Monday, August 29, 2011

The Grab Bag: You, the people

This Grab Bag is for you - that's right. You - the people. You have the right to gripe about yet another newscast or yet another new daytime courtroom show (We The People) on the horizon. You also have the right to have an alternative to the regular crap on TV - thanks to two new diginet TV channels. You have the right to critique about Merlin Media's new all-news stations - and a lot of listeners are exactly doing that. And you have the right not to suffer through another Q101 article. This Grab Bag - a collection of items that happened since this blog was put on a unfortunate hiatus earlier in the month - is dedicated to you - the people.

- In an item first reported by Robert Feder at Time Out Chicago, NBC-owned WMAQ-TV is launching a midday newscast - the first in nearly twenty years. The new half-hour noon newscast is being anchored by Marion Brooks. WMAQ's low-rated noon newscast was canceled in 1991 to make room for soap opera Santa Barbara, which moved from its longtime 2 p.m. time slot to make room for Jenny Jones' new syndicated talk show, which was shot here in Chicago at the NBC Tower.

- Filling out the hour on WMAQ is a new, last-minute-to-the-marketplace daytime courtroom show from Entertainment Studios titled We The People, with Attorney Gloria Allred presiding over cases for arbitration. The series has cleared six other NBC O&Os, including WNBC New York, KXAS Dallas, and WVIT Hartford.

While airing a courtroom series is out of character for an NBC O&O (in Chicago, court shows usually air on WCIU or WPWR), the move is being made since NBCUniversal decided to withdrawal reruns of The Real Housewives from broadcast syndication after a lone, unsuccessful season (don't worry, you can still see the dysfunctional dames on Bravo.)

The last time WMAQ aired a courtroom show was in 1997-98, when it aired a new revival of The People's Court with former New York Mayor Ed Koch (Court now airs on WCIU with Marilyn Millian presiding.) WMAQ also aired the original version of The People's Court from 1982-87 with Judge Joseph Wapner.

- The new Bounce digital subchannel network has signed Weigel Broadcasting's low-power WWME here in Chicago and WBME in Milwaukee to carry their new service, which launches on Sept. 26. Created by Martin Luther King III, former Atlanta mayor and current Ambassdor Andrew Young, and the principals behind Rainforest films, an African-American production company. Bounce is targeted to African-American audience in the 25-54 demo and recently signed Toyota USA as its first national sponsor. Other clearances for Bounce include WMCN Philadelphia, KHOU Houston, WUAB Cleveland, KSMO Kansas City, and WISH/WNDY Indianapolis representing the LIN, Meredith, Belo, and Raycom station groups.

Bounce plans to feature a wide variety of films, sporting events, off-network programming, inspirational shows, and original programming targeted to African-American audience. Bounce launches on Sept. 26 with the 1978 theatrical The Wiz, a musical take-off of the classic 1939 film The Wizard of Oz featuring Diana Ross and Michael Jackson. You can find Bounce on WWME's 23.2 digital subchannel.

- Also on the diginet beat: Adell Broadcasting's Detroit independent station (WADL) has signed a deal with Antenna TV to carry the Classic TV digital network over its Channel 38.2 subchannel and on Comcast Cable Channel 295. Chicago-based Competing classic TV diginet MeTV is still without a affiliate in the Motor City, but things could open up soon if the ongoing turmoil at RTV is any indication - currently, WXYZ is affiliated with the faux classic TV channel on Channel 7.3.

- If you've noticed, Crawford Broadcasting's WSRB-FM has returned to its Soul 106.3 branding after a few months as Real Radio 106.3, whatever that meant.

- And speaking of radio stations "not winning", yours truly has his first verdict on Merlin Media's new all news-talk WWWN-FM - not exactly impressed. Moments of dead air, mispronounced words, lots of flubs, too many repetition of stories, uncompelling content (shopping tips?), and an overall amateurish presentation. While yours truly understands this station is targeted to the soccer mom crowd aged 25-54, this has a long way to go to pose a legitimate threat to mass appeal WBBM-AM. And believe it or not, there are actually women out there who don't care about shopping or chocolate!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

T Dog's Six Pack: Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen

As you may know - if you've been following on Twitter - The T Dog Media Blog is leaving Blogger and is moving to a new home as part of the new website I'm launching officially on September 19, when the sixth season of The T Dog Media Blog begins. Visit to view the progress of the site as yours truly works on it. It's currently in Beta, so the look of the site will change several times as the 19th gets closer.

