The Score unveils new lineup

Dan McNeil returns; Jason Goff , Matt Speigel on the outside looking in

In an effort to boost sagging ratings, Entercom-owned WSCR-AM – known as The Score – announced numerous lineup changes today.

As first tipped by Robert Feder on Tuesday, WSCR is bringing back Dan McNeil to the station in afternoons, pairing him with Dan Perkins from 1 to 6 p.m. The new show pushes Dan Bernstein – who was famously paired with now-retired  Terry Boers in the daypart, to middays with new partner Connor McKnight, from 9 to 1 p.m. Knight was previously sports anchor at WLS-AM and also handled pre-game and post-game duties with the White Sox.

McNeil spent fifteen months co-hosting a morning show with Pete McMurray in 2015 and 2016 at classic rock WDRV-FM (The Drive) before he left the station. McNeil has had two earlier tour of duties at WSCR.

The station’s Mike Mulligan and Brian Hanley remain in their 5 to 9 a.m. morning slot. Laurence Holmes gets the 6 to 10 p.m. shift; Les Grobstein continues to do overnights. The schedule change takes effect immediately.

The moves leaves both Matt Speigel and Jason Goff without slots, but both remain under contract and are expected to do weekend/fill-in work.

Even though the Chicago Cubs give WSCR a huge boost during the spring and summer months, the station is looking to shore up weak spots on the schedule. One of those happens to be the late afternoon shift with Goff and Bernstein, whose ratings took a nosedive after Boers left. An item in Feder’s column Tuesday noted the show finished tied for nineteenth overall in the afternoon daypart.

Reaction to Goff’s demotion was mixed. While some listeners criticized the decision to bench Goff, others were happy with the change as some accuse Goff of forcing political issues into the show, notably race (Goff is African-American) – something a lot of listeners didn’t appreciate (yours truly never found time to listen to said show, so I can’t really comment.) Others found him arrogant and quite unlikable.

As ESPN’s failed SC6 experiment illustrated with African-American anchors Michael Smith and Jemele Hill – the latter suspended for critical comments against President Trump, there seems to be a growing backlash against mixing political commentary and sports – particularly on a station whose audience is majority white. But give all three credit for trying something different in a business where racial diversity is nearly non-existent, whether if it is in Hollywood or in Chicago media. It was a risky move in one of the country’s most racially segregated media markets.  Unfortunately, ratings talk, money walks, and a change had to be made.



Various , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Chicago Fire strikes exclusive deal with ESPN Plus

Three-year pact means no linear TV – for now

If you want to watch Chicago Fire, you can still watch it on NBC.

But if you want to watch the soccer team of the same name…well, you are out of luck – for now.

The Major League Soccer team announced Friday it has struck a deal with the new over-the-top service ESPN Plus for all games not nationally-televised. In the process, the Fire declined to renew its deal with NBC Sports Chicago (formerly Comcast SportsNet Chicago and CSN Chicago). The deal means for the first time, most Chicago Fire games would no longer be available to linear TV viewers in the Chicago area.

And yes, viewers will have to pay $4.99 a month to access the service. Fire games are part of the Major League Soccer Live package, which is available exclusively on ESPN Plus’ service.

With the new over-the-air service not launched yet, Fire fans can only watch their team via MLS’ website as ESPN Plus is scheduled to debut later this spring. The service is being made available on all platforms, including iOs, Roku, Chromecast, Android, and others. ESPN Plus plans to air more than 500 live events a year, including MLB and NFL games, boxing, golf, college sports, and more. Recently, the Sun Belt conference signed a deal to air almost all its events – basketball included – on the ESPN Plus platform.

The Fire becomes the second MLS team to sell its television package to an over-the-top service as Los Angeles FC (not to be confused with the Los Angeles Galaxy) struck a deal with Google’s YouTubeTV.

This is the latest in a number of deals between sports leagues and big tech. Last week, Facebook announced it will stream 20 weekday afternoon MLB games paying $30 to $35 million for the privilege to do so, with the games are being produced by MLB Network. Earlier, the NFL struck deals with Twitter and Amazon to live-stream selected Thursday Night Football games.

As expected, the Fire deal came under criticism. A sampling of them are below:

For the last two years, the Fire has grown in popularity, signing key players (such as German sensation Bastian Schweinsteiger) among other moves. But the team remains a blip on the Chicago sports radar, thanks in part to the team playing in the middle of nowhere (Toyota Park in southwest suburban Bridgeview near 71st and Harlem is not easy to get to – especially on public transportation, only served by shitty Pace bus service.) By comparison, all other sports teams’ games are easily accessible via transit within the city. The new “television” deal does not help matters.

As many people pointed out, the scenario is similar to what the Chicago White Sox did in 1982 and took a lot of games off of “free TV” and put them on subscription television services (STV) ONTV and Sportsvision, airing on over-the-air broadcast TV but with their screens scrambled – meaning you needed a box to decode the signal. Though no effects on attendance were felt immediately at Comiskey (the White Sox won the AL West Pennant in 1983 and had a strong 1984), moving the team to pay TV hurt the team’s viability in the long run and is still being felt today.

The growing popularity of premium cable and home video killed off STV services, with ONTV closing its doors in 1985. In terms of cost, STV was more expensive than today’s streaming services, even with inflation factored in.

Another example: the Chicago Blackhawks were a low-profile, struggling franchise until a decades-old policy on not televising home games was reversed in 2008. Since then, Blackhawks games at the United Center have continuously sold out (putting a winning team on the ice also helped.)

But this deal could be positive down the road for the Fire. Currently, the Chicago Cubs are looking to start their own regional sports network in 2020 as they are likely to exit their deal and their ownership stake in NBC Sports Chicago. With 21st Century Fox in the process of selling its entertainment and its regional sports network assets to The Walt Disney Company, there is a possibility the Cubs could strike a deal with Disney-owned ESPN to launch a RSN – and if they choose to, the Fire could continue their relationship with ESPN by airing games on the new Cubs network. But this could be a tall order.

But in the meantime, if you watch to see a Fire game, good luck. In an era where thanks to its tremendous reach, television is an important tool in promoting your product – the Fire just threw theirs away. It’s about selling the experience to a wide audience. But the experience is now behind an additional paywall.

These type of decisions usually get people fired, no pun intended. At least the OTT deal isn’t about “protecting the season-ticket holders” as former Blackhawks owner Bill Wirtz stupidly said years ago. But it’s just as aggravating.

Various , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The end: WLUP goes out with a bang

Classic rocker WLUP-FM (The Loop) signed off Friday evening at approximately 11:59 p.m. and went out with a blast.

As you know by now, WLUP was sold on Tuesday to the Educational Media Foundation, who are buying up stations across the country to air their Christian Contemporary music format known as K-Love with a switch set for Saturday. On Friday, former Looper Steve Dahl’s WLS-AM afternoon show was simulcast on WLUP as he paid tribute to the rocker with special guests and a trip down memory lane.

Among the guests who appeared on Friday’s show include Loop alumni Jonathan Brandmeier, Buzz Killman, Kevin Matthews, Danny Bonaduce, Sky Daniels, and Bruce Wolf (you can listen to the final hour of Dahl’s show here.)

The Loop was also toasted by other radio stations around Chicago, including WGN-AM and former competitor The Drive (WDRV), who did a “10 at 10” tribute and one from WILL-FM in Kenosha:






When the final 11 p.m. hour came, this is what was played, according to Radio Insight. Notice a trend here:

  • Led Zeppelin – Stairway To Heaven
  • Europe – The Final Countdown
  • Lynyrd Skynyrd – Free Bird
  • REM – It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)
  • Metallica – For Whom The Bell Tolls
  • Rush – Limelight
  • Mötley Crüe – Shout At The Devil
  • Iron Maiden – The Number Of The Beast
  • AC/DC – Highway To Hell

The last song Dahl suggested in a Robert Feder column a few days ago, and indeed, it was a brilliant choice.

