Welcome to the ninth season

[This piece was originally published on September 15, 2014 on the T Dog Media Facebook and Google Plus pages.]

When yours truly launched T Dog Media on September 18, 2006, I started with a puny blog on Google. Eight years later, the operation has grown leaps and bounds, thanks to social media such as Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus – not to mention a website yours truly has called home for the last three years.

Back when T Dog Media started, Netflix didn’t exist – and look at the monster it is now, as is other video-on-demand services Hulu and Amazon. New catchphrases were entered our vocabulary such as “binge-watching”. We witnessed Big Media getting bigger and bigger while executives got stupider and stupider.

In an era where the media business – in Chicago and around the world – seems to be getting worse every day, someone needed to analyze and comment on the craziness of the business, from local radio to Kim Kardashian.

And that person is yours truly (among a thousand other people, of course.)

Despite the never-ending changes in this business, T Dog Media continues to analyze, praise, comment, and criticize, using my 30 year knowledge of the industry.

While some local “dark blue” website is more focused on traffic reports and dopey music internet stations while its creator (who is known as the Jar Jar Binks of Chicago media) hides his opinions behind a message board he can control, T Dog Media focuses on today’s media issues with yours truly’s thoughts on the business – upfront and on the page, without the annoying gimmicks and stupid Powerpoint slideshows.

And even though a lot has changed in the eight years, one thing hasn’t changed: Jim Belushi is still the whipping boy around here.

If you haven’t already, please follow T Dog Media on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, and coming soon on Instagram. Also, please visit T Dog Media’s YouTube page for some nostalgic (and weird) videos.

I want to thank you loyal readers for the support over the years and I’ll keep you informed and entertained as much as I can.

Thanks for the support, and God Bless America.


Terence Henderson

T Dog Media


Rihanna rips into The Church Of Tisch

RihannaIt looks like Rihanna has run afoul of The Church Of Tisch.

The award-winning singer wasn’t happy about CBS pulling her cover of Jay-Z’s Run This Town from the intro of Thursday Night Football telecast last week, a game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens due to the toned-down atmosphere after the Ray Rice scandal. And so she sent this not-so-nice tweet, summarizing her feelings about the matter:

The tweet obviously didn’t sit well with Black Rock and Pastor Les Moonves. Later, CBS announced the network was not using her song at all on any future Thursday Night Football telecasts.

Somewhere in hell, former CBS owner Larry Tisch is smiling with glee.

For those of not familiar with the phrase “The Church Of Tisch”, I coined it back in 2008 when then-WBBM-TV GM Joe Ahern tried to hit up employees to pay for his lunch tab when he couldn’t cover the bill – much like when ushers pass around a collection plate at church. Laurence “Larry” Tisch was a buffoonish penny-penching cheapskate who cut back spending at CBS back in the ’80’s and ’90’s, leading the network to lose NFL rights to Fox back in 1993.

CBS removed Rihanna’s song from the opening in part due to the continuing Ray Rice saga, with the now-former Raven player caught on tape hitting his fiancee (now wife) in an elevator in an Atlantic City casino earlier this year. Rice was cut from the team after a second version of the video was obtained by TMZ and released and showed a clearer view of the attack.

A CBS spokesperson admitted the Rice saga played a role in removing Rihanna’s song from the telecast – not to mention Rihanna’s own controversy stemming from a domestic violence incident in 2009 with then-boyfriend Chris Brown.

Perhaps Rihanna should’ve asked someone about crossing Pastor Les, such as Amy Jacobson or Ahern.

Or WISH in Indianapolis. When the LIN Media-owned station refused to put more money in Pastor Moonves’ collection plate (in the form of increased reverse compensation), and got kicked out of The Church, with Tribune Media’s WTTV to take its place. Other CBS affiliates owned by LIN and Media General had to agree to Pastor Les’ shakedown demands to stay in The Church.

Ol’ Larry The Cheapskate would be proud. Nice to see things haven’t changed much at CBS since 1986 with the same ineptness and greed running rampant.

There is a silver lining in all of this for Rihanna: if her song was used every week, CBS would’ve made her foot the bill for the Entertainment President’s lunch.


Broadcast Networks, Local TV (Outside Chicago), Sports, Television , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

WGN-TV, Tribune adds “Crime” to daytime

CWlogoTribune Broadcasting wants to make Crime pay in daytime.

In what looks like a first step in making over its daytime schedule, Tribune has purchased a new first-run strip titled Crime Watch Daily, scheduled to debut next fall from Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution.

The program is being targeted not only for daytime, but also for early fringe (late afternoon) time periods.

