The Media Notepad: CBS 2’s Marty Wilke calls it a career

Marty Wilke steps down; remains in Chicago to do philanthropic work

Also: Deal or No Deal returns; iHeartMedia files for bankruptcy; local stations roll in election cash

General manager Marty Wilke of CBS-owned WBBM-TV announced last week she was retiring from her position after six years with the station. Her last day is Friday.

Wilke arrived at CBS 2 in October 2012 after a stint in the same capacity at Tribune’s WGN-TV. She replaced Bruno Cohen, who left CBS 2 to fill a similar role at sister station KPIX in San Francisco.

“My six years as a member of the CBS 2 family have been a very special time, filled with terrific experiences and great colleagues, said Wilke in a statement. CBS is a first-class company, and I am forever grateful for having the opportunity to run my hometown CBS station.”

In the six years Wilke has run CBS 2, news ratings remained stagnant with the station still in third place at 10 p.m. On the upside, the station updlgraded its news set, hired Irka Sargant to co-anchor with Rob Johnson and improved the performance of its news product. The station also acquired Hot Bench from WCIU’s secondary U Too Channel through corporate sister CBS Television Distribution to replaced the failed Queen Latifah Show, leading to a solid early fringe lineup with Dr. Phil and Judge Judy.

Wilke has hinted she is staying in Chicago supporting charitable endeavors and her alma mater DePaul University, but it is not clear if intends to take a position with one of those entities.

No replacement has been named.


Since it left the air in 2010, there was speculation whether or not Deal Or No Deal would be rebooted.

Well, we got an answer. And it’s a deal!

CNBC announced last week it was bringing back Deal Or No Deal, with original host Howie Mandel and the original production team. Scott St. John returns as executive producer and True Original – a subsidiary of original producer Endemol Shine North America – is producing the show.

This is the latest program CNBC has acquired to fill evening time slots as its weekday daytime slots are occupied by financial and business programming. In the last few years, CNBC has added American Greed, The Profit, The Job Interview, and reruns of Shark Tank onto its nighttime schedule.

Deal or No Deal premiered on NBC in December 2005 and became an instant hit with viewers. The models – who opened suitcases on the show, became stars in their own right. Among the more notable models included Claudia Jordan (who would later appear in The Real Housewives Of Atlanta) and Meagan Markle, who went on to star in USA’s Suits and of course, is engaged to Prince Harry. It took three years to give away the first million dollar prize, but was beaten to it in this regard by The Price Is Right – not once, but twice in primetime specials.) Deal was quietly canceled in 2009 without notice.

A syndicated version from NBCUniversal Television Distribution (also hosted by Mandel) debuted in September 2008 with a different variation from the primetime show: potential contestants were chosen via wheel and the top prize was $500,000. Two models from the primetime show also were in this version: Tameka Jacobs and Chicago native Patricia Kara (the network version also featured another Chicago native, Katie Cleary.) This version of Deal was canceled in 2010 after the NBC-owned stations and My Network TV both declined to renew the show due to low ratings.

Production aspects for the revival have yet to be nailed down – it’s unknown if the format would follow the original network version or the syndicated one. It’s also unknown where the new show would be produced – the final syndicated season of the show saw Deal relocate to Waterford, Conn. in order to lower production costs, though it would make sense for the CNBC version to produce the show in the state as NBCUniversal produces several programs in Stamford and NBC Sports is headquarted in the city.

Deal has aired on CNBC before – reruns of the NBC version periodically aired during the show’s original run.


Well, it’s official: as expected, iHeartMedia announced it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The large radio chain with 858 stations stretching from New York City to Los Angeles and Seattle to Miami (and other markets in between) agreed with several of its holders regarding the $10 billion of debt the company owes to creditors. iHeartMedia skipped a $106 million interest payment on February 1.

Operations at iHeartMedia – including its six radio station in Chicago, are continuing as normal. Clear Channel Outdoor is not affected.

iHeartMedia – then known as Clear Channel Communications – were in a highly leveraged buyout in 2008 by Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee partners before the financial crash. iHeartMedia now joins fellow operator Cumulus in bankruptcy. With operations “continuing as normal”, look for some big changes in the way iHeartMedia operates if what recently happened at Cumulus is any indication. Lavish shows such as the recent iHeartMedia Music Awards – could be a thing of the past. Also likely gone is those huge payday deals celebrities such as Rush Limbaugh, Steve Harvey, and Ryan Seacrest are under, though their Premiere Radio Networks subsidiary.


With the Illinois Governor’s race playing out like a bad reality TV show, it comes as no surprise the political spending has been totally bonkers. According to the Chicago Tribune, the candidates have spent millions of dollars on television and radio advertising – $65.7 million worth. Candidates running for other offices up for grabs have also spent tons of cash.

The commercials ran non-stop on almost every commercial outlet on almost every program, whether if its news or entertainment. While syndicated game shows Jeopardy!, Wheel Of Fortune, and Ellen have seen their local avails gobbled up by political ads, other series – notably prime-time’s CW’s Black Lightning, Riverdale, and Fox’s Bob’s Burgers – did not see any local political ads (Fox’s Family Guy didn’t see any adverting at all as it went commercial-free this past week.) Once again, young-skewing and easily-DVR’ed fare aren’t seeing a whole lot of political dollars.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker has spent $33.5 million on TV advertising alone, while incumbent Governor Bruce Rauner has spent $16 million on TV ads. Other candidates have spent anywhere between two and four million dollars.

Meanwhile, the third district congressional race is also attracting dollars, with incumbent Dan Lipinski and challenger Marie Newman fighting it out. Lipinski bought commercial time during the NCAA Tournament this past weekend.

Also targeted are Bulls and Blackhawks games, and spring training baseball.

But no matter who wins, we already know who the biggest winners in Illinois are: the state’s media outlets who are getting a windfall from political advertising revenue. After all, someone needs money to maintain those powerful Doppler Radars and keep those weather vans’ gas tanks filled.

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