After a few seconds of dead air, WLUP switched to K-Love, dropping in right in the middle of Whom Shall I Fear by Chris Tomlin (you can hear the format change here.)

On Twitter, many toasted the station:

And their were more out-of-town toasts: This one, from former Chicago area resident and now L.A.-based IndieWire columnist Michael Schneider:

And even Dr. Demento – whose show aired on WLUP until 2010, paid tribute to the station on his long-running show:

The events of the last few days reminds us how much radio played an important role in our lives. In an era before social media and the Internet, there were generations of people who connected with these stations and the personalities who were on them. They spoke to their audience without looking down on them, and that’s what made people like Steve Dahl and others legends. Even though what made The Loop an iconic radio brand in Chicago has been absent from the station the last twenty years, the outpouring of reaction from fans and non-fans alike about The Loop tells us how much radio still connects with listeners – even with a wealth of alternatives. Terrestrial radio doesn’t have the same human touch it once had, but it can still move people.

Rest in rockin’ peace, The Loop.

Various , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Media Notepad: WLUP’s format to stay alive online

Also: Oscars notch record-low audience; Home Improvement has a new “home”

A few more notes on WLUP’s demise:

Not only The Loop is headed to the great radio graveyard in the sky, but so are the call letters (at least in Chicago.) According to Radio Insight, new owner Educational Media Foundation is changing the calls to WCKL-FM, currently at EMF’s K-Love station in Starke, Fla. as they would assume the old WLUP calls. The call letter changeover for K-Love isn’t a big deal since EMF doesn’t use them in their branding.

The transition takes place on Saturday, but no exact time for the switch has been set.

Meanwhile, it looks like WLUP is going to get a send-off after all: even though the station is now on automation until Saturday, former WLUP discjockey Steve Dahl is taking over for a goodbye party from 2 to 6 p.m. on Friday. Dahl also holds down the same shift on Cumulus’ WLS-AM in the same time frame.

Dahl of course, rose to prominence at The Loop, where he and Garry Meier did mornings at WLUP until 1981 and returned to the station with Meier in 1986. The duo went their separate ways in a well-publicized split in 1993.

Even though The Loop is signing off on terrestrial radio, the station is continuing online at and the HD2 channel of Merlin Media’s WKQX-FM, at least for now. And speaking of WKQX, Tim Virgin is shifting over to the alternative rock station as afternoon host, the same position he held at WLUP.

To no one’s surprise, the 90th Academy Awards Sunday night scored record-low numbers in ratings and total viewers. The ABC telecast drew just 26.5 million viewers, down 19 percent from the 2017 show, which aired a week earlier. This year’s show aired a week later outside of the February sweeps, because of the Olympics.

In the ratings department, the Oscars drew an 18.8 household live same-day rating and 30 share, down fourteen percent from 2017’s 21.9/35.

Much like the NFL (who also experienced declining ratings over the past year), many people blamed the stars’ raving about politics for the ratings drop. But the Oscars has been political for years; there was a lot of support for the “MeToo” movement at this year’s show. The presentation was a huge marked 180 turn from the widely-panned 2013 Academy Awards, helmed by Seth MacFarlane and gave us the song “We Saw Your Boobs”.

In a history-making moment, Jordan Peele became the first African-American to win the Best Original Screenplay Award for Get Out. But the movie didn’t win Best Picture, which went to The Shape Of Water instead.

From the “if you care” department: digital subchannel Laff has acquired the rights to Home Improvement, the 1991-99 ABC comedy from Disney-ABC Domestic Television Distribution. The deal includes all 203 episodes of the series and begins airing in September.

“Laff is becoming the sitcom hall-of-fame. Home Improvement adds to an incredible collection of iconic comedies already driving network growth of 60% year-over-year,” commented Jonathan Katz, President and CEO of Katz Networks.

Home Improvement is the third Disney-ABC off-network sitcom to air on Laff. Other titles from the syndicator on the channel include Spin City, Empty Nest, and Ellen (but no Golden Girls.)

Starring Tim Allen, Home Improvement was a runaway hit for the network, and finished as the top-rated show of the 1993-94 season. The show was sold in broadcast syndication by the former Buena Vista Television in 1993 for a September 1995 start at a staggering $3 million per episode. In Chicago, the first cycle aired on Fox-owned WFLD-TV from 1995 to 2002 and the second cycle aired on Tribune’s WGN-TV from 2002 to 2007, but slotted in an overnight time slot. The series has also run on cable’s TBS, Hallmark Channel, Nick at Nite, TV Land, and WGN America.

Home Improvement premiered in off-network the same time Sony’s Seinfeld did. But while Seinfeld continues to air in broadcast syndication, Improvement sputtered and ran out of gas. The series was also subject to a lawsuit against Disney by the show’s creators over syndication profits.

Allen previously resurfaced in Last Man Standing, a sitcom some critics dubbed as Home Improvement 2.0 (or really, All In The Family 2.0.) So I guess a reboot of Home Improvement is out of the question.

Or not.

Laff can be found on Univision’s WGBO-DT, Channel 66.3.


WLUP’s long run comes to an end

Sale to the Educational Media Foundation ends 41 years of Rockin’ fun

In a stunning development, Merlin Media has sold Classic Rock WLUP-FM to the Educational Media Foundation (EMF) for $21.5 million, a company specializing in Christian music with two automated formats: K-Love and Air 1. The sale means the end of one of Chicago’s most iconic radio station brands, who attracted generations of rock fans.

The news was first reported by Radio Insight Monday evening.

The decision was a direct result of Cumulus’ Chapter 11 bankruptcy as a local marketing agreement (LMA) between the Atlanta-based corporation and Merlin fell apart after Cumulus asked to be released from several unprofitable deals, including the Merlin LMA. Cumulus decided to excise its option and buy WLUP and alternative rock WKQX-FM, but declined to do so after filing for Chapter 11, claiming they lost a total of $8.4 million on the LMA deal.

The future of WKQX is up in the air as Merlin Media is unlikely to hold on to the property. The WLUP format change is set for Saturday, but the entire on-air staff was let go on Tuesday, including morning personality Erich “Mancow” Muller, who was the last personality heard on the station. WLUP is keeping the call letters, but is receiving the “K-Love” format.

Known as “The Loop”, WLUP launched on March 14, 1977 and played Morning Has Broken by Cat Stevens as its first record with Timmy O’Toole the first radio personality to sign on. In 1978, an unknown model named Lorelei Shark became the station’s first “Rock Girl”. But it was Steve Dahl – who came over from WDAI-FM in early 1979 who made an immediate impact on the station.

After being fired from WDAI in a format change (rock to disco), Dahl joined WLUP and expressed his distaste of the format. It led to one of the more infamous spectacles in Chicago history, “Disco Demolition Night” on July 12, 1979 where Dahl blew up disco records in-between games of a twi-night doubleheader at Comiskey Park between the Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers. The act resulted in fans storming the field and forcing the White Sox to forfeit the second game to Detroit. While Dahl and then-owner Bill Veeck were criticized for the promotion, it helped put The Loop on the map. Dahl was later paired with Garry Meier with successful results, but both were fired in 1981 for “assaulting community standards” (they later returned to WLUP five years later after they left WLS.)