According to the distributor, Crime Watch would go after “the bad guys”, blow the lid off scandals and seek justice for victims. Crime Watch would use its network of “local newsrooms” carrying the show to report on stories all across the country.

The menu includes unsolved murders, undercover investigations, missing persons, and videos of caught-on-camera crimes.

While there has been shows of this type of genre in syndication before (remember Crimewatch Tonight and Crime Stoppers 800, two failed entries from 1989?), nothing has been done on this type of scale.

Straight from the press release, here’s Warner’s Ken Warner on the show’s potential: “There is a terrific opportunity in early fringe leading into local news as well as in daytime to capture an audience who are longing for distinctive, addictive and real life storytelling. As we’ve seen on cable and in other dayparts, audiences have an insatiable appetite for real life investigations and crime stories, which by their nature are filled with mystery, intrigue and human drama. We believe both affiliate and independent stations will embrace this unique opportunity.”

Crime Watch cleared 29 markets in the Tribune Broadcasting Group, covering 42 percent of the country, including WGN-TV in Chicago and in markets as large as New York (WPIX) and as small as Ft. Smith, Ark. (KFSM). Two months ago, Tribune indicated it may move away from trash TV shows such as Jerry Springer and Maury, which have spent more than a decade on most of Tribune’s stations.

A likely slot for Crime Watch in Chicago would either be at 10 a.m. or at 3 p.m., where either way, it would lead-in to local news. (WGN recently launched a 4 p.m. newscast.)

Crime Watch is being produced in Los Angeles by Telepictures Productions, and is the first series officially announced for the fall 2015 syndication season.

Syndication, Television , , , , , , , , , , , ,

WLUP-FM makes major changes

mqdefaultTim Virgin is back in; Patrick Capone, Maxwell are out

Everyone knew changes were inevitable when Cumulus hired Wade Linder as WLUP-FM’s (The Loop) new operations manager/program director. Over the weekend, those changes began.

On Friday, WLUP released Patrick Capone after nine years at the classic rock station. Capone broke the news on his Facebook page, thanking Chicago audiences for their support.

On the same day, WLUP fired Maxwell (a.k.a. Benjamin Bornstein) after just two years in morning drive. Also out was co-host and news anchor John Czahor, a holdover from station owner Merlin Media’s failed FM News format. Poor ratings were clearly to blame as Maxwell was never able to gain traction in Chicago as he did in other markets, where he was known as a “shock jock”.

Replacing Capone in the afternoons is Chicago radio veteran Tim Virgin, as reported Monday by Robert Feder. Virgin was at The Loop in the mid-1990’s and had two stints with the original Q101 (WKQX.) Virgin’s last position was at an alternative radio station (KEGY) in the San Diego market, where he moved to months after the original Q101 closed its doors.

In addition, WLUP has hired Lyndsey Marie Combs for middays, coming from a rock station (WNNX) in Atlanta, and former Q101 personality Pyke, who comes over from WIOT-FM in Toledo.

So far, no morning host for WLUP has been announced, with WLUP saying they are conducting a “nationwide search” (whatever that means.)

Cumulus and Linder hope the change boost declining ratings in hopes of attracting a younger audience – most who weren’t around when “The Loop” was launched in March 1977 as an AOR (album-oriented rock) station, and became home to some of Chicago’s most beloved radio personalities such as Jonathan Brandmeier, Steve Dahl & Garry Meier, and Kevin Matthews. Despite still ranking in the top ten among its key demo of males 25-54, The Loop’s glory days are long gone.

Chicago Media, Radio , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Grab Bag: Football scores in Chicago despite Bears, NFL troubles

TNF- Meredith Vieira off to so-so ratings start

- Utopia falls out of the gate

- Bulls release 2014-15 TV schedule

- Despite the troubles of the Chicago Bears and the NFL in general, ratings for pro football continue strong. The season’s first game featuring the Bears and the Buffalo Bills drew a 30.3 household rating locally for Fox, with viewers sticking with the game due to a close contest (the Bears lost.)

As another tape was released in the never-ending Ray Rice saga, the fallout hasn’t had an impact on the ratings – so far. CBS’ inaugural Thursday Night Football telecast involving Rice’s former team (Baltimore Ravens) and the Pittsburgh Steelers drew a 7.5 rating among adults 18-49 and 20.8 million viewers, up tremendously from last year’s comparable matchup on NFL Network. It was the highest rating for CBS on Thursday since May 2006 – quite a feat considering CBS’ recent dominance on Thursday nights.

