“Family Feud” returns to Hollywood

Game show returns to Los Angeles.

If Los Angeles is seeing a boost in production recently, city leaders ought to send a thank you note to Steve Harvey.

As first reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Rodney Ho, Family Feud is leaving Atlanta to return to Los Angeles, where it left eight years ago when Steve Harvey became host of the now top-rated syndicated game show.

The last time the syndicated version of Feud taped in Los Angeles was during the 2009-10 season, when John O’Hurley was host. When Steve Harvey assumed hosting duties in 2010, the series shifted production to Orlando, then to Atlanta shortly thereafter.

Set to take place in August, the move is a boon to the Los Angeles area, which it and California in recent years has seen “runaway production” to Canada and to other states, specifically Georgia, lured by tax credits.

Several years ago in an odd move at the time, now-defunct courtroom show Swift Justice switched locales from Atlanta to Los Angeles after Nancy Grace departed the series. The series relocated because the new judge wanted an easier commute to L.A. from her home in Las Vegas.

Before relocating to Orlando and Atlanta, and excluding a short period in 1993 where it was taped in Nashville at OprylandUSA, Feud has always taped in L.A., from ABC Television Center to Tribune Studios and other places. Feud is returning to CBS Television City in Hollywood, where it was taped during the Ray Combs era. Already, ABC’s Celebrity Family Feud tapes there, at the Bob Barker Studios.

Meanwhile, the facility Feud tapes in Atlanta is expected to be either redeveloped or torn down.

The move wasn’t unexpected as Steve Harvey is consolidating his projects in one metro area. Currently, he’s starring in four TV shows shot in Los Angeles: in addition to Celebrity Feud, he stars in ABC’s Funkadome , NBC’s Little Big Shots, and spin-off Little Big Shots: Forever Young, and of course, his daily talk show. The only exception is Fox’s Showtime At The Apollo revival, which is being shot at the Apollo Theater in New York, of course.

Harvey recently relocated his syndicated morning radio show, heard locally on WVAZ-FM, from Atlanta to L.A., and lobbied hard to move his daytime talk show to the same place after five seasons in Chicago.

Despite Feud’s departure, many television projects continue to shoot in Georgia and in the Atlanta area, including daily strip Lauren Lake’s Paternity Court, FX’s Atlanta, AMC’s The Walking Dead, and The Real Housewives of Atlanta. But the number is starting to dwindle a bit, with the recent cancellations of Teen Wolf and Devious Maids, which ironically, was set in Los Angeles.

It is not known how much the shift from Atlanta to Los Angeles would increase the budget for the syndicated Feud, but when a host like Steve Harvey has this much clout, even tax credits don’t seem to have an impact.

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WCIU to “Jam” up your mornings

From left to right: Jordan Cornette, Danielle Robay, Felicia Lawrence


Replacement for You & Me finally announced

At first glance, when you look in your TV listings and see something called The Jam, your first thought would be some kind of dance-music show.

But in all actuality, it is the name of WCIU’s new 6-to-8 a.m. morning show, debuting in a few weeks. As described on WCIU’s website, The Jam is “a combination of local and national news, unique weather, and an explosion of pop culture. It’s a showcase of everyday Chicagoans who make the city great.” The program features local and national headlines, weather, and features on people in the city.

No debut date has been announced, but it should be later this summer. The announcement coincides with a recent revamp of the station’s on-air look, graphics, internet, and social media presence. The new show seems to go for a younger audience than You & Me did, which was canceled after seven years last spring and features hosts Melissa Forman and Jeanne Sparrow.

Steve Bailey, who is head of local programming and creative for the Weigel-owned independent said: “The Jam will wake you up, feed you the news of the day and drop an explosion of pop culture in your coffee. We’re going to move you and shake up your day in ways no one else is doing in Chicago.”

The cast features three new fresh faces to Chicago TV:

Jordan Cornette, who currently serves as co-host of WMVP-AM’s (ESPN 1000’s) Kap & Co. with David Kaplan, and is a college basketball commentator for CBS Sports and Fox Sports 1. Cornette is continuing in his ESPN 1000 role.

Felicia Lawrence, a South Side native who interned at WCIU and later served as an anchor and reporter for Fox-owned WJZY in Charlotte, which the network bought in 2013. She is a graduate of Morgan Park High School and earned a degree in communications at North Carolina A&T University.

Danielle Robay, another Chicago native who spent several years in Los Angeles as an entertainment reporter, working for KNBC and was a host and producer on CBS Television Distribution’s online version of Entertainment Tonight. She also appeared on HLN’s Dr. Drew and ITV’s Good Morning Britain.

Former Windy City Live executive producer David Plummer is the showrunner for The Jam.

When it debuts later this summer, WCIU’s The Jam will compete with the last hour of the local morning news shows on the ABC, CBS, and NBC O&Os and first hour of the network morning news shows – not to mention WGN’s popular morning news show and WFLD’s Good Day Chicago as You & Me never resonated in the ratings, despite a loyal following. Still, the concept of The Jam looks promising and provides a fresh alternative to other morning fare.

The move comes as WCIU owner Weigel Broadcasting is set to become Chicago’s last locally-owned broadcaster in the nation’s third-largest media market with Hunt Valley Md.’s Sinclair Broadcasting set to purchase Chicago-based Tribune Media, owners of WGN-TV and WGN-AM.

[Official press release]


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NBA Finals score highest ratings in nineteen years

The Golden State Warriors win their second NBA title in three years. (Getty Images)

Third straight Warriors-Cavs matchup sends viewers through the entrances

Despite a few games in boring blowout territory, the 2017 NBA Finals matchup between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers drew the highest ratings for a NBA Finals matchup in nineteen years.

According to Nielsen, the series drew  20.4 million viewers – the most on average since 1998 when Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls won their sixth NBA title against the Utah Jazz in a series averaging 29 million viewers. In the adult 18-49 demo, the series averaged a 7.1.

The game five clincher for the Golden State Warriors drew 24.5 million viewers and a 9.0 rating in adults 18-49, The numbers however, were far below the 40 million and the 12.6 demo rating the Chicago Cubs had with their game-clinching, history-making game seven World Series win against the Cleveland Indians last November. In overnights, gave five drew a 16.0 household rating – easily making the game the most watched program of the evening.

In Golden State home market San Francisco, also containing Oakland and San Jose, the clincher drew a 39.6 household rating on ABC-owned KGO-TV, down slightly from their 2015 game six clincher (40.7). In Cleveland, ABC affiliate WEWS earned a 37.1 rating for game five.

LeBron James of the Cavs dribbles against his opponent.

The Warriors, who won their first NBA title in forty years back in 2015, defeated LeBron James-led Cleveland for the honor. In 2016 however, Cleveland turned the tables and beat Golden State for the city’s first major sports title in 52 years. Embarrassed, Golden State didn’t rebuild – they reloaded by acquiring Kevin Durant from Oklahoma City, adding to a team already stocked with superstars Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green – and successfully avenged their Finals loss last year to Cleveland. It marked the first time in NBA history two teams met in the Finals three times straight.

Among local markets for the entire NBA Finals, Cleveland (WEWS) led with a 34.7, followed by KGO-TV’s 33.3. Nearby Sacramento (KXTV) ranked seventh while Los Angeles’ KABC-TV came in tenth. Both KABC and KGO are owned by ABC.

