Welcome to the Shame, 2014 Chicago Bears

Jay Cutler fumbles again. (USA Today)

Jay Cutler fumbles again. (USA Today)

History is made as the 2014 Chicago Bears becomes the first sports team ever to make the hollowed, smelly halls of The T Dog Media TV Hall Of Shame

Usually, The T Dog Media TV Hall Of Shame is reserved for television’s worst comedies, dramas, reality and talk shows so bad, you have to see it to believe it to believe it.

But over the years, the Shame has expanded to accept non-traditional programs such as Monsters and Money In The Morning and Mancow Mueller’s Channel 50 show.

Enter the 2014 Chicago Bears.

After several major blowouts – some of them in primetime – your 2014 Chicago Bears have earned their right to enter the Shame, becoming the first sports team to do so. Led by the Wil Wheaton of the NFL – quarterback Jay Cutler – who leads the league in interceptions, the team couldn’t play any defense…or offense…or special teams.

The Bears are so bad, their play makes most of the programs on the list watchable by comparison. The monkey from Animal Practice is already a better quarterback than Cutler and Vicki from Small Wonder can tackle better than anybody on the team.

All of this while the audience continues to flee for the exits. According to Nielsen, Monday night’s game between the Bears and the New Orleans Saints was the second lowest-rated game of the season on ESPN, drawing 11.1 million viewers. While that’s good, it’s still down 22 percent from last year’s Ravens-Lions game from last year. Saints-Bears drew a 3.8 adults 18-49 rating, down 21 percent from last year.

Locally, Saints-Bears hit another season low with a 23 household rating – a 16.2 for ABC-owned WLS-TV with ESPN contributing a 6.8. The WLS rating is another season low on broadcast, though more people watched on ESPN than they did on NFL Network when the Bears played the Dallas Cowboys, which was also televised by WBBM-TV.

Despite the Bears poor play, the game is still Chicago’s most-watched program of the week, which has been the case all season. Not sure if this reflects the power of the NFL or how pathetic broadcast network prime-time television is these days.

Even worse, Bears talk has dominated the news this week – even becoming the top story on several local newscasts and the front-page stories on both Chicago newspapers as Cutler was recently benched as the starting quarterback. Given the local media’s obsessive nature of the team – bumping other more important issues out of the spotlight – it seems the Bears are not the only ones who needs a management overhaul.

Here’s the official Shame entry. This is history, baby!

The 2014 Chicago Bears (various networks). This team was so bad, it became the first sports team to enter the Shame. Led by Jay Cutler, watching this squad week in and week out makes most of these shows on this list Emmy winners by comparison.

Sports, Television

ABC 7 , WCIU hook up for news

ABC 7 and The UIn a groundbreaking move for Chicago television, one local station is going to produce a newscast for another local station.

ABC-owned WLS-TV (ABC 7) announced it has entered a partnership with Weigel Broadcasting’s WCIU to produce a new hour-long 7 p.m. weeknight newscast effective January 12, 2015.

Anchoring the program is ABC 7 morning veteran Hosea Sanders, who is teaming up with Linda Yu (who’ll continue co-anchoring WLS’ 4 p.m. newscast.) Newly hired Cheryl Scott handles the weather, and Jim Rose does sports.

Weigel will sell advertising time on the newscasts; a portion of the revenue would go to WLS in a licensing agreement. The station hopes to attract more sponsors (and political ad dollars) who generally buy news programming.

While competing with prime-time fare on the broadcast networks (including ABC), WLS’ new primetime newscast will compete with WTTW’s public-affairs program Chicago Tonight and the Fox News Channel’s The O’Reilly Factor with host Bill O’Reilly. The 7 p.m. newscast - the first of its kind ever in Chicago – is intended to reach a new audience and viewers who are arriving at home from work (WFLD was the first to launch a 7 p.m. newscast, running from 1987-89.)

WLS-TV President and General Manager John Idler said the new newscast provides viewers with an alternative in the hour. Straight from the press release: “We are very excited about our partnership with WCIU, The U. It gives viewers a chance to watch Chicago’s #1 news at a new time and is a convenient option for those who want live, local news earlier in the evening.”

Bob Ramsey, who is executive vice president for WCIU parent Weigel Local Media said the following: “Adding local news to the schedule was a goal of ours. We are thrilled to partner with ABC 7 Eyewitness News, the market’s news leader, to provide this service to WCIU, The U’s viewers.”

On WCIU, the newscast has off-network reruns of Mike & Molly as a lead-in, and is replacing the long-in-the-tooth sitcom Tyler Perry’s House Of Payne.

Since converting to a general-market independent in 1995, WCIU has never done news (aside from Stock Market Observer and You and Me in the Morning), although sister stations in Milwaukee (CBS affiliate WDJT/Independent WMLW) and South Bend (ABC affiliate WBND) both have fully-staffed news operations.

WLS joins four other ABC-owned stations in producing prime-time newscasts for others. For example, KABC-TV in Los Angeles produces a newscast for independent KDOC-TV in nearby Anaheim, Calif., while KGO-TV in San Francisco produces one for independent KOFY.

Other Central/Mountain time zone markets with 7 p.m. newscasts include Tribune’s KPLR-TV in St. Louis and KWGN-TV in Denver – both who are CW affiliates who push their network programming back an hour.

This has been quite an eventful last few days for Chicago’s top-rated TV station. Not only ABC 7 snared Scott to join their weather team, but surprised everybody in the market by acquiring the rights to 25 Chicago Cubs baseball games.

(Edited on 2014-12-17 at 17:00 – added WFLD info.)

Chicago Media, Journalism, Local TV (Chicago), Television

WGN America takes the “super” out of its station

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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with additional information since being published on Saturday. – T.H.