In 1983, a little known Phoenix discjockey came into town for the morning shift. Before you know it, Jonathon Brandmeier was a WLUP success story, dominating young-adult demos through the rest of the 1980s and early 1990s, even spawning a late-night TV talk show and his own band, Johnny B. And The Leisure Suits. As the 1980s progressed, WLUP became one of the most successful album-oriented rock (AOR) stations in the country and was a must-stop for any rock act. Bands popular at WLUP through this period included Van Halen, Def Leppard, ZZ Top, Journey, and Led Zeppelin.

By the mid-1990s, WLUP became a “comedy talk/music hybrid” and a crown jewel of then-owner Evergreen Media featuring the likes of Brandmeier, former Partridge Family star Danny Bonaduce, Kevin Matthews, and others. Even execs such as Jimmy deCastro and Larry Wert became stars. A charity boxing match in 1994 featuring Bonaduce and fellow ’70s teen star Donny Osmond was widely publicized and drew plenty of national attention. But by September 1996, the bottom fell out as the station flipped to Modern AC and was sold. WLUP returned to rock a year later, but of the “classic” variety.

Recent years weren’t kind to The Loop. In 2005, Brandmeier rejoined WLUP as morning personality, but was far less successful as he exited in 2009. In 2011, the station and WKQX were sold to Merlin Media, headed by former Jacor and Tribune executive Randy Michaels and entered into an LMA with Cumulus to run WLUP/WKQX three years later. In an act of desperation, WLUP concocted a phony “contest” to install Mancow as morning personality in 2015 in a move yours truly criticized. The Loop even brought back April Rose (as April Rose Haydock) as the Loop Rock Girl, a position she held eight years earlier. Despite these inane moves in recent years, WLUP continued to attract decent numbers, placing a respectable fifteenth overall in a recent ratings report and finishing in the top five among males 25-54, the key selling demo for classic rock stations.

WLUP was also known for its iconic commercials – notably the “Joey Bag O’ Donuts” spots in the early 1990s:

So what is K-Love?

According to Wikipedia (really), K-Love “is a contemporary Christian music radio programming service in the United States operated by the Educational Media Foundation.” Launched on a single San Francisco-area station in 1982, the satellite-fed service operates on more than 600 radio stations in 47 states. In recent years, EMF acquired full-power stations in major markets – notably Bonneville’s well-received KSWD-FM in Los Angeles, who previously had an Adult Album Alternative – or simply, “Triple A” format (the frequency was also home to urban contemporary station KKBT-FM, “The Beat” in the 1990s.) A few years ago, Merlin sold a Philadelphia station to EMF.

K-Love also has a full-time ministry team who fields one hundred calls and one thousand prayer requests a day. EMF is a non-profit ministry and is a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability founded by pastor Billy Graham, who died two weeks ago. EMF’s licenses are non-commercial educational – similar to public radio stations, such as WBEZ. Like PBS member TV stations, EMF holds pledge drives to raise donation money instead of advertising.

In the Chicago area, K-Love has rimshot stations in Glendale Heights, Woodstock, and Wheaton. K-Love’s songs are monitored by Mediabase under the letters KLV-FM.

Steve Dahl and Lorelei Shark at Comiskey Park’s “Disco Demolition Night” on July 12, 1979. (WLUP)

End of an era

WLUP was home to many personalities who started their careers at the station or were just passing though. Among those who were a part of “The Loop” include Cara Carriveau, Patrick Capone, Sky Daniels, Bill Leff, Mark McEwen (who would later go on to CBS This Morning), Buzz Killman, Wendy Snyder, Chuck Swirsky, Eddie Webb and Mark Zander, who did an Rock of the ’80s show on the station. WLUP was also the longtime home to Dr. Demento’s Sunday night show, which ended in 2010.

WLUP perhaps, was one of the best-run stations in Chicago for its first two decades – especially during the Evergreen Media era. But to some, the decline came during “the best music on the planet” era of 1996-97, but if you ask listeners, it clearly wasn’t. WLUP has been a Classic Rock station for two decades, but was mismanaged by your typical “big media” corporations over the last fifteen years – notably by Emmis and Cumulus. Fans complained how the station was a shell of its former self – especially when it came to the repetitive music and personalities (notably the hiring of Mancow.) The discarding of one of Chicago’s most-beloved media brands is totally shameful and there is too much history to kill it without any notice.

“As I look back on my 40 years on the radio in this market, I am reminded almost daily of The Loop’s impact not only my career, but also rock and roll history in Chicago, and around the world, said Dahl. They just don’t make brave risk-taking local radio stations like that anymore, and that’s everybody’s loss. I hope the last song they play there is AC/DC’s ‘Highway to Hell’.

Various , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Media Notepad: WSHE makes changes in afternoons

Also: iHeartMedia likely to go bankrupt; Fox wants more stations – and it could effect longtime Miami affiliate.

As first reported by Robert Feder Friday, Cara Carriveau has exited Hubbard-owned adult contemporary station WSHE-FM after approximately three years. Her replacement is Jenny Milkowski, who was recently the morning traffic reporter at Fox-owned WFLD-TV. She takes over starting Monday.

“I am so appreciative of all of the wonderful opportunities Hubbard Radio Chicago has given me, said Carriveau. To have hosted afternoons on WSHE after hosting middays on WTMX, two of the most impressive radio stations in the country much less Chicago, makes me extremely proud of the past decade in my career. I will deeply miss the amazing people I have worked with for so many years.”

Carriveau has also worked for WLUP-FM and the former WRCX-FM (now WKSC-FM, Kiss 103.5.)

Though Milkowski was let go from her last gig, her social media accounts were among the most popular among media personalities in the Chicago market – something WSHE is hoping to benefit from. Joining her in afternoons is Jay Styles, who was local producer and segment host of the syndicated Brooks & Jidal show. Replacing Styles in this role is nighttime personality Robb Rose, and replacing Rose is weekend fill-in and WBBM-FM vet Brian Middleton.

Is iHeartMedia on the verge of filing for bankruptcy? Nothing major has happened as of this writing (Sunday evening), but it looks like the former Clear Channel is joining Cumulus in the official creditor doghouse, as the battle for each company continues.

On Monday, iHeart reached a temporary forbearance agreement with creditors to avoid going into default.

In a cruel twist of irony, Sirius/XM owner Liberty Media (headed by John Malone) has invested 40 percent in the company with an infusion of cash, but it may not be enough to stave off Chapter 11.

In Chicago, iHeartMedia owns seven stations: gospel outlet WGRB-AM; adult contemporary WLIT-FM (The Lite); country WBSG (Big 95.5); urban AC WVAZ (V103); Top 40 WKSC; and urban contemporary WGCI. iHeart also manages urban news/talk WVON-AM under a shared services agreement with owner Midway Broadcasting. WGCI has faced tougher competition from Entercom’s upstart WBMX (Jams 104.3), resulting in a loss of market share.

iHeart also owns Top 40 powerhouses WHTZ-FM (Z100) in New York City and KIIS-FM in Los Angeles. iHeart also owns syndicator Premiere Radio Networks, who syndicates shows featuring Rush Limbaugh, Steve Harvey, and Ryan Seacrest.

Though both Cumulus and iHeart are in financial straits, they are down but not certainly out. Once they go through this Chapter 11 process – and cut several expensive salaries and sell-off non-core assets, these companies will likely come out stronger – and could make a play for Tribune’s WGN-AM, who is in the process of being acquired by Sinclair. Some on-air personnel changes are also likely to take place – for one, they can start with WGCI’s lackluster morning show, which was beaten last month by Jams 104.3 in the daypart despite no morning host. WBMX placed in a tie for seventh; WGCI’s show was outside the top ten.

If you looking for someone to blame for the state iHeart and Cumulus are in, chalk in up to bad management in both companies. You wonder why iHeart continues to spend money on lavish productions such as award shows and music festivals when they have no money. But this is what happens when you take business advice from people who run the state of Illinois.