Despite being down slightly in some cases, the NFL is still a powerful draw on Sundays for Fox, CBS, and NBC. This Sunday, the Bears travel to Santa Clara, Calif. to play the San Francisco 49ers in the brand new Levi’s Stadium on Sunday Night Football.

- The Chicago Bulls released their 2014-15 TV schedule Thursday with CSN Chicago carrying 42 games, with ESPN and TNT carrying ten games each, and NBA TV and ABC carrying five games each. Locally, WGN is only carrying 22 games this upcoming season – mostly on Saturday nights to avoid pre-empting CW programming. In a surprise, WGN sublicensed six Bulls games to rival Fox-owned My Network TV affiliate WPWR, instead of independent WCIU, when has been WGN’s alternative outlet since 1999.

The Bulls and Chicago White Sox at one time had a deal with Fox-owned WFLD in the late 1980’s, but Fox sued owner Jerry Reinsdorf to get out of its White Sox contract. WGN has been the over-the-air home for his teams since 1989.

Despite reports of WGN America dropping Chicago sports teams from its schedule, a WGN spokesperson told Crain’s the Bulls’ schedule for WGN America is “pending approval by the NBA”. This likely means if any actions were to happen, it won’t be until after the 2014-15 NBA regular season concludes.

- So, how did Meredith Vieira do in her first three days on the air as a new daytime talk show host? Not badly. Meredith averaged a 1.4 overnight rating and a 5 household share, and in 23 local people meter markets, averaged a 0.6 rating in the key female 25-54 demographic.

While the program hit overnight highs recently in Tampa Bay, Denver, San Diego, Nashville, and Hartford, Meredith took a tumble in Chicago: airing at 1 p.m. on WMAQ, Meredith’s household rating dropped from 1.6 from its premiere to 1.1. the next day.

Meredith also won its overnight (2 a.m.) time slot at Atlanta’s WSB.

The first episode of Meredith was pretty good and quite fun. Vieira isn’t over patronizing like Katie Couric was, and many segments were enjoyable to watch. If Vieira can deliver this type of show every day, then she should have no problem staying on the air. Paired with Steve Harvey and Ellen, NBC’s owned stations have extended their reliable afternoon programming block.

- On the opposite side of the success spectrum is Fox’s hory Utopia. After posting a 1.9 adult demo rating on September 7, the program bottomed out the following Tuesday with a 0.7 rating in the key 18-49 demo and a 0.5 demo on Friday. So have the people in Utopia working to build a better society? According to the show’s online feeds, there’s been nothing but non-stop fighting, drinking, and nudity among the participants.

In other words, it’s nothing different than you see on Rush Street on a normal Friday night.


Sports, Syndication, Television , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Meredith Vieira kicks off 2014-15 syndie season

Meredith Vieira. (Photo by: Heidi Gutman/NBCU)

Meredith Vieira. (Photo by: Heidi Gutman/NBCU)

After a season which saw several syndicated talk shows (The Test, Bethenny, Arsenio Hall, Katie, and Trisha) get canceled, this season boasts only two new shows – one of them debuted Monday.

NBCUniversal Television Distribution’s The Meredith Vieira Show is the first one out of the gate in syndication, premiered today at 1 p.m. on WMAQ-TV in a ten-station NBC O&O deal. In addition, several ABC affiliates who previously aired Katie replaced her with Meredith, such as WCVB in Boston, KSTP in Minneapolis-St.Paul, and WISN in Milwaukee.

The former View and Millionaire host and 60 Minutes correspondent has her own band, and the set is modeled just like her house (audience members must wipe their feet before coming in.)

Next Monday (Sept. 15) is the debut of another new talker, Warner Bros.’ The Real, airing at 11 a.m. on Fox-owned WFLD in a eighteen-station Fox deal. Tested on a few Fox O&Os last year, The Real features five women of ethnic backgrounds discussing numerous topics.

Here’s what else you will see in syndication this fall. All shows start September 15 unless otherwise noted:

- Court, Court and More Court. Despite the departure of Judge Alex and We The People With Gloria Allred, courtroom shows are stronger than ever, with the premieres of three new shows. From the producers of Judge Judy is Hot Bench (WCIU, 5 a.m.; U Too, 11 a.m.), which uses three judges to determine cases. Three! Debuting on Sept. 22 is Trifecta Entertainment’s Judge Faith (U Too, 11:30 a.m., 9 p.m., 9:30 p.m.), featuring former New York City prosecutor and attorney Faith Jenkins.

And look who’s back… after being disposed by Divorce Court years ago is Judge Mablean, who back with a courtroom show for Entertainment Studios (U Too, Noon.)