It’s the end of an era as the last “superstation” rides off into the sunset.

By the end of this month, WGN America – which once carried WGN-TV programming across the country, is converting into a basic cable network in most areas from a “superstation”, which WGN has been for 36 years. As a result, the Tribune Media-owned channel is dropping the reminder of its Chicago programming from the channel, including WGN’s 4-5 a.m. and noon newscasts. WGN already stopped carrying the Chicago counterpart’s 9 p.m. newscast a few months ago.

By being a cable network, WGN America can collect retransmission fees from cable and satellite operators, rather than having them pay royalties to rights holders and copyright owners through a compulsory license.

WGN America no longer carries White Sox baseball and Bulls basketball. WGN-TV/WGN America’s deal to carry the Cubs expired in 2014 and Friday, the team signed a five-year deal with ABC-owned WLS-TV to carry 25 games. WGN is still in contention for a 45-game package but if they snare it, the games would air only in the Chicago area.

In addition, Illinois Lottery drawings have also been dropped from the channel. The drawings remains on WGN-TV.

These moves is being made as WGN America is making a push to snare more viewers and advertisers, including a huge push into original programming. Hour-long dramas Salem and Manhattan have drawn viewers and even critical acclaim; both are renewed for second seasons.

WGN America is now adding reality programming into the mix, with Outlaw Country and Wrestling With Death debuting in January. WGN America is also adding off-network hours Elementary and Person Of Interest, on an exclusive basis, and weekday airings of Blue Bloods.

WGN was the last remaining “superstation” left, a relic from an earlier era in cable TV which also saw New York’s WOR-TV (now WWOR) and Atlanta’s WTBS beam their signals via satellite, bringing us Joe Franklin, Atlanta Braves baseball, Morton Downey Jr., Richard Bey, New York Islanders hockey, and Andy Griffith reruns round the world (for better or worse.)

WGN beamed its signal via satellite in 1978, exposing Bozo, the Cubs, and its local news to cable and satellite viewers across the country and around the world. The Bulls’ Michael Jordan also received national exposure via WGN, during the team’s championship run. WGN’s superstation status also was a big factor in the success of the Jerry Lewis’ MDA Telethons, which carried the Labor Day event from 1979 to 2012, with the last two years abbreviated editions and without Jerry Lewis.

But dents started showing in the superstations’ armor. The FCC instituted “Syndicated Exclusivity” rules, (or Syndex for short) in 1990, forcing WGN and WWOR to find replacement programming for fare it would have to black out on cable systems if local stations bought the “exclusive” rights to in their market (TBS wasn’t effected, as it bought “national rights” to all its programs.) While WWOR threw in the towel in 1996, WGN fought with Major League Baseball and the NBA over carrying their teams on WGN’s Superstation feed, with the NBA even taking Tribune Broadcasting to court. As a result, WGN was forced to reduce the number of Bulls games it carried on its superstation.

On October 1, 2007, Turner Broadcasting split its national feed from its Atlanta one,  converting TBS to a basic cable channel. The Atlanta feed is now known as WPCH-TV (or Peachtree TV) and is now being run by Meredith Corp. in a local marketing agreement, while TBS remained intact for national viewers.

With the change, WGN America will now be able to split its single feed into two – one for Eastern/Central time zone viewers and one for Pacific.

Even though Atlanta cable viewers started receiving the cable version of TBS the day the split occurred, there are no such plans at this time for Chicago cable viewers to receive WGN America, which is not available on any system, though they can be seen on satellite providers Dish and DirecTV.

UPDATE 2014-12-15: Robert Feder is reporting that Comcast, Chicago’s largest cable operator, has agreed to carry WGN America in the area effective Tuesday. According to a search on WGN America’s website, the network is being carried on channel 499, though this may change. So far, no other deals with any other Chicago MSO (RCN, WOW, AT&T U-Verse) has been announced.

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Cubs headed to WLS-TV

Cubs on 7

ABC-owned station to run 25 games a season from 2015 through 2019

“Catch the action on WLS”…

That’s right, you heard me… ABC-owned WLS-TV (that’s TV, not AM) struck a five-year deal with the Chicago Cubs to air 25 games a season beginning this spring.

According to the station’s website, WLS would air games in daytime, primetime, and weekend dayparts. The issue of network pre-emptions are inevitable, and its not known if the pre-empted programming would be delayed or shifted onto WLS’ 7.2 channel, where is now occupied by the soon to be defunct Live Well Network.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. It is not known if WLS would produce the games or if the Cubs would. The Chicago Tribune’s Robert Channick reported WLS and the Cubs were close to a deal Thursday night and was made official on Friday.

The deal doesn’t necessarily mean the end of Cubs telecasts on WGN-TV, its local broadcast outlet since 1948, as a package of 45 over-the-air games are still in play. Comcast SportsNet Chicago, the team’s cable partner, could also pick up the package. The Cubs opted out of its WGN deal last year as the station was losing money on the broadcasts.

WLS becomes the first ABC-owned station to carry baseball in recent memory* and the fourth Big 3 network O&O to carry a local team. In Philadelphia, NBC-owned WCAU is carrying a few Phillies gamnes produced by corporate cousin Comcast Sports Net Philadelphia, while NBC-owned KNTV in San Francisco has a similar arrangement with CSN Bay Area with the Giants.

Comcast SportsNet, WCAU, and KNTV are all owned by NBCUniversal, whose parent is Comcast Corp.

Baltimore Orioles’ rightsholder Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN) produces a package of games for CBS-owned WJZ-TV, which has held the rights since 1994 (when it was still an ABC affiliate.)

Previously, CBS-owned WCBS-TV carried a small package of New York Yankees games produced by the YES Network, while CBS-owned WCCO-TV carried Minnesota Twins games.