Is there going to be another Miami affiliation switch? 21st Century Fox is mulling buying Tribune Media’s WSFL and may make it the new Fox station as Sinclair is considering selling some of its stations to Fox in order to get their approval of their billion-dollar purchase of Tribune. TVNewsCheck’s Harry Jessell gave his analysis on the matter, and it would be the third time current Fox affiliate WSVN owner Ed Ansin would be jilted.

Even though Tampa- St. Petersburg is the largest Florida media market, Miami is more affluent with posh areas such as South Beach and is flush with luxury areas. Despite numerous racial riots between 1980 and 1993 (the first one in 1980 killed 18 people), the area experienced rapid growth thanks in part to exposure from TV’s Miami Vice. As a result, NBC invested in the market, purchasing then CBS affiliate WTVJ in 1987 and joined the network in 1989.

After losing WTVJ, CBS bought signal-challenged (in Broward County, at least) independent WCIX in 1988 and as a result of affiliate shake-up elsewhere, both NBC and CBS swapped channel positions in 1995 with WCIX becoming WFOR and CBS moving back to channel 4 while WTVJ took the poor signal-plagued channel 6, whose transmitter was located 20 miles south of  the city. WTVJ was almost sold to then-WPLG owner Post-Newsweek in 2008, but the deal collapsed due to worsening economic conditions and opposition from several politicians.

Fox has been with WSVN since 1989 and saw ratings rise with their tabloid-flavored newscasts. Several alums, such as anchors Penny Daniels, Marianne Murciano, and execs Joel Cheatwood and Stacey-Marks Bronner would later work in Chicago television.

So is Ansin – a billionaire who recently saw his WHDH in Boston lose his NBC affiliation to a network-owned start-up – about to complete the hat-trick of losing affiliations? As we say in TV land, stay tuned.

Various , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Chicagoans turned thumbs down on the Winter Olympics

The games average falls behind the Bears but beats Chicago’s other teams

NBC 5 late news does benefit

Despite a decent number of hometown faces (Hillary Knight, Shani Davis, etc.), the Winter Olympics wasn’t the bonanza NBC-owned WMAQ-TV hoped it would be. But it did provide a boost to the station’s late newscasts in the key 25-54 demo.

As reported by Sports Media Watch, Salt Lake City (KSL, 21.3) topped Olympic Nielsen ratings and the top markets were dominated by cities in the Mountain and Pacific Time Zones. This may be due to the Winter Olympics airing coast-to-coast for the first time, with additional coverage in primetime for those viewers. KSL had long been the dominant station in Salt Lake City, though in recent years slipped behind CBS affiliate KUTV in the local news race.

Denver (KUSA, 20.2) was in second place, followed by Minneapolis (KARE, 17.8). Milwaukee’s WTMJ came in fourth with a 17.3 and San Diego (KNSD) and Kansas City (KSHB) tied for fifth (17.1)

As far as Chicago is concerned, the numbers were less jubilant. WMAQ could muster only a 12.8 household rating for a 27th place finish, behind of all places, Los Angeles (KNBC, 19.2) who finished nineteenth. Typical Chicago winter weather (i.e. a huge snowstorm) keep viewers in on February 9 when the Opening Ceremonies took place, but faced competition from other local stations’ storm coverage.

The average rating was below those of most Bears games – despite the woeful season the team had in 2017 and a few Cubs playoff games, but bested regular-season Bulls and Blackhawks games by a wide margin. Both struggling teams are in last place in their respective NBA and NHL divisions.

Another factor in the disappointing ratings were many Chicagoans are still sour about losing the 2016 Summer Games to Rio and refused to watched the Olympics despite a decent number of hometown talent participating. In 2012, the London Summer Olympics also produced tepid results, placing 26th.

The games provided a strong lead-in to WMAQ’s late newscasts during the Olympics, finishing first in the key 25-54 demos – but in households, ABC-owned WLS-TV took home the gold, with a 7 household rating compared to WMAQ’s 6.3. As history indicates, don’t look for WMAQ to get any long-term benefit from the ratings boost – in 2014, WMAQ’s ratings gains from the Sochi book were wiped out by the May book. Despite the 25-54 success, WMAQ’s performance has to considered a disappointment, given CBS-owned WBBM-TV and WGN’s 10 p.m. news numbers weren’t effected.

Nationally, the Winter Games drew 17.8 million viewers in primetime (NBC only), down 17 percent from the 2014 Sochi games. The Comcast-owned network said streaming options and NBCSN helped make the games profitable and with those numbers added in, was only down seven percent. The other networks – both broadcast and cable – decided to waive the white flag, sending non-Olympics viewers to Netflix or other streaming options. Non-Olympic fans weren’t happy the networks went into repeat mode, or airing “alternative” programming, such as Celebrity Big Brother or The Bachelor Winter Games.

A few shows, such as CBS’ 60 Minutes, Bravo’s The Real Housewives of Atlanta and Showtime’s The Chi, were in originals during the Olympic period.

One notable program – a town hall meeting on gun violence on CNN February 21 in response to the Parkland, Fla. school tragedy, drew nearly three million viewers opposite the Olympics – even siphoning viewers away from the games. The event also aired on several broadcast stations throughout Florida.


Sinclair to divest WGN-TV? Not so fast

Sinclair Broadcasting’s Hunt Valley, Md. HQ, outside of Baltimore.

Sinclair selling off WPIX, WGN to win approval? Meet the Shell Answer Man.

During the eight years I worked at the Better Business Bureau, yours truly has seen plenty of scams perpetrated onto by the public the organization had to warn about.

But even those can’t compare to what Sinclair and the FCC are pulling.

In a filing revealed on Wednesday regarding its acquisition of Tribune Media, Sinclair said it would sell off WGN-TV in Chicago and two other stations – WPIX in New York and KSWB in San Diego – in order to get under the FCC’s ownership cap rules of 39 percent.

But before you break out the Korbel and celebrate, there is a catch – a huge catch. Sinclair is proposing spinning off those three stations to other companies -while maintaining control of them. In other words, Sinclair would be running the stations instead of owning them.

This plan is already in place in a few markets where Sinclair is operating. For example in Nashville, Sinclair owns Fox affiliate WZTV and My Network TV’s WUXP in a duopoly, as CW affiliate WNAB is owned by “Cunningham Broadcasting”. In Baltimore, Sinclair owns Fox affiliate WBFF and “Cunningham” owns CW affiliate WNUV as a few years ago, Fox sold My Network TV’s WUTB to an outfit called “Deerfield Media”. In San Antonio, “Deerfield” owns CW affiliate KMYS (a former My Network TV station, hence its call letters) as Sinclair owns NBC affiliate WOAI and Fox affiliate KABB.

While Deerfield and Cunningham look like legitimate broadcasters, you might not want to inquire about employment opportunities at those firms. Both are really “sidecar” or “shell” companies created by Sinclair to get around the broadcast ownership rules. And by “shell”, I don’t mean a service station selling octane gas, Fritos, and Polar Freezes.

A “shell” or “sidecar” corporation is basically a “virtual company” with no office, legitimate address, or employees. Instead it is used to basically serve as a vehicle for business transactions. It has been often used for illegal means, such as tax evasion.

WNAB, WUXP, and KMYS are owned by these companies but operated by Sinclair as the law prevents them from owning three stations in a market, in what we call a “shared services agreement” or “joint sales agreement” – something the FCC banned under former chairman Tom Wheeler but reinstated under the current administration led by Ajit Pai – the same FCC Chairman who eliminated net neutrality rules last December.

In retrospect, Sinclair controls at least nearly half the ad revenue in Baltimore, Nashville, and a few other markets through these “shell” corporations.

