The Media Notepad: Meredith Corp. buys Time

Also:  Tom Joyner loses home in Atlanta; Chicago sports hit a rough spot; the Crowd disbands; another edition of Fun, Food, and Fights at the Ballpark

In yet another media merger, Meredith Corp. announced its acquisition of Time Inc. for $2.8 billion. The union brings together Time’s magazines (Time, Sports Illustrated, People, Entertainment Weekly, Fortune) with Meredith’s (Better Homes And Gardens, Family Circle, Midwest Living, etc.) Headquartered in Des Moines, Meredith owns fifteen television stations, including CBS affiliates KMOV in St. Louis, KCTV in Kansas City, WGCL/WPCH in Atlanta, and KPHO in Phoenix, among others.

Time Inc. was spun off by TimeWarner in 2014, who ironically kept the “TimeWarner” name despite no longer having any magazines in its portfolio. The original Time Inc. and Warner Communications merged in 1989 and became AOL Time Warner after buying the Internet giant in 2000 before AOL was spun-off in 2009. In a way, independent WPCH (known as Peachtree TV) is being reunited with its Time counterparts – both were part of TimeWarner when it was known as Superstation WTBS.

The transaction is being financed by billionaires Charles G. Koch and David H. Koch, brothers who have used their wealth to advance conservative causes. The duo will not have any seats on the new company’s board or have any influence editorial content – or so they say.


After announcing – more or less – his retirement last month, Tom Joyner’s lost another major affiliate – this time it’s Urban AC WALR-FM in Atlanta, known as Kiss 104.1 FM and is owned by Cox, based in the city and owns powerhouse ABC affiliate WSB-TV, WSB-AM, and WSB-FM, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Replacing Joyner is a new morning local show helmed by Art Terell  and Roy Wood Jr. as The Morning Groove. Also out is a syndicated show from Michael Baisden, replaced by Sasha The Diva, who takes over his time slot. While WALR’s slogan is Today’s R&B and Throwbacks, the station is also reducing its reliance on “Throwbacks” and increasing more recent product to attract more younger listeners.

Wood is a correspondent for The Daily Show With Trevor Noah, and remains in the role.

As for Joyner, the move is yet another blow to his syndicated show – Chicago’s WSRB-FM (Soul 106.3) made a similar move earlier this year, replacing him with Chicago radio veteran Mike Love as his show has been shredding affiliates for the last few years. But the loss of Atlanta – the second largest African-American radio market in the country – is perhaps the biggest blow. No word if another Atlanta station would pick up the show, but with Joyner limping towards retirement, it is unlikely at this point.


Guessing the crowd knew nothing after all: CBS has pulled the plug of Sunday night crime drama Wisdom Of The Crowd, once it exhausts its thirteen-episode order. Premiering on October 1, the series never resonated with viewers or critics, notching a low 35 score on Metacritic and 28 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

Crowd becomes the second casualty of the new season, joining fellow CBS freshman entry  Me, Myself, and I . Me was canceled on November 1 after six low-rated episodes, with the sixth installment earned only a 0.7 rating in the 18-49 demographic.


Speaking of programming that needs to be canceled, you might want to make sure those Netflix and Hulu subscriptions are up-to-date Chicago sports fans: the past week has to be perhaps the most forgettable in a long time as both the Bulls and Bears were blown out badly in their respective games. The Bears lost to the Philadelphia Eagles 31-3 Sunday and the Bulls lost to the champion Golden State Warriors by nearly 50 points two nights earlier.

Ratings weren’t available for these “masterpieces”, but you bet the audience levels aren’t exactly high. Ratings for Bears were up from last year, but the tune-in was mainly due to the curiosity of how rookie Mitch Trubisky would fare. Interesting to note the last time the Bears played in Philadelphia (2013), they were also blown out (54-11) and drew a 28.2 rating – a figure a Bears game has yet to reach this season. Some people on Twitter even reported Fox stopped carrying the game (likely switched out to another competitive game outside of Chicago and Philadelphia, which is usually the case in blowouts.)

On Saturday morning, the Bears, Bulls, and even the Blackhawks were all simultaneously in last place in their respective divisions. Talk about a hat trick of mediocrity (the Hawks did win Saturday, beating the Florida Panthers.)

Chalk up the misery to bad management of the Bears’ Ryan Pace and the Bulls’ John Paxson and Gar Forman -but this is no surprise, given how badly everything else in run in this town – government (Rahm, Preckwinkle), the police department, and of course, two radio clusters (Cumulus and iHeart Media, excluding V103). If you’re not a college basketball or hockey fan, you’d better have a lot of liquor and binge-able TV shows handy until baseball season – because you’re going to need it.

 


Miguel Cabrera would be proud: a major brawl broke out during the first quarter between hated archrivals the Denver Broncos and Oakland Radiers in an eventful game Sunday afternoon at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum:

The combatants were Michael Crabtree of the Raiders and Aqib Talib of the Broncos. In all, four players were ejected. Both players were suspended two games by the NFL on Monday; both have appealed.

Fights are rare in the NFL, though there were a few of them in the last weeks. Even incredibly rarer are the absence of bench-clearing brawls, which happen in baseball (though not as much these days) and used to happen in hockey, until thirty years ago.

In July, the Detroit Tigers and New York Yankees were in involved in three bench-clearing incidents at Comerica Field in Detroit, resulting in suspension and fines.

And you thought our current political climate was rough. As a major soft-drink company notes, “The Fun Never Ends Zone” and Haray Caray was known for saying “You can’t beat fun at the ol’ ballpark.

For Crabtree and Talib, the “fun” is going to result in a major deduction from their paychecks.

 

 

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