- Game show junction. In addition to Debmar-Mercury with Celebrity Name Game (debuts Sept. 22 on WGN-TV at 10 a.m., 10:30 a.m. and 10 p.m.), is the debut of Let’s Ask America with host Bill Bellamy (U Too, 12:30 p.m., 2:00 a.m.), which aired last season on several Scripps-owned stations.

In addition, Name Game landed a key prime access time slot in New York (WPIX, 7:30 p.m.)

- More off-net comedies. Yes, there are more off-network sitcoms (or actually coming off a broadcast network) than in recent years, with four shows debuting this fall – but none of the “A-list” like The Big Bang Theory. WCIU has landed three of them: Twentieth’s Raising Hope (9:30 p.m.); off-TVLand Hot In Cleveland (5:30 p.m. and midnight), and Disney-ABC’s Cougar Town (starts Sept. 22 at 4 p.m. on U Too and 2:30 a.m. on WCIU.)

Also making its debut on Sept. 22 is FX’s Anger Management, airing locally on WPWR (yours truly was unable to obtain showtimes at press time.)

- More drama on the weekend. WBBM is adding CBS Television Distribution’s Good Wife and Blue Bloods to its Saturday and Sunday late night schedule respectively (11pm-1am), replacing Criminal Minds and CSI: Miami.  Meanwhile, WLS-TV is moving Castle to Saturday nights and adding Scandal to its late night Sunday lineup. Scandal replaces Private Practice in syndication.

WCIU is adding a pair of first-run dramas to its schedule: CBC/City TV crime drama Murdoch Mysteries (U Too, Saturdays and Sundays at 6 p.m.) and The Pinkertons, which is scheduled for a 2 a.m. Sunday morning slot on WCIU. Put on the coffee!

- Other schedule changes. In addition to WLS re-establishing its core 2-4 p.m. lineup (which also included acquiring Rachael Ray to air at 1 p.m.), WCIU is adding an extra hour to You & Me This Morning; syndicated weekly sports gabfest In Depth With Graham Bensinger shifted on Sept. 7 from WMAQ to WFLD/WPWR; WGN-TV adding a 4 p.m. weekday newscast, and WPWR adding another hour to its Family Feud block, meaning four episodes back-to-back-to-back-to-back from 5 to 7 every weeknight!

Perhaps the biggest change is yet another episode reduction of The Simpsons from the local schedule, which at one point aired three times a day on WFLD to now airing only at 9:30 p.m. on WPWR (at this point, the best way to watch Simpsons reruns on FXX.)

- And the rest. Other new shows on local schedules include blooper show What Went Down (Saturdays at 3 p.m and 3:30 p.m. on WGN-TV); and The Conspiracy Show With Richard Syrett (Sunday morning, 1:30 a.m. on U Too.) Folks, you can’t make shows like this up.)

What’s Out:

Aside from what’s already been mentioned, other shows not returning this fall include Access Hollywood Live, pushed out by Meredith Vieira’s talk show on the NBC O&Os (Access Hollywood continues in production) and Trifecta’s newsmagazine America Now. Both ended their runs on Friday.

Locally, WCIU has dropped The Queen Latifah Show, but remains at 2 p.m. on CBS-owned WBBM-TV.

Other series not returning to syndication this fall includes That ’70’s Show, ‘Til Death, Cash Cab, Cold Case Files, Bloopers, and Beer Geeks.

Syndication, Television , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Remembering Roy Leonard

Roy-Leonard-studioWGN Television and Radio personality left lasting impact

Just 24 hours after Joan Rivers passed away, another well-known radio and TV personality has left us.

Roy Leonard died quietly surrounded by family and friends last Thursday night in an Evanston Hospital, where he was admitted recently. He was 83.

Leonard arrived to WGN from Boston in 1967, and remained with the station until his retirement in 1998. Throughout most of this duration, Leonard hosted a top-rated midday radio show where he interviewed people from all walks of life: politicians, entertainers, celebrities, athletes, and others. Leonard scaled back his work schedule in 1995; he appeared on the radio station on a weekend-only basis until 1998.

Leonard was also a staunch supporter of the arts, reviewing theater productions on his website, and was also a movie reviewer for both WGN Radio and Television. Leonard succeeded the late Frazier Thomas as host of WGN-TV’s Family Classics from 1985 to 2000 when by that time, it became a series of quarterly specials. He also regularly appeared on WGN-TV’s newscasts in the role of movie and theater critic.