As for who would own WPIX and WGN, the name of the “sellers” were not disclosed in the FCC filing, but there was strong speculation Cunningham would purchase the two stations and become the license holders, but it would be similar to the setup in Baltimore, Nashville, Syracuse, and a few other markets. Ironically, Cunningham owns Fox affiliate WYZZ in downstate Peoria, but is operated instead by Nexstar.

Meanwhile, Variety reported Sinclair was considering selling six Tribune Fox affiliates to 21st Century Fox in order to get under the cap. Of the six, four of these – Seattle, Denver, Cleveland, and Miami are in NFL markets as Fox recently scored a five-year Thursday Night Football deal and would want to keep all local ad revenue sold during those games. All involved are AFC markets (excluding Seattle, which was an AFC market until 2002.)

The FCC Chair (Ajit Pai, Center) is encouraging companies like Sinclair to skirt around ownership rules in the guise of “shared services agreements”.

In the case of Cleveland, Denver, and Salt Lake City, ownership would revert back to Fox, as they sold those three and others to Local TV LLC in 2007, only to be swallowed up by Tribune in 2013. As part of the deal, Sinclair and Fox would have a new affiliation agreement – squashing plans to hook up with Ion for possible Fox affiliations in some Sinclair markets.

In Miami, Fox’s acquisition of Tribune’s WSFL could put current affiliate WSVN out the door as the CW affiliation would likely shift to CBS’ WBFS as the network is part-owner in CW. WSVN lost its NBC affiliation in January 1989 when the network bought then-CBS affiliate WTVJ two years earlier.

The backdrop of this of course is the newly modified station ownership rules, where the FCC under Pai reinstated the “UHF discount” last April, one yours truly called a scam. Originally intended for the analog era, broadcast groups were given an “UHF Discount”, meaning the UHF station they owned would count as only half their coverage toward the ownership cap, given the frequency – channels 14 to 69 –  reach less viewers and had poorer reception than their VHF counterparts (channels 2-13.) Now with most channels being on equal footing more or less, the UHF discount isn’t needed. But Pai and the Republicans on the FCC want to bring back the rules so companies can own more stations.

Two weeks ago, the FCC’s inspector general David Hunt announced an investigation into whether or not Chairman Pai was too cozy with Sinclair and showed favoritism toward the Hunt Valley Md.-based broadcaster. The request was made on the behalf of a few Democratic Congressmen.

The collusion between the FCC and Sinclair wouldn’t surprise yours truly. Scammers of a feather do flock together.

Various , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Media Notepad: Jams 104.3 continues its lead over WGCI

Also: “Harry” canceled; SyFy strikes deal with C2E2; Olympics underperform in Chicago, falling behind even Bears games

With the holidays behind us, it was back to normal in the latest Chicago PPM radio ratings as Entercom’s new Classic-Hip-Hop station 104.3 Jams (WBMX) continuing to rack up strong numbers. Despite a slight decline from last month, WBMX finished third among Chicago’s Top 30 stations and tied for seventh overall in morning drive, despite the presence of no DJ. The success of the station seems to have taken a toll on iHeartMedia’s WGCI-FM, who slid to an all-time low 2.7 rating and in a tie for seventeenth place.

Ironically, Crawford’s Power 92 (WPWX) wasn’t affected as much, finishing with a 2.1, and neither was iHeartMedia-owned V103 (WVAZ – the former WBMX) who remained in first place. Both WGCI and WPWX are Urban Contemporary stations.

Crawford’s Soul 106.3, who has an Urban Adult Contemporary format, did not make the top thirty.

WBMX has yet to hire any on-air personnel, but has embarked on a huge promotional campaign, including billboards throughout the South Side: 95th and Stony Island in the Calumet Heights neighborhood (featuring a drawing of Tupac Shakur) and 87th and Damen in Auburn Gresham. WBMX has also added more artists to its playlist, include Ja Rule, Ashanti, Rob Base, and even Justin Timberlake.

The industry is watching how the new WBMX performs with Chicago being the largest market in the country with a Classic Hip-Hop format (and one whose losing its black population at a rapid clip.) As it stands, it looks like WGCI wound up being the big loser so far.

In 2016, yours truly asked if Harry Connick Jr. could save the daytime talk show. The answer turned out to be… no. As expected, NBCUniversal Television Distribution announced last week it was pulling the plug after two low-rated years. Harry cleared primarily Fox-owned stations, including WFLD-TV and CW affiliate WPWR-TV, but bounced around several time periods on both stations in its first season. Currently, Harry is only airing on WPWR at 1 p.m.

Yours truly gave the show an A rating for its premiere on September 12, 2016. But Harry went downhill from there, becoming no different from the other light-hearted (and bland) syndicated daytime talk shows.

Part of the reason for the cancellation is likely due to production costs – for one, Connick Jr.’s show featured his large touring band and taped from an expensive studio in New York. Earlier, NBCUniversal renewed Steve for another season, despite a decline in ratings and an increase in production cost as the show relocated to Los Angeles from Chicago. But of course, Steve Harvey is more well-known than Harry Connick Jr. is.

Meanwhile, three other NBCU shows await their fates – the long running Jerry Springer, Maury, and Steve Wilkos as Tribune Media – the primary station group for all three shows (in Chicago however, only WGN carries Maury – Weigel’s WCIU carries the other two) is still awaiting approval regarding their merger with Sinclair as contracts are up in September. But as we now approach March, a decision has to be made soon.

Marvel’s “Kick” panel at C2E2 with Hayley Atwell (l) and Ming-Na Wen (T Dog Media)

Just in time for the upcoming Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo – known as C2E2, SyFy announced an agreement last week to become the exclusive streaming video partner of the event.

The agreement is with ReedPop, who runs the three-day gathering every year at McCormick Place. The pact also covers ReedPop’s other two other gatherings, including New York Comic-Con and the Emerald City Comic-Con (Seattle). The New York Comic-Con is perhaps the biggest expo outside of the San Diego Comic-Con.

The NBCUniversal-owned cable network plans to have a live stage on show floors where hosts plan to interview attendees and celebrities and preview programming. SyFy also plans to live stream a few panels at the events.

C2E2 is now is in its eighth year and has attracted notable figures in pop culture over the years, including Stan Lee, Aqua Teen creators Dave Willis and Mike Maiellaro, Jim Cummings, Hayley Atwell, and others. Panels yours truly attended over the years featured J. Michael Straczynski, J. August Richards, and several Agents Of Shield cast members, including Ming-Na Wen, Chloe Bennett, Iain DeCastecker and Elizabeth Henstridge. Scheduled for April 6-8 of this year, guests scheduled to attend include This Is Us’ Justin Harley and Milo Ventimiglia, several cast members from DC’s Legends Of Tomorrow, Gina Torres, Tom Kenny (Spongebob), and of course, Svengoolie.

Mitch Trubisky over Lindsey Vonn? According to info obtained by Chicago Business Journal, ratings for the 2018 Winter Games from South Korea locally have been…meh-like. The games over NBC and NBCSN locally have averaged a 13.5 household rating, putting Chicago out of the top twenty highest-rated markets. Not surprisingly, the Olympic games trail numerous Chicago Bears regular season games – even with the lackluster season they had. For example, a Monday night contest (opposite a Cubs playoff game) last fall drew a 23.3 household rating, far above the Olympic average. The second night of the games – featuring the Opening Ceremonies, earned a below-market average of a 17.6 rating despite a huge snowstorm hitting the Chicago area.