This is the latest change the Cubs have made as the team is shaking up its business model to be more competitive. Earlier, the Cubs struck a deal with WBBM-AM, ending a longtime relationship with WGN-AM which dates back decades. The team recently hired former Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Madden in the same capacity and signed ace pitcher Jon Lester to a six-year, $155 million deal making the team instant contenders.

This TV deal is synced up to expire the same time the Cubs’ cable deal with Comcast SportsNet expire in 2019 as the team is exploring the possibility of launching its own cable network, a venture that has paid off nicely for the Yankees.

* Cubs games aired on WENR-TV in 1949, one of the forerunners to WLS.

 

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“Hot Bench” renewed for second season; shifts to WBBM-TV

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In an unusual move, at least in this day and age, freshman first-run strip Hot Bench is changing stations locally in the middle of the season.

As part of a CBS O&O deal, Hot Bench – syndicated by co-owned CBS Television Distribution – is shifting to WBBM-Ch.2 where it will air weekdays at 2 p.m effective as of March 30. In addition, CBS is upgrading Bench from its non-traditional affiliate stations to its primary outlets in early fringe in five other markets: New York (WCBS), Los Angeles (KCBS); Dallas (KTVT); Boston (WBZ); and Miami-Ft. Lauderdale (WFOR)

Bench is also moving to CBS-owned KCNC in Denver, where its being slotted at 3 p.m., moving from Fox affiliate KDVR, where it airs at 2 p.m. The changes take effect also on March 30.

In the Chicago area, Bench airs at 11 a.m. weekdays on WCIU-DT 26.2, also known as The U Too. A secondary run airs on WCIU’s main channel at 5 a.m.

In these cases – including Chicago, Bench is replacing the canceled Queen Latifah Show, which is airing its final first-run episode in March. Laftiah is likely to finish out the remainder of her contract in overnight time slots – if the CBS-owned stations choose to do so.

Schedules changes in local stations lineups in midseason are increasingly rare – they were more commonplace in the 1980’s and 1990’s when stations would downgrade an underperforming show, replacing it with a stronger program. In recent times, stations stuck with programming throughout the season, preferring to make changes in September – even if the ratings tanked. But CBS wants to strike the iron while its hot – and Hot Bench is a hot show (no pun intended.)

In its freshman season, Hot Bench is averaging a 1.5 live-plus-same day household rating and 2 million viewers, ranking it far and away as the top-rated freshman show. During the November sweeps, Bench averaged a 1.7 household rating.

What makes Bench different from other courtroom shows is the use of three judges: Tanya Acker, Larry Bakman, and Patricia DiMango instead of one – to hear cases. After testimony, the cameras follows the trio to chambers where they discuss the case and reach a verdict. The series was created by Judy Sheindlin, who of course is known as Judge Judy. She came up with the idea from observing court cases with a three-judge panel while vacationing in Ireland with her husband (more proof that you can create programming anytime, anywhere.)

Her husband by the way, is Jerry Sheindlin, who presided over two seasons of The People’s Court from 1999-2001.

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Peter Pan gets pummeled by Bears

peterpanbears

It looks like Allison Williams put up more of a fight than Matt Forte did

Bears-Cowboys game beats live production of Peter Pan both locally and nationally

The Bears haven’t done much this season on the field, but at least they beat an opponent. Unfortunately, it wasn’t on the field.

In the battle of train-wreck programming, the Chicago Bears game against the Dallas Cowboys on the NFL Network (and WBBM-Ch. 2 locally) won out over the live presentation of Peter Pan on NBC by quite a large margin. Here in Chicago, the Bears did a combined 26.2 household rating to Peter Pan’s 6.1.

If you split the Chicago numbers, the Bears game earned a 21.9 (33 share) for WBBM, and a 4.3 for NFL Network. In Dallas on CBS-owned KTVT, the game did a 26 household rating (and 39 share.)

In national overnight ratings, the Cowboys-Bears game did a 8.0 compared to a 5.9 for Peter Pan. In the adults 18-49 demo, Pan did a 2.4 rating. In Chicago in the same demo, Pan did only a 2.2.  Among adults 18-34, Pan did a 2.0 rating nationally. Overall, Pan averaged only 9.1 million viewers, down tremendously from the 18.6 million viewers the Dec.4, 2013 live special, The Sound Of Music Live earned with Carrie Underwood in the role.

Despite chatter on social media (more on that in a minute), the Bears game (locally) and Peter Pan were both ratings disappointments, although on different levels.

Factoring out the NFL Network number, the Bears game hit another season low on broadcast TV as it is clear the team does not have the drawing power it used to have. Despite winning the evening, the Bears’ woeful season has turned off casual fans, leaving only the die-hards. As for attendance, WBBM’s website reported there were more than 6,000 no-shows. 

As for Peter Pan, the ratings were down 46 percent in households from Music. Allison Williams (from HBO’s Girls) had the lead role in Peter Pan. While its understandable Williams does not have the drawing power of Ms. Underwood, ratings for Pan slipped every half-hour in households, total viewers, and in the adult 18-49 demo, nearly losing a full point (2.7 to 1.8.) Given the hype, Peter Pan could have and should have done better, regardless of what these “spinmisters” are saying on message boards.

One positive for Peter Pan, is the ratings did improve on what NBC usually does on Thursday night in the 18-49 demo.

If there was one thing Peter Pan had the football game beat at was in critical reviews. While anything featuring the Bears these days is the equivalent of any movie Aaron Seltzer and Jason Friedberg has ever written (Date Movie, Disaster Movie, Meet The Spartans, etc.), Peter Pan’s reviews were more on the positive side than not. While some critics said the presentation was a bit boring, many of them gave props to Williams’ portrayal as Peter Pan, turning in a better performance than Underwood did in Music last year. On the other hand, Christopher Walken’s performance as Captain Hook was panned, as many thought he was sleep-walking through the role (just like the Bears do every week.)