In years past, Chicago generally made the ten-most watched NBA Final markets, but did not make it this time around. Similar to what happened with the Blackhawks and the NHL locally, Chicago viewers simply tuned out after the Bulls were eliminated in the first round by Boston (then again, many viewers didn’t tune in to begin with.) Ratings for regular-season Bulls games hit a ten-year low this season.

Among the ten least watched markets came some surprises – Knoxville’s (WATE) 9.0 average was actually lower than the game six number the Stanley Cup Final drew, featuring the nearby Nashville Predators. The lower rated market? Pittsburgh (WTAE – not to be confused with the Knoxville ABC affiliate), who was too busy partying with the Penguins to notice.

With many predicting the Golden State Warriors running the table again for the next few years, we may have a dynasty in the making. In other words, if you’re a Bulls fan looking to make a deposit on season tickets for next year…put your money to better use.


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2017 Stanley Cup Final surges in ratings

Pittsburgh repeats but smaller market as opponent actually drew more viewers than last year’s matchup

Who needs those Blackhawks anyway?

The 2017 Stanley Cup Final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators had something last year’s matchup did not: country music stars, lively crowds, and catfish being thrown on the ice.

And that’s just in Nashville.

The series between the Penguins and the upstart Predators saw an increase in ratings from last year’s series between Pittsburgh and the San Jose Sharks – revealing just how dull a place San Jose is in the process.

According to Nielsen, the six-game series drew an average of 4.7 million viewers, up 19 percent from last year. The game six clincher for Pittsburgh drew 7 million viewers and a 2.3 adults 18-49 demo rating – up 21 percent from last year.

However, measured against the 2015 Stanley Cup Final between the Blackhawks and Tampa Bay Lightning, ratings are down double-digits in all categories.

In Pittsburgh, WPXI drew a whopping 40 rating for game six, the second-highest rated NHL game in market history, only behind the 42.2 rating earned by the Penguins-Red Wings game seven Stanley Cup Final matchup, taking place on June 12, 2009, the same day analog TV receivers shut down for good.

Meanwhile, Nashville NBC affiliate WSMV drew a 28.3 rating for game six, and in a surprise, Knoxville NBC affiliate WBIR drew a 10.7 rating ranking third among all markets. Tying for ninth was Memphis’ WMC-TV with a 5.4 – notable, given WMC and other Southern NBC affiliates often pre-empted NHL games in the 1970’s.

For the entire series, Pittsburgh led with a 32 rating followed by Nashville’s 22 rating. Not surprisingly, Chicago did not rank in the top ten on either chart, given the Blackhawks were eliminated in the first round by Nashville. And once again, Chicago also ranked very low in terms of ratings for the entire Stanley Cup Playoffs, led by Pittsburgh and Nashville. Locally, ratings for Blackhawks games declined significantly this season even as the team remained in first place.

Digitally, game six of the Stanley Cup Final drew an average of 101,000 viewers – the highest ever for a NHL game, up 47 percent from last year’s game six.

The feisty spiritedness of both teams not seen since the 2011 Stanley Cup Final between the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks (one game alone had 100 penalty minutes) may have contributed to the ratings spike. Also, the rivalry between the Penguins’ Sidney Crosby and the Predators’ P.K. Subban (who was traded to Nashville from Montreal last season) had people talking.

Also notable (and a good selling point for the NHL) was the raucous atmosphere in Nashville for games three and four and the presence of celebrities. The fans chanting (“You Suck” and “It’s All Your Fault” chants directed at the Pittsburgh goalie), annoying as it was even made this Hawks fan jealous. It proves Nashville really knows how to party.

But even as the Penguins skated away with their second consecutive Stanley Cup title, the Predators are also winners – around now for nearly twenty years, they should how hockey can work in a non-traditional pucks market. With a young, exciting team led by Subban and captain Mike Fisher, at least they don’t have to worry about Blackhawks or St. Louis Blues fans taking up seats at Bridgestone Arena in the future. 






[Info obtained from NBC Sports Press Box PR]

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T Dog Media’s Notepad: “24: Legacy canceled”

And… other news of note 

To the surprise of absolutely nobody, Fox has pulled the plug on 24: Legacy after one season. The series was left off the fall schedule when it was announced last month, increasing speculation its days would be numbered.

In addition, Fox said it was putting the brakes on more episodes of its Prison Break revival after a few episodes. It also didn’t make next season’s schedule despite a decent ratings performance and respectable delayed audience numbers. The show may be brought back at a later date.

As for 24: Legacy, the series received the plum post-Super Bowl slot back in February, but floundered on Monday nights, paired with another struggling drama, APB. The Walking Dead’s Corey Hawkins stepped into the Kiefer Sutherland role (who of course, is now on ABC’s Designated Survivor.), but the new version of the series never caught on with viewers and was panned by critics.

The cancellation of 24: Legacy doesn’t mean the franchise is toast: According to insiders, Fox is currently in discussions with the creators to launch a new 24 show, one that would be more “anthological”, while keeping its real-time format.

The original version of 24 ran on Fox for eight seasons as it was told in real-time – one hour in a single day, for 24 episodes (24 hours in a day.) A sequel (24: Live Another Day) was launched in May 2014 with Sutherland and did decently well in the ratings.

Once again, The CW has a new home in San Diego. On May 31, KFMB-DT2 (a digital subchannel of CBS affiliate KFMB) launched The CW San Diego, featuring CW programming in primetime and newscasts from mothership KFMB from 7-9 a.m. and at 10 p.m. As mentioned here a few months ago, previous CW affiliate XETV was unable to come to terms on a new contract with The CW, so the network left for Midwest-owned KFMB, formerly based in Champaign and were former owners of the city’s WCIA and Peoria’s WMBD before selling the stations to Nexstar in 1999. Before XETV, The CW was on Tribune’s KSWB-TV from 2006-08, before wresting away the Fox affiliation from XETV.

To fill the time not occupied by CW programming or local news, KFMB purchased the syndicated programming rights to XETV’s programs, including The King Of Queens, Seinfeld, and the soon-to-be defunct The Insider. CW San diego also took over all of XETV’s dial positions on cable systems and is available in 720p HD. A new website for The CW San Diego was also launched, at thecwsandiego.com.

Days before the switch, previous KFMB-DT2 occupant MeTV shifted over to KGTV-DT2. KGTV’s main channel is an ABC affiliate.

Logo for Canal 5.

As for XETV, the Televisa-owned station ended its 64-year English-language run quietly at 12:01 a.m. May 31, as the station said most of their goodbyes in March when the news operation and owner Bay City Television closed. XETV then switched to a feed of Canal 5, one of Televisa’s Spanish-language networks in Mexico (to see the transition, click here.) From this point forward, XETV is no longer available on San Diego’s cable and satellite systems as a planned switch to Televisa’s Gala TV was scrapped soon after it was announced. Much of XETV’s equipment was auctioned off.

This isn’t the last change San Diego TV viewers will see this year – Telemundo programming is expected to move to NBC-owned KNSD-DT2 on July 1, replacing XHAS-TV as an affiliate. Both NBC and Telemundo are owned by parent company Comcast. Azteca America programming is scheduled to replace Telemundo July 1 on XHAS, which like XETV, is based in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico.

Dating back to the 1970’s, there is no market in the country that’s been through many affiliation changes and shifts as San Diego has. Oddly enough, when Rupert Murdoch shook the world in 1994 by convincing New World Communications’ stations to switch to Fox, San Diego, whose KNSD at the time was owned by New World went unscathed – mainly because Fox already was on a VHF outlet at XETV – the same station it would break up with in 2008. New World sold KNSD to NBC in 1997.

