The Grab Bag: Chicago welcomes new Hubbard overlords

The Voice finds… its “voice”…  Looney Tunes returns… and other news of note

– It’s official: the sale of Bonneville’s radio stations in Chicago and a few other cities is now complete: Twin Cities (Minneapolis-St. Paul) -based Hubbard Broadcasting has officially taken over The Mix (WTMX), The Drive (WDRV), and WILV-FM on May 2. The formats and management who served under Bonneville remains the same, but there is one difference: ads for the Illinois and Hoosier lotteries and casinos are now allowed (they were forbidden under Bonneville management because their spots promote gambling – a no-no under the organization Bonneville is run under, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Bonneville still owns and operates stations in Los Angeles, Phoenix, Seattle, and its home  market of Salt Lake City.

– Usually when a new prime-time broadcast network TV series premieres, you can expect the ratings to drop in the vicinity of 10 to 20 percent in the second week, and would be lucky to ever match its premiere ratings again. But NBC’s new reality/competition series The Voice has debunked that notion! Last Tuesday’s night episode drew 12.58 million viewers and a 5.7 rating and 15 share among adults 18-49 – up 7% and 12% respectively from the series’ premiere on April 26. And critics are praising the series, with one saying The Voice deserves to top American Idol. Ladies and gentlemen (and I use that term loosely), the next generation of reality/competition shows have arrived.

– Speaking of Tuesday nights, Cartoon Network’s long-awaited The Looney Tunes Show – a new take on the classic theatrical shorts (which ran for decades on weekday afternoon and Saturday morning TV), debuted on May 3 with 2.46 million viewers and a 3.0 rating among kids 2-11 – but only a 0.6 rating among adults 18-49. Not surprisingly, Looney Tunes has received poor reviews and some Internet backlash. Of course, Looney Tunes (and Scooby Doo, among others) is seen as a “brand name” solely to make money – which explains why the series is back – the name “sells” – not excellent writing or an original concept. Guess keeping TimeWarner shareholders on Wall Street happy is more important.

– A week after Comcast signed an huge deal with the NHL, here’s the latest big money deal: The Pac-12 announced May 4 it reached a three billion, twelve-year agreement with ESPN and Fox – with each school netting a cool 21 million per year, beginning in 2012. The deal calls for football to air on six networks owned by the two combined, while basketball will air on ESPN and FSN. The deal also leaves the Pac-12 with the ability to launch its own network, a la the Big Ten Network and The MountainWest Sports Network. Formerly known as the Pac-10 (and the Pac-8 beforehand), the Pac-12 is adding Utah from the Mountain West and Colorado from the Big 12. Once again, my cable bill thanks you.