T Dog’s Media Notepad: US 99 rounds out new lineup

– US99 rounds out new lineup

– Another CHR vet gets prime morning gig

– Politically divided FCC keeps cross-ownership rule

– Thomas Gibson out at Criminal Minds

– Larry Wilmore’s Nightly Report canceled

WUSN-newlogo-sliderCBS-owned country radio station WUSN has completed its makeover by hiring another new personality for its vacant nighttime slot – the latest hire is Kimmie Caruba, a Chicago native who comes from CBS’ sister station in Phoenix, according to Robert Feder. Before moving to Phoenix, Caruba had interned at iHeartMedia and for WTTW in Chicago.

The move coincides with a contract extension for midday personality Drew Walker, and the arrival of Stylz & Roman in morning drive from contemporary hit radio sister station B96. The changes come as WUSN is fighting erosion from new competitor WEBG (Big 95.5), owned by iHeartMedia.

WUSN is also dropping all syndicated weekend programming from the station, including American Country Countdown, which was created by American Top 40’s Casey Kasem and Don Bustany. Once hosted by Bob Kingsley, the series is now hosted by Kix Brooks (one half of Brooks and Dunn) and distributed by Westwood One.

ams-logoAnother CHR veteran is jumping to the country format – this time it’s former WKSC-FM afternoon personality Ty Bentali, who is assuming the reigns of Cumulus’ syndicated America’s Morning Show, according to Radio Insight. Bentali replaces Blair Garner, who returns to overnights and replaces Kix Brooks, who as mentioned above, hosts Countdown. A Country Hall Of Famer, Garner spent twenty years hosting After Midnite from 1993-2013.

fcc_logoAs expected, the politically polarized FCC voted 3-2 last week to keep the cross-ownership rules, barring a TV or radio station from buying a newspaper. The decision to keep the 41-year old rule came in a party-line vote with the three Democrats voting to keep it and the two Republican members voting against. This continues a long line of partisan voting at the agency, which has resembled the rancor in Illinois government between Governor Bruce Rauner and House Speaker Michael Madigan at times.

House Republican leaders criticized the vote and the National Association of Broadcasters and the National Newspaper Association both are considering legal action, with a U.S. Supreme Court challenge a possibility. House leaders Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Greg Walden (R.-Ore.)  say the rules prevent newspapers from innovating and evolving amid a sea of digital choices not present when they were first adopted.

Indeed, most newspapers have had a rough go of it. But don’t blame regulation for the lack of innovation – the problems they are facing are mostly of their own making, thanks to idiot leadership as John Oliver hilariously points out in this Last Week Tonight segment – especially from Sam Zell, Randy Michaels, and Michael Ferro – each of them reducing Chicago’s newspapers to mere laughingstock status and using language even Stephen Hawking couldn’t understand. Republicans – you know, the party who represents “yacht-owning complainers” and nominated an avowed racist as their Presidential candidate seem to have no problem letting Zell and Ferro off the hook for newspapers’ problems, instead blaming some “rule”.  Upton and Walden hope the courts step in because the way their boy Trump is slip-sliding in the polls, it’ll be four more years of Democratic rule at the FCC.


CBS announced last Friday the firing of Criminal Minds cast member Thomas Gibson after an altercation with writer/producer Virgil Williams on the show earlier in the week. A joint press release from ABC Studios and CBS Television Studios stated “Thomas Gibson has been dismissed from “Criminal Minds”. Creative details for how the character’s exit will be addressed in the show will be announced at a later date.”

Typically, writers are not on set of TV shows, but Williams also doubled as a producer, which may have explained his presence.

The situation is not unusual. In 2011, Charlie Sheen’s character was killed off of Two And A Half Men after he got into a feud with executive producer Chuck Lorre and was replaced by Ashton Kutchner. In 1983, Mackenzie Phillips was fired a second time from One Day At A Time due to drug abuse. Her character wasn’t killed off, but moved out-of-state. She was fired from the show initially in 1980 for the same reason.

According to the San Antonio Express-News, Gibson commuted from his San Antonio home to Los Angeles to work on Minds. Gibson had some volatile relationship with a few cast members – including Shemar Moore, who departed the show last year.

A rare joint production between two networks, CBS Television Distribution holds the rights to Criminal Minds domestically; ABC Studios through Disney-ABC Television International Television holds rights outside the United States.

p11009929_b_v8_abGuessing the low ratings staying-on-the-air shtick only works with Byron Allen: Comedy Central pulled the plug Monday on The Nightly Report with Larry Wilmore after 20 months of subpar ratings. Already saddened with a weakening Daily Show with Treavor Noah lead-in, Nightly Report only managed to score a 0.2 rating among the core 18-49 demo. The Programming Insider’s Marc Berman noted the lack of social media presence for Nightly, as Wilmore more or less dismissed the idea of promoting segments on those platforms as his competitors (Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, etc.) has done.

On the other hand, USA’s weekly series Mr. Robot recently earned a 0.3 rating in the same demo, but was renewed by USA Tuesday due to social media buzz – something Nightly Report lacked, even as a four-night a week strip.

Not helping Nightly’s cause was the series also faced competition from the likes of TMZ and Dish Nation in many markets for those same young demos. In Chicago, Wilmore was on opposite TMZ and off-network reruns of Friends and Seinfeld.

Late-night has not been kind to people of color in recent years, with the cancellation of W. Kamau Bell’s FX show in 2013 and the failure of Arsenio Hall’s revival effort. Wilmore’s departure proves how tough it is to launch a new series – especially a stripped show – in this current TV environment. It’s little wonder why there is only one first-run strip launching this fall: Harry Connick Jr’s daytime talk show.