The Media Notepad: Mike North calls it a (sports) career; Corey McPherrin promoted

Plus: ABC 7 dominates in ratings AND social media; Minneapolis station latest to drop “My” branding

That’s a wrap…for now: Mike North went on television Tuesday night and announced he was “retiring” from sports media, including radio, television, writing, podcasts… you name it. On WTTW’s Chicago Tonight, North told host Phil Ponce talking sports today was just too complicated. He said he was leaving – but not leaving the broadcast business altogether as he’s keeping his options open (future right-leaning political talk show host, perhaps?) North says he plans to move part-time to the Las Vegas area and be a spokesperson for something called Light Keeper Pro.

A former hot dog vendor, Mike North was one of the original personalities of WSCR-AM (a.k.a. The Score) when it launched in 1992 where at one time, he made $1.5 million a year. But his tenure on Chicago sports radio has been filled with controversy as North was known to make racist and sexist comments on his radio shows. In 2007, North got in hot water with Score management over a profanity-laced tirade with Ozzie Guillen.

Since North left WSCR in 2008, he had a hard time duplicating his earlier success – North invested in and was later ousted from a Chicago sports website, amid his controversial dealings with convicted felon David Hernandez who later took his own life. North was paired with his former WSCR partner Dan Jiggetts with two failed television morning shows – one for CSN Chicago, the other for CBS-owned WBBM-TV (which was so bad, yours truly compared it to CBS’ 1987 megabomb The Morning Program and wound up as the first local show in The T Dog Media TV Hall Of Shame, lasting just six months.) His last terrestrial radio gig was a short-lived Sunday afternoon football show for WDRV-FM (The Drive) in 2015. North also had a podcast gig and one with Fox Sports Radio.

As you can tell from the linked articles, yours truly wasn’t a fan of Mike North and cited him as one of the reasons Chicago radio often sounded so stale. But he loved playing the Devil’s Advocate and it’s something he did best – aspiring a current crop of similar hosts such as Clay Travis, Jason Whitlock, and Stephen A. Smith. I guess we can credit – or blame a former hot dog vendor named Pappy.

In another smart move by Fox-owned WFLD-TV, the station announced Wednesday the promotion of Good Day Chicago anchor Corey McPherrin to the 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. anchor position alongside Dawn Hasbrouck, vacated by Jeff Herndon who departed earlier this week to return to his hometown of Wichita, where he became assistant news director and co-news anchor of NBC affiliate KSNW’s newscast.  A native of south suburban Markham, McPherrin came to Chicago in 1991 as sports anchor at WBBM-TV, succeeding a retiring Johnny Morris. In 1995, McPherrin jumped to WFLD, a year after Fox acquired NFL games and fronted the station’s Bears coverage. McPherrin was tapped to host Good Day Chicago in 2010, but was off the air recently due to surgery to correct a heart ailment.

As noted by Robert Feder, WFLD does trail WGN-TV in households at 9 p.m., but is much closer in the key news demo of adults 25-54.

The promotion comes as Mark Suppelsa announced his retirement recently from WGN, as corporate parent Tribune Media is set to be acquired by Sinclair Broadcasting. If Tuesday night’s terrific investigate report by Suppelsa on the 1967 Kerner report is any indication, WGN is losing one of the best investigative reporters in the city. Don’t look for this type of reporting on urban issues from Captain Chesapeake and the Boys, despite being based in the Baltimore area.

A story on TVNewscheck’s website Tuesday spotlighted Chicago media once again with the ongoing dominance of ABC-owned WLS-TV in social media. According to audience insight firm Shareablee, WLS lead far and away with a whopping 25 million actions on social media, 6 million more than WFLD. Recently, WLS became the first television in the Midwest to reach two million Facebook followers – an impressive feat. WLS is Chicago’s most-watched television station, in news and entertainment programming – including the popular Windy City Live, which has a strong social media presence.

Tribune’s WGN-TV came in third with 11.7 million total actions, followed by WMAQ (NBC Chicago) with 3.9 million. The Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times took the fifth and sixth slots among total actions, respectively.

WLS pointed out it is the only station in the market to have a digital reporter (Jesse Kirsch), and makes use of Facebook Live to showcase breaking news. The article pointed out how interest in Chicago’s violence epidemic helped spark viewership for its 4 p.m. newscast one day earlier this year after six people were found dead in a Gage Park home on the city’s Southwest Side. An aerial shot of the residence was posted on Facebook Live around 3:30 p.m. – and generated nearly six million views and over 6,000 comments.

Among individual Chicago radio stations, iHeartMedia’s Urban Contemporary WGCI-FM led all total actions with nearly 600,000, ahead of sister station V103 (WVAZ-FM) with just over 430,000. WSCR followed with just over 375,000 total actions. CBS Chicago came in seventh on the list, with its website combining WBBM-AM, CBS 2 (WBBM-TV), and WSCR properties.


Is My Network TV finally being put out to pasture? The latest Fox-owned station to pull the plug on the “My” branding is WFTC (and its various satellites) in Minneapolis-St. Paul, who on Monday dropped the “My 29” moniker to go with “Fox 9 +” (as is Fox 9 plus), aligning with its co-owned sister station, KMSP. Last month, WDCA in Washington D.C. dropped the “My 20” branding for “Fox 5+”, aligning with its co-owned sister station, WTTG.

While My Network TV programming isn’t going away at those stations, it is being pushed back an hour to air local news – WFTC is introducing a 7 p.m. newscast beginning September 18, similar to what WDCA did in July (with an 8 p.m. newscast.)

Even though WFTC is on UHF digital channel 29, it redirects via PSIP to channel 9.2 – essentially a digital subchannel of KMSP. Once the spectrum reduction is complete, WDCA is expected to relocate to digital channel 5.2 of WTTG.

Of Fox’s nine My Network TV stations, Chicago’s WPWR became the first to drop the “My” branding when the station became a CW affiliate. Fox still has My Network TV branding for its former UPN affiliates in New York, Los Angeles, Orlando, Phoenix, and Houston – but the “My” branding on those channels could disappear soon.

After starting out with English-language telenovelas and then reality TV programming, My Network TV has been regulated to airing mostly drama repeats as a programming service, with many stations (including Chicago) no longer airing the programming block live as it is fed by the service (known as “out-of-pattern”.) In some areas, MNT programming has been delayed until midnight or later – as late as 1 a.m. in Seattle, whose “affiliate” (Tribune-owned KZJO) dropped the “My” branding sometime ago. The service has yet to formally announce a 2017-18 schedule.

Further reading:

Dave McKinney joins WBEZ-FM as Springfield correspondent

Layoffs on tap at Disney/ABC Television Group

Is the NFL about to lose African-American viewers as Colin Kaepernick remains unsigned?

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