The Media Notepad: Chicago native Jason Matheson returns to local airwaves

Also: MLB takes over San Diego Padres local broadcasts; Fox 32’s Mike Flannery calls it a career; Director’s Guild reaches tentative agreement with studios

Chicago native Jason Matheson’s talk show is getting another chance in his hometown.

Starting today, the Minneapolis-based daytime talk show host returns to the airwaves in Chicago with a two-month run of The Jason Show on Fox-owned WPWR-TV (My50) airing weekdays at 11 a.m. (Matheson is on at the same time opposite another Chicago native – Jennifer Hudson – on sister station WFLD/Fox 32.) The show airs weekdays at 10 a.m. on sister Fox-owned station KMSP and at 1 p.m. on My Network TV outlet WFTC, also owned by Fox.

“Jason has been brightening mornings throughout the Midwest and beyond for years,” said Marian Davey, senior VP and general manager of Fox’s Minneapolis-St. Paul duopoly. “Now, just like his theme song says, ‘Let’s make it a good day’ for Chicagoland too.”

Launched on KMSP in 2015, The Jason Show aired for a few weeks on My50 in 2017 as part of a nationwide test involving other stations in Los Angeles, Dallas, and Phoenix. Since then, The Jason Show has aired on non-Fox O&O stations in Minnesota, including Duluth and Rochester, plus two small-market Wisconsin stations and Fox’s KZJO in Seattle. 

Several segments are planned featuring Chicago, and how they connect back to the Twin Cities. The Jason Show is your standard daytime talker, featuring celebrities, food, fitness – all with a Midwestern touch. 

The WPWR run is scheduled to conclude August 11, but if successful, it could be extended or brought back for another run. 

In what could likely begin an exodus of teams from Bally Sports, bankrupt Diamond Sports Group – operator of the Bally Sports channels – declined to make a payment to the San Diego Padres last Tuesday, meaning the broadcast rights reverted back to the team and Major League Baseball, who is now taking on the responsibility of producing the games with the current announcing team and production crew intact. On Wednesday, Padres games were made available on several cable systems in the market, including DirecTV nationally and streaming on MLB.TV (for more information, click here.) Viewers in the San Diego market can now stream games without any blackout restrictions, which has been a sore spot with fans. Viewers can watch Padres games for $19.99 per month or $74.99 per season. 

The Padres and Fox Sports signed a twenty-year deal in 2012, creating what was then known as Fox Sports San Diego. But Fox sold much of the company to Disney in 2018, including the RSNs – who turned around and sold them to Sinclair Broadcasting in 2019 after the Justice Department would not let Disney keep them due to their ownership of ESPN. 

Thursday night, a Houston bankruptcy judge ordered Diamond to pay the Minnesota Twins, Cleveland Guardians, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Texas Rangers the full value of their money owed in their contracts. Diamond was seeking to have those payments reduced by 25 percent, and if they skip them, a grace period would begin meaning Diamond could lose the rights to all four teams within two weeks when the period ends and a payment isn’t made. Some have suggested the Twins could be next given their contract with Diamond expires at the end of the season or the Rangers, who have a $26 million payment due in two weeks. 

As for the future of Bally Sports San Diego, without its main attraction…there is none, given this is the only pro sports franchise in the 28th largest market – making it less valuable to cable operators and would likely meet the same fate Fox Sports Net Chicago did when all four pro sports teams left for Comcast Sports Net (now NBC Sports Chicago.) Aside from Padres baseball, Bally Sports San Diego carried the AHL’s San Diego Gulls, and NBA and NHL teams Bally has rights to from neighboring Los Angeles (excluding Imperial County, who carries Arizona Coyotes games instead.)  The last time a San Diego outlet ceased operations was in 2017, when Tijuana’s XETV lost its CW affiliation and closed its San Diego operations as the station became an affiliate of Televisa’s Canal 5. 

The dean of Chicago political reporting is calling it a career as veteran Mike Flannery announced last week he was retiring after 50 years covering local and national politics. He made the announcement on WTTW’s Chicago Tonight: The Week In Review on May 26.

Flannery plans to step down from his longtime post at Fox 32 June 30, assumingly as his contract expires. His Flannery Fired Up weekly political review show is also coming to an end. 

“In some ways, I hate leaving. But I’m really excited. It’s been 50 years”, Flannery told the Chicago Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman. “Ten mayors. Eight governors. Half a century is long enough. This seems like a good time.”

A native of Washington, D.C., Flannery got his start at the Sun-Times in 1973, then jumped to television news in 1980 landing at then top-rated CBS-owned WBBM-TV, home to the legendary anchor team of Bill Kurtis and Walter Jacobson where he regularly covered the City Hall and political beat. Flannery was also at the station during the turbulent 1990s at the station when it segued into a tabloid news format and saw its ratings collapse. 

In the 2000s, Flannery left WBBM-TV for Fox 32 in the same role joining other alumni from the station, including Robin Robinson, Walter Jacobson, Harry Volkman, and Bob Sirott. As noted above, Flannery covered ten mayoral administrations, from both Daleys to the recent Lightfoot one. 

Could this be an omen for the ongoing Writer’s Strike? As the scribes enter their sixth week on the picket line, the Director’s Guild of America reached a three-year tentative deal Saturday night with AMPTP, who represents studios and streamers.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the new contract has provisions for higher pay, residuals, safety, and perhaps the biggest sticking point – the use of artificial intelligence, or AI – a thorn in the side of the WGA and SAG-AFTRA opposition. 

“We have concluded a truly historic deal,” said Jon Avnet, chair of the DGA’s negotiations committee in a statement. “It provides significant improvements for every director, assistant director, unit production manager, associate director and stage manager in our guild. In these negotiations we made advances on wages, streaming residuals, safety, creative rights and diversity, as well as securing essential protections for our members on new key issues like artificial intelligence — ensuring DGA members will not be replaced by technological advances. This deal would not have been possible without the unity of the DGA membership, and we are grateful for the strong support of union members across the industry.”

The agreement now heads to the DGA’s national board this Tuesday; there is currently no timetable on when the contract would be ratified. The deal however, is not expected to have an impact on WGA or SAG-AFTRA as their issues are slightly different from those of the WGA. The Writer’s Guild has had no conversions with AMPTP since the strike began and SAG-AFTRA is expected to have their members vote “yes” on their strike authorization cards when the results come due later today. If no deal is reached by June 30, SAG-AFTRA will likely join the writer’s on the picket line, marking the first strike hitting Hollywood involving the Screen Actors Guild since 1980. 


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