Due to a major tagging project for the new website, yours truly haven't been able to do much writing in the blog as of late (which unfortunately, meant no Comic-Con or TCA Press Tour posts.) But the tagging project is finally over, so its back to writing about the wackiness and fun that is local and national media. In the meantime, you'll see postings on both the Blogger version of The T Dog Media Blog and on the T Dog Media site. But on September 19, all new material will be exclusively on the new site.

Speaking of goodbyes, there are a lot of them in this edition of the Six Pack - a well-respected media columnist is moving to a new online home; a legendary businessman stepping down due to health issues; a pair of TV show cancellations; and two managers at a local TV station who ought to be packing their bags. A lot to get caught up on, so on we go - the winners and losers for the months of July and August:


Windy City Live. While it was a given the new local morning would not match the numbers for the program it replaced (The Oprah Winfrey Show),Windy City has done decently well, topping Regis & Kelly, Today, and Good Day Chicago in recent ratings reports, meeting WLS-TV's expectations - not to mention attracting a significant amount of African-American viewers.

Sorry haters - Windy City Live is here to stay.

Steve Jobs. The Apple CEO officially resigned this past week due to health issues, but he'll be remembered for changing the way we consumed entertainment though iTunes, iPods, and iPads. While Hollywood might not want to admit it, Steve Jobs was a visionary who helped give the public more control over when to watch their favorite TV shows and movies and making the Walkman obsolete. 

Marc Berman. It's sad to see the Programming Insider go after twelve years - thanks to Mr. Berman's departure from Adweek this past Friday (Berman originally wrote for the now-defunct Mediaweek, which folded into Adweek after A.C. Nielsen sold the magazines.) But the good news is, you can follow him to his new home at TV Media Insights where you can sign up to receive his new daily column and visit him at his new Mr. TV website. Both links will be included into the blogroll when the new T Dog Media website launches on September 19 (the old PI Feedback site was shut down Friday evening.)

To read his final Programming Insider newsletter, click here.

Best of luck to Marc Berman in his new home! With such a great talent for writing about TV and media, he'll fit in his new home fine.


As usual, there is a multitude of losers to choose from - the return of the insipid Bachelor Pad, Chicago baseball, the Bears Family Night fiasco, Kim Kardashian and her new, temporarily unemployed NBA "superstar" leech of a husband, Mancow whining about the now-defunct Q101 again (dude, let it go already), the unimpressive debut of WWWN-FM's all-news format (absolutely NOT "winning") and more. But these are the three that stand out:

Judge Jeanne Pirro. The thing is, she's now back to being just Jeanne Pirro: Warner Bros. canceled her Chicago-based daytime courtroom show after four seasons, the first two on CW; the other two in syndication.The departure of Pirro leaves just Judge Mathis and Rosie O'Donnell's soon-to-launch talk show as the only national daily programs produced in the Windy City.

Lopez Tonight. There won't be a Lopez Tomorrow: TBS canceled George Lopez's late-night talk show after two low-rated seasons, which took a ratings hit after being downgraded last November to make room for Conan O'Brien.

CBS 2 blows it again. Continuing our "...blows it again" franchise... CBS-owned WBBM-TV aired a story last month during its barely-watched 4:30 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. newscasts regarding a shooting in the city's Grand Crossing neighborhood, and featured a 4 year-old African-American child who stated on camera he wanted a gun when he was older - giving the impression that the kid wanted to be a gangbanger when he becomes an adult.  But what the station didn't show was footage with the kid saying he wanted to be a police officer to help battle the bad guys. The edited video wound up on YouTube and other video-sharing sites.

The station was criticized by the NAACP, Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), and many other journalist watchdog groups, including The Maynard Institute. Station officials admitted the mistake but never apologized, and there hasn't been any disciplinary action taken that I know of. If you've read this blog for the past five years, you know how really screwed up CBS 2 management has been over the last few decades - from erroneous reporting regarding Fred Hampton's death in 1969 (those "bullets" were just ordinary holes in the wall) to coverage of a "pot party" in 1971 to the tabloid-like newscasts that dotted the station in the '90's to the Amy Jacobson bikini fiasco in 2007. And oh yeah, there's the matter of a boycott by Operation PUSH in the mid-1980's after the Harry Porterfield debacle at a time when CBS ownership was in turmoil.

And you wonder why the station has never been able to attract African-American viewers. And Les Moonves' and other CBS executives' silence on the matter speaks volumes.

Yep, just another typical day at The Church of Tisch.

To borrow a phrase from Chicago Tribune's Steve Rosenbloom... News director Jeff Kiernan and GM Bruno Cohen: your plane is boarding. Hopefully, we'll see WFLD's GM Mike Renda and news director Carol Fowler on the same flight out of town.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Stay up late with... Clarissa?