So, who won the social media “hate-watching” battle between the two? A Twitter search of “Peter Pan Bears” Thursday turned up a lot of results. Here’s a sampling:

 

(BTW, I don’t think that’s the real Dan Bernstein…)

And the kicker, from yours truly…

While this Tweet has nothing to do with Peter Pan, it did relate to the Bears as crowds protesting recent grand jury decisions in the Michael Brown and Eric Gardner cases shut down Lake Shore Drive and descended on Soldier Field…

I guess the Bears won the hate-watching battle. Too bad they can’t win on the field.

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WLS-TV, WGN-TV big winners in November sweeps

Broom_iconThere isn’t really much to talk about in the recently-concluded November sweeps period, since two of Chicago’s most dominant news operations – ABC-owned WLS-TV and Tribune CW affiliate WGN-TV continue to roll along.

While sweeps periods are less important to the networks these days – for one, low-rated lame-duck shows (such as Mulaney, Bad Judge, and A to Z) are still on the schedule and even a few veteran series (such as Family Guy) aired repeats, sweeps are still important to local stations – particularly local news shows, though you’re seeing less and less of the “killer garage doors” stories (and their accompanying promos) these days.

With that said, WLS continues to dominate the ratings in households and in adults 25-54 – especially at 10 p.m. with a nearly three-rating point lead ahead of NBC’s WMAQ. But WGN dominates morning news in the 25-54 demo and its new 4 p.m. newscast has been a major success in the same demographic, only ranking behind WLS and beating Judge Judy on CBS-owned WBBM – syndication’s top-rated show.

To no one’s surprise, WBBM and Fox’s WFLD trailed the other three stations in the market in most time periods, the latter not being helped by Fox’s abysmal prime-time lead-ins at 9 (WFLD wasn’t even helped when Fox’s prime-time was strong.)

Fox also had a tough time in Los Angeles, where KTTV finished behind both KTLA and KCAL at 10 p.m. in total viewers and was down in most time periods, often bringing up the rear. KABC, as usual, swept the market while KCBS and  KCAL posted significant gains.

But Fox’s prime-time lineup wasn’t a problem in Milwaukee, where Tribune Fox affiliate WITI knocked off WTMJ at 10 p.m. with a 6.4 household rating to the NBC affiliate’s 6.2, tied with ABC affiliate WISN for second place.

Click on the links to see November sweeps results from Pittsburgh, Orlando, Denver, San Antonio, Austin, and Salt Lake City.

 

Chicago Media, Local TV (Chicago), Television , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

WGCI halts “Morning Riot”

dFyNM1liAs first reported by Robert Feder Monday morning, WGCI has pulled the plug on The Morning Riot after nearly six years on the air.

Out are hosts Tony Sculfield and Nina Chantele, and program director Kenard Kanter, the latter after just nine months on the job. Leon Rogers is staying on in the interim and is being teamed with various weekend fill-in personnel.

In addition, Chantele also loses her WKSC-FM midday slot.

Derrick Brown takes over as PD, in addition to his duties as director of urban programming at iHeart Media’s (formerly Clear Channel Communications) Chicago cluster.

The move does raise speculation WGCI would replace Riot with the syndicated Breakfast Club, which airs on sister station WWPR-FM in New York. Both WGCI and WWPR are hip-hop/urban stations owned by iHeart Media. No announcement on a permanent replacement is expected until at least the first of the year.

This marks the third morning show to get moved/axed at WGCI in a little over seven years. Riot replaced Steve Harvey’s syndicated morning show in April 2009, with Harvey moving to sister station WVAZ. Harvey replaced “Crazy” Howard McGee’s morning show two years earlier. Despite the return to live and local in mornings, Riot never really achieved the ratings success McGee had before.

The latest firings marks what has been a tumultuous period in Chicago radio, where in the last six months, we’ve seen Ramonski Luv ousted at V103, Jane Monzures exiting WILV, and WGN Radio demoting – and later firing Garry Meier, while pulling the plug on FM sports talker The Game after nine months and laying off much of its staff. Saying its been a tough time to hold on to a job in the nation’s third-largest market is an understatement.

Not the radio powerhouse it once was, WGCI has been able to stay ahead of rival WPWX (Power 92), but the margin has shrunk considerably, with only 1.1 rating points separating the two. In November, WGCI ranked tenth; Power 92 ranked eighteenth. Riot competed with the syndicated Rickey Smiley Show Power 92.

This comes as urban radio is undergoing a upheaval: several stations across the country have flipped to a Classic Hip-Hop format (mostly ’90’s and 2000’s product), siphoning away older listeners in the adult 18-34 and adult 25-54 demos from traditional urban and urban AC (adult contemporary) stations.

Recently, the flip to Classic Hip-Hop has resulted in the cancellation of The Tom Joyner Morning Show in its home market of Dallas and Orlando.

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T Dog’s Think Tank: When radio personalities attack

Bruce Wolf and Colton Cumbie: separated at birth?

Bruce Wolf and Colton Cumbie: separated at birth?

The recent confrontation between WLS-AM host Bruce Wolf and African-American traffic reporter Kelli Walker just goes to show you what a complete embarrassment Chicago radio is, and the media industry is in general.

In case you haven’t heard (and that’s most of you), Walker “threw some shade” at Wolf on the morning of November 18 over the issue of racism on the air with Dan Proft. This came around 7 a.m. when Wolf, about to talk about the Ferguson, Mo. shooting case, ripped into the African-American community with Walker taking umbrage, calling Wolf “ignorant” and “uneducated”. The conversation basically had the feel of one of those Tribal Councils on Survivor.

