The Media Notepad: WYCC may not be going anywhere after all


Also: syndicated tabloid TV wars begin; Family Matters house to be demolished; America’s Got Talent outdraws Emmys in ratings 

It looks like WYCC may not leaving the air after all – the small public-television station scheduled to cease broadcasting October 25, is talking to fellow PBS member WTTW about sharing channel space in a last-ditch effort according to the Chicago Tribune. The sign-off date has now been pushed back to November 24.

A letter sent to members over a week ago stated the station would go dark late next month as the station sold its spectrum in the incentive auction, which it received $15.9 million for. The Tribune reports WTTW has approached the City Colleges of Chicago about a possible channel-sharing agreement. WTTW officials said no “firm agreement” is in place, and the City Colleges must approve the deal. If this Hail-Mary pass falls short, WYCC’s departure would leave the market with just two public TV stations – WTTW and WYIN, which serves viewers in Northwest Indiana and is available over the air and on cable/satellite throughout much of the Chicago area. Two other public stations – run respectively by South Florida University and Howard University, are either in the process of or already have gone dark as they were also sold off in the incentive auction.

Airing programming aimed to City College students, WYCC signed-on in February 1983 and was not related to former educational outlet WXXW on the same Channel 20 frequency, which went dark in 1975.

Though permanent station sign-offs are not common, they have happened – in recent years Tupelo, Miss. ABC affiliate WKDH signed-off in 2013 and the affiliation wound up on a digital subchannel of another station. A Red Deer, Alta. station signed-off for good in 2009. And in the most famous case, Philadelphia’s WKBS-TV went dark in 1983 after owner Field Communications could not find a buyer for the station.

Page Six TV

The tabloid wars have begun: Nielsen ratings for the first two days have Twentieth’s Page Six TV  and CBS’ Daily Mail TV tied with a 0.75 household overnight rating. Debuting Spet. 18, both shows feature daily celebrity news updates: Page Six TV has a roundtable-type show with host John Fugelsang and  three contributors from the New York Post on the show and is shot in front of a studio audience; Daily Mail TV is a studio show host by Jesse Palmer. The series seems similar in tone to A Current Affair and Hard Copy.

The ratings don’t seem impressive, but in an era of diminished ratings amid a boatful of choices (after all, Peak TV), the numbers are decent. Page Six airs at 11:30 a.m. on WPWR-Ch.50 and 2 p.m. on WFLD-Ch.32. Daily Mail TV airs at 2 and 2:30 p.m. on WGN-Ch.9.

Meanwhile, Twentieth’s Top 30 – a quick rundown of the day’s stories debuted on Sept. 11 and so far has averaged a 0.3 rating. Airing at midnight on WPWR, the show surprisingly flows smoothly and zips through those thirty stories in 28 minutes with ease. Another new show (MGM/Orion’s Couples Court With The Cutlers) had a two-day average of 0.6.

Initial numbers for off-network sitcoms Goldbergs, Mom, The Game, and first-run game show Funny You Should Ask were not available.

Outside of the Chicago area, three shows debuted Monday in various markets: Pickler and Ben, Daily Blast Live, and Sister Circle. Of the three, Pickler turned in the best rating (1.3) and did gangbusters in its home base of Nashville on CBS affiliate WTVF at 9 a.m. (6.8). Despite the lack of a local clearance, Chicago viewers can still access these shows: Pickler and Ben airs on CMT a day after its broadcast airing; Sister Circle airs on TVOne; and Daily Blast is available on Facebook Live and YouTube.

So Steve Urkel “didn’t do that”: The home featured in Warner Bros.’ sitcom Family Matters on Chicago’s North Side is being demolished. According to DNA Info Chicago, the home – featured as an exterior shot on the Friday night sitcom – is being torn down to make way for a condo development. The demolition permit was approved on Tuesday.

A search of the “Family Matters House” on Google turned up an actual listing, complete with reviews, an address (1516 W. Wrightwood in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood) and even a phone number (which I guess isn’t reachable.) The condo developers plan to decorate the entry of the new building with a memorial marker stating the Family Matters house was at the location.

Family Matters debuted in 1989 as part of ABC’s “TGIF” block, but didn’t pick up steam until they added Jaleel White to the cast as nerdy klutz Steve Urkel later in the season. Matters became the linchpin for ABC’s successful Friday block in the 1990’s, and became a surprise success in off-network syndication in 1993 (it was taken out on an all-barter basis when stations balked at paying high prices for the show.)  The end came in 1998 when a network switch to CBS a year earlier to launch their own Friday night sitcom block targeted to young viewers failed.

The show was a spin-off of fellow ABC “TGIF” staple Perfect Strangers, another series based in Chicago as the Harriet character (Jo-Marie Payton) in Matters was an elevator operator at the Chicago newspaper Larry and Balki worked for in the show. Oddly, Payton was replaced midway through the final season by another actress (Judyann Elder).

While the structure is headed to wrecking ball heaven, viewers can still see the home in its stock shot glory via Hulu, who recently acquired streaming rights to air Family Matters, Full House, and several Warner Bros. “TGIF” shows from the era.

Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC

In news that doesn’t completely come as a shock, the season finale of NBC’s America’s Got Talent Wednesday night outdrew the Emmy Awards last Sunday – by a total of 15.6 million viewers to 11.4. million. In the adults 18-49 demo, Talent drew a 2.4 compared to the Emmys’ 1.9, which is now considered the lowest of all-time. A lackluster presentation didn’t exactly help the Emmys, which has never recovered from the move to Fox in 1987, when the network was only months old and dependent on mostly UHF stations many viewers weren’t familiar with.

As for Talent, the 15.6 million viewers for the finale – its highest since 2010 – is an improvement from last year as the show replaced Nick Cannon with Tyra Banks as host. The show has been known for constant judge and host changes throughout the years, and hasn’t affected viewership one iota. Even more impressive, Talent finished its 12th season with more viewers on average than most prime-time shows have during the regular season.

The winner of America’s Got Talent this year was twelve-year old ventriloquist Darcy Lynne Farmer, who took home the million dollar prize.

Eight of the contestants from America’s Got Talent also appeared on American Idol, with Jessica Sanchez finishing runner-up and Nick Fradiani winning the whole thing in 2015.

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(Edited at 11:24 a.m. to add Robert Feder link to WYCC item.)