh! The Simpsons' Coca-Cola ad looked horrible in HD... was expecting Bart to say "Nobody Better Lay A Finger On My Coke." (hmm... could be taken a lot of ways)

- Unnecessary Super Bowl Ad Of The Year: Google. You are the undisputed search-engine king. Why do you need to spend $2 million on a Super Bowl ad?

- We NEED to take our clothes off to have a good time. In a rather ironic twist, two ads aired back-to-back - with a partial nudity theme. One of CareerBuilder, the other for Dockers. 

- Controversy? What Controversy? So this was the Tim Tebow ad everyone was talking about? What was the fuss?

- The ad everyone was talking about - but wasn't really an ad! CBS' Late Show promo featuring David Letterman, Oprah Winfrey, and Jay Leno? If she can get those two rivals together, you'd think it's possible she can unite Cubs and White Sox fans? ...nah.

Further reading:

-For the fourth consecutive year, YouTube is doing Ad Blitz so viewers can pick their favorite Super Bowl commercials. Voting continues until this Sunday, and the winner gets its own homepage.

- And of course, there's the other Super Bowl Ad staple: USA Today's 22nd Annual Ad Meter, which the Betty White Sinckers Ad won this year.

- Another Super Bowl Ad Review vet (Bob Garifeld) weighs in this roundup for Ad Age. 

- For a local viewpoint, Chicago Tribune critic Steve Johnson has his thoughts.

- Looking for past Super Bowl ad reviews from yours truly? Here they are: 2007 (best), 2007 (worst), 2008, and 2009.

One for the record books

Courtesy: New Orleans Times-Picayune

Super Bowl XLIV between the New Orleans Saints and the Indianapolis Colts brought down one of television's most durable records.

The game drew an astonishing 106.5 million viewers on CBS - breaking the record set by the February 28, 1983 episode of M*A*S*H titled Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen, which closed out the series' eleven-season run. It drew 106 million viewers.

In the fast nationals, the adult 18-49 tally for the Super Bowl was 34.9/68.

The record-breaking total viewer mark is quite remarkable in an era of fragmented viewership, where the top-rated show on television can grab around 30 million.

In the two teams home markets, New Orleans' WWL-TV drew the largest overnight household rating and share (53.7/73) while Indianapolis' WISH-TV finished fourth (51.8/69), behind Washington, D.C. and Nashville.

Overall, the overnight household numbers were 46.4/68, the highest rated Super Bowl in this category in 23 years. 

The Saints upset the Colts for their first Super Bowl win in the 42-year history of the franchise - one jokingly known as "The Ain'ts" for so many years.

Meanwhile, the Super Bowl lead-out - a new reality show titled Undercover Boss drew 38.6 million viewers - making it the most-watched reality TV premiere of all time and the most-watched post Super Bowl show in more than 20 years. The series settles into its regular 8 p.m. (CT) time slot this Sunday.

In a surprise to some who were watching, Undercover Boss was not shot in high-definition.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

T Dog's Four Pack - Don't fumble it away

In honor of the Super Bowl this weekend, this is who scored the touchdowns this week -  and who fumbled it at the end zone.


- WGCI and WVAZ gives back. Clear Channel's WGCI-FM and WVAZ-FM (V103) are launching the Raise A Hand Campaign to encourage young people to perform good deeds for their schools and their community via volunteer work. Both Ramonski Luv (former WGCI jock now at V103) and Tony Sculfield (the current afternoon personality at WGCI) are making special appearances at Chicago-area schools on Saturdays throughout February, which is Black History Month. For more information, click here.

As much as yours truly has given grief to Clear Channel over the years for some of their decisions, this initiative from them deserves a lot of kudos. This is what radio should be doing.

- The Grammys. Despite being panned across-the-board by critics, The 51st annual awards show drew more than 26 million viewers in its telecast last Sunday night, validating the fact Top 40 music is hot again.

-  Nate Berkus. Thank NBC and its ten owned-and-operated stations for helping launch this new syndicated talk show this fall, which is produced by Harpo Productions.

- Lost. Television's best drama (yeah, I said it) drew 12 million viewers for its sixth-season premiere and a 5.6 ratings in 18-49s.


- Illinois. We stayed away from the polls and we let idiots choose a woman-beating, sleazy pawn owner as a Democratic nominee for Lt. Governor? Now we even don't have to lift a finger and still become a national laughingstock. Like the Bears.

- Monsters and Money in the Morning. The program's first week on the air has yours truly longing for the days of CBS' 1987 A.M. bomb The Morning Program when Soupy Sales hit Bob Saget in the face with a pie and Mariette Hartley performing like she's Judy Tenuta.

- Mel Gibson's interview with WGN-TV. Luckily for Dean Richards, Mel Gibson was on a monitor and not in the same room - he probably would've defecated on him like he did on Cartman. Those send-ups of Gibson on Family Guy and South Park were spot on.

- Taylor Swift's performance at the Grammys. And she actually won some awards? Where's Kanye West when you need him?

Friday, February 05, 2010

Asking the questions: Why is WFLD struggling at 9 p.m.?