Robert Feder had a transcript of the entire exchange on his website, which you can read by clicking here (subscription may be required.)

Yours truly read the transcript and here’s my take…

To start, yours truly has never been a fan of Wolf, though it had a lot to do with his similarities to annoying sitcom characters (like Urkel or Kimmy Gibbler from Full House) than for his political views. Knowing him basically from his sportscasting work, reading the transcript did come of as quite a shock, given yours truly doesn’t listen to WLS, like ever (not at least since the Musicradio era.) T Dog Media has left Wolf alone, and instead used Jim Belushi, Jenny McCarthy, Rover, Mancow, and most recently, Wil Wheaton and Kenya Moore as personal celebrity punching bags.

But please spare me how “intelligent” and “smart” and “funny” he is. Wolf is closer to Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory than he is to George Carlin or Richard Pryor.

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Kelli Walker

As for Walker, she also came off as an ass during the exchange. Basically, she should heeded former WWE wrestler The Rock’s advice: “Know your role and shut your mouth!” Note she interrupted Wolf on numerous occasions when he tried to get is point across. What’s the matter, Kelli? Got rejected for auditioning for The Real Housewives Of Atlanta too many times? Maybe Dwayne Johnson should’ve delivered The People’s Elbow to your mouth.

Too bad Survivor host Jeff Probst wasn’t around. Some idiots need to be voted off this island.

This sorry episode actually reminds me what happened on Survivor: One World in early 2012. The contestants were split into two tribes, one male, one female. The male tribe was filled with a lot of racial tension: two contestants – Colton Cumbie, a successful white gay person from Alabama and Bill Posley, a struggling black stand-up comic. In one episode, Cumbie bragged about his black housekeeper like it was still the 1930’s, called Posley “ghetto trash”, and called him out on his choice of careers. In a shocking move in one episode, the male tribe gave up immunity they won and voted Posley out (Colton was later “medically evacuated” from the game.)

Yours truly wrote about the incident and the lack of diversity overall in the media business in this Think Tank back in March 2012.

So has anything improved since? Well, what the hell did you think? Cumbie returned to Survivor’s Blood and Water last year only to quit, and the show casted former Atlanta Braves pitcher John Rocker in this fall’s edition, who has a history of making racial comments. New York Times’ TV critic Alessandra Stanley recently slammed African-American TV producer Shonda Rhimes in Jay Mariotti-like fashion, called her “an angry black woman” with little proof. Efforts to diversify the business has been minimal and racial stereotypes still abound in media – look no further than RHOA, Love and Hip-Hop, and Basketball Wives and CNN’s Chicagoland mini-series.

Look, anyone who thought the exchange between Walker and Wolf would start a dialogue on race relations is a god-forsaken retard. The “conversation” between these two is nothing more intended to bring attention to a low-rated morning show nobody listens to on a radio station now best known for carrying a pill-popping racist in the middle of the day and recently signing a has-been in afternoon drive. The “conversation” did nothing to address the lack of diversity in Chicago media, in Hollywood, and the media business in general – not to mention the racial segregation that still persists in the Chicago area. What you heard two weeks ago was a heaping pile of bullshit from two bullshitters, looking to profit off bullshit. It’s more proof Chicago media is nothing but a freak show, and another reason why Chicago radio is a national laughingstock (Want more proof? Watch this.)

It seems neither of them knows anything about the subject of race – especially Wolf, who seems to get his ideas about the African-American community from the media, known for twisting and manipulating everything. Maybe I can ask his black housekeeper, if he has one. Wolf is no different from Colton, a whiny, arrogant know-it-all who knows nothing. Maybe Wolf would be more comfortable producing reality shit-shows like Real Housewives of Atlanta and Love and Hip-Hop since he revels in black stereotypes so much.

And of course, the rest of the business is no different. Why else would Survivor bring Colton back? Crassness sells, and the level of despicable seems to rise with each passing day. Why do you think this stupid exchange took place to begin with?

I have an idea – why don’t we put Walker and Wolf – a.k.a. Nene Leakes and Screech – on the next edition of Survivor and let them go at it at Tribal Council. Throw in Jimmy “The Joke” DeCastro. Have the tribe vote to send all three to Exile Island forever. Chicago radio would be a lot better off.

Screech

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The 2014 T Dog Media Turkey Awards

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Jimmy the Joke.

Gobble, gobble everyone! It’s that time of year… to celebrate (and criticize) the worst in media. It’s the 2014 T Dog Media Turkey Awards.

If you’ve noticed, the first eleven items are all local, and makes up a third of the list. Just goes to show you the power of The Chicago Way. The sad part is, the Jackie Robinson West Little League Team’s U.S. Championship was the only positive item to come out of the metropolitan area this year, and their championship came due to hard work, teamwork, and determination – the opposite of The Chicago Way, which is basically being inept, corrupt, lazy, and stupid.

And there is a lot of “The Chicago Way” this year in Chicago media, from Rahm Emanuel to Jay Cutler, from Steve Cochran to iHeart (or Heartless) Media.

So, without further ado, let’s start handing out the awards – or throw it at them…

Jimmy DeCastro. From his mishandling of The Game 87.7, to demoting (and later firing) Garry Meier to declining ratings across the board (excluding the most recent ratings period), DeCastro and WGN Radio are clearly the biggest turkeys of 2014, by a wide margin. Congratulations on continuing what Sam Zell, Kevin Metheny, and Randy Michaels started: destroying what was once one of America’s finest radio stations.

The Chicago Bears. Maybe the Bears should air their games on WGN instead? Just like with DeCastro and WGN, the Bears have their own problems: Phil Emery, Marc Trestman, Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, and idiot players who aren’t passionate, getting blown out in game after game. Can’t decide which is worse – the cult of Cutler or the cult of DeCastro.