For the first time, the Games are being shown live coast-to-coast and markets in the Pacific and Mountain Time Zone have been putting up better numbers than those in the Eastern and Central time zones (with a 5 p.m. start time on the West Coast, it’s bad news for first-run syndicated shows, such as Entertainment Tonight, Wheel Of Fortune, and Jeopardy!, who must compete against the games.) But a few Midwest markets – notably Milwaukee’s WTMJ, have put huge numbers, putting it in the ten-most watched U.S. markets.

Still, the Olympic numbers are far better than the ratings the struggling Bulls and Blackhawks have earned, and the Winter Games are the most-watched programs in their time periods and providing a boost for WMAQ-TV’s local newscasts. The games continue through February 25.

Various , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Mark Konkol out as editor of Chicago Reader

Pulitzer-prize winning columnist out after less than two weeks

Back some time ago, if there was a TV show so poorly received by critics and the viewing public, it would be off the air in three weeks.

Mark Konkol lasted less than two weeks running a newspaper.

In a move praised by many, the Chicago Sun-Times fired the Pulitzer-prize winning columnist as executive editor after only ten days after a controversial drawing landed on the front page of the Chicago Reader, criticized for being racially insensitive.

The Sun-Times and the Reader are both owned by a group led by former alderman and CEO Edwin Eisendrath, who bought the paper last year. Eisendrath released a statement on Saturday night regarding the removal of Konkol:

I am announcing today the departure of Mark Konkol from the Reader. Mark came to the publication bringing great hope for a new direction and a new life to a storied brand. Sometimes things don’t work out as planned. A tumultuous ten days culminated in the publication of a Reader cover that we believe was not in line with either our vision for the Reader or that storied history. We wish Mark well.

While controversy is sometimes seen as part and parcel of the alternative weekly world, we believe it’s necessary in this instance to apologize to anyone who was offended by this week’s cover. The published cover in my view distracted from the publication as a whole.

The reporters at the Reader work hard to be great journalists. They can and will take on the toughest stories — including issues of race, injustice and people struggling to be heard.

We will put in place interim leadership and plan for the future.

The cover (click here to view) featured a cartoon of Democratic gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker sitting on top of a black lawn jockey while blowing black smoke in reference to Pritzker being heard on a FBI wiretap tape talking to imprisoned former Governor Rod Blagoveich, discussing who should fill Barack Obama’s senate seat after he was elected President in 2008. Pritzker was heard saying the seat should be filled with “the least offensive black”.

The cover also draw fire from some African-American elected officials who supported Pritzker, including several members of the City Council’s Black Caucus. This is the second time in less than a year a drawing in a local publication drew fire for being racially insensitive. Last year, another publication depicted a black kid in a Cubs hat representing Chicago Public Schools while a white billionaire saying he was broke.

And this could have turned out to be much worse than it indicated. As documented by Robert Feder, the original plan was to feature Pritzker in blackface – using the “n” word as a headline. That drew the objection of Adeshina Emmanuel, who wrote the piece, saying he felt incredible pressure to use the rhetoric and had to push back against it. Naturally, the original cover idea was rejected, but Konkol slipped through the revised edition cover art without approval from Eisendrath.

Konkol made some unpopular moves during his short tenure at the Reader. For one, he fired editor Jake Malooley on February 9 by phone as Malooley was returning from his honeymoon. Several other staffers said Konkol was hard to get along with and often bullied people.

Reaction on Twitter was swift and noticeable – and even revealed more about Konkol than we thought:

Perhaps, the biggest eye-opener came from the Reader’s Ryan Smith, who wrote this thread (click on the 11:12 link to read more)

And this – from the twitter account of the Chicago Reader (since deleted):

As some of you recall, Konkol was narrator of the critically panned and ratings disaster (and T Dog Media TV Hall Of Shamer) Chicagoland, which was nothing more than an infomercial for mayor Rahm Emanuel while celebrating racial stereotypes. During a review of the entire CNN series, yours truly wrote this: “The use of co-writer and Pulitzer Prize Award-Winning columnist Mark Konkol as narrator was irritating, and was the worst part of the show. And even more irritating was his use – or overuse – of the words “national attention” and “national news”, throwing them around like fish.” In other words, Konkol was just as awful as Jermaine Fowler was announcing at the Emmys.

And while at DNAInfo in 2015, an interview Konkol had with Spike Lee went off the rails as his interview with him ended in “anger, f-bombs, and a shouting match.”

And his reporting on racial issues has also come into question. Around 2007 or so, I criticized Mark Konkol in the comments section of the Sun-Times about his reporting on the racially changing Scottsdale neighborhood, a subdivision of the Ashburn community on the Southwest Side for making the racial problems more sensational than they really were. Konkol had a hand in blocking any future comments from me on any future articles on the matter.

Given what I’ve read in Feder’s article and on social media – and my own experiences with him, it verifies what I have suspected all along. Konkol isn’t a nice guy, he’s nothing more than a self-promoting huckster doing only what’s best of him and not the paper. Given his atrocious reporting on racial issues, it didn’t surprise me he would sacrifice the Reader’s credibility for some shock jock antics, which would’ve cost the free alt-weekly advertisers. And it didn’t surprise me he wasn’t well-liked in the office, either.

I’ve said this before but… it’s hard to believe Konkol actually won a Pulitzer. But keep this in mind – Milli Vanilli won a Grammy, too.

Various , , , , , , , ,

The CW returns to Sunday nights

Despite low ratings, “Riverdale” is generating a lot of buzz and acclaim for The CW.

After nearly a decade, The CW is back in the Sunday night race

Signaling they are not going anywhere, The CW announced Wednesday their intentions to return to programming Sunday nights after a nine-year hiatus.

The expansion gives the network twelve hours a week to program, all in primetime beginning this fall. The move comes as The CW has received increasing critical acclaim and buzz for its dramas, notably Jane The Virgin and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and the new Black Lightning. Unlike the other four major networks, The CW does not plan to program the 6-to-7 p.m. (CT) time slot as it remains with affiliates.

“By expanding to six nights, The CW is now able to give our fans even more of the series they’re so passionate about,” said CW president Mark Pedowitz. “Broadcasting remains the foundation of our multiplatform approach to bringing our programming to viewers. Over the past seven years, The CW has added more than 80 hours of original scripted programming to its schedule–now that number can continue to climb, as we grow our broadcast lineup, and continue to add content on every platform.”

Affiliates were supportive of the move. “As one of the largest CW affiliate groups, we are excited to see The CW Network reaffirm its commitment to broadcasting by expanding its schedule to Sunday night,” said Sinclair Broadcasting president and CEO Chris Ripley. “We value our relationship and look forward to an even stronger audience following with more of The CW’s popular primetime programming.”

Sinclair is in the process of acquiring Tribune Media, who owns CW affiliates WPIX in New York, KTLA in Los Angeles, KDAF in Dallas-Fort Worth, and WDCW in Washington D.C., among others. Once the acquisition closes, Sinclair would own the largest number of CW affiliates in the country.

Currently, most CW affiliates air syndicated reruns or movies on Sundays. Here in Chicago, Fox’s WPWR airs a two-hour block of The Big Bang Theory. WPWR assumed The CW affiliation from Tribune’s WGN-TV in 2016.

The CW was formed in 2006 from a merger between The WB and UPN, with the latter owned by CBS. The CW is a 50-50 partnership with CBS and Warner Bros. with CW’s schedule dominated with programming from CBS Television Studios and Warner Bros. Television. The CW initially programmed six nights a week including Sundays, but ratings for the block – airing from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Chicago time were anemic.

The last time The CW had a Sunday block, it was outsourced through Media Rights Capital. One of their shows, “Easy Money” lasted just five weeks.

At the request of Tribune Broadcasting as it was seeking a somewhat older demo to lead into its newscasts, The CW opted to outsource its Sunday night program block to Media Rights Capital in 2008. Bit the results were disastrous as series Valentine and the Sopranos-like Easy Money were canceled after five weeks after averaging less than a million viewers each and CW reclaimed the block shortly thereafter.