After retiring from WGN Radio in 1998, Leonard hardly slowed down: in addition to writing reviews of local theater productions on his website, Leonard also appeared via phone on Nick Digillo’s weekend show, where the duo would discuss movies (Digillo credited Leonard for helping him break into the radio business.)

Funeral arrangements have been made, with services being held on September 13.

Various , , , ,

Remembering Joan Rivers

Joan Rivers

If there was a first lady of stand-up comedy, no one would argue about Joan Rivers’ claim to the title.

The legendary comedienne died Thursday after she went into cardiac arrest during a vocal cord procedure a week ago at a New York City clinic. She was 81.

Rivers became the first female comedian to break through the all-male stranglehold of stand-up comedy in the 1950’s and 1960’s, which led her to numerous appearances and a guest-hosting stint on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and to her own late-night, daytime, and cable programs.

Born as Joan Alexander Molinsky in Brooklyn, New York, Rivers honed her skills in comedy clubs in Greenwich Village area of New York and also briefly was a member of Second City here in Chicago. Her first TV appearance came on The Tonight Show (with Jack Paar.) Rivers first appeared on Carson’s Tonight Show in 1965, and also appeared on Ed Sullivan and Carol Burnett’s shows.

She worked behind-the-scenes, too: she was a gag writer on Candid Camera, did voiceover work for The Adventures Of Letterman segments on The Electric Company; wrote the 1973 TV-movie The Girl Most Likely To… which starred Stockard Channing; and also wrote the 1978 theatrical Rabbit Test, featuring Billy Crystal as the world’s first pregnant man.

In 1983, Rivers assumed full-time responsibilities as Carson’s guest host whenever he was on vacation (which was a lot.)

In 1986, Rivers departed Tonight for the upstart Fox network’s new late-night strip, The Late Show. It was the first show on the new fourth network on October 9, 1986. The Late Show was punctuated with a lot of turmoil between Rivers and Fox, as documented in Daniel Kimmel’s book The Fourth Network: How Fox Broke The Rules And Reinvented Television. Rivers left The Late Show in 1987; her husband Edgar (who produced the show), committed suicide shortly thereafter.

Rivers’ relationship with Carson crumbled after she left; the two would never speak again. She would not return to the Tonight Show until this past March, a month after Jimmy Fallon took over as host.

After two uneventful years as the center square on the John Davidson-hosted version of Hollywood Squares, Rivers returned to the talk show circuit in September 1989 with The Joan Rivers Show, a light-hearted daytime talk show host distributed by the now-defunct Tribune Entertainment. Rivers won a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Talk Show Host in 1990.

Known for “Gossip! Gossip! Gossip!“, Rivers’ daytime show competed with Live With Regis & Kathie Lee in many key markets, sparking a rivalry between the two New York-based shows.

With ratings declining, Tribune and Rivers pulled the plug in late 1993, reformatted the show, and became Can We Shop? in 1994, combining talk with home shopping, with local stations sharing in any revenues from products sold on the program. The effort was a disaster, and lasted just six months.

In 1994, Rivers and her daughter Melissa began hosting pre-show Red Carpet events for E!, including the Academy Awards and Golden Globes. The duo moved their pre-show duties to the fledgling TV Guide Channel in 2003; but returned to E! in 2010 to work on Fashion Police, with elder Rivers as a panelist and her daughter as an executive producer.

Other appearances Joan Rivers made in recent years included a memorable role on Celebrity Apprentice, where she beat poker player Annie Duke, sparking a huge rivalry between the two; appearing with Melissa in WeTV reality series Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best?; and appearing as herself on Louie.

Rivers recently appeared in a commercial for Dodge, poking fun at herself and her numerous “plastic surgeries”. Of course, she was also known for those “can we talk” ads for MCI.

In later years, Rivers became more and more frank with her comedy – she would say things which would be considered “un-PC”. She often stood her ground, refusing to apologize for anything she said. She recently made news for storming out of a CNN interview.

Whether if she made you laugh – or made you cringe – Joan Rivers certainly made an impact on comedy. She never took herself seriously – and maybe, neither should we. And that’s what made her so great.

As a bonus, here’s a promo for her daytime talk show, as it aired on NBC affiliate (now CBS-owned) WBZ-TV in Boston in August 1989:


“Full House” mulling revival

1994 Full House castIn the “you’ve got to be kidding me” department, Warner Bros. is considering a revival of the sitcom Full House, which ran on ABC for eight seasons between 1987 and 1995.