The T Dog Media Blog is "asking the questions"... why is Fox-owned WFLD squandering prime-time lead-ins from its parent network? Maybe they should find some answers.

According to Nielsen and from Lewis Lazare's column today, WFLD continues to lag behind its competitors in the month of January. Despite changes to the 9 p.m. newscast - notably adding Anna Davlantes as a third anchor - ratings for the news show was down 20 percent from January 2009.

Tribune-owned WGN meanwhile fared no better - they too were down from last year (to the tune of 22 percent), though it did beat its Fox rival in the head-to-head ratings, one of the very few CW affiliates in the country who have 9 or 10 p.m. news to do so.

So why are WGN and WFLD struggling at 9 p.m.? Simple. The newscasts are down in face of tough competition from CBS and ABC's 9 p.m. programming (except Wednesday for ABC, where it airs the now-canceled Ugly Betty) and from DVR use in the time period.

And don't forget strong competition from basic cable at 9 p.m. - especially from Comcast SportsNet, where Bulls and Blackhawks games have done very well. Last Friday's Bulls overtime victory over the New Orleans Hornets scored a 6.7 rating at 9:30 p.m., a record high for a Bulls regular-season game on the channel. (See? I ask the questions and gave you the answers. WFLD only does half their job...)

Meanwhile, ABC-owned WLS-TV dominated the market as usual in all time periods, with CBS-owned WBBM-TV coming in second at 10 p.m., and NBC-owned WMAQ-TV coming in third. On Thursday, WBBM announced it was bringing back Walter Jacobson's Perspective commentaries on a trial basis during its 10 p.m. newscasts, airing on Tuesdays and Thursdays. You can see the first one he did by clicking here.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

"Monsters" off to a slow start

Monsters and Money in the Morning, the new morning sports and financial advice program on CBS-owned WBBM-TV, got off to a rocky start yesterday morning.

According to Nielsen, the 5-to-7 a.m. outing could gather only a .6 household rating in the first hour and a .2 in the second hour. Among the 25-54 demo, it fared worse: Monsters averaged a .1 in both hours. All numbers are down from year-ago time period ratings, when WBBM ran a more traditional newscast.

While it is only the first day for the Mike North/Dan Jiggetts vehicle, these anemic numbers could suggest one thing: tick tock, the cancellation clock may soon be ticking.

Yesterday's program did receive fair reviews, but it obviously needs work. North and Jiggetts, as well as financial experts Terry Savage and Mike Hedgedus, discussed a wide variety of issues - even beyond the world of sports and finance.

There was Mike North shamefully begging for a sponsor with a box of Raisin Bran. There was a "table cam". There was also an on-screen clock, a la Pardon The Interruption.

Savage and Hedgedus really have no business commenting on pop culture, since they don't know anything about it. And Savage's questions to Chicago Blackhawks owner and guest Rocky Wirtz proved she did not do any background research on the team's business. And she's been a financial expert for how long?

Finally, there was Phil Simms from Miami, chatting away about the upcoming Super Bowl.

To be fair, CBS - and WBBM-TV - have never been real factors in the morning news ratings race for decades, thanks in part to CBS' constant retooling of its network morning program, from The Early Show to CBS This Morning to The Morning Program.

In fact, the latter show was an "experiment" of sorts, much like Monsters. The Morning Program was an "infotainment" program produced by CBS Entertainment - not CBS News - and hosted by Rolland Smith and Mariette Hartley, with comedy from "sidekick" Bob Saget, who would flee for the exits a few months later to join the cast of a new ABC sitcom called Full House.

The Morning Program's January 12, 1987 debut was panned by critics and hated by viewers, and would last only ten months.  Steve Friedman, then-producer of NBC's The Today Show, told Electronic Media: "It looks like a Saturday Night Live parody of morning television. Not only they are poor ideas, they are poorly executed. The stand-up comics aren't funny and neither are Hartley's quips".

As part of the carnival atmosphere known as The Morning Show, there was one instance where the late Soupy Sales - whose shtick was throwing pies in people's faces - threw one in the face of Bob Saget. 

With Monsters earning ultra-low ratings, don't be surprised if you see Dan Jiggetts start throwing pies at Mike North.

Monday, February 01, 2010

T Dog's Think Tank: The Late Shift 2: The Screwjob Continues

It all began on January 7, when a website reported that NBC had canceled The Jay Leno Show.

It ended on January 22, with Conan O’Brien leaving The Tonight Show.

Welcome to The Late Shift 2: The Screwjob Continues. Based on New York Times writer Bill Carter’s book (and later HBO movie), this is a sequel to the mid 1990s drama where David Letterman was screwed over for The Tonight Show gig by NBC – and some comic named Jay Leno – whose claim to fame was being a Doritos pitchman – and his executive producer Helen Kushnick (who nearly lost the job for Leno because of her outrageous demands and unprofessional demeanor.)

As you know by now, NBC’s experiment with The Jay Leno Show in primetime was a whopping failure (and one yours truly actually thought would work… eep) The effort to cut costs and keep Leno from jumping to another network at the same time didn’t work, and NBC was angering its affiliates because Leno was not delivering an audience to their late local newscasts, which accounts for up to 40 percent of a station’s revenues.

