The Grab Bag: Tony Sculfeld heads to WSRB-FM

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WSRB, a Crawford-owned urban adult contemporary station previously known as Soul 106.3, is trying its luck with an other former WGCI alum – Tony Sculfield, who’ll soon take over the evening slot vacated by Ramonski Luv, who was out after less than six months on the air.

Recently, Sculfield was part of former WGCI morning show The Morning Riot. Beforehand, he was also part of Howard McGee’s morning show, joining it in 2006. Known as a stand-up comic, Sculfield also has made appearances of WLS-TV’s Windy City Live.

Recently, WSRB re-branded itself as “Chicago’s R&B 106.3” to compete more effectively with market leader WVAZ-FM “V 103”.

More layoffs: Tribune Publishing announced Wednesday it has eliminated 24 positions at the Chicago Tribune – ten of them in the newsroom – in order to cover a projected $3 million decline for next year. In order to offset the loss, the Tribune needed to reduce $65 to $70 million in expenses.

Recently, Tribune Publishing purchased the San Diego Union-Tribune for $85 million, but laid off a third of its staff. In addition, Tribune purchased 38 suburban newspapers – including the Daily Southtown – from the Sun-Times last fall.

Since Tribune Publishing split from Tribune Media last year, the company doesn’t have to worry about running afoul of the cross-ownership rules, which prohibits an entity newspaper and a TV station, unless they apply for a waiver or was previously grandfathered. Tribune Media owns Fox affiliate KSWB-TV in San Diego.

So how are news stations in Baltimore faring after the riots that rocked the city last month? Quite well – according to Media Life, all four network affiliates were up in various dayparts – especially from 4 to 6 p.m. and at 11. Even moribund ABC affiliate WMAR – which often finishes behind Sinclair’s Fox affiliate WBFF in news ratings, scored increases.

Riots swept though Baltimore from April 25 to 27 after Freddie Gray died in police custody.

Since the riots forced stations to break into programming, they have to provide makegoods to advertisers. Despite the mayhem, the Baltimore market is expected to remain healthy in terms of ad spending. But issues of crime and poverty must be addressed, as a city’s negative reputation could have an impact on ad revenue – just ask Detroit and St. Louis, who despite their DMA position, rank lower than lesser- populated markets in ad revenue.

Baltimore had 43 homicides in May, the most in a month since August 1972.

Ranked as the nation’s 26th-largest market, Baltimore sits some 45 miles northwest from Washington D.C., and both markets can receive each other’s TV and radio stations. In January, Baltimore marked the twentieth anniversary of the major affiliate switch, which saw three network stations – WMAR, WBAL, and WJZ – swap affiliations with one another.

Is the party over for Dr. Oz? The May book is in, and the results were disastrous for the beleaguered medical talk show host. According to Nielsen, Oz earned only a 1.3 household rating, down 35 percent from last year and worse, a 0.7 rating in the key female 25-54 demo, down 42 percent from a year ago. Oz show the biggest year-to-year drop of any syndicated talk show.

Another television “doctor” (Dr. Phil) finished as the top-rated talk show while Judge Judy nudged out Wheel Of Fortune as top show overall during May. All three are from CBS Television Distribution.

This comes as Dr. Oz’s image has taken a hit in recent years amid huge PR crisises – his disastrous testimony in front of Congress a year ago regarding deceptive advertising over weight-loss products he peddles on his show (not to mention John Oliver’s hilarious takedown of Oz, which you can view here.) Recently, Oz was asked to resign from the faculty of Columbia University from a few physicians, but on a recent episode, turned the tables on them and ripped the physicians who wanted him out, it could be described as laughable television.

Despite Oz’s ties to Oprah Winfrey, his talk show has never achieved the same type of popularity in Chicago her talk show has – by far. Oz airs locally on Fox-owned WFLD at 2 p.m. and rerun at 8 a.m. on sister station WPWR, where ratings in both time slots have been quite banal. In 2011, Fox renewed the show in Chicago as part of a multi-city deal, despite poor ratings.

The declining ratings presents an interesting pickle for Sony Pictures Television as the series enters its seventh season – will stations – especially those owned by Fox – renew the show past 2016? The station group has seen success with Wendy Williams, TMZ Live, and newcomer The Real, and with Fox testing shows this summer in the vein of those three, one of them could become a replacement for Dr. Oz. It is clear his type of show no longer fits Fox-owned schedules.

In other words, Oz better reverse his ratings slide quick, or he’ll be back in Kansas living with his Auntie Em and his dog Toto.

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