If you watched the Stanley Cup Finals recently, you’ve probably noticed a huge number of country music stars making appearances in Nashville as the Predators took on the Pittsburgh Penguins. Among the sightings included Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, Carrie Underwood (who is married to the Predators’ Mike Fisher), and others. With Nashville being the center of the country music world, you’d think a country station would top the ratings in the nation’s 44th largest radio market, right?

Believe it or not, the top-rated music station in Music City is…  an Adult Contemporary format who features Katy Perry and Justin Timberlake. According to recent PPM rankings from Nielsen, Midwest Communications’ WJXA-FM (Mix 92.9) is the top choice for listeners in Nashville, followed by Hip-Hop/Urban WUBT-FM (1011 The Beat), which topped the list the previous month. In fact, the top-rated country station iHeartMedia’s WSIX-FM – ranks seventh overall, behind stations with formats consisting of Adult Hits (Jack FM); CHR (The River, WRVW-FM); Urban AC (WQQK-FM) and Classic Rock (WNRQ).

WSIX does tops country competitors WSM-FM, WKDF-FM, and WSM-AM. WSIX also has an rated HD2 channel, with a “New Country” format.

Despite the varied choices, country music still has a significant presence in Tennessee’s largest media market. Though Cumulus has a huge NASH-FM Campus in town, its WSM-FM and WKDF-FM (and competitor WSIX) are located in the city’s Music Row district instead. The legendary WSM-AM is owned by Ryman Hospitality, formerly known as Gaylord Entertainment.

Further reading:

Marissa Bailey and Erin Kennedy team up to anchor mornings at CBS-owned WBBM-TV in a great move.

Bachelor in Paradise production shut down. And this may be the reason why.

Sun-Times bidders continue to sumbit bids for the paper to avoid getting “tronced”

Robbie Rist not to blame for Brady Bunch’s downfall? You don’t say.

For more goofiness from yours truly, follow me on Twitter @tdogmedia.

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Bill Maher escapes punishment for N-Word use on “Real Time”

The use of a racial slur isn’t the career-ending death sentence one think it is – but should it?

Bill Maher’s use of the “N-Word” on his Real Time show on HBO recently opened up a debate on whether if it’s okay for non-whites to use the word – even to make a point.

On June 2nd’s edition of Real Time, Maher was discussing people working in farm fields with a Republican senator from Nebraska when Maher uttered “I’m a house ni–er” with the audience roaring approval. The following day, Maher apologized for use of the word and did so again on the June 9 edition of Real Time. So far, HBO hasn’t punished him for his actions, but did let him know they were unhappy with his actions.

This is not the first time Maher has said controversial or racial statements. In 2002, ABC canceled his Politically Incorrect late-night strip after remarks about 9/11. According to ThinkProgress, Maher has often said nasty things about African-American women, and even blamed the black community for Hillary Clinton’s defeat last fall. Maher seems sympathetic to those who hold “alt-right” views, even booking them.

At the same time however (and this is something ThinkProgress didn’t point out), Maher has featured notable black figures on his show. Reaction to Maher’s gaffe has been mixed among African-Americans, with Chicago’s Chance The Rapper condemning him while Michael Eric Dyson showing support – though he said Maher shouldn’t have said it. The following week, Ice Cube came on Maher’s show and slammed him for using it.

Also showing support was basketball legend Kareem-Abdul Jabbar and Atlanta-based rapper Killer Mike. Oddly, other groups, such as the NAACP and civil rights leaders such as the Rev. Jesse Jackson and the Rev. Al Sharpton have been silent.

It should come as no surprise as HBO has a history of tolerating such views and language. For years, the premium channel employed boxing commentator Larry Merchant, known for disrespecting minority fighters such as Mike Tyson, Oscar DeLaHoya, and Floyd Mayweather. He retired in 2012 and never was disciplined. As yours truly has noted in this space before, there is a lack of diversity in the media business in television and radio, both in front of and behind the camera. HBO has never been known for it, aside from giving Chris Rock and Russell Simmons shows and the occasional TV movie, such as 1991’s The Josephine Baker Story.

Ice Cube appears on “Real Time” to give Bill Maher a piece of his mind on what he said the previous week (HBO)

This reminds yours truly of an incident involving the “n-word” taking place on a St. Louis radio station in 1993, as documented by now-defunct music trade magazine Radio & Records. Top 40 outlet WKBQ-FM morning personalities D.C. Chymes and Steve Shannon got into a heated argument with an African-American female caller and one of the personalities said on the air she was “acting like a ni–er.” WKBQ management suspended the pair two days later and were subsequently fired and eventually sued them. The controversy generated considerable media attention, with the local NAACP and religious leaders denouncing the duo.

Program director Chris Cruze of WKBQ blamed the media – notably rival mediums such as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and television news outlets for inflaming the situation more than it should have been. At the end of the year, WKBQ was sold and flipped to a Country format. And guess what? Chymes and Shannon were rehired in morning drive (the station is now known as WARH-FM with an Adult Hits format.)

In 2005, New York Hip-Hop station Hot 97 (WQHT-FM) fired several on-air staffers after making fun of tsunami victims in Indonesia, which included slurs directed at Asian-Americans. Many of those involved later returned to other jobs in radio.

In recent years, former politician Joe Walsh made racial slurs on the air over WIND-AM, including the n-word. Last year, Walsh made controversial comments regarding President Obama and African-Americans after five police officers were killed in Dallas (yours truly called for the FCC to revoke the station’s license.) But guess what? He remains employed.

I can cite several other instances of racial insensitivity from Survivor mishandling Colton Cumbie’s appearances on the show to Bruce Wolf and Kelli Walker’s throwdown over WLS-AM a few years ago.

So what’s to make of all this? Incidents such as I described above doesn’t necessarily mean the end to one’s career. It should, but typically it doesn’t happen.

And it will get harder for any real discipline to be administered – especially in an era where hate is peddled by the current administration in the White House under the guise of “Let’s Make America Great Again.” As media companies continue to consolidate with the FCC taking a hands-off approach (unless it involves indecency), the shock jock mentality we’re seeing on the air regarding race is likely to continue. As the Radio & Records article noted in 1993, the FCC considers the “n-word” protected speech, unlike George Carlin’s “seven dirty words” routine. Wouldn’t matter anyway, given HBO is a premium service, and does not come under jurisdiction of the FCC.

There are indications Maher will not be fired or even disciplined for his actions – mainly because if HBO does, he’ll just show up somewhere else. And yes, there are many willing to give him a free pass. But what do you expect in an industry with so few faces of color? I guess in an era now where we’re used to racial slurs, we’re also used to the lack of diversity in the business.

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Ex-Chicagoan Jason Matheson goes national with talk show

Or… close to it. Matheson part of four-week test in select markets, including Chicago

Chicago native and Minneapolis radio personality Jason Matheson is getting a second shot at national stardom – with another four-week test – this time, including his hometown.

The Jason Show, produced by Fox-owned KMSP in Minneapolis is getting tested in several markets for the next four weeks, including Chicago, where the program is airing on Fox-owned CW affiliate WPWR-TV at 11 a.m. each weekday. The program is also being tested on Fox O&Os in Orlando, San Francisco, Phoenix, and Los Angeles. The program was tested last year in a handful of markets.

Jason airs weekdays at 10 a.m. on KMSP with a repeat My Network TV affiliate WFTC at 2 p.m. WFTC is also owned by Fox.

