“Man” overboard: WGN-TV sinks “Man Of The People”

Elements of series may continue on “non-linear platforms”

Back in January 2018, I wrote a review of Man Of The People urging Chicagoans to “tune in and enjoy the show while they can before Captain Chesapeake fires the man, in reference to the former Baltimore kids’ TV host, who appeared on a Sinclair station whom at the time was in the process of acquiring WGN owner Tribune Media at the time.

Well, the ol’ Captain never got to terminate Pat Tomasulo, but his show drowned anyway as WGN announced Tuesday it was cancelling Man Of The People after eighteen months on the air.

In a message sent out via Twitter, Tomasulo said putting together a show like Man was tough and said some elements may be retained on digital platforms (such as its YouTube page) and thanked viewers for their support.

The series aired Saturday nights at 10 p.m. with a repeat Sundays at 11 p.m. The final first-run broadcast is scheduled for July 20. Tomasulo remains with WGN’s very popular morning news show, which is the most-watched in Chicago from 4 to 10 a.m.

Several issues may have played a role in the show’s linear TV demise: the pending sale of WGN parent Tribune Media to Irving, Tex.-based Nexstar, who isn’t exactly a fan of this type of fare due to its expense; the tough marketplace for weekend television programming outside of sports and Saturday Night Live as viewers typically head for Netflix, Amazon, or other streaming options; and the most obvious – ratings as Man Of The People’s numbers have been cut in half since its premiere.

Another problem is the series seemed to be in repeats every other week, which didn’t help the already low numbers.

Despite these challenges, the series was picked up for a second season – but it wasn’t sustainable. And the cancellation comes at a time when WGN is losing rights to all four Chicago sports teams it had contracts with, including the Cubs and failed to regain The CW affiliation, who skipped out on WPWR to join WCIU.

While the review of Man Of The People here was a positive one (which is actually rare for this site), others gave it mixed reviews. While many seemed to enjoy Tomasulo’s humor, others found him grating and the skits unfunny – even I have to admit some of Man Of The People’s skits didn’t work. Remember Tomasulo’s phony WWE-like feud with Chicago Tonight host Phil Ponce? (of course you do.)

Despite Man Of The People’s struggles, Tomasulo has been drawing crowds with his stand-up act with his next show July 6 in Arlington Heights and recently had a “Man Of The People” night at a minor-league baseball game in Rosemont.

So while Captain Chesapeake and the boys at Sinclair didn’t sink Man Of The People, television’s changing economics did the job instead.


5 thoughts on ““Man” overboard: WGN-TV sinks “Man Of The People”

    • It’s disappointing that WGN-TV cancelled Man of the People. I am sure it was difficult for Pat Tomasulo and his crew to do a weekly show. Perhaps Channel 9 should try running the show for four consecutive weeks and then off a month or two like Backstory with Larry Potash. WGN needs more, not less, local entertainment programming. I don’t think more newscasts are the necessary end result for local programming. Most often the newscasts run the same stories with the same scripted words. They need to give us something more original. I don’t understand how WGN-TV was able to produce many hours of local shows in its wonderful rich history, but cannot properly program the station today.

    • I don’t understand how WGN got this out under current ownership – though some investment companies are willing to spend extra and experiments go through companies until ultimate sale kills things. The history of WGN was a continuation of old TV by local stations – and being the lead independent station for so many years. Years as a super channel on cable extended such. Loss of sports kills WGN’s long term cash cow for good. As owner of the Cubs Tribune was saving on sports expense while using the gains to pay for other sports. WGN seems to have remain having the ability to hire on air staff that go way beyond what is required in their original positions. Jack Brickhouse, Frasier Thomas, Ray Rayner, Bob Bell, and others to more recent weather guru Tom Skilling. WGN morning news seems the place to be in the company now with others like Dean Richards following a few in doing radio and TV, in so many roles – cooking segments on the morning show…. The new owner likely will want to retain the morning show, but needs something to replace the loss of major sports leagues. Any college deals or maybe the Wolves hockey? My thought – college more likely, but syndication the most common program source today. Go all news, like WBBM-am or WGN-am. The morning show does show an interesting comparison with WGN-am of the 70’s until they struggle now with an aging audience. The CW is a joke vs. WGN as a whole, and never should WGN have went with a network and maintain its history…. BUT, an out of state owner only wants money and likely will make a future run for CW – or does FOX-TV outbid them to retain such for WPWR. Tries at Tom Skilling for 32,, if true show they are willing to spend to keep CW.

      • I thought Man of the People was better than most of SNL, and seemed to be new more often. Maybe it becomes a part of the morning show – it did have advertiser Toyota among others – or are they multi-selling with sports?

    • So very sadden by this news of “Man of the People,”’being cancelled. Our family watched it every week. We even watched the re-runs as well. If we could of made the Arlington Heights, Metropolis shows, we would of been there, but we just couldn’t fit it in our schedule due to other family obligations on that night, Pat’s skits & having guests on, including interviewing people on the street, were so enjoyable. I love him & the rest of the morning crew. We’ve just loved watching Pat’s Show so much. We also really liked the Prime Time, Morning Show & Like Larry’s Show, “Backstory.” Again, it’s very disappointing local talent is being squashed. Chicago is not the “Second City,” to me & Pat’s show highlighted, that. He & his staff & crew are #1, & the fans are going to miss you.

    • Honestly I’m not surprised at all. I don’t find Pat even remotely funny. I don’t think he’s that great even as a sports reporter. Apparently I’m not alone due to the viewership.

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