The Game 87.7. This failed sports station never had a chance, from no sports-infused morning radio program to the amateur Gong Show-like presentation of most of its shows and on-air talent to generic branding.

“Chicagoland”. Filled with racial stereotypes, this eight-hour Rahm Emanuel infomercial is the worst TV show of the year – or is it? The Bears are actually giving them a run for their money. At least Jay Cutler wasn’t featured.

Chicago Tribune. Their website redesign is the worst I’ve seen for any major web property in years. Wondering where those racist comment sections are? Don’t worry, they’re now on the side for all of you to see!

Chicago Sun-Times. A few Fridays ago, they had “placeholder text” where a Jay Cutler story should be, leaving their readers to “translate the code”. Let me do it for you: Jay Cutler sucks.

Derrick Rose. I guess the Bulls superstar is taking a page from How To Bullsh** Your Way Though Being An Athlete by Randy Moss: Rose plays when he wants to play.

CutlerJay Cutler. An overrated, piece of sh** quarterback. And just as stupid is his defenders, who also think Rahm Emanuel is doing a good job as mayor.

Chicago baseball. Hell, a no-brainer there.

WLS-AM and Chicago radio in general. Bringing back Steve Dahl proves Chicago radio hasn’t really evolved in… oh, some 40 years. See the first item above.

V103 firing Ramonski Luv. Excluding the Steve Dahl part, see the item above this one.

CNN. Remember a time when CNN actually did journalism and not spend time on missing Malaysian plane and producing crud documentaries?

Don Lemon. The Jay Cutler of news personalities: too expensive, overrated, and an idiot.

Sean Hayes. Late of The Millers, this guy kills sitcoms faster than Ted McGinley.

Fox. Remember when Fox primetime actually was a thing? Beverly Hills 90210, The Simpsons (when they were good), Family Guy (when it was good), American Idol (when people watched it) – oh, those were the days. Now the network is a broken-down farm, with nothing but past-its-prime junk and awful new shows. It makes UPN’s entire existence look good by comparison. Not to mention Fox’s two locally-owned stations in Chicago ranking regularly behind WGN-TV, WCIU, and even Univision. Is Jimmy DeCastro running this network, too? Here are two examples of Fox’s “genius”…

Utopia. Seriously, who thought of this garbage?

Mulaney. Seriously, whose idea was it to give this guy a sitcom?

State of Affairs. Katherine Heigl returns to television. Who cares?

McCarthys. Bad sitcom rubbish. Shouldn’t this be on Fox instead?

TV By The Numbers’ Cancellation Bear. A Twitter gimmick that’s already old and tired. If my “cancellation bus” (remember that fiasco?) didn’t go nowhere, why should this one? The Cancel Bear should go into hibernation, just like the Chicago football team of the same name did.

The Aaliyah and Saved By The Bell “movies”. Gotta love these “unauthorized” TV movies Lifetime keeps putting out. Contains more fiction than you think.

An En Vogue Christmas. A real musical group starring in a scripted, cliched movie. Since when the funky divas become The Monkees? Are they going to star in a remake of Head next?

Grade A AssholeWil Wheaton and Kenya Moore. They blocked T Dog Media’s Twitter feed because they couldn’t handle yours truly’s um… “conduct” (click here and here to see what went down.) Here’s your Turkey Awards, you two. Now shove it up both your asses. Pricks.

Philadelphia 76ers. 0-14 start? See ya in 2018…if you haven’t moved to Nova Scotia.

The NFL. Is there any worse way the league and Roger Goodell could have handled the Ray Rice incident?

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Should be renamed Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.T. Down over 40 percent in the ratings from a year ago, it’s time the pull the plug on this turkey, which is nothing more than a lackluster vehicle to promote Marvel’s movies, which really need no promotion. Just proves DC Comics does television better – much better than Marvel. S.H.I.E.L.D. is the Jay Cutler of action series.

You should talk, Melinda: Not much to like about you either!

You should talk, Melinda: Not much to like about you either!

Happy Thanksgiving!

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“Queen Latifah” canceled

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At least Jimmy DeCastro didn’t screw this up.

But it wouldn’t have mattered: Sony Pictures Television has canceled The Queen Latifah Show after two seasons, marking the second time she struck with with a daytime talker (the last time was in 2001, when Warner Bros. dropped her similarly-titled show after two seasons.) The program will continue in production until the end of the calendar year, with originals running until the end of March. Then reruns (and likely time period downgrades) take over until September, when it goes off the air for good.

The series was produced by Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith’s production company (Overbrook Entertainment) in association with Sony.

Latifah aired locally over CBS-owned WBBM-TV at 2 p.m. weekdays, in addition to other CBS-owned stations. When Latifah premiered in September 2013, it launched on two stations locally: WBBM and independent WCIU-TV, which cleared the talk show in a 7 p.m. primetime slot, unusual for a daytime show.

WCIU dropped Latifah after only one season due to disappointing ratings, leaving WBBM as the exclusive Chicago home for her show this season.

So far this season, Latifah is averaging a 1.0 household rating, down considerably from its freshman season average of 1.7. In the key 25-54 female demo, Latifah earned only a 0.6, down 29 percent from last year.

It is not immediately known what would replace Latifah on the CBS-owned stations. Recently, CBS Television Distribution pulled the plug (for now) on a Jerry O’Connell talk show project, which would have debuted next fall. If no replacement is announced before NATPE, CBS stations would likely replace the show with various shows from other syndicators.

In Chicago, it is a possibility reruns of Judge Judy may resurface at 2 p.m., the slot where it ran before Latifah premiered and drew decent ratings. Judy reruns replaced the ill-fated Jeff Probst Show in December 2012, after just sixteen weeks. Prior to Probst, Judy reruns occupied the 2 p.m. slot for three years.

