Before social media, message boards and comment sections were basically a way to post your thoughts about a particular issue and to connect with others.
But these days, message boards and comment section sections are often breeding grounds for stupidity and for people to start arguments for the sake of starting arguments. Yours truly doesn’t hang out in these places anymore because reading these posts makes my head hurts.
Granted, you’ll still find smart, intelligent people talking about a subject. But they are being drowned out by idiots who want to scream their head off about anything.
Case in point: a particular television message board (I’ll decline to identify because I have a good relationship with the person behind it) has a female poster who has written the most ridiculous statements about television I’ve seen in the thirty years I’ve followed the business – saying stuff along the lines of “ageist PR spin”, “all ABC shows aren’t doing well”, and thinking the CW should fold, using a ratings method from thirty years ago to judge shows today. Her comments make even the stupidest radio and TV executive look like a Mensa member. I hate to think what she has to say outside of TV.
And we won’t talk about the comment section at TVNewsCheck (filled with right-wing bigots) or some of the local message boards, one featuring washed-up DJ John “Pugs” Moran as one of its posters. After reading his idiotic posts – or hearing his annoying voice, you can see why the Wil Wheaton of radio personalities remains unemployed (thinking Jenny McCarthy is smart and talented doesn’t help.) And of course, we can’t forget the constant complaining over WLS-TV meteorologist Cheryl Scott’s wardrobe, which shouldn’t even be an issue in an allegedly “progressive” metropolitan area.
Yes, there’s no shortage of negativity surrounding the media business – and you’ve read about these issues right here on this site – from idiotic management to racism to hiring and re-hiring the same people over and over again. But that doesn’t mean it’s all doom and gloom. NBC is in a better position today than it was in the Jeff Zucker era. After a rocky start, Paul Lee has succeeded by bringing more diversity on-screen at ABC and has paid off handsomely in the ratings. Fox has one of the biggest hits in years with Empire, while The CW has shown tremendous improvement under Mark Pedowitz and bringing on aboard critically acclaimed shows like Jane The Virgin and The Flash. And as much as I tease CBS being “The Church Of Tisch”, the network still has the most viewers in primetime and daytime, and newly arrived late-night host Stephen Colbert is an improvement over an out-of-gas David Letterman.
And cable and streaming services continue to put out quality product in this second “Golden Age Of TV” in spite of the Kardashians, and racist reality shows Love And Hip-Hop, and Real Housewives of Atlanta.
As yours truly pointed out before, the worst way to form a bad opinion of television is to channel surf looking for something to watch and landing on a lot of bad shows. With all the choices available today in media, the “there’s nothing good on TV” argument doesn’t hold water in 2015.
Turning to Chicago media… putting the usual local TV news tropes aside, WMAQ-TV is producing the best news product since the Ron Magers/Carol Marin era with the station closing in on market leader WLS at 10 p.m., while WGN-TV has done the same at 4 and 5 p.m. Those stations and even WFLD have come through strong on breaking severe weather coverage. And WCIU’s You and Me In The Morning and WLS’ Windy City Live proves there is a market for local programming in Chicago.
Yes, I said Chicago is (or was?) the worst radio market in the country some months back after Mancow was rehired by WLUP. But for every misstep made by Cumulus and Salem in this market, there are those who do it right. Hubbard’s trio of stations – notably WTMX – are successful. Chicago has two strong CHR stations battling for market share in an era where young people are assumingly heading toward alternative music sources. And while deservedly maligned, iHeart Media’s local stations – notably WVAZ, WGCI, and WLIT each rank in the top ten, while new country newcomer Big 95.5 has given rival WUSN a run for its money. Even Crawford Broadcasting has hung in there with WPWX and Soul 106.3, with subpar ratings.
And sorry WGN Radio haters, but Steve Cochran is here to stay in the mornings, though the rest of their schedule is a hot mess. Conversely, WGN whining has kept Darth Dork’s board in business. It sure isn’t the content – my ten year-old niece can write better.
We do a lot of complaining – it’s in our DNA. And the media business is no different- there is always room for improvement, and executives know this. But you can’t please everybody. And at least we know where to find the most hard-to-please viewers/listeners on the planet – and to steer clear of these places whenever possible.
And besides, what we have now for media choices sure beats the alternative – nothing at all.