* The first shot has been fired in the Chicago’s new sports-talk wars: Robert Feder reports that Tribune’s new Game has stolen Ben Finfer away from CBS’ The Score (WSCR), where he’ll serve as producer – but also as show host, being paired with David Kaplan at Noon and then joins Alex Quigley and Howard Griffith from 1-3 p.m. Finfer was actually still employed by the Score when news broke of his hiring by Tribune broke Wednesday afternoon. Finfer had been with the Score nearly for 4 years, but also spent eight years with WMVP-AM.
Also on Thursday, White Sox baseball analyst Steve Stone is returning to The Score after one year at WLS-AM (does anyone even remember him being at WLS?)
Other additions to “The Game” recently include John “Pugs” Moran (he’ll be on Saturdays, 5-8 p.m.), former Cubs pitcher Todd Hollindsworth, and AerysSports.com blogger Julie Dicaro, who now takes over the social media aspects for all of WGN’s radio properties.
* The Nielsen Radio numbers for January are out, and one of the biggest winners were WKQX-FM, who switched from the 87.7 frequency to the much stronger 101.1 spot Monday. During the month WKQX’s alternative format were simulcast on both stations, WKQX scored a 65 percent increase in the overall ratings and finished a strong fourth in among adults 18-34. All-news WBBM-AM finished first overall, followed by WVAZ (V103), WTMX (The Mix), WGCI, and WKSC-FM (Kiss FM).
* After four seasons (and only one in full national syndication), its over and out for America Now!, the Raycom-produced newsmagazine show hosted by Orland Park native Bill Racnic and former Entertainment Tonight anchor Leeza Gibbons. Using a model pioneered by Group W in the 1970’s and 1980’s for PM Magazine and Evening Magazine, Now used material from affiliates (namely from Raycom stations’ newscasts) as well as original content. While the program was cleared in key early fringe time slots in several mid-sized markets, Now suffered from poor time periods in larger markets – including overnight slots in New York (WNYW, 3:30 a.m.) and Chicago (WCIU, 2:30 a.m.).
The show was distributed by Trifecta Entertainment.
* Good news for fans of Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Netflix has picked up the final thirteen episodes of the animated series, which is scheduled to be released March 7. Lucasfilm, the producer of Clone Wars, decided to end the series after its five season run on Cartoon Network ended last March (CN declined to pick up an option for a sixth and final season of the show after Lucasfilm was sold to The Walt Disney Co.) Star Wars: Rebels, a new animated series, is currently in development for Disney XD and should debut this fall.
In addition, reruns of the previous five seasons of Clone Wars are also available on Netflix. Clone Wars had a brief off-network broadcast syndication weekend run during the 2012-13 season.
* Fill ‘er up – and drink up! Warner Bros. and TNT are pulling out the stops to promote the season premiere of Dallas on Feb. 24. One product being pushed is J.R. Ewing Bourbon, manufactured by Southfork Distilling Company (yes, its a real company) and is hitting the shelves of liquor stores in 14 states. So if you find yourself bored with the show’s plot, a little J.R. Ewing Bourbon in your system would make it – or anything else – interesting.
And if you can’t find the Bourbon at your local Binny’s Beverage Depot or Foremost Liquors, you may find it an Ewing Energy gas station – on Monday, for one day only, a gas station is rebranding themselves as Ewing Energies, according to the Wall Street Journal. The promotional stunt is being accompanied by radio spots in ten markets, billboards, and specialty tanker trucks. The exact location and cities and the price of gasoline aren’t exactly being revealed, so you’re going to have to be on the lookout. This of course, is reminiscent of several 7-Elevens turning into “Kwik E-marts” back in 2007 to promote The Simpsons Movie, including one in the Chicago’s Clearing neighborhood.
But if your driving in the Chicago area, forget looking in the one obvious place – Ewing Avenue on the Southeast Side. Running from 92nd Street in South Chicago to 121st and Avenue O in the East Side neighborhood, there isn’t a single gas station the entire 3.6-mile stretch.