The program features notable items in pop culture overnight (Tuesday’s show featured a segment on The Bachelorette featuring a guy named Whataboom… yes, Whataboom), crossovers from other syndicated Twentieth shows (Porsha Williams from Dish Nation made an appearance) and had Minnesota native Louie Anderson as a guest. A former host of Family Feud, Anderson recently won an Emmy for his role on FX’s Baskets. A woman from the Mall Of America (in nearby Bloomington) also showed the audience the latest fashions.

In an interview with the Star-Tribune’s C.J., Matheson said he is more relaxed with this test than he was with the first: I am much more calm. As is, I think, the rest of our crew. Having done a national test last year, we know a lot more about the process already. Plus, I think the show as a whole is a better one. I’m also so very grateful. Last year’s test went pretty well for us and the network, so to be given another chance is just wonderful.

In addition to his television duties, Matheson also has a radio gig: he is co-host of a morning show with Alexis Thompson on Hubbard Broadcasting’s KTMY-FM (myTalk 107.1FM), an all-talk station with a format similar to WGN-AM, but targeted to a younger and more female audience.

The Midwest has been a breeding ground for talkers who went on to achieve national stardom. Phil Donahue started at WLWD-TV (now WDTN) in Dayton 50 years ago before moving to WGN-TV in 1974 and launched nationally. Sally Jessy Raphael began at St. Louis’ KSDK in 1983 before relocating to New Haven, Conn., then to New York. Jerry Springer launched his talk show in 1991 at Cincinnati’s WLWT while he was still news anchor before moving to Chicago’s WMAQ-TV in 1992 with a national launch (and we all know what happened afterward.) The most famous example of course, is Oprah Winfrey who took over WLS-TV’s A.M. Chicago in 1984, became The Oprah Winfrey Show, and the rest is history. Matheson hopes to join the people on this exclusive list.

As yours truly noted last year, Fox is testing several concepts during the summer months on its stations in order in order to find the next syndicated hit, which up until now excluded Chicago. Several syndicated shows such as The Wendy Williams Show and The Real were tested this way and were eventually rolled out in national syndication – but some ideas were better than others (remember Father Albert? Kris Jenner? The Preachers? SoMe?)

This fall, two shows who were tested in 2016 are rolling out in syndication: Page Six and Top 30, both syndicated by Twentieth Television.

In addition to The Jason Show, several other projects are being rolled out this summer, including a talk show featuring Quincy Harris of Fox’s WTXF in Philadelphia. Simply named Q, the half-hour talk show is being tested in several Fox O&O markets including New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Detroit.

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WCIU unveils new look, logo

With Weigel Broadcasting’s WCIU set to become Chicago’s only locally-owned broadcaster once Sinclair’s purchase of Tribune Media is done, the company’s two local stations are putting a fresh coat of paint on the place.

On Monday, WCIU and sister station The U Too (WMEU-CD, channels 26.2 and 48.1) unveiled new on-air logos and a revamped website. The independent’s rebranding effort is the first makeover the stations have received in years.

Steve Bailey, head of local programming and creative at WCIU said: “We are passionate about local television and its future. The U will continue delivering all the programming our viewers love like “2 Broke Girls” and “Seinfeld” while introducing them to new content and a new station attitude that will be edgy, unfiltered and opinionated. The rebranding of The U is just the beginning of an exciting evolution happening here. There’s also more to follow later this summer with the launch of a new live weekday morning show.

The name of the new morning show, a replacement for the soon-to-be defunct You & Me, is still yet to be determined.

WMEU (The U Too) gets a new logo as well.

In addition to the shows mentioned above, WCIU also carries Judge Mathis (now the only nationally daily show shot in Chicago), The People’s Court, Mike & Molly, The King Of Queens, How I Met Your Mother, Family Guy, and Bob’s Burgers. The U Too carries The Doctors, Pawn Stars, Cops Reloaded, and Chicago Wolves and Sky games. The U Too is available on Chicago area’s cable and satellite providers but is not available on DirecTV.

The revamp comes on the same day TVNewscheck released its top 30 station group index, with Weigel – owners of stations in Milwaukee and South Bend, ranking 23rd in spot revenue with $97.2 million. With the pending purchase of Tribune, Sinclair would vault into first place with nearly $3 billion. Weigel was also the only Chicago-based broadcaster on the list.

On the air since 1964, WCIU has been airing syndicated programming since 1995 and launched U Too in 2008. The company also runs digital subchannels MeTV and Heroes & Icons, and partners with CBS and Fox for Decades and Movies!, respectively.

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T Dog’s Media Notepad: “Underground” dropped by WGN America

Also: Clean May sweep for ABC 7; another shot-in-Chicago drama canceled; Hawk Harrelson calls it a career; a note regarding T Dog Media

As expected, WGN America announced the cancellation of slavery-era drama Underground this week as the cable channel is changing owners. As you know by now, Sinclair is buying WGN owner Tribune, and in a conference call the day the merger was announced, said they were steering away from scripted programming as several other scripted shows (Outsiders and Manhattan) were already axed.

Nevertheless, the critically-acclaimed Underground drew new viewers to a channel once known for WGN-TV programming from Chicago, including Bozo, Cubs baseball, and syndicated Tribune Entertainment programming such as At The Movies. Underground was executive produced by singer-songwriter John Legend.

Currently, a stay has been placed on the FCC rule changes that would enable Sinclair to purchase Tribune. But the stay is expected to be lifted soon, and the sale is likely to proceed.

Meanwhile, Underground is currently being pitched to other cable and streaming schedules including Hulu, who holds the streaming rights to underground. However, OWN and Netflix have reportedly passed on the show.

Speaking of Netflix, the streaming service announced the cancellation of Sense8, a sci-fi series shot in Chicago after two seasons. Created by J. Michael Straczynski and Lana and Lilly Wachowski, the show centered on eight individuals who connected with each other around the globe.

The announcement comes as Netflix announced it wasn’t going forward with another series, The Get Down also after two seasons. It’s hard to pinpoint why both shows abruptly ended their runs; Netflix does not release numbers on how many people are viewing their shows. And there may be more to come: Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said to CNBC at a conference in California that his service needs to cancel more shows – in order to push the content team. To date, Netflix has canceled only a handful of shows. The move comes as “Peak TV” has indeed peaked, as cable networks such as MTV, A&E, and as noted above, WGN America have either cut back or completely eliminated scripted programming.

Still, the cancellation of Sense8 marks the latest shot-in-Chicago program to depart our fine city. In recent weeks, the boom was lowered on drams Chicago Justice and APB, in addition to Steve Harvey shifting his daytime talk show to Los Angeles.

You can put this on the board: Ken “Hawk” Harrelson announced Wednesday he was retiring from his Chicago White Sox announcing duties after the 2018 season, marking eight decades in the game of baseball. Harrelson signed a final deal with a very limited schedule – twenty home games, mainly on Sundays. For the last two years, Harrelson has been doing mostly road games, with Jason Benetti handling home contests.

On the same day Harrelson announced his retirement, Benetti received a multi-year extension with the White Sox, becoming the primary play-by-play announcer with Steve Stone.

After a short stint as GM, Harrelson rejoined the White Sox in 1990 as play-by-play announcer, paired with former White Sox player Tom Pachoiek. The duo initially were praised for their style as Harrelson’s phrases such as “Can Of Corn” and “You Can Put It on The Board, Yes!” became instant catch phrases. But in recent years, Harrelson has been criticized in the media for his actions in the booth, notably for him ranting about an umpire during a White Sox-Rays game in 2012. Some White Sox fans also became tired with his style. Sports media website Awful Announcing often rates Harrelson as one of the worst baseball announcers in the game.