This is what yours truly wrote regarding the ratings for both failed shows: “Both programs had achieved numbers usually seen for late-night infomercials and religious programming – really bad. And I mean WJYS-TV, Channel 62 bad. Yep, you know you failed when your show can’t even outdraw Joel Osteen and Paula White Today.”

Additionally: “Ratings for the shows were so atrocious they were often outdrawn by religious programming airing earlier in the day on some of these same stations – not to mention the MRC block’s ratings were down from already-invisible numbers The CW itself put up last year. Some of the MRC shows went into reruns already during the November sweep periods as the studio canceled bombs Valentine and Easy Money.”

This time however, The CW is confident it can compete on Sunday as ratings for entertainment programming on many networks have softened considerably. Fox’s Sunday night lineup (Simpsons, Family Guy) isn’t the same ratings jugglenut as it was in the past (and the future of those shows are up in the air as Fox is selling its entertainment division to Disney), and AMC’s Walking Dead and Bravo’s Real Housewives Of Atlanta both have seen significant ratings declines. If the CW thinks they can compete on Sunday nights, this is absolutely the right time to do it.

Various , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Chicago White Sox head to WGN-AM

Baseball team scores rights deal with Tribune-owned station

Tribune Media announced Wednesday it signed a three-year deal to carry Chicago White Sox games over WGN-AM (720) starting this year. The news was highly anticipated as the baseball team’s and the Bulls’ deal with Cumulus’ WLS-AM fell apart after the Atlanta-based radio chain filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last year.

The Bulls have since relocated to Entercom’s WSCR-AM, The Score (670 AM).

In a statement, WGN station manager Todd Manley said: “What an honor to join the White Sox family. Summer starts today on WGN Radio.”

Chicago White Sox senior vice president of sales and marketing Brooks Boyer quoted as saying: “It’s a fantastic win for White Sox fans. We are thrilled to team up with an iconic media organization in Chicago, delivering the hustle and the passion of White Sox games to WGN radio listeners in the city and Midwest.”

WGN also plans pre- and post-game programming, in addition to a year-round weekly show. Radio voices Ed Farmer and Darrin Jackson are being retained in their positions (much to the chagrin of many in the fan base.)

Indeed, the move to WGN is a huge upgrade from WLS as the deal was praised by a lot of fans on social media. White Sox and Bulls programming outside of actual games were lacking on WLS and the teams weren’t promoted. On the other hand, WGN recently brought back Sports Central (as an afternoon streaming show) and already has rights to Chicago Blackhawks games and Northwestern football and basketball. The White Sox gives WGN once again sports programming during the spring and summer months.

There is no word on how WGN would handle conflicts with Blackhawks games, though it is not likely an issue given the team is not expected to make the postseason this year.

As it seems unthinkable from a more recent standpoint, WGN-AM did carry White Sox games from 1927 to 1943. WGN was of course, the longtime home of Chicago Cubs games from 1924 to 2015, before losing the rights to CBS Radio (now Entercom.)

In addition to NBC Sports Chicago, Chicago White Sox games continue this season on television counterpart WGN-TV. Both it and WGN-AM are owned by Tribune, who is in the process of being acquired by Sinclair Broadcasting. The first WGN-AM game can be heard on February 23 when the White Sox play the Los Angeles Dodgers in Cactus League play.

Various , , , , ,

Another embarrassing graphics gaffe at ABC 7

The flub is the third in three years – happened during Saturday morning newscast

Yet again, another on-air graphics mix-up occurred at Chicago’s top-rated news operation.

This time, it was a graphic slide put up during ABC 7’s Saturday morning newscast while anchor Mark Rivera was reporting on a story about the unification of North and South Korea’s Olympic teams during the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, being held in PyeongChang, South Korea. But instead of the name of the city where the games were being held, this was put up instead:

Instead of PyeongChang, the graphic read “P. F. Chang 2018” with a fake Olympic logo. P.F. Chang’s – note the apostrophe “s”,  is a chain of Asian-cuisine restaurants with 210 locations in the United States, including a few in the Chicago area.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the P.F. Chang graphic was supposed to be used for a satirical piece put together by sports anchor Mark Giangreco as viewers were supposed to send in their own ideas for Winter Olympic sports. As everyone knows, non NBC-stations cannot use official Olympic logos or show highlights of the Winter Games. A WLS-TV spokesperson explained to the Trib:

Jayme Nicholas, a spokesperson for the ABC affiliate in Chicago, told Inc. that the goof was the result of a mix-up. The graphic was created for a different “satirical piece” put together on Friday by sports anchor Mark Giangreco in which viewers were encouraged to invent their own Olympic sports, but it was mistakenly also used for the serious news story read on Saturday by weekend anchor Mark Rivera, Nicholas said.

But sports media website Awful Announcing called the explanation “unsatisfying”, noting it doesn’t explain how the wrong graphic image got on the air.

From February 2016, another ABC 7 graphics flub.

This is not the first time ABC 7 has been a victim of a graphics mix-up. While reporting on the LaQuan McDonald case in 2016, a McDonald’s restaurant logo was shown. Another graphic error happened in 2015 when Dionne Miller reported on a Chicago Blackhawks victory over the Los Angeles Kings with the caption reading “Blacks Win” instead of “Blackhawks Win”.

But the all-time worst graphics mix-up came the same year at Tribune’s WGN-TV when reporting on the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur, a slide offensive to the Jewish community popped up on screen. The station was condemned worldwide for the gaffe and WGN officials apologized.

More and more of these gaffes – such as logo mix-ups and misspelling of common everyday words – are happening around the country, from local stations to the cable news networks. The most common example is Los Angeles local stations mistaking the Los Angeles Kings logo for the Sacramento one, an NBA team. As yours truly pointed out in 2015: “This comes as staffs at local TV stations are being cut and tasks are being stretched thinner and thinner among personnel as stations are adding more local newscasts. With all the money coming in from political advertising and retransmission fees, you’d think they would spring for a proofreader.”

But they’re not. In 2018, these on-air graphic gaffs are becoming more and more frequent. I predicted three years ago you’ll see more of this in the future and unfortunately, the prediction has become all but true.

Various , , , , , , , ,

The Media Notepad: NBC scores with Olympic opening ceremonies

Plus: L.A. Times, San Diego Union-Tribune sold; Mike Flannery gets his own Fox 32 news show; This week in Chicago bashing; White Sox snubbed again

(Editor’s Note: Contains strong language. Reader discretion is advised.)

The opening ceremonies of the 2018 Winter Olympics from South Korea dominated the ratings as expected for NBC, and even performed stronger than expected.

According to Nielsen (thru Sports Media Watch), the opening ceremonies drew a 14.7 household rating and 27.8 million viewers in primetime Friday night, but down 14 percent and 12 percent respectively from the 2014 Sochi games. The numbers however, were up from 2016 Summer Games from Rio but keep in mind comparing ratings from February with August is like comparing apples and oranges due to differences in seasonal HUT levels. Among adults 18-49, the ceremonies drew a 5.7 rating.

449,000 viewers streamed the Opening Ceremonies through, either live (at 5 a.m. Chicago time) or NBC’s tape-delayed coverage.

In Chicago, the ceremonies drew a low 17.6 household rating, down 20 percent from the Sochi opening ceremonies. This comes as a surprise as the entire metro area on Friday was hit with a major snowstorm, keeping lots of people indoors (local schools were closed for the day.) One possible wrench in the rating here: viewers may have switched to WGN-TV at 9 p.m. to see Tom Skilling update everyone on the storm.