According to TV Guide, most of the cast – with the exception of Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen and Lori Loughlin (who currently stars in two series for the Hallmark Channel) are on board. Also on board are two principals with the original show: Jeff Franklin, who created the show and is writing the pilot; and co-producer Bob Boyett.

The Full House revival is currently on the drawing board; a deal has yet to be struck with any network.

The effort is no doubt fueled by the success of Girl Meets World, the update of the ABC sitcom Boy Meets World currently airing on the Disney Channel, and the recent revival of Dallas, now in its third season on TNT.

Though never a critical favorite, Full House was a big hit among younger audiences and was a cornerstone of ABC’s TGIF lineup before moving to Tuesday nights, finishing in the Top 25 in seven of its eight seasons on the air.

But the series’ strength lies within its reruns. Currently airing on Nick-At-Nite, Full House is averaging 1.5 million viewers a night and a 0.4 rating among adults 18-49. Moreover, the series is drawing better ratings among kids and teens – just like it did during its original off-network broadcast syndication run, which lasted a dozen years.

In its first syndication cycle, Full House was the top-rated off-net show among kids and finishing right behind Saved By The Bell and Married…With Children in the teen demo. In adult demos, House was competitive with Cheers, Golden Girls, Cosby Show, and Married.

During the mid-1990’s, Full House often finished as the market’s top rated off-network sitcom in Chicago at 5 p.m. on WGN-TV, who parent company Tribune Broadcasting struck a six-station deal for the show.

Full House also was the last sitcom to air in daytime on the major networks; selected reruns aired on NBC just before going into syndication in 1991. Full House reruns also has aired on ABC Family, TBS, and WGN America.

Recently, three of the series stars – Bob Saget, Dave Coulier, and John Stamos all made appearances on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon (before Fallon became host of the Tonight Show), reprising their Full House characters; and also appeared in a Super Bowl Commercial for Dannon Oikos Yogurt:

While Full House’s revival is being considered, keep in mind not all comebacks work: The Arsenio Hall Show, whose original run’s height of popularity peaked at the same time Full House’s did, wasn’t able to generate any interest the second time around.


Win or lose, Jackie Robinson West scores big weekend numbers

Your U.S. Little League Champs!

Your U.S. Little League Champs!

The Emmys may have been Monday night (Breaking Bad and Modern Family – again – were the big winners), but the biggest winner this past weekend was a team of little leaguers from the South Side of Chicago.

The Jackie Robinson West little league squad games on Saturday and Sunday were a huge ratings draw, with the weekend games on ABC drawing more viewers than all prime-time programs in the Chicago market.

According to the Sun-Times’ Lori Rackl and Ed Sherman’s Sherman Report, Saturday’s victory for the U.S. Championship against the Las Vegas team on Saturday scored a 13.4 household rating – equivalent to 475,000 homes, and was easily the most-watched program of the day. On Sunday, Jackie Robinson West’s loss to South Korea drew a 15 rating, equivalent to 532,000 homes.

By comparison, the always buzzworthy Video Music Awards drew only a 5.3 household rating, which is still a good showing for a cable program in prime-time (nationally, the Beyonce-fueled MTV spectacle drew a solid 4.2 rating among adults 18-49, easily winning the night. )

According to Sherman, the weekend Little League games nationally, Saturday’s game averaged a 3.6 overnight household rating, up 71 percent from last years’U.S. Championship. Sunday’s title game was down slightly to a 3.5, but was up 35 percent from last year.

Final national numbers for Saturday’s game showed the U.S. Championship earning a 3.4 rating and 5.2 million viewers, up 62 percent and 65 percent respectively, from last year’s comparable game, and marking the highest rating and viewership for a U.S. title game in a dozen years (Sunday’s national numbers were not yet available.)

The all African-American baseball team produced a tremendous storyline, with the kids showing off hard work, determination, grit, class, and dignity. Chicagoans rallied behind the team, cheering them on either at home or one of the many viewing parties held across the area, including one taking place outside of WLS-TV, the station carrying the games.

The magical run has also offered the city a respite from the steady stream of negative national and international press Chicago has received since at least 2009, when the city lost a bid to host the Summer Olympics, though it should be noted the Blackhawks’ successful Stanley Cup run in 2010 and 2013 did the same thing.

And similar to when the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup, we can expect the negative press about Chicago to return once the accolades are over (not to mention a return to the regular bitching about WGN Radio and its management.)

But in the meantime, let the celebrations continue! On Wednesday, a parade is being thrown to honor the Jackie Robinson West squad, starting in the Morgan Park neighborhood, passing through U.S. Cellular Field (home of the White Sox) and finishing with a big rally at Millennium Park downtown. Several local stations and CSN Chicago plan to carry the parade and rally.