One such station (WHDH in Boston) told NBC it was going to pre-empt the show for local news. When the network threatened to yank the station’s affiliation (even threatening to move it to a subchannel of a Telemunedo station), WHDH backed down.

But with Leno’s ratings sucking fecal water – and hurting the affiliates’ 11 p.m. / 10 p.m. newscasts, a widespread revolt was being organized and all of this began to unravel. And so on January 7, NBC decided to cancel The Jay Leno Show, thus ending what has to be considered the biggest programming blunder in television history.

But instead of cutting Leno loose, the geniuses at the network decided to put him on at 11:35 p.m./10:35 p.m. Central for a half-hour, pushing The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien – the program he inherited from Leno - back a half-hour into a lower HUT (homes-using-television) level time period. The Jimmy Fallon Show would be pushed to 1:05 a.m. ET. The network had their plan set.

But there was one problem: Conan O’Brien did not go along with it. O’Brien stated that moving The Tonight Show to midnight Eastern Time would “seriously damage what I consider to be the greatest franchise in the history of broadcasting. The Tonight Show at 12:05(a.m., ET) simply isn’t the Tonight Show.

And as a result, NBC gave Leno back The Tonight Show, and dumped O’Brien, resulting in a massive PR nightmare for ratings-challenged for the network, who was already in fourth place in prime-time. NBC became a target by late-night comedians including Letterman, who took no prisoners given the situation he was put in by NBC before, and Jimmy Kimmel, who went on Leno’s show 10 @10 segment and told him to “leave our shows alone”.

O’Brien received a huge severance from NBC, and his final show drew more than 10 million viewers. But there is more here that meets the eye here.

It is clear Conan O’Brien got screwed by NBC and Leno. Yes, screwing over – the hottest trend in America right now. Here’s recent evidence submitted for your approval… R&B singer Mya Harrison was screwed over by the judges in the final round of Dancing With The Stars and lost to Donny Osmond at the end… Russell Hantz – the best player on Survivor this past season… was screwed over by the jury and gave it to an undeserving Natalie White… and for you old-school fans out there, Bret Hart was screwed over by Vince McMahon and the WWE in the infamous Montreal Screwjob. And now Conan O’Brien is now the latest member of The Screwed Over Club.

While yours truly have to admit O’Brien’s Tonight Show was struggling in the ratings, NBC should have given him more time to grow and cut Leno loose after his prime-time show tanked. Seven months? Hell, most new syndicated shows get two years to prove themselves nowadays. When Leno took over for Johnny Carson, it took him three years for him to gain traction (thanks in part to the O.J. Simpson trial.)

So how did The Late Shift 2: The Screwjob Continues come to fruition? In 2004, NBC executives concocted a scheme in which Jay Leno would relinquish Tonight to O’Brien in 2009, and he agreed to it. Watch this clip and see for yourself:

And in a recent interview with Oprah Winfrey, Leno admitted he told “a little white lie” that he wanted to give up Tonight to Conan O’Brien. In the hour-long lie-a-thon, Leno took another shot at O'Brien for screwing up the franchise.

And so what is Leno's punishment? Well, Leno the Liar gets the 11:35 p.m. time slot back while he and NBC executives throw O’ Brien under the bus. And those fights Leno the Liar said he did not want to happen again? Yeah… right, we believe you. And to show you how much class this jackass has, he was lobbing jokes at Letterman about the recent intern scandal he endured as a response to his reaction to the situation. Wow, what a dick. You just wonder what talk show Leno the Liar wants to take away next… could he venture into daytime? No wonder Martha Stewart moved her show to cable!

As the drama unfolded, you have to sit back and marvel at how NBC has been run into the ground by court jester Jeff Zucker, Ben “Party All The Time” Silverman, Angela Bromstead, and the rest of these jerks. These idiots wouldn’t even know how to run a Harold’s Chicken Shack let alone a major broadcast network (and if they did, it would certainly burn down to the ground.) And Comcast’s planned takeover of NBC will matters worse, as evidenced by their constant cable and internet outages.

Then there’s NBC Universal Sports honcho Dick Ebersol, who ripped into both Letterman and O’Brien and their jokes about NBC and Leno the Liar, saying it was “ professional jealousy and chicken-hearted and gutless to blame a guy you couldn’t beat in the ratings.” Why the thin skin Ebersol? Is it because you let baseball and pro basketball go to other networks because your network was too damn cheap to pay for it? But you spend and spend on the Olympics and now they’re not making money for NBC. Since you are so good at giving advice, why don’t you give some to the Bears? They certainly could use another idiot. If Letterman and O’Brien are “chicken-hearted” and “gutless”, then you are nothing but chicken shit.

So, what’s the lesson after observing this mess? You can be smart, work hard, and earn your spot in life – only to have greedy, incompetent, lying, scheming, shucking and jiving dipshits take it away from you just like that. In short, its called being “screwed over”. It’s a lesson you won’t learn in school.

Class dismissed.