By contrast, Benetti’s play-by-play has been praised by fans and critics alike, and a breath of fresh air compared to Harrelson. Consider this promotion well-deserved.

All together now: it was a clean sweep for ABC-owned WLS-TV as the station once again won every afternoon and evening news time slot in households and 25-54 demo, according to TVNewscheck. While the station credited its investigate content and team effort, the station no doubt received a boost from former Chicago Cubs player David Ross’ appearances on Dancing With The Stars, which also boosted the station in primetime – not to mention the dizzying number of tie-ins with their newscasts.

Also boosting WLS was Wheel Of Fortune celebrating Chicago with a week of shows featuring area contestants. 

While WLS topped the market, there is ongoing concern over the continuing ratings decline of the 10 p.m. news audience. According to Chicago Business Journal, WLS did win at 10 p.m., but the number (7.0 in households) was down 10 percent from May 2016. Also down at 10 was NBC-owned WMAQ-TV (5.1, -27%), while independent WGN was up slightly (2.9, +4%) and CBS’ WBBM-TV was flat with a 2.7.  The situation mirrors a similar decline reported in 2014 as Chicago lost more 25-54 news viewers than any other top ten market, excluding Boston.

As a source in Robert Feder’s blog cited “news fatigue” as part of the reason, there is no doubt the current news cycle of negative headlines involving Chicago and Illinois in general could be driving viewers away from their sets. But with advertising demand still strong for local news (notably from automotive and political – already, Governor Rauner and candidate J. B. Pritzker are already on the air with spots), don’t look for Chicago stations to subtract newscasts from their airwaves anytime soon.

Finally, regarding the pending closure of another website covering local media, I want everyone to know T Dog Media is here to stay. The secret to success of this site is the writing – no gimmicks, no message boards, no donation buttons, no traffic updates, no weather, and no special features to run up the hosting bill. When I started this venture in 2006, I wrote on Blogger’s platform for several years. The only “museum” I have is just a regular blog post about bad TV.

Yours truly also doesn’t brag about how many site visitors he has… no one cares about that.

The bottom line is this – you don’t need a fancy platform to get your work out – TV writer Ken Levine’s blog is terrific and he uses Blogger and even has his podcasts on it. Also great is Robert Feder’s blog – it’s very clean and simple to read.

And having a good social media presence matters. T Dog Media is on Twitter, Facebook (though I only posted the blog’s links at the moment), LinkedIn (a photo of myself is on there if you want to see what I looked like…in 2008), YouTube, and is working on getting an Instagram page up. With social media, you really don’t need an expensive website to put everything on.

With that said, T Dog Media is looking for a cheaper host. But if this doesn’t work out, I can always return to Blogger. I’ll keep you updated. But as always, thanks for your support.


NBC makes changes to Tuesday, Thursday fall lineups

This Is Us remains on Tuesday; new Will & Grace avoids showdown with Big Bang Theory

The month of June hasn’t arrived yet, and we already have our first change in the 2017 fall schedule.

NBC announced Tuesday it was keeping This Is Us in its regular Tuesday slot after all, keeping it as a lead-out of The Voice. Meanwhile, the slot This Is Us was scheduled to take would now be occupied by the new Will & Grace revival and Great News. Also notable is the move of Chicago Fire to Thursdays in the last hour of prime-time.

The move was made for several reasons – NBC suddenly decided thought Us, a serialized drama, would not benefit from being interrupted mid-way through the fall as NBC would take over Thursday Night Football over from CBS in late November. Also, Us was doing well in its Tuesday night time slot and NBC decided to keep the Voice-Us combo in tact after all. As Masked Scheduler (a.k.a Preston Beckman, a former NBC and Fox scheduler) pointed out on Screener, the move to keep Us may have been because of two factors: studio Twentieth Television (who produces the show) may have put pressure on NBC to keep the show on Tuesday, and advertisers may have balked at the CPM price increase NBC was looking for.

Meanwhile, Will & Grace moving an hour later avoids going head-to-head with The Big Bang Theory, although the matchup would have been only for November sweeps. That distinction now back to SuperStore, which actually has held its own against the comedy powerhouse.

Here’s the revived Tuesdays and Thursday’s schedule as follows:

Tuesday: The Voice, This Is us, Law & Order: True Crime 

Thursdays: Superstore, The Good Place, Will & Grace, Great News, Chicago Fire (new night) 

When you think about it, the quick moves makes sense – these schedules, when announced are never set in stone. The most famous changes to be made after fall schedules were announced came in the 1990’s, when ABC decided to swap time slots and days for Roseanne and Home Improvement in 1994 when NBC moved Fraiser to Tuesdays opposite Roseanne as originally announced. The top-rated show during the 1993-94 season, Improvement stumbled opposite Fraiser when it shifted back to Tuesdays, but both did well.

Another famous late-minute change came in 1971 when CBS announced it was swapping time slots for newcomer All in the Family and the fading My Three Sons – the former to Saturday nights, the latter to Monday nights opposite Monday Night Football. And we all know how the move turned out for All in The Family.

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T Dog’s Media Notepad: Chicago loses population again

(Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Also…management change at CSN Chicago; another new entry in syndication; MeTV FM going national; new host for Sy-Fy’s Comic-Con show

All together now: The Chicago DMA has lost population again,for a third year in a row, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Chicago proper lost nearly 8,700 residents in the past year – and is the only city in the top twenty to lose population (keep in mind the Census Bureau measures people while Nielsen measure the number of homes.)

While the Chicago media made a very big deal of this, what they didn’t tell you was Detroit and Baltimore – two cities (and DMAs) who are also struggling with problems, also lost population – though both cities are not in the top twenty largest.

Still, the numbers are alarming – less residents means less buying power means less revenue for media outlets – and possibly more job losses for cash-strapped companies such as iHeart Media and Cumulus, who already laid off a number of people here – and layoffs are likely when Sinclair takes over WGN-TV later this year. The cancellation of Chicago Justice, APB, and relocation of Steve Harvey’s syndicated show and Johnson Publishing to Los Angeles has also cost hundreds their jobs.

In recent years, the number of people leaving the Chicago area has been led by African-Americans. While Chicago maintained its ranking as the third-largest TV and radio market in the country, the rank in TV homes among African-Americans slipped from second in 2006 to fourth in 2015, with a strong possibility of slipping to fifth next season. Unless the city and state can get a handle on their problems, the population decline is likely to continue.

The soft adult contemporary format WRME-FM has in place is about to go national: Weigel Broadcasting announced this week it was teaming up with Envision Networks to distribute the format to radio stations around the country. Launched in 2015, MeTV FM on 87.7 FM has put up impressive numbers, often landing in the top twenty most-listened to stations in the Chicago market.

This means a local radio station can go to Envision to license the format for their market, similar to what Sparknet Communications does with Jack FM.

“We created MeTV FM as the musical companion to America’s #1 all classic TV network, MeTV”, said Weigel Vice Chairman Neal Sabin. Both our television and radio formats present timeless and memorable entertainment that resonates with hipsters, hippies, baby boomers and beyond, as we like to say.  MeTV FM’s music format has broken many of the radio rules in terms of presentation, depth of playlist and mixing of genres. Using a challenging dial position in one of the most competitive radio markets in the country, we have proven the validity and viability of the format. We look forward to working with Envision to bring MeTV FM to many more places.”