Sports, Television , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Jackie Robinson West Little League team packing Chicago viewers in

Jackie Robinson West Little League Team. (Sun-Gazette)

Jackie Robinson West Little League Team. (Sun-Gazette)

Jackie Robinson West run to title sets ratings records

Little League Squad outdraws both Cubs and White Sox combined in the ratings 

Aside from the Chicago Blackhawks winning two Stanley Cups, the last few years have been an absolute nightmare for the Windy City on the national stage, with idiot pundits taking shots at our murder rate, quality of living, and even pizza.

But there is a local baseball team who are two wins away from a World Series Championship.

What, you thought I was talking about the Cubs and White Sox?

Yours truly is talking about the Jackie Robinson West Little League Squad, whose run to the World Series title is capturing the hearts of Chicago fans – and TV viewers. The all African-American team from Chicago’s South Side have a shot to win it all and as of this writing, are two wins away. It is the first time in 31 years a team from the Chicago area is in the Little League World Series.

Thursday night’s game between JRW and the team from Philadelphia won its time period in Chicago – earning a 7.6 household rating on ESPN, up 105 percent from Monday night’s 3.7, where it placed third behind CBS’ Under The Dome and ABC’s Bachelor in Paradise, and ahead of the Cleveland-Washington NFL Preseason game, which had a 3.0.

To no one’s surprise by now, JRW is outdrawing Chicago’s two sorry Major League Baseball teams.

Monday’s Little League game on ESPN 2 held a whopping 428 percent ratings advantage over the Orioles-White Sox airing at the same time on CSN Comcast, which earned a 0.7 household rating locally – which may be a historic low for any primetime White Sox game on any channel.

Both the Cubs and White Sox have the worst ratings in Major League Baseball this season as losses continue to pile up. Among teams whose reach is above 70 percent in their home market (which excludes the Dodgers and Astros due to channel carriage disputes), both teams rank in the Nielsen basement with the Cubs 26th and the White Sox dead last at 27th. The JRW squad has outranked both of them, by far.

Meanwhile, national ratings for the Little League World Series haven’t been too shabby: Wednesday’s game between Las Vegas and Philly drew a 3.1 household rating and close to five million viewers for ESPN, marking the largest audience for a Little League game since 2007.

The Jackie Robinson West squad will now take on the Las Vegas this Saturday afternoon for the U.S. Championship, which is sure to be a ratings bonanza for ABC and for WLS-TV locally. If they win, then they’ll go for the World Championship on Sunday.


Growing opposition to dropping sports blackout rule


The Chicago Bears and the NFL oppose the blackout rule from being permanently lifted.

The Chicago Bears and the NFL oppose the blackout rule from being permanently lifted.

Illinois’ Black Caucus latest to voice objection

With the NFL now selling out stadiums coast-to-coast with the increased popularity of the league, the logic would be the rule that blacks out home NFL games on TV 72 hours before a game is sold out would be outdated, right?

You might want to think again.

Led by FCC Democratic Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, the NFL blackout rule, which has been on the books since 1973 would go away, She feels the rule is outdated as NFL games are at full capacity every Sunday amid an era of video changes. The view was also shared by Republican Commissioner Ajit Pai, who said the government should not be involved in rule making.

But scrapping the rule has run into opposition by the National Association of Broadcasters, who fear cable and satellite systems would import the games from out-of-market, which local TV stations also oppose. The National Football League and Major League Baseball also oppose dropping the rule.

For example, say the Chicago Bears are playing the Denver Broncos and the game is blacked out in Chicago. Without the rule, cable and satellite operators could easily import the feed of the Bears-Broncos game to Chicago from the Denver station carrying it, potentially robbing the local Chicago station prohibited from carrying the game millions in revenue.

In recent weeks, opposition to dropping the rule has grown with Fox and CBS affiliates objecting, and now even black leaders and the Congressional Black Caucus have expressed concern if the rule is scrapped, it’ll make the NFL and other sports teams easier to move games to basic cable or even premium cable, shutting out those who couldn’t afford to pay, particularly in low-income minority areas.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson filed wrote in a letter in objection to dropping the rule, stating it could lead to a dropoff in attendance, thus less employment opportunities for low-income and minorities, he said. He also pointed out TV viewers “should not bear the brunt of the harm, and stadiums should not be robbed of their value, especially in communities with some of the greatest economic needs.” Having full stadiums also would benefit businesses near such facilities.