Queen Latifah is the first syndication casualty of the 2014-15 season.

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Game Over

The GameTribune Media pulls plug on The Game; retains Jonathon Brandmeier and cuts Garry Meier

Robert Feder reported Thursday that Tribune Media has swung the ax of the sports talk format known as The Game (WGWG-LP), the sports station on 87.7 FM after nine months on the air. The move comes as the station was losing busloads of money on the venture.

The station is closing its doors on December 31. It is not immediately known what would replace sports talk on the 87.7 frequency (also a low-powered analog station on Channel 6) as Tribune is leasing it from Venture Technologies until early next year. Recently, the frequency got a stay of execution as the FCC has postponed indefinitely the deadline to switch all low-power analog stations to digital, effectively shutting down the station.

The listener and critically panned station was virtually left at the starting gate, finishing in 34th place in the most recent ratings report. The station never achieved over a one share and never posed a threat to established sports talkers WSCR-AM and WMVP.

Compounding the problems of The Game was no viable morning show, and outside of David Kaplan and David Haugh’s late morning talk show (which is expected to continue on Comcast SportsNet Chicago), had an overall amateurish atmosphere to the station. Even the branding lacked originality as The Game is used as the moniker for other sports stations around the country, giving the station a decidedly generic feel.

The Game is also used in other media, including the stage name of a Compton, Calif.-based hip-hop artist, and the nickname of WWE professional wrestler Triple H, and TWO TV shows (Oddly enough, one of them – a sitcom airing on BET which had its own history of Jimmy DeCastro-like missteps, ends its run in 2016.)

In a interview with the Chicago Tribune, president Jimmy DeCastro had no choice but to pull the plug on the venue, and on Internet radio station WGN.FM, which as of January 2015, becomes WGN Plus.

And with the end of WGN.FM includes the departure of morning personality Jonathan Brandmeier (whose show was also heard on The Game – a rare instance where a terrestrial radio station simulcasts an Internet show.) and Garry Meier. Initially, Jonathan Brandmeier was in morning drive on WGN-AM, but disappointing ratings led him to be banished to WGN.FM and to be replaced by a returning Steve Cochran. Despite strong ratings in afternoon drive, Garry Meier was also banished to WGN.FM. and was replaced by Bill and Wendy. The move was a disastrous one as ratings plunged more than 30 percent.

While Brandmeier is expected to do his show on Friday, Meier – who was basically fired – is out immediately. His last show was Wednesday, and remains under contract until next fall. (UPDATE: Jonathan Brandmeier is sticking around after all – via a new online channel in conjunction with WGN Radio. More details here.)

To show you how much management treated them, The Game staff – including its on-air hosts – found out from on social media and from Feder. Afternoon host Ben Finfer went on an epic rant, pointing out he and the rest of the staff were kept in the dark on the news that The Game was going under.

Also odd is the timing of the announcement – it is rare a station would announce its demise ahead of time. What The Game basically told its audience (or what little it had) they were giving up – giving little incentive for anyone to tune in and making it harder for salespeople to sell advertising. What company would want their products to be associated with this lame duck station now?

With the decision to nuke both Meier and Brandmeier from the air, there is no doubt Chicago-area radio listeners- who were already critical of the moves made by DeCastro and PD Todd Manley on message boards, social media, and blogs, will even be more vocal now.

The irony is if you were one of the few listeners of The Game, you would hear callers rip into Bears management for the inept way the team has handled matters this season.

You could also apply the same scenario to The Game, WGN-AM, and Chicago radio in general.

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CBS cancels “The Millers”

Millers1_434x250 The sophomore season’s surprise cancellation leaves the sitcom genre in a tailspin

In a surprise move, CBS on Friday canceled The Millers just five episodes into its second season. The multi-cam comedy, which had The Big Bang Theory as a lead-in on Thursday night last season, recently made a disastrous move to Monday.

Replacing The Millers in its Monday time slot beginning on Dec. 8 is the return of Mike & Molly, which begins its fifth season.

Set in suburban Washington D.C., the series stars Beau Bridges, Margo Martindale, and Arrested Development’s Will Arnett, and was about a 42-year old news anchor (Arnett) whose mom moves in with him after her 43-year old marriage comes to an end, while his dad moves in with his sister. This season saw former Will & Grace star Sean Hayes being added to the cast.

The Millers aired Monday night with an original, its sixth episode of the season, but it is unknown when the other five episodes would air, though its likely they may be burned off next summer.

While cancelling The Millers nearly midway into its second season is unusual, it is not uncommon for veteran series to abruptly end before the season concludes. ABC canceled 9 to 5 shortly into its third season in October 1983, after two non-productive seasons (based on the 1980 film of the same name, the series would be later revived for first-run syndication in 1986.) Rhoda bit the dust in December 1978, midway during its fifth season after falling into the Nielsen ratings basement. NBC canceled Bonanza during its fourteenth season, in January 1973.

According to Nielsen, The Millers averaged around a 1.5 adult demo (18-49) rating so far this season, down considerably from its 2 Broke Girls lead-in. In its original Thursday slot following Big Bang, Millers earned significantly higher ratings (near a 3.0) but also lost a significant amount of its lead-in.

CBS hoped it would cash in on syndication riches as it was the only sitcom on the schedule owned entirely by the network. The Millers attracted star talent behind the scenes, including Greg Garcia (Yes Dear, My Name Is Earl) and director James Burrows (Cheers).

But at the end of the day, the oft critically-panned show didn’t live up to expectations.

The cancellation of The Millers is bad news for the syndication marketplace, where product is drying up faster than a front lawn in Tinley Park. The number of sitcoms over the last decade have dropped considerably due to the success of reality TV and dramas, which are easier to sell internationally.

