WCIU to air Bears game Monday night
MeTV launches Internet stream
Chi-Town Rising gets another run
Tribune renews Fox affiliations in six markets
As first reported by Robert Feder Monday, Weigel’s MeTV is launching a separate Internet stream of its terrestrial radio station at WRME-LP (87.7 FM). “MeTV Music brings back so many of the artists and songs that terrestrial radio has stopped playing because they ‘skew older’ or are unfamiliar to today’s program directors” said Neal Sabin, Vice Chairman of Weigel Broadcasting Co. “Our Chicago MeTV FM station has proved there is an audience for this music with ‘hipsters, hippies, boomers and beyond.’ Now we are making a similar product available nationally via MeTV.com. The wow factor will hit you hard when you spend time with MeTV Music.”
MeTV FM features music from the 1960’s and 1970’s, with core artists including The Carpenters, Billy Joel, Aretha Franklin, and more. Launched in association with Accuradio, listeners to MeTV.com can pause, skip, and rate songs. WRME’s current program director (Rick O’Dell) programmed several of Accuradio’s Internet streams.
WRME has been a tremendous success for Weigel, which programs MeTV FM. In its first month, MeTV FM doubled the rating of its previous occupant, sports radio station The Game (WGWG-FM).
In separate news, Tribune’s WGN-AM agreed to provide news updates to WRME.
The stream is available at MeTV.com/music.
While all the news lately is centered on WGN-TV returning to independent status and airing more sporting events, the biggest prize – regular-season ESPN Bears games – still rest with competing indie WCIU. On Monday night, the Weigel-owned station will simulcast ESPN’s feed of the Bears’ home opener against the Philadelphia Eagles at 7:15 p.m.
WCIU begins coverage at 6:30 p.m. with a pre-game show hosted by Jim Blaney and former Chicago Bears players James “Big Cat” Williams and Israel Idonije, who’ll also front WCIU’s post-game show. Hub Arkish will be on-location reporting live from Soldier Field, and in a taped segment, Kerry Sayers interviews former Chicago Bear Dan Hampton on his memories of the recently deceased Buddy Ryan, whose 46 defense helped the Bears win Super Bowl XX.
This is one of two Monday night Bears games WCIU will carry this year; the station will also the Bears-Vikings contest on October 31, Halloween Night.
Since Monday Night Football is an ESPN broadcast, ABC affiliates and O&Os have first right of refusal featuring Monday Night Football games if the home market team is playing. But because of live nature of Dancing With The Stars, ABC-owned stations can’t pre-empt or delay the show, though non-ABC O&Os can (and usually do.) In Philadelphia, ABC-owned WPVI punted the broadcast to Tribune’s WPHL-TV.
Last Monday, ABC-owned KABC in Los Angeles and KGO in San Francisco aired a special live broadcast of Dancing at 5 p.m. to accommodate a Rams-49ers game at 7:15 p.m. local time.
Given the strong ratings the special achieved, it comes as no surprise the principals behind Chi-Town Rising are bringing back the special for another season, airing on NBC-owned WMAQ-TV and WSNS-TV (Telemundo Chicago.) Despite being critically panned (to be fair, so were all the other NYE specials – let’s face it, it’s not a bastion of quality TV), the special beat Countdown Chicago on WLS-TV, which had the field all to itself. Both specials nearly drew two million viewers combined locally – a number NFL games generally achieve outside of primetime.
Originally billed as a free event, organizers decided to charge people to join in on the festivities outside of the Hyatt hotel, but many thought it was a ruse to keep out protesters upset about the LaQuan McDonald shooting, whose video was released a month prior to the New Year’s Eve event. Televised in 40 markets and on Cozi nationwide, a situation like that wouldn’t look good for Chicago, whose image on the international stage has been tarnished for years due to the city’s escalating homicide rate.
Still, the problems haven’t keep tourists away as Mayor Rahm Emanuel pointed out in the PR release: “Major cultural events like this one are a key reason Chicago is breaking tourism records and attracted more than 52 million visitors in 2015. I look forward to an even bigger and better event this year.”
No word if Mario Lopez, who hosted last year’s festivities, would return as host.
Tribune Broadcasting has renewed its affiliation agreements with Fox in six markets: KSWB in San Diego; WXIN in Indianapolis; KTXL in Sacramento; WTIC in Hartford; WXMI in Grand Rapids-Kalamazoo-Battle Creek; and WPMT in Harrisburg-Lancaster-York-Hershey Pa.
Tribune took over some four of these stations in an acquisition of Renaissance Broadcasting in 1996. Former Tribune CEO Sam Zell announced at a seminar that KSWB would take over the Fox affiliation from former affiliate XETV in 2008, citing Fox’s concern over the latter being based in Tijuana, Mexico (over the border from San Diego) due to transmission issues. As the call letters indicate, KSWB was a former WB (and later CW) affiliate.