As a result of the Olympics, the major broadcast and cable networks have opted to bench their regular series and go the repeat route until the games conclude on February 25. CBS is airing a celebrity edition of Big Brother, but other than that – if you’re not an Olympics fan, pickings are very slim and its best you make use of those streaming subscriptions.

It looks like Tronc got Tronced itself: the Chicago-based company announced this week it was selling the Los Angeles Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune to one of its shareholders, Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong. The sale brings the paper back under local control – the original Tribune Co. purchased the paper from Times Mirror in 2000. Tribune split its broadcast and publishing assets in 2014, with the latter becoming Tribune Publishing, and later renamed, the much-derided Tronc.

In 2015, Tronc purchased the San-Diego Union Tribune for $85 million.

In recent months, the Times has been rocked by numerous events: newspaper employees recently voted to unionize; former publisher Ross Levinhon was accused of sexual harassment; and under went a management change when former Chicago Tribune honcho Jim Kirk was installed as editor-in-chief.

The sale now leaves Tronc with the Chicago Tribune and other papers in Orlando, Baltimore, and Hartford, along with the recently acquired New York Daily News. The moves could make Tronc an acquisition target – something Chairman Michael Ferro didn’t want as he earlier rejected an overture from Gannett. But with current market conditions suggesting media consolidation, reality is slapping him hard in the face – something no dopey video can explain.

In other newspaper news, the Sun-Times made some cuts by releasing entertainment and gossip columnist Bill Zwecker and arts critic Heidy Weiss. With the latter move, you have to really question the Sun-Times’ committment to arts and culture coverage, something yours truly deeply cares about. It’s the wrong kind of direction for new owner Edwin Eisendrath.

Also shown the door last week at sister publication Chicago Reader was editor Jake Malooley. Recently, Pulitzer Prize winner Mark Konkol took over duties of running the alt paper.

It may not be WGN’s Man Of The People, but at least the title is cool: WFLD political reporter Mike Flannery is getting is own Friday night public affairs show. Titled Flannery Fired Up, Flannery plans to feature newsmakers including political candidates running for office (the March primaries are right around the corner) and a panel discussing issues affecting Chicago such as violent crime, taxes, quality of living issues, and more – something WTTW’s Chicago Tonight: The Week In Review regularly does.

Flannery Fired Up airs Friday at 9:30 p.m. and repeats Sundays at 8:30 a.m.

The first guest on Flannery Fired Up was former Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, who is mulling a mayoral run to challenge incumbent Rahm Emanuel. McCarthy recently slammed the mayor in a recent interview for the current administration’s handling of a carjacking epidemic plaguing the city.

Mike Flannery was the longtime political reporter for CBS-owned WBBM-TV starting in 1980, covering the administrations of Mayors Jane Byrne, Harold Washington, Eugene Sawyer and Richard M. Daley. He joined Fox-owned WFLD in the same capacity in 2010.

And speaking of Chicago… If you are keeping tabs, yes Chicago is still a national laughingstock despite President Dumbass not tweeting about us for a while. On Friday, The Onion – you know, the fake publication staffed by old According to Jim writers, took a shot at the Windy City combining the two things the city is known for: winter weather and murders.


And while commenting on a Philadelphia police scanner tweets after the Eagles won the Super Bowl, even yours truly was a recipient of abuse from this asshole

While these imbeciles continue to mock our city’s murder victims and their families – the vast majority of them African-American and Hispanic, what they are clearly lacking is solutions to the urban ills we are suffering from. As this carjacking wave grips the city, the jokes and mean comments from the MAGA crowd are not funny – they’re disgusting. If you’re not willing to offer solutions, then shut the fuck up. Keep your racism to yourselves.

On a much lighter note, CBS Television Distribution’s Wheel Of Fortune even took a shot at us – albeit inadvertently and involving only one of our sports teams. Wheel celebrated Great American Cities week and Chicago was celebrated on Tuesday (the show devoted an entire week to the Windy City last May.) In one of the puzzles, the contestant correctly guessed four of Chicago’s teams – Bears, Bulls, Blackhawks, and Cubs. Guess who they left off?

Even Chicago native Pat Sajak, a noted Cubs fan wondered “Where’s The White Sox“?

Though its understandable why the White Sox were left off (you couldn’t fit all five teams there due to space limitations), news of the “snub” spread on social media as Sox fans weren’t happy (some were even amazed Wheel was still on the air after all these years, its 43rd on television.) Still, a fits a pattern yours truly documented in 2016 when the Cubs went to the World Series – many thought it was the city’s first fall classic appearance since 1945 – nevermind the White Sox went to the World Series in 1959 and won it all in 2005.

But it’s kind of funny about “attention” when Wheel of Fortune – ousted from the top game show spot by Steve Harvey’s Family Feud sometime ago – received the most publicity it had in years. Believe it or not, the White Sox gets actually more ink than Wheel – or most programs in the dying first-run syndication business, with the last program receiving any kind of “attention” was The Dr. Oz Show.

And that came when Last Week Tonight’s John Oliver blasted him for the absolute phoniness of his program. 

Various , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Super Bowl LII ratings couldn’t match last year’s

But 103.4 million viewers isn’t bad

Super Bowl LII gave us what we wanted in a football game – a close contest throughout, an exciting finish, and best of all, the Philadelphia Eagles beating the favored New England Patriots for their first Super Bowl title and their first overall championship since 1960.

But despite all the theatrics, it wasn’t enough to top Super Bowls from recent years in the ratings department.

According to Nielsen, final ratings for Super Bowl LII had the total at 103.4 million viewers, down seven percent from last year’s Patriots-Falcons tilt on Fox, which featured the first-ever Super Bowl overtime. Among total viewers, it is the least-watched Super Bowl since 2009, when the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Arizona Cardinals. When streaming is added in, 106 million total viewers watch the Eagles’ upset victory.

When out-of-home viewership is counted in (12 million), the total rises to 118 million viewers. 

As for the actual ratings, the game scored a final 47.4 household rating, down three percent from last year’s 48.8. Among adults 18-49, the big game drew a 33.4 rating, down from a 37.1 rating last year.

Among metered markets, Philadelphia’s WCAU weighed in with a 56.2 rating and 81 share, topping Boston’s 55.9/81, signaling viewers were able to find the game on NBC’s new Boston O&O WBTS, available on channel 10 on cable/satellite and over-the-air on a variety of channel numbers (8.1, 60.1). However, Buffalo’s WGRZ topped them all with a 56.4/78. Host city Minneapolis (and St. Paul) came in fourth with a 54.9/82.

Despite the Bears being nowhere near the playoffs, Chicago’s, WMAQ still drew a healthy 46.5 rating, up 4.5 percent from last year’s Super Bowl, encompassing 1.53 million households. Milwaukee’s WTMJ drew a 52.3.

One of the reasons why ratings were down from last year could be one thing: those National Anthem protests. A study released Tuesday by UBS Securities showed many viewers – especially in rural areas tuned out NFL football this year due to a few players kneeling during the National Anthem, started by former 49er quarterback Colin Kapernick in August 2016 as some viewers were so repulsed they decided to never return. Super Bowl LII saw no players from the Philadelphia Eagles or New England Patriots kneel during the Anthem.

Justin Timberlake’s halftime show did a 48.1. overnight rating.

As for the post-Super Bowl entertainment, NBC’s hit show This Is Us with a major storyline change, was a ratings winner drawing 26.97 million viewers and a 9.3 rating among adults 18-49, the biggest audience for a post-Super Bowl show since The Voice in 2012. By comparison, the premiere of last year’s 24: Legacy drew just 17.3 million viewers in the post-Super bowl time slot and a 6.1 rating. Fox canceled Legacy a few months later.

Various , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,