T Dog’s Grab Bag: Mike Caplan, Lesile Keiling ousted

Mike Caplan with the Stanley Cup.

Mike Caplan with the Stanley Cup.

Life’s tough in the business: ABC-owned WLS-TV meteorologist Mike Caplan was let go from the station last week after 21 years on the air. There was speculation WLS was going to release one of their meteorologists after hiring WMAQ exile Cheryl Scott late last year. In fact, WLS announced it was going to feature Scott during the 4 and 5 p.m. newscasts (in addition to the 7 p.m. newscast being produced for WCIU), while Jerry Taft would do weather for the 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts. The move wasn’t exactly greeted warmly on social media or on message boards (with a few being overly critical with one poster laughably noting WLS could fall out of first place by adding Scott.)

You know, yours truly can’t remember a time in recent memory when any local news personality moved the ratings needle. Maybe the posters should stick to ripping WGN Radio.

– Speaking of WGN Radio, the station announced Sunday it would no longer need the services of Lesile Keiling, the longtime traffic reporter. Keiling had worked with a who’s who of Chicago radio’s best: Steve Dahl, John Landecker, Garry Meier, Johnathan Brandmeier, and more. Keiling was the last holdover from Meier’s show.

On Monday, Keiling was replaced by Esmeralda Leon, who’ll handle the traffic duties on Roe Conn’s new show, which also began Monday.

"Empire".

“Empire”.

Generally, a new show usually loses 10 to 20 percent of their ratings from their premiere within the first few weeks. But hot new drama Empire has surprised the industry, bucking those trends. The shot-in-Chicago but based in New York Fox show premiered with a 3.7 adults 18-49 demo rating, but by week three, it grew to 4.3 live-plus-same day number, a 16 percent increase. The January 7 premiere drew a phenomenal 13.95 million viewers and a 5.6 adult demo rating when live-plus-seven numbers are factored in.

The Hip-Hop drama also did well on alternative platforms – 3.2 million watched Empire on video-on-demand, Hulu, and Fox’s streaming service. Comcast said Empire was the most watched VOD product on its service, with nearly a million views. And Empire dominated in African-American audiences, outpacing its nearest competitor by a three-to-one margin.

Given this early success, there is little wonder why Fox renewed Empire for a second season. And why not? It’s just that good.

While Empire has been hot, the Bulls have been not, on the court or in the ratings: Sunday’s nationally televised game against a under-500 Miami Heat drew just a 2.3 overnight household rating for ABC Sunday. The Bulls lost 96-84 to the Heat.

Local ratings were not available for Sunday’s game, but it’s just as well: Comcast SportsNet, which carries many Bulls games locally, hasn’t trumpeted a press release in weeks, which could mean the ratings aren’t as great as they would like for you to believe. Desptie a 29-17 record, The team hasn’t generated buzz in quite some time – except the negative kind, which is a trend among Chicago sports teams lately. The team has been described as dysfunctional in recent weeks, with losses piling up.

As far as Chicago viewers are concerned, there’s room for only one “dysfunctional” team in town and has Jay Cutler as their quarterback. The Bulls might not want to test Chicago fans’ tolerance to put with not one but two dysfunctional teams in the same market.

1024px-Chicago_Fire_Soccer_Club.svg The Chicago Fire (the soccer team, not the TV show) struck a three-year deal with Comcast SportsNet to carry all non-nationally televised games starting this spring. The pact includes a 30 minutes pre-game show and enhanced Fire content on CSNChicago.com and Chicago-Fire.com. Dan Kelly (who did Chicago Blackhawks telecasts from 2006-08) and Kevin Egan will continue in their roles as the team’s announcers.

Any programming conflicts with other Chicago sports teams telecasts means Fire games would be shown on Comcast SportsNet Plus, which means CLTV in most areas.

The move means there will be no English-language over-the-air telecasts of Chicago Fire games this season (two games are scheduled to air on WXFT-Ch. 60, in Spanish.) Previously, Fire games aired on Fox-owned My Network TV affiliate WPWR-TV. Last week, another My Network TV affiliate (New York’s WWOR) lost the rights to air 21 New York Yankees games to WPIX, which carried the Bronx Bombers from 1951 to 1998.

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