The Media Notepad: Conviction ends “Cosby Show” runs

With Bill Cosby’s conviction on sexual assault changes, African-American targeted diginet Bounce (seen locally on WCIU-Ch. 26.5) has once again pulled reruns of The Cosby Show.

“Effective immediately, Bounce is removing The Cosby Show from our schedule,” said a Katz Broadcasting spokesperson. Katz was recently purchased by Cincinnati-based Scripps Co., owner of NBC affiliate WTMJ in Milwaukee and other stations. Cosby Show was pulled from Bounce in 2015 but later returned to the schedule for unknown reasons.

Once a staple of television schedules on broadcast stations and cable networks, Cosby Show has seen its presence diminish after allegations of Cosby’s sexual assaults began to surface. The last time any local station aired Cosby here was in 2014 when WCIU’s former MeToo channel (WMEU-CA) carried the show and continued to do so even after the allegations surfaced. Cosby was dropped from the schedule only after WMEU became an affiliate of the Heroes & Icons network (in a odd twist, MeToo became a hashtag on social media with women telling their stories of sexual harassment.) Earlier Cosby series I Spy was dropped by fellow diginet Cozi TV in early 2015.

The conviction brings the curtain down on Cosby and one of television’s well-known programs. Cosby Show set a record for off-network syndicated sitcom rerun sales, earning a then-record of $4 million per episode when it was sold in 1986.

The move does not affect Cosby Show spinoff A Different World, where as Cosby has appeared in only a handful of episodes, mostly from the first season when Lisa Bonet was in the cast. Carsey-Werner owns the rights to both Cosby Show and Different World.

With Cosby gone, Carsey-Werner can take solace it has the recently rebooted Roseanne in its stable, as it has become once again one of TV’s top-rated shows.

It looks like 104.3 Jams may be sticking around: according to the latest PPM numbers released recently, the classic hip-hop station known as WBMX grew 13 percent month-to-month and finished fourth in the survey, only behind top-rated WVAZ-FM, WBBM-AM, and WTMX. Numbers had been falling for the Entercom-owned station after its spectacular debut last fall, but leveled off until this period.

Recently, WBMX hired New York Hot 97 veteran Ed Lover to be their new morning personality, In addition to WQHT, Ed Lover had stints at MTV and Backspin, Sirius/XM’s former classic hip-hop channel. Whether Chicagoans will warm up to a former New York radio personality remains to be seen – in recent years, only Sheila Nathan (who went from Nash-FM New York to WUSN-FM) has managed to pull it off.

Diana Steele was recently hired as midday personality on an interim basis, piped in from the San Francisco area.

Meanwhile, the debut of K-Love’s WCKL – the former WLUP – landed with a thud as expected, as the numbers plunged 59 percent, taking the frequency from 11th to 26th. Keep in mind K-Love does not depend on commercial advertising revenue to survive so the number is pointless.

And last and certainly least, WGN-AM finished with what has to be its lowest ranking ever in 22nd place. A bland talk lineup (not to mention lackluster Blackhawks and White Sox games) really didn’t help matters.


Are you ready for some Tuesday Night baseball? WGN-TV sure hopes so. You won’t be hearing Hank Williams Jr. singing a theme song (because there isn’t one – Thank God), but the Tribune Media station is branding Cubs and White Sox games under the title Tuesday Night Baseball since WGN has games on the night for 22 consecutive weeks – basically all season long.

“It all started with our programming manager looking at the possibility of scheduling several Tuesday night games during the season, which led to a final broadcast schedule worked out with the Cubs and White Sox of almost 22 straight weeks of Tuesday night baseball on WGN”, said co- creative director Tom Vodick as he spoke to TVNewscheck’s TVMarketshare blog. “This being a unique hook for one of our baseball seasons, we in Creative Services then set out to sell it, and try to give it a little different vibe than our other baseball game promotion.”

FirstCom supplied the music for the 30-second spot, which you can watch above.

The rebrand gives WGN an opportunity to attract advertisers who are interested in live, prime-time sports with its higher engagement with viewers than scripted programs and reality fare.

I guess the NHL doesn’t need the Blackhawks after all: ratings for Saturday night’s game featuring the new Vegas Golden Knights franchise first playoff appearance in their first year – yes in their first year, scored a ratings victory for NBC in primetime. According to Niesen through Sports Media Watch, the game between the Knights and the 1991 expansion San Jose Sharks drew a 1.7 overnight household rating, down 10 percent from the April 29, 2017 tilt between Pittsburgh and Washington but flat from the 2016 matchup of the same teams.

The game was a ratings smash in Las Vegas, earning a 14.1 household rating for Sinclair-owned NBC affiliate KSNV. In the Bay Area, the game earned a 2.6 rating for NBC-owned KNTV.

Ratings for the Stanley Cup Playoffs so far this year have been quite decent, despite the absence of top market New York Rangers and Chicago Blackhawks, who missed the playoffs for the first time in nearly a decade. Powerful draws Boston Bruins and the Penguins are still in the playoffs as of press time.

The Golden Knights are aiming to become the second pro sports franchise in history – remember, the MLS’ Chicago Fire was the first in 1998 – to win a championship in its inaugural year, an impressive feat given the expectations of a first-year team. The Knights finished the regular season 51-24-7, with the team sweeping the season series against the Blackhawks three games to none. It would be THE sports story of the century if the Knights pulled this off.

The Bulls-less NBA playoffs have also had its share of strong ratings success, with Game 7 between Cleveland and Indiana scoring the highest rating (5.4) for a first-round game since 2004. More proof the major networks no longer need to rely on Chicago teams to generate big ratings.

K-Bad to K-Good: In a follow up story from a few months ago, a radio station run by a former loan shark has been sold. Sioux Falls former classic rock station KBAD-FM was sold to Real Presence, a Catholic non-profit group from St. Paul, MN. The former owner (Chuck Brennan) was forced to sell KBAD after he was forced to shut down his payday loan operations after South Dakota voters passed a law in 2016 limiting short-term lending to a 36 percent interest rate. KBAD was used to promote Brennan’s business, which not only included the loan business, but also a 70,000-foot pawn shop, a tattoo parlor, a deli, a gun range, and more.

The sale continues a trend of former commercial outlets being snapped up by non-profit Christian radio operators, including two in the Chicago area: WCKL (see above) and the former “Nine FM” home of 99.9 FM in Park Forest. A college station in Raleigh, N.C. was also sold to the Educational Media Foundation.

Unlike WLUP, who played AC/Dc’s Highway To Hell as their final-ever song on the 97.9 frequency, KBAD went silent last September 23, so the station won’t be able to respond to the sale in kind as the former home of “Guns, Gold, and Rock & Roll” is now the home to God, God, and more God.