Core artists on the station include Hall and Oates, The Carpenters, Stevie Wonder, Billy Joel, and Aretha Franklin, among others.

Last fall, MeTV FM launched a separate internet feed of its Chicago music station.

NBCUniversal’s Comcast SportsNet Chicago has made a major managerial change as Phil Bedella is out as vice president and general manager. As first reported by Robert Feder, the move comes as CSN Chicago – like all cable networks, are dealing with subscription losses due to cord cutting. In the last year, CSN Chicago cut back on news shows in favor of In The Loop, a viral video and discussion show. However, the regional sports network has introduced in-game streaming on numerous devices for its sports telecasts.

There is no word on who would replace Bedella, and no reason was given on why the thirteen-year veteran of the network was released.

If you watched NCAA Tournament games on TruTV in recent years, you’ve probably seen (or been bombarded with) promos for Impractical Jokers, a half-hour weekly series which is basically a new take on Candid Camera. Well, repeats of the show are being made available to local stations via syndication this fall with Trifecta Entertainment distributing the show.

The series has been sold to outlets covering 85 percent of the country in double-runs. Terms of the deal were not released, and neither was a station list but did say the show “cleared the CBS and Sinclair station groups in the largest markets.” Other groups buying the show include Tribune, Weigel, Hearst, and Gray.

Now in its sixth season and headed for a seventh, Jokers features four men who play hidden-camera pranks on each other. The series is obviously targeted to male viewers – an underserved group in syndication. The series’ first five seasons are only being made available.

Even though SyFy’s Presents from Comic-Con show last year was less than a thrilling TV experience, the NBCUniversal-owned network is trying again this year with a new host: Zachary Levi is taking over from Will Arnett as host of SyFy Presents From Comic-Con. The hourly three-night takes place from July 20 to July 22 from outside the convention hall in San Diego. Like last year, the show plans to interview celebrities, provide exclusive access to the hottest parties in town and clips from movies and TV shows (which means a lot of Sharknado plugs.)

Yours truly criticized (rather reluctantly, given yours truly is a fan) Arnett’s interviewing skills and the overall pace of Presents during last year’s show.

We are excited to be back in business with Zac as we prepare for this year’s Live From Comic-Con,” said a very enthusiastic Heather Olander, who is senior vice president, of alternative development and production at Syfy. “Not only is he an immensely talented multi-hyphenate, but he’s a true fan himself and a con favorite. With Zac as our host, we are guaranteed to bring a fan first perspective to our coverage, providing an all access inside look at breaking news, celebrity interviews, and the on the ground interactions that make San Diego Comic-Con the premiere genre event!

The former Chuck star had been at Comic-Con for years through Nerd HQ as Comic-Con off-site project, but decided not to hold the event this year. Levi did not state a reason why the plug was pulled.

For more media news, commentary, and fun, follow yours truly on Twitter @tdogmedia.

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“Dirty Dancing” slips and falls

The remake of the 1987 theatrical classic was so poorly received, it likely ends the bid for the Made-For-TV Movie to return to the broadcast networks on a regular basis

It’s time to pour one on the curb for the TV movie.

The form, created by ABC in the 1960’s as “original motion pictures for television”, was killed again – this time by the same network some 50 years later thanks to a remake of the 1987 classic Dirty Dancing in a quest by an industry to reboot anything and everything ever made.

You won’t find Jennifer Grey or Patrick Swayze here (Swayze died in 2009.) In fact, none of the stars of the original movie appeared in the remake – a very wise move on their part.

So what happened to the TV movie? Once a strong way of storytelling, the TV movie has now been regulated to the upper echelons of cable TV. While TV movies in the 1970’s and 1980’s mainly dealt with social and justice issues, today’s made-fors centers around En Vogue saving Christmas, an ill-fated, poorly-written farce about the life of R&B superstar Aaliyah, and behind-the-scenes turmoil on Beverly Hills, 90210 and Saved by the Bell.

And of course, don’t forget the very tired Sharknado franchise, which basically pioneered the concept of “hate-watching” (though fans watching the Chicago Bears play every week can also stake this claim.)

The TV movie has seen better days. In 1971, ABC aired Brian’s Song, featuring a strong teleplay about the relationship of the Bears’ Gayle Sayers and Brian Piccolo, who was dying of cancer. Made-fors became commonplace at the Big 3 networks in the 1970’s and 1980’s, with all three networks airing Sunday movies at one point. TV movies often took on controversial subjects including 1973’s Sticks And Stones (Vietnam), 1974’s Born Innocent (teenage delinquency) and A Case of Rape and 1984’s The Burning Bed (spousal abuse.) Another (The Day After, dealing with a nuclear holocaust) was the most-watched TV movie of all time.

But by the late 1980’s, the format drifted away from strong storytelling to silly topics, inaccurate depictions, and the damsel-in-distress type. In 1991, New York Times TV Critic John J. O’Connnor lambasted the form, stating in a review for CBS’ Her Wicked Ways: “Few artifacts of popular culture invite more condescension than the made-for-television movie. There are some notable exceptions, usually those more ambitious productions inevitably nominated for Emmy Awards, but most television movies seem perfectly content to be, at best, mediocre.”

The low point came in the mid-1990’s when CBS, NBC, and ABC all adapted movies based on “Long Island Lolita” Amy Fisher. By the turn of the century, the TV movie was all but dead at the broadcast networks, preferring instead to invest in more original dramas, a move that paid off as it led to increased revenue from international sales.

Cable networks such as FX, TNT, USA, and various predecessors of Freeform followed suit a decade ago in dumping the made-for format to invest in original dramas, leading to more than 450 scripted series, in “Peak TV”.

So now, the made-fors are the butt of everyone’s jokes, regulated to Lifetime, SyFy, and The Hallmark Channel, where older stars can still pick up a paycheck or an IMDB credit. And the shoddy writing and production of fare such as Dirty Dancing proves the TV movie has no place in the so-called second “Golden Age of TV”.

Here’s several reactions from Dirty Dancing on Twitter – almost overwhelmingly negative.

Somehow, the Dirty Dancing remake managed to sneak in footage from a San Francisco 49ers game:

If it were 1993 (when the team was bad), even I would have picked the Mets:

And of course, we can’t let this end without a few Mystery Science Theater 3000 references:

The reviews were just as brutal: Dancing scored just a 39 on Metacritic, with a user score of 2.5. Rotten Tomatoes scored it at 22 percent, with a user score of just 9.

According to Nielsen final ratings, Dirty Dancing earned a 1.4 rating in the adults 18-49 demo and drew a total of 6.6 million viewers. Dirty Dancing finished behind CBS’ Survivor season finale and Fox’s Empire, which has quality problems of its own. The ratings performance, like the movie, was truly underwhelming.

As you know, we don’t have a Made-for-TV movie wing at the T Dog Media TV Hall Of Shame – if we did, the number of inductees would easily top 1,000 with Dirty Dancing probably at the head of the list.

So rest in peace, TV movie. After being relevant for so long, you are now old and obsolete in a world of Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and hundreds of scripted shows. Give me a call when Lifetime summons The Rolling Stones to save Thanksgiving.



The Upfronts post-game show

Ratings don’t seem to matter much as ad buyers remained committed to primetime TV

This season, the television business has had its share of negative headlines: notably declining ratings for many shows, especially in the key 18-49 demo.

But this isn’t deterring buyers from investing their advertising in primetime TV. And nowhere more this was evident than last week as they swarmed the upfront presentations in New York for each of the five broadcast networks.