And station groups such as Tribune, Fox, and others have opted to fill early fringe and prime access with news and first-run shows – slots that once went to off-net sitcoms. For example, Fox-owned WPWR airs four back-to-back episodes of Family Feud every weeknight from 5 to 7 p.m.

That’s right, Charles is no longer In Charge. Steve Harvey is.

L14A8332.DNGIn a rather odd (and funny) circumstance, when Variety reported on The Millers’ cancellation on Friday, they accidentally inserted a photo (left) for theatrical We’re The Millers instead (besides, who can tell the difference anyway?)

How bad is it for sitcoms these days? Even the man responsible for the sitcom’s rebirth thirty years ago (Bill Cosby) is now under fire for rape allegations. Cosby is currently developing a sitcom with NBC and Sony Pictures Television. But given the media firestorm he’s under, fat chance it’ll even get on the air.

And even worse, the genre is facing competition from unexpected sources, at least around here. With the bumbling Chicago Bears and Derrick Rose’s “excellent public speaking skills” providing us with laughs, who needs sitcoms?

After all, Will Arnett and Beau Bridges have nothing on Brandon Marshall and Jay Cutler.

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He’s back: Ramonski Luv returns to Chicago radio

Ramonski LuvAlso: Tom Joyner’s Dallas station changes formats

Per Robert Feder, Ramonski Luv (a.k.a. Ramon Wade) is back with a new radio gig in Chicago – this time at WVAZ’s (V103) main rival.

Wade has signed on with Crawford Broadcasting’s WSRB-FM (Soul 106.3) to be their new evening personality, effective December 3. Wade’s show is scheduled to air every weeknight from 6 to 10 p.m. This means that yes, he’ll be competing against his old partner (Joe Soto) at V103 – the station who fired him last summer. The duo were paired at WVAZ for about a decade, first in afternoon drive and later in the evening, moved to make room for Doug Banks’ syndicated show (Wade was a producer for Banks’ morning show at WGCI.)

Wade thanked his fans Saturday morning:

When Ramonski Luv’s firing was made public, listeners were angry about the decision (with a few coming to T Dog Media to vent.) Since Soto went solo, V103 has fallen out of the number one slot in the evenings, but still remains competitive.

The hiring of Ramonski Luv comes as Denver-based Crawford – primarily known as an owner of religious and conservative talk radio stations – is making a bid to compete with iHeartMedia’s WGCI (Urban/Hip-Hop) and V103 (Urban AC) for the market’s African-American audience. While V103 is Chicago’s top-rated radio station, WSRB has languished at the bottom of the ratings.

However, the race between WPWX (Power 92) and WGCI has been significantly closer- particularly in the 18-34 demos.

Crawford also owns another urban-formatted station, WYRB-FM in Rockford, northwest of Chicago.

In another development in urban radio, Radio One’s KSOC-FM – a Dallas radio station best known for being the flagship for Tom Joyner’s syndicated show, has flipped from Urban AC to Classic Hip-Hop  – as did another station in the Metroplex, Cumulus’ KLIF-FM, which decided to launch a Classic Hip-Hop format for the holiday season. Both KLIF and KSOC did the flip within hours of one another Friday evening.

A few weeks ago, Radio One flipped its Houston all-news FM station (KROI-FM 92) to a Classic Hip-Hop format, and Radio One made a similar move in Philadelphia with its low-rated Urban outlet, WPHI-FM. All three Radio One stations are branded under “Boom”.

Classic Hip-Hop consists of songs from the mid-198o’s to ten years ago, running the gamut from Run D.M.C and Whodini to 2Pac and The Notorious B.I.G. to Missy Elliott and Nelly. Of course, the artists vary by market.

Despite the format flip, The Tom Joyner Morning Show, which airs locally over WSRB, remains on KSOC.

(UPDATE 2014-11-18: As of Monday, KSOC is no longer carrying Tom Joyner’s syndicated show.)

The duel Dallas format flip was first reported by Radio Insight.

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Playing what Santa doesn’t necessarily want

WILVHubbard’s WILV beats Clear Channel’s WLIT in Christmas music race – of sorts

With the weather getting unseasonably colder across the country, many radio stations are already getting jingle fever and Chicago is no exception.

Thursday morning, Hubbard Broadcasting’s WILV (a.k.a. The Pointergate Company) added several Christmas songs to its usual adult contemporary music format and called it The Christmas Blend, devoting at least 50 percent of its playlist to yuletide tunes and the other 50 percent to its regular rotation.

While this type of format is nothing new in Chicago, some of the music segues could be interesting of the “train wreck” variety, e.g. a Jackson Five Christmas song followed by a raunchy Katy Perry tune.

Meanwhile, WLIT launched its Christmas music format at 12:01 a.m. Friday morning. Unlike WILV, WLIT’s format consists entirely of the holly jolly variety.

Granted, the format isn’t exactly of the best quality, particularly at Clear Channel/iHeart Media stations (oh, what a shock, since you hear the same crappy Mariah Carey Christmas tune every hour.) But despite its shortcomings, the Christmas format sends listeners through the entrances en masse, rending most December and “Holiday” ratings periods useless (which is great for yours truly, who is spared from analyzing any ratings period until January.)

And just as important is Christmas is a family-friendly format which attracts plenty of advertisers – notably retail chains, who feel the Most Wonderful Time Of The Year stations are the best way to reach consumers during the holiday season.

This is the fourteenth year WLIT is playing Christmas music; this is the second year the station branded itself as “Chicago’s Christmas Station”.

If the two Chicago stations Christmas extravaganzas isn’t to your liking, there are plenty of alternatives through Sirius/XM and Internet radio (through Pandora, Stitcher, Tune In, etc.)

Let the Christmas [revenue] rush begin!

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