The Media Notepad: WLIT takes early Chirstmas ratings lead

Edison and Co. (Fox 32)

WGN-TV hires new traffic reporter; NBC Sports Chicago adding alternative Blackhawks telecasts; New Orleans Pelicans latest Bally team to seek an over-the-air TV deal 

The PPM ratings survey for November was released this week and to no one’s surprise, iHeartMedia’s 93.9 The Lite is ahead of the competition.

WLIT took first place from Hubbard’s The Drive as the Gold AC station flipped to Christmas music on November 2. With the November book only containing a portion of the days WLIT was in Holly Jolly mode (the book runs from October 12 to November 8), the numbers should only grow from here as the station should become more dominant. Even without Christmas music, WLIT has often finished first among Chicago radio stations.

Rounding out the top five were WBBM Newsradio, V103, and 101.9 The Mix.

Continuing to slide for the fifth consecutive month is Audacy’s Triple A WXRT, who slid 30 percent from July’s numbers to place eighth.

It was a good month for Rock stations in Chicago, where The biggest gainer was iHeartMedia’s Rock 95.5, who grew 28 percent month-to-month. Cumulus’ Alternative Q101 also saw ratings growth, up 17 percent from October.

Much like Chicago’s sports teams, both 670 The Score and ESPN 1000 continued to disappoint with the Audacy station down eight percent month-to-month and ESPN 1000 up only six percent as with Bears football telecasts, they should be doing much better. The main demo selling point for sports talk radio is Men 25-54, whose numbers weren’t available as these are only 6+ figures.

Finally, TelevisaUnivision’s WPPN-FM – known as Spanish CHR Amor 106.7, hit a new ratings low landing in 24th place.

On a side note, Spotify noted rap music was Chicago’s top-streamed format (with Hip-Hop third), according to the Sun-Times. But its popularity didn’t spread to Chicago’s two stations who specialize in each genre, as both WGCI (17th) and Power 92 (25th) continued to underperform. Even so, the top streaming song in Chicago was actually a country hit, Morgan Wallen’s “Last Night” while the top artist Chicagoans were listening to was – wait for it – Taylor Swift. 

While Chicago sports teams continue to lose players and personnel to Detroit (with former Chicago Blackhawk Patrick Kane joining the rival Detroit Red Wings this week), NBC Sports Chicago announced this week it was adding ten “alternative” games of his former team this season, in addition to the main broadcast, who will continue to fronted by Chris Vosters and Darren Pang.

Branded HawkCast, the telecast – on NBC Sports Chicago Plus, features a team of separate analysts and features an isolated camera on select players, including Blackhawk rookie Connor Bedard. Those are studio host Pat Boyle; analysts Caley Chelios, John Scott, and Tony Granato; Insider Charlie Roumeliotis; plus a few alumni and special guests. 

We’re looking forward to presenting our special HawkCast presentations showcasing Connor and other select Blackhawks players during their full shift on the ice”, said John Schippman who is VP of Sports Content for NBCUniversal Local Chicago, who counts NBC 5 (WMAQ) and Telemundo Chicago (WSNS) as sister stations. “These exclusive telecasts on NBC Sports Chicago Plus will enable Blackhawks fans to experience the player’s movements and entire on-ice mindset in a brand-new way.”

The Plus channel was used in the past for those alternative broadcasts, from Chicago White Sox games with Spanish-language commentary to special Bulls telecasts featuring betting elements. Plus is available on Xfinity (Comcast), DirecTV, and on other systems.  

The first alternative broadcast is scheduled for December 5, a home contest with the Nashville Predators, followed two weeks later with another home game against the Colorado Avalanche. The last telecast of the season takes place on March 26 against the Calgary Flames. 

WGN-TV announced Monday the hire of new traffic reporter Brhett Vickery for their top-rated Chicago morning newscast beginning December 11.

“With her background in morning news and versatility in reporting, we’re excited to welcome Brhett to our ‘must watch’ WGN Morning News,” news director Dominick Stasi said. “Brhett has a passion for helping others and will help our morning viewers as they get out the door.”

A native of southwest suburban Homer Glen (the Chicago area’s youngest suburbs as it was incorporated in 2001), Vickery got her start as an intern at NBC Sports Chicago before taking her first job at WSET in Lynchburg, Va. as a multimedia journalist. Vickery later segued into a reporter for Milwaukee’s WITI, a Fox-owned station and formerly owned by Nexstar, who owns WGN-TV.

She succeeds Sara Jindra, who now hosts the station’s afternoon strip Spotlight Chicago.

According to the station, WGN finished first in the key 25-54 demo for its morning newscasts this November – a position it has now held for several years running. So a lot of viewers will be depending on her to help get where they’re going to go in the morning rush.

With Bally Sports imploding, another local station could be lapping up at least some rights to a sports franchise.

According to, the NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans are looking to shift some of their games to a local TV outlet. The team is in “advanced discussions” with Fox affiliate WVUE to carry at least ten games this season.

Not surprisingly, local fans have been frustrated with the team’s Bally Sports New Orleans home, who carries all non-network games in the NBA’s smallest TV market. Bally does have streaming rights, but their app has had numerous issues (including on Thursday night.) Now bankrupt, Bally Sports is looking to unload unprofitable properties, as they did with several teams earlier this year.

No deals have been reached yet, and there’s still plenty of logistics to work out. Plus, Fox has a sports-heavy schedule on the weekend, adding another obstacle to any potential deal.

The NBA and Bally struck a deal to continue carrying games at least through this season (including the Pelicans), with future games afterward up in the air as parent company Diamond is going through bankruptcy proceedings this season. Reportedly, Bally Sports is halting operations next October as the baseball season concludes.

Formerly known as the original version of the Charlotte Hornets, the team relocated to New Orleans in 2002, giving the city its first NBA franchise since the Jazz left for Utah in 1979 but was forced to relocate to Oklahoma City for two seasons due to the damage Hurricane Katrina did to the New Orleans Arena (now Smoothie King Arena.) Renamed the Pelicans in 2013, the team has stars Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram on their roster, but Williamson has often been injured, limiting his appearances and keeping the team off national television as the team has struggled in the standings.

WVUE is owned by Gray Television, who also holds the TV rights to the Phoenix Suns, another Bally Sports team castoff. An ABC affiliate until 1996, WVUE was once owned by the Benson family, who in addition to owning the Pelicans, also owns the NFL’s New Orleans Saints.

The Pelicans don’t want any more of Bally’s trash.



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