Why? For one, television’s reach – continues to be unparalleled compared to the web, and marketers don’t have to worry about their ads being placed in or near offensive content, as the broadcast nets pointed out repeatedly. Another reason is many primetime shows – including veterans The Big Bang Theory, Grey’s Anatomy, The Simpsons and reality stalwarts Dancing With The StarsThe Bachelor, and Survivor have very loyal audiences (ask Turner, who felt the wrath of viewers whenever Big Bang reruns are pre-empted at the last-minute for sports overruns.) Automotive and telecoms (AT&T, Verizon, etc.) continue to fuel these trends as they pour a lot into primetime and local spot advertising.

Which means yes, more Jan from Toyota and “Paul” from Sprint than we want to.

Plus, other areas of television continue to be strong, including local news as more and more stations are adding hours – including WGN-TV, who recently launched an hour-long 6 p.m. newscast. The recent acquisition of Tribune Media by Sinclair Broadcasting is also another signal to advertisers the commitment being made to over-the-air television – including primetime.

And while viewers are indeed bailing out of primetime for time-shifting, online viewing, streaming services – and even the cable news networks, there is still a significant number of viewers who prefer watching their programs “live” as it’s being transmitted by the networks, though they are older in number. And of course, it doesn’t hurt to have sports in your arsenal, despite declining ratings for some leagues, including the NFL. Those programs serve as a strong promotional platform for what the networks have to offer.

With that said, here’s what yours truly observed during the upfronts:

Wednesday Night Rivalry. We’re not talking about NBCSN airing a Chicago Blackhawks-St. Louis Blues game: It’s the first hour of primetime that’s going to feature a heated battle this fall between four popular shows: CBS’ Survivor, NBC’s The Blacklist, Fox’s Empire and CW’s Riverdale. While counter-programming is less strident in the DVR era, networks believe there is room for more than one hit in the same time slot – even four. NBCSN’s tagline for its Wednesday night hockey telecasts is “the night you love to hate”. It’s now because you have to DVR all these shows!

Thursday Night Rivalry. Led by NBC’s hit drama This Is Us being relocated opposite ABC’s Scandal, NBC is reviving its “Must-See TV” brand opposite ABC’s TGIT block. But is there anything “must-see” about this? (other than This Is Us.) If there’s anything “must-see”, is CBS’ Thursday lineup led by The Big Bang Theory (in terms of ratings, at least.)

Cable news becoming more competitive in prime. Yours truly has noticed – cable news ratings have often matched or even surpassed the entertainment fare on the broadcast networks. Given the continuing White House drama is drawing viewers to cable news – particularly in primetime, the broadcast networks have lost ground. As I pointed out before, Lucious Lyon’s antics are no match for Donald Trump’s.

Getting the band back together. The success of The X-Files and Fuller House during the 2015-16 season led to each of the networks trotting out a whole bunch of reboots – some more thought out better than others. The reason? Familiar names are an easier sell to advertisers – especially the biggest one, American Idol. But are audiences – especially millennials – willing to watch?

Multi-cam sitcoms continue to falter. The broadcast networks continue to scale back on shows filmed in front of studio audiences as outside of reboots, there were one, maybe two new sitcom projects picked up as series. Even CBS has scaled back on multi-cams. Yours truly will have more on this in a later post.

Fridays are still relevant. While the days of TGIF are long gone (note no sitcoms are scheduled on this night for the first time in recent memory), not everyone can afford to go out and splurge $50 on drinks at the local bar celebrating the start of the weekend. With that said, it’s nice the broadcast networks continue to invest in the evening, preventing it from becoming the next Saturday. But the term “Friday Night Death Slot” still has some punch: ABC’s Once Upon A Time and and Marvel’s Inhumans are scheduled for Friday, then in late November, gives away to Agents Of Shield, in what is likely its final season – a move that should have been made two years ago. This proves sci-fi and fantasy still have a place on this night.

The takeaway from all this is if you are looking for risk-taking, innovating programming – continue with cable or streaming services. When the most-talked fall show is one that last aired ten years ago, you know there is a problem. Network television lacks creativity, but ad buyers don’t care, as long as they continue to shove Jan, Flo, and Paul in our faces, to sell cars with red bows on top, and telling us how bad the competitor’s cell phone service is. Yours truly understands the times we are in, and people are looking for “comfort food”. But you know what? A steady diet of hamburgers and hot dogs isn’t good for you, and neither are these prime-time lineups.

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“Dynasty” reboot, “Black Lightning” highlights CW’s 2017-18 schedule

Let’s strangle Alexis again, like we did in the good ol’ days.

Four new dramas on tap this fall

The year of the reboot rolls on with another familiar name: Dynasty.

The CW announced its new 2017-18 schedule in front of ad buyers Thursday during its upfront presentation, and the biggest show on the schedule is one from the 1980’s.

Unlike the more recent revival of Dallas, featuring original cast members Patrick Duffy, Linda Gray, and Larry Hagman, this Dynasty reboot features an all-new cast in the roles. During its heyday, Dynasty was a pop culture trendsetter, influencing fashion and promoting “greed is good” excess. The series lasted nine seasons on ABC spending five of those in the top ten, but the controversial Moldavian Massacre storyline cost it any momentum going forward.

Also new to CW’s lineup is another addition to DC’s universe: Black Lightning, scheduled for midseason.

Leading off Mondays is Supergirl leading into Valor, a military drama with the Army as a backdrop. Tuesdays remain unchanged (Flash and Legends Of Tomorrow), with Riverdale shifting to Wednesday to lead off the night and leading into the new Dynasty. Replacing Riverdale on Thursdays is Arrow, leading out of Supernatural. And finally, Fridays have Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and Jane The Virgin paired up again.

Other midseason entries include The 100, iZombie and The Originals. The CW also has some non-drama programming on tap as well, including Whose Line Is It Anyway? for filler purposes, but no comedies.

The skinny on this lineup is the comic book shows often beats programming on the other networks in the 18-49 demo. But ratings are still low, and with Sinclair now taking over CW affiliates in the top two markets, ratings need to improve.

The addition of Black Lightning is cool – another diverse program on The CW’s lineup. But when’s enough enough when it comes to superhero shows? Riverdale has solved the mystery of who killed Jason Blossom, but what can they do for an encore? Is shooting Luke Perry the best they can do? Empire may be a fading show, but they’ll have no trouble topping this cliffhanger.

Fridays has female-skewing and critically-acclaimed Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and Jane The Virgin. Solution to ultra-low ratings? Clone the people I follow on Twitter, problem solved. A special animated Scooby-Doo episode of Supernatural (a show I’ve never been a fan of) sounds very lame, even as a fan of the Great Dane. If there is one thing in life, Scooby-Doo and The Simpsons will both outlive us all.

Finally, the Dynasty reboot is something yours truly can do without. I was never a fan of this show, though the Linda Evans vs. Joan Collins rivalry (also in real life) was quite fun. But who would fill the shoes of these two? Plus, the locale shifts from Denver to Atlanta for some reason – I thought they were rebooting Dynasty, not Gone With The Wind. Are we going to see Scarlett O’Hara in this too? At least they didn’t take the easy way out by setting it in New York or Beverly Hills.

To sum up, it’s probably a good thing WGN bailed out of The CW when it did. Because outside of their existing shows, the network’s new programming isn’t really impressive. Maybe the new Sinclair network would be better when it debuts in 2021. Or not.

