The Media Notepad: Q101 names James Kudziel as new PD

Also: NBA, Stanley Cup Final earns mixed ratings numbers; Nexstar moves CW affiliations to its owned stations in three markets; “Velma” renewed for season two

Usually, trades are reserved for sports teams though this one could be compared to the Chicago White Sox trading a player to the Minnesota Twins.

Cumulus Media announced Tuesday the appointment of James Kurdziel from their Minneapolis-St. Paul cluster as the new program director of Alternative Q101 (WKQX) and to a newly created position of VP/Classic Rock and Alternative music formats at the company, and will be based out of Chicago. He replaces former program director Troy Hanson, who departed the station in controversial fashion last April to return to Nashville. Kurdziel was previously program director at the Twin Cities’ KQRS-FM since 2020, after twenty years at Cumulus Alternative station WEDG-FM in Buffalo. 

Taking his place at KQRS in the same position is Wade Linder, who was program director of Classic Hits WLS-FM here and will continue working with Cumulus corporate programming on special projects. Though Kurdziel is being appointed to run Q101, he won’t be handling those same duties for WLS-FM; a search is underway for Linder’s successor. This is actually a homecoming for Linder – he first joined KQRS in 1990 as music director. Linder was PD of the former WLUP-FM from 2014 to 2018; when the station was sold and changed formats, he was transferred to WLS-FM in the same position. 

“One of the benefits of having great talent throughout Cumulus is that when multi-market opportunities like this come up, we create a win-win-win situation”, said Marv Nyren, who is VP and market manager of Cumulus Chicago. “Having an experienced talent like James Kurdziel take over the reins of Q101 couldn’t happen at a better time and the entire staff in Chicago will benefit from his leadership and expertise. While WLS-FM will miss Wade’s knowledge and total professionalism, he gets to go back home and stay within the Cumulus family.”

The NBA and Stanley Cup Finals are in the book, and the results are a bit mixed as both series ended in five games.

The basketball finals saw the Denver Nuggets clinching their first-ever NBA championship June 12 over the Miami Heat as the series averaged 11.6 million viewers – down 6 percent from last year’s Boston Celtics-Golden State Warriors matchup. In a small victory for ABC, the game five clincher drew more viewers than the comparable game five from the 2022 finals.

Your friend Terence – yes, the one who runs this site and writes every item here was only off by 600,000 viewers! (I tied for second place in Programming Insider’s prediction ratings contest, only behind Maury Brown and Ken Fang, who each hit the target.)

Among individual sports markets, Denver’s KMGH-TV placed first (of course) with a 21.6 household rating, ahead of Miami’s second-place 14.8, where the series aired on WPLG. Locally, ABC 7 had a surprisingly strong showing with a ninth-ranked 7.6 rating, proving Chicago-area basketball fans were indeed interested, despite the Bulls not making the playoffs (aside from the play-in tournament.) This is the second-straight year Denver has won a championship with the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche winning the Cup in the same Ball Arena building last year.

As for this year’s Stanley Cup, the ratings story was completely forgettable as the series itself, as the (Las) Vegas Golden Knights won their first championship June 13 by defeating the surprising Florida Panthers in five.

This year’s Cup series was regulated to TNT – marking the first time since 1994 the Final aired exclusively on cable TV as in the streaming era, is a completely outdated concept. With that said, the series averaged just 2.6 million viewers, marking the lowest since the 1994 Final –  which was actually a high mark for the NHL, as the New York Rangers won the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1940. The record for the fewest viewers however, is still held by Anaheim Ducks-Ottawa Senators from 2007, which aired on NBC.

The series was down 47 percent from Tampa Bay Lightning-Avalanche on ABC last year, drawing 4.6 million viewers. Since 2021 when the new TV rights deal took effect, ABC gets the Cup Final in even years and TNT getting it in odd years. Obviously, over-the-air broadcast TV still makes a difference though both teams come from non-traditional hockey markets with their limited fan bases.

Not surprisingly, the highest rating came in Las Vegas (14.6). The nearby West Palm Beach market (3.8) actually outdrew the Miami market (3.7) as the Panthers’ home arena in Broward County (Sunrise, Fla.) is only 53 miles south of downtown West Palm Beach as both areas’ TV and radio signals easily overlap with Broward a part of the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale DMA. In Chicago, the game earned a respectable 1.7 household rating.

The Final didn’t exactly appeal to fans outside of Nevada and South Florida, as many viewers complained about the terrible officiating and excessive penalties in the first few games, not to mention the conduct by South Florida fans after game four ended, plummeting players (who were involved in scrums) from both teams with garbage, debris, and plastic rats (yes, plastic rats) onto the ice. Not exactly a great look for the NHL, who took tons of well-deserved criticism for the way this series was run.

And Vegas winning the Cup has a 1997 Florida Marlins World Series Championship vibe to it, and we all know what happened the next season. Who knew the path for an expansion team to a title was to follow the same one of another South Florida team.

As expected, Nexstar Media Group announced last week its Philadelphia, Tampa-St. Petersburg, and San Francisco stations will become CW affiliates on September 1.

The CW was purchased by Nexstar in August 2022 as they took 75 percent ownership of the network, reducing Paramount Global’s and Warner Bros. Discovery’s stake to 12.5 percent each from 50 percent. The move enabled CBS to disaffiliate from The CW in eight markets, as it’s most likely parent Paramount Global did not want to pay reverse compensation to Nexstar to continue airing their programming.

The three stations are WPHL Philadelphia, WTTA Tampa-St. Pete, and KRON San Francisco, who was an NBC affiliate from 1949 to 2002, when the network terminated its affiliation agreement after then-owner Young Broadcasting refused to sell the station to them. With the move, KRON is abandoning its 8-10 p.m. primetime newscasts and instead adding a 2 p.m. and 11 p.m. shows.

This leaves five CW markets yet to be filled – really, it’s four as Detroit’s WADL is being sold to Mission Broadcasting, an affiliate of Nexstar.

All three Nexstar stations are currently My Network TV affiliates, a two-hour a night programming service entirely consisting of off-network programming. Nexstar didn’t exactly make clear what would happen to MNT programming on those outlets, only saying they would shifted to digital subchannels.

In a move also expected, Max (formerly HBO max) announced Friday they were renewing its publicly panned animated series Velma, due to drop sometime in 2024 (could be later as the ongoing WGA Strike has halted all work on shows.)

In a strange way however, the announcement was buried in a spate of news in a Warner Bros. Discovery press release, only being briefly mentioned as part of the company’s adult amination slate. Perhaps the biggest news from the PR is the return of fan favorite Harley Quinn for its fourth season. Maybe Warner is burning off the show’s episode order – reportedly twenty episodes?

In January, this space featured a piece on the controversial program and compared it with other famous “flops” (excluding one hit show) that outraged audiences such as Bus Stop and Turn-On. Of course, both shows are from the 1960s where those examples wouldn’t be met with such scorn today. Of all those shows on the list, Velma has now lasted longer than any of them – with the exception of that one hit show – and it lasted 27 seasons.

One can easily imagine this version of Velma being on that show in a 1997 episode titled “Lebsian Secrets Revealed” and fighting with a whole lot of people onstage and being separated from the combatants by Steve Wilkos.

Jerry! Jerry! Jerry! indeed (rest in peace, Mr. Springer.)


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