T Dog’s Media Notepad: Ron Magers exits in style

Ron Magers signs off. (ABC 7)
Ron Magers signs off. (ABC 7)

WLS-TV (ABC 7) sent Ron Magers off in style Wednesday night as viewers tuned in en masse to see him anchor his final newscast, earning a time-period winning 10.0 rating in live-plus-same day households according to Robert Feder. ABC 7 Also won the May sweeps at 10 p.m., but finished behind NBC-owned WMAQ (NBC 5) at 10 in the 25-54 demo. Another local media website reported WMAQ beat ABC 7 in the 25-54 demo in several local news time periods, with CBS’ WBBM-TV won at 11 a.m. and saw ratings increases in several news time periods. Of concern for WLS is their 23 percent drop in the key 25-54 demo at 10 p.m.

At 9 p.m., WGN lead as usual, but ratings for WFLD were better than expected with a 2 household rating. Despite the steady drumbeat of negative headlines coming from the city, local news viewership seemed stable, unlike the disastrous May 2014 sweep which saw Chicago stations lose tons of audience from the year before. Also keep in mind Jon Stewart is no longer a factor since he exited the Daily Show last year and neither were the Blackhawks, who were eliminated from the playoffs before the sweeps began.

As for Magers, he anchored solo for the last few minutes of the newscast as he thanked viewers for letting him come in to their homes every night for 35 years. Viewers on social media showed their appreciation with the hashtag #ThanksRon

As of Thursday, Magers’ slots were taken over by ABC 7 veteran Alan Kreshesky, who received an endorsement in a taped promo from Magers.

Mike Parker_zpspjfyqng8While everyone was busy paying accolades to Ron Magers, another longtime Chicago news figure is calling it a career: WBBM-TV veteran Mike Parker announced his retirement a few days ago with his last day on May 31. The 72-year old Parker is one of the last links to the station’s dominant heyday of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. Parker had been with CBS 2 since 1980 (excluding a brief WABC-TV stint in 1985-86) and worked for sister station KNXT Los Angeles (now known as KCBS-TV) and before that, was a reporter for KFI-AM. Parker was inducted into Chicago/Midwest NATAS’ Silver Circle in 2013.

SOb0AD4MYou’ve got the job: WVAZ (V103) radio personality Joe Soto has been promoted to afternoons at the urban AC station, effective immediately. Soto replaced the late Doug Banks, who died in April. Soto was filling in for the syndicated talk show host on an interim basis, after Banks died in March. Rather than continue with American Urban Radio Networks’ choice of a replacement,  V103 opted to return the daypart to local programming.

Soto returns to afternoons after he and former co-host Ramonski Luv were bumped to evenings in January 2008 to make room for Banks’ new syndicated show, where V103 was the first station in the country to clear it.

V103 has generally ranked at or near the top in afternoons for years. In March, Banks syndicated show tied for first.

1242-Doing the split again: WWE announced it was once again splitting the Raw and Smackdown brand and moving the latter show to Tuesday nights and converting to a live format beginning on July 19. With a few exceptions, Smackdown had been a taped show, produced two or three days (usually Tuesdays) before airdate. Both Raw and Smackdown air on USA Network.

According to Awful Announcing, WWE plans to hold a draft with some wrestlers going to Raw; others going to Smackdown. Other logistics of the split are still being worked out.

WWE split up Raw and Smackdown in 2002 before reuniting both brands in 2011. Since Raw has been on USA during this duration, Smackdown was on UPN, CW, My Network TV, and SyFy before shifting to USA on Thursday nights this year. Smackdown has been cable exclusive since 2010. 

Hopefully, we’ll see less of the McMahons and more wrestling, but don’t count on it – no matter what side you choose.

The last holdout series from the 2015-16 season whose fate wasn’t terminated by the upfronts was decided – and it came upon the other side of the coin for Limitless, which received its walking papers last week. CBS was reportedly shopping the series around, but found no takers. The series ran on CBS’ Tuesday lineup, but couldn’t hold on to its NCIS: New Orleans lead-in.

Bill giving YOU the fingerBreak out the Dr. Peppers: Cincinnati radio talk show host Bill Cunningham announced Friday he was discontinuing his talk show after five seasons this season. The news comes as Tribune offered Cunningham a three-year contract renewal but turned it down, citing the travel and his desire to see his family more. Cunningham taped his TV show in New York, while doing his radio program for WLW-AM in Cincinnati and a weekly syndicated radio show. Cunningham also sometimes did his radio show from a makeshift radio studio in New York.

As you recall (and I know you do), Cunningham’s TV show came about from his connections with then-Tribune CEO Randy Michaels, who hired Cunningham for his WLW gig some time ago. In July 2010, Michaels and then-Tribune Broadcasting president Sean Compton gave Cunningham a TV talk show. Tribune tested four episodes in a few markets under the name Big Willie produced at WGN-TV- all were critically planned and ratings results were mixed. Nevertheless, Tribune gave the green light and shifted production to New York, partnering with ITV Studios. The program – which featured the type of fare you’d find in a conflict talk show (Springer, Maury, et. al.) – moved to The CW in 2012.

Surprisingly, ratings for Cunningham’s show were good – in Chicago and several other markets, the program finished first in its time period in the adult 18-49 demo. In Cincinnati however, Cunningham was a surprise ratings flop, averaging a 0.4/1 household rating/share, with the CW being regulated to a digital subchannel of a CBS affiliate. The series previously aired on Fox affiliate WXIX, where the ratings weren’t any better.

There is no word if Tribune has plans to replace Cunningham or if the CW would give up the hour back to affiliates. It would’ve been a moot point for Chicago CW affiliate WGN anyway as the CW affiliation is moving from WGN to WPWR on September 1.