Melissa Joan Hart, pre-Sabrina

But you no longer can't with Monique and soon, you won't be able to with George Lopez, either

Late-night has become a rather bizarre place lately - outside of the usual nuttiness of course - with an insomniac sheep running around, reruns of obscure kids series from the '90's earning high ratings on an obscure channel, and a program proven to survive anything (it is bizarre, but as not bizarre as Lenogate in early 2010.)

- On July 25, TeenNick (formerly known as The N and Nick GAS beforehand) launched an nostalgic late fringe block titled The '90's Are All That featuring - what else? Old Nickelodeon favorites that aired in the 1990's, including Clarissa Explains It All, Kenan & Kel, All That and other series scored impressive ratings by improving its time period numbers on its first night - and even crushed competing fare on other basic cable networks. For example, reruns of Kenan & Kel and All That beat TBS' Lopez Tonight by 60% in total viewers. in the 11-12 a.m. (CT) time slot, and beat newer, more expensive off-network sitcoms How I Met Your Mother and Old Christine on Lifetime by 20%. Among younger viewers (18-34), the '90's block improved the time period from previous programming in the time period, including off-network sitcoms Malcolm in the Middle and Undeclared. In addition, the classic Nick shows have been the top trends on Twitter in the U.S. in the late fringe hours.

- And the after effect of Teen Nick's success may have determined the fate of two low-tier late-fringe cable talk shows: BET has announced it has canceled The Monique Show after nearly two years on the air. Hosted by Oscar-winning star Monique Hicks, the late-night series failed to gain ratings traction with viewers. The series' final first-run episode airs on August 11. Monique is best known for her for her portyal as an abusive mother in the film Precious, but also starred in the UPN comedy The Parkers.

- And it looks like George Lopez may follow Monique out the door as well - a decision is due this month on the fate of  TBS' Lopez Tonight, as it tries to get renewed for a third season. Premiering a month after The Monique Show, Lopez got off to a good start ratings-wise, but tailed off considerably and even more so after Conan O'Brien bumped him into the 11 p.m. (CT) time slot. And with reruns of 20-year old Nick shows beating Lopez, the future of the former sitcom's star looks just as bright as Pat Sajak's show did in late 1989 (translation: the axe is waiting to swing.)

- In life, there are two things that can survive a nuclear disaster: a Twinkie factory and Comics Unleashed. Despite low ratings and numerous time-period downgrades over the years, Entertainment Studios has managed to keep Comics Unleashed With Byron Allen on the air somehow.  The series has been picked up for two more seasons thanks to CBS-owned stations in the top three markets, including WBBM-TV here in Chicago as well as WCBS-TV in New York City and KCBS-TV in Los Angeles. Comics Unleashed began in 2006 on WCIU-TV in prime-time, but has aired on WBBM in late-night in recent years.

By the way, the founder of Entertainment Studios is ... you guess it... Byron Allen, who was one of the co-hosts of NBC's 1979-84 reality series Real People.

It's all to make Frank Woolanski's puppet-like head spin.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

FM Radio enters an "all-news" era in Chicago

Last week, Chicago did not have FM all-news stations. As of 8:10 a.m., we had not just one - but two as the race between the Court Jester and The Church of Tisch for all-news supremacy begins.

On Friday, WWWN-FM (101.1 FM) dropped all music from its airwaves and became all-news, with Merlin Media making the announcement official on Sunday via press release. And at 8:10 a.m. Monday, CBS-owned WCFS-FM began simulcasting sister station WBBM-AM.

Judging by tweets and message board postings, listeners were not impressed with Merlin's Media's new all-news station. Many criticized WWWN for numerous screw-ups and some compared it to a bunch of interns on-air at a college radio station and for being just downright amateurish (not exactly "winning" radio.) Others continue to bemoan the loss of WKQX-FM/Q 101 and cursing at Randy Michaels.

As for WBBM-AM's move to the FM dial this morning, the move took later than expected: Church of Tisch management decided to hold off on flipping WCFS from its failed "Fresh" format to Newsradio 780 until 8:10 a.m. so special guest Mayor Rahm Emmanuel can "push the button" to make a change (an engineer actually does that) was nothing more than a glorified publicity stunt. The flip should have taken place at 5 a.m., at the start of Pat Cassidy's and Felicia Middlebrooks' shift.

While many are lauding the moves of both WWWN and WCFS for switching to FM News formats, especially as some music fans are getting their tunes elsewhere (i.e., MP3s, Internet and satellite radio, etc.), others are bemoaning the loss of not one, but two music stations as the FM band is starting to evolve away from music.
As for WBBM-AM's move to the FM dial this morning