It looks like Mark Suppelsa’s move to Tribune-owned CW affiliate WGN-TV is all but a certainty, while handling Steve Sanders’ situation could be dicey, according to this article from Robert Feder in today’s Sun-Times.
WGN is expected to sign Suppelsa to a contract after June 17, the day WFLD’s option to match any offer a competitor may have expires. If signed, Suppelsa may start with the station’s planned early fringe newscast, scheduled to launch sometime this summer – possibly to ease him to the 9 p.m. anchor chair currently occupied by longtime veteran Steve Sanders.
The move would certainly re-energize a news operation that’s already strong. The station’s morning newscasts finished first in the recent May sweeps, ending the longtime dominance of ABC-owned WLS-TV in the daypart. The station’s midday newscast outdraws CBS’ The Young and the Restless and other syndicated talk and court shows, and its’ 9 p.m. newscast ranks ahead of WFLD’s competing newscast and often beats CBS-owned WBBM-TV’s 10 p.m. newscast.
Even with low-rated lead-ins from the flagging CW, WGN has been able to increase from the lead-in by double digits, essentially making WGN’s popular newscast “appointment TV” – thanks to icons like weatherman Tom Skilling, whose segments are often the highest-rated. In fact, its sister stations in New York (WPIX-TV) and Los Angeles (KTLA-TV) have never matched the ratings success WGN has had in late news.
The real question now is, what to do with Steve Sanders? The well-respected news veteran has always kept a low-key profile and with good ratings to boot. If WGN signs Suppelsa, this issue has to be addressed. But anyway you look at it, adding Suppelsa would be a huge coup for WGN.
Meanwhile, Phil Rosenthal of the Trib talks with Suppelsa regarding the situation of him possibly joining WGN – but it isn’t much giving he is still under contract to WFLD (and check out the article below regarding how some parents of Barney fans aren’t exactly loving WTTW.)