To see the fall schedule and read detailed descriptions of each show, including the complete list of midseason entries, click here.

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T Dog Media’s Notepad: Tom Joyner out at Soul 106.3

Also: WGN-TV unveils new set and logo; Jon Kelley gets a new gig as host of a syndicated game show; Kathy Hart still MIA; “Wheel” celebrates Chicago

In another huge blow to his nationally syndicated radio show, Crawford Broadcasting-owned Soul 106.3 (WSRB-FM) announced Tuesday it was grounding the “flyjock” the syndicated Tom Joyner Morning Show after eight years due to low ratings. As first reported by Robert Feder, the daily morning radio show is being replaced by a new local effort featuring former WGCI-FM nighttime personality Mike Love, who’ll take over the morning shift on June 5.

Not to be confused with the Beach Boys member of the same name (ha ha), Love co-hosted a successful evening show with Victor Blackful, a.k.a. “The Dizz” from 1997-2007, and often ranked number one in its time slot.

As for Joyner, it is likely his Chicago radio career has come to an end. A veteran of WVON, WJPC, and WGCI-FM, Joyner was nicknamed “the flyjock” because he flew every day between gigs at WGCI and KKDA-FM in Dallas between 1985 and 1993. His nationally syndicated morning show launched a year later over WVAZ-FM (V103). But in 2009, his morning show was canceled by V103 and replaced by Steve Harvey’s syndicated program, moving over from sister station WGCI. Harvey (who’s been in the news lately for writing a rather rude memo to his staff of his TV show) replaced “Crazy” Howard McGee two years earlier at WGCI despite his ranking in the top five.

This site suggested Soul 106.3 pick up Joyner’s show and they actually did. But audiences never followed and the station’s signal-challenged status did not help.

Joyner’s syndicated show had been going through some upheaval in recent years, including J. Anthony Brown jumping to rival Harvey’s show earlier this year after 20 years with Joyner and the exit of Sheryl Underwood, who is now on CBS’ The TalkTJMS also lost clearances in several key African-American markets including Baltimore and his home base of Dallas after the station he was heard on changed formats.

Joyner’s show also has been dogged by rumors of cancellation.

TJMS still can be heard in over 50 cities and is easily available on the web, but losing the nation’s third-largest African-American radio market on terrestrial radio doesn’t bode well for its future. Joyner is under contract until the end of this year.

Where in the world is Kathy Hart? No one seems to know – not even the station she works for. Half of the wildly successful Eric & Kathy show on Hubbard-owned Hot Adult Contemporary station WTMX-FM (The Mix) has been “on leave” for the last two weeks, leaving Eric ferguson with several fill-in hosts. Neither Hart or WTMX officials are commenting and there is no timetable for her return.

Eric & Kathy have been doing WTMX’s morning show for 20 years and dominated the ratings among key female demos and brought in tons of revenue for WTMX. However, there has been reported tension between the two and it is not known if this is the reason Hart took the time off. But you wonder if this relationship is heading down the same path the way Steve Dahl’s and Garry Meier’s did. The popular duo broke up in 1993 after successful stints at WLS-FM, WLS-AM, and WLUP-FM.

Yours truly often refers to Eric & Kathy as the “American Idol of morning radio”: I don’t really understand the show’s popularity and one that doesn’t really appeal to anyone south of Cermak Rd.

You can read into that statement anyway you want.


Former WMAQ-TV and WFLD-TV anchor Jon Kelley has scored a new gig in Hollywood, hosting a new syndicated game show called Funny You Can Ask, featuring comedians riffing on questions asked by contestants (similar to Hollywood Squares.) Produced and distributed by Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios, the new show is a firm go for fall, with WCIU in Chicago clearing the show in addition to WLNY in New York and in a rare instance, clearing two non-duopoly stations in Los Angeles: KCAL-TV and KDOC-TV, the latter based in nearby Anaheim, Calif. Funny You Should Ask is also airing on Comedy.TV a cable network Entertainment Studios owns. The series was sold to 95 percent of the country in two-year deals.

Celebrities appearing on the show include Anthony Anderson, Louie Anderson, Tom Arnold, Cedric The Entertainer, Dave Coulier, Jackee Harry, Pauly Shore, and Caroline Rhea.

Funny You Should Ask should help fill the void left by the abrupt cancellation of Celebrity Name Game, another celebrity/comedy-based game show which was hosted by Craig Ferguson. The series was canceled last December after three seasons and aired its final first-run episode in February. Though syndicator Debmar-Mercury did not officially reveal why the plug was pulled, high production costs were believed to be the culprit.

Jon Kelley previously was one of the anchors on WFLD-TV’s Good Day Chicago before exiting the show in 2015 to pursue other opportunities. Kelley was the lead sports anchor for WMAQ in the 1990’s where he covered the Chicago Bulls championship run, but wasn’t too-well received by critics. He later anchored the syndicated Extra and hosted former ABC game show The Mole.

On a personal note, when he was at WFLD, I often seen him walking the hallway at 205 North Michigan and outside in the patio area doing live shots – he often posed with fans for selfies. Kelley seems to be a nice guy, compared to some of the “divas” who work on and behind the cameras in the TV business.

Speaking of game shows, it’s Chicago Week on CBS Television Distribution’s Wheel of Fortune as the long-running program celebrates the nation’s third-largest city with local contestants flown to the set in Culver City, Calif. to play.  It’s part of Wheel’s Great American Cities theme, where the show celebrates a city and everything positive about it. Earlier this season, Wheel celebrated San Diego, New York City, and the entire state of Florida.

This is somewhat of a homecoming for host Pat Sajak; he was born and raised in Chicago and lived in the Little Village/South Lawndale neighborhood (another famous person, V103’s Joe Soto, also hails from the area.) Wheel first visited Chicago in 1984 and has made numerous trips to the Windy City. Both Sajak and Vanna White came to town last year to tape insterials in front of the city’s famous landmarks and in some of the city’s famous restaurants (this week, a lucky contestant won a gift certificate to Harry Caray’s.)

Wheel has been good to Chicago and vice versa; since premiering in Chicago over ABC-owned WLS-TV in January 1984, the series has constantly won its 6:30 p.m. time slot and continues to do so to this day, and easily turned back a challenge from a resurgent Family Feud, which briefly ran at 6:30 p.m. on WPWR two years ago (and also did so in 1988 and 1989 when WMAQ ran a Ray Combs-hosted version in the same time slot.) Feud may be in the lead nationally (with its cumed ratings being cumed and all), but Chicago is still a Pat and Vanna town.

In the final break of ties to The CW, WGN-TV unveiled a new logo on Wednesday, replacing the one it had been using since at least 2003. The independent station also unveiled a new news set, an old studio where Phil Donahue’s show was taped from 1974 to 1982. The new set includes a larger news desk, an interview era, and yes… a cooking station – obviously to be used during the station’s morning and midday newscasts.

“WGN News broadcasts 70.5 hours a week of local news, more news than any other Chicago station. We are excited to have a set that fully supports all of our news programs and are thrilled with the ‘state-of-the-art’ result,” said WGN President and General Manger Paul Rennie in a press release. “Our new logo and set reflects our local community and reinforces our identity as Chicago’s Very Own.”

Viewers can get a virtual tour of the set by visiting wgntv.com/newsset and can also win a chance to see it in person by liking WGN’s Facebook page. 

WGN and 41 other Tribune Media stations were recently sold to Sinclair Broadcast Group in a controversial $4 billion dollar deal.

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