The Congressional Black Caucus voiced similar objections, stating in a letter of the FCC if the blackout rule was repealed, sports leagues – notably the NFL – would be able to move their games to pay TV if attendance dropped and viewers would have to pay to see their teams – a scrneio that could hurt minorities and low-income individuals. They believe preserving the rule would help over-the-air broadcasters in the long term.

Three of the Black Caucus’ Illinois delegation signed the letter – Rep. Bobby Rush (D-1st), Rep. Robin Kelly (D-2nd), and Rep. Danny Davis (7th). Together, they represent more than 90 percent of the Chicago area’s African-American population. The rule does have bearing in Chicago as a significant number of games involving six of Chicago’s pro sports teams (as well as the WNBA’s Sky and AHL’s Wolves) are on over-the-air broadcast TV.

But that could soon change: The Cubs are still hunting for a partner to carry 70 or so games starting next season; WGN-TV is reportedly losing money on its current Cubs contract.

If the rule disappears, it could be easier for the Cubs – not to mention the Bulls and White Sox, whose deals with WGN reportedly expire in 2016 – to strike deals which could move their games exclusively to cable.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has called a vote to get rid of the rule this fall.

And even if the rule were scrapped, sports leagues can still write those blackout rules into contracts, nor would it prevent local teams from also doing so (the Chicago Blackhawks had such a rule until 2008.)

Before 1973, the NFL prohibited home games from being locally televised.

FCC/Politics/Government, Sports, Television

Craig Ferguson in talks to land new talk show – in prime access

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

According to Variety, Craig Ferguson is in “advanced talks” to host a new talk show produced by Tribune Media.

But instead of the show being targeted for daytime, early fringe, or late night time slots, which usually is the case for most programs in this genre, Ferguson’s show would be targeted to prime access, generally 6-8 p.m., depending on what time zone you live in.

If this succeeds in getting on the air, it would mark the first time in known memory a talk show would air in the daypart.

Since its creation in 1971, the “prime access” hour – derived from the FCC’s now-defunct Prime Time Access Rule – or PTAR, was developed to create original programming for the hour before prime-time and prohibited any network programming – even off-network programming – from airing in the time period in the nation’s fifty-largest markets on CBS, NBC, and ABC stations.

Since the 1980’s, the daypart has been dominated by game shows such as Wheel Of Fortune, various incarnations of Family Feud, and Jeopardy, and newsmagazine/celebrity shows, including Entertainment Tonight, Inside Edition, A Current Affair, and Access: Hollywood.

The last time an unconventional format aired in prime access (excluding weekends) was variety, which saw the likes of Bobby Goldsboro, Stand Up and CheerThe Muppet Show, and Sha Na Na air in the 1970s when stations were still checkerboarding shows in prime access – i.e. airing different shows every night of the week.

Ferguson’s program would likely be a talk/variety hybrid, lasting a half-hour and would be targeted for a fall 2016 launch. Ferguson is exiting CBS’ The Late Late Show as host in December.

Tribune’s massive reach would put the show in 42 markets (including WGN-TV in Chicago) and would be adjacent to either Ferguson’s game show (Celebrity Name Game), which debuts this fall on Tribune stations or an existing off-network sitcom such as Two And A Half Men.

Tribune is expected to partner with a syndicator to sell the show in non-Tribune markets – most notably Debmar-Mercury, who Tribune partners with on Celebrity Name Game.

The news comes as station groups are becoming more and more wary of airing off-network sitcoms: most are now single-cam comedies, and have little mainstream appeal outside niche audiences.

With prime access slots locked up on major affiliates for the next few years, getting Ferguson cleared would be a challenge. However, some local stations – especially CW and MyNetworkTV affiliates and other independents would welcome such a first-run alternative as syndicators are starting to pass up local stations to sell off-network comedies to cable as the market is drying up  (odd, considering PTAR’s expiration in 1996 was supposed to help the off-network sitcom on broadcast stations by opening up new sales opportunities.)

Last week, Twentieth Television sold off-network rights to New Girl to TBS and MTV for 2015, with no broadcast syndication deal yet in place. So far, there are no announced off-network sitcoms being brought to market for fall 2016.

Then, there’s the growing clout of Tribune, who along with Fox and Sinclair, control much of the syndication market on the station side.

If Ferguson succeeds in getting his early-evening talk show off the ground and is a ratings success, it could put the nail in the coffin of the struggling off-network sitcom business.

Cable, Syndication, Television , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

T Dog’s Grab Bag: Back to the future for ABC 7’s daytime lineup

"Jeopardy" returns to 3:30 p.m. this fall on ABC7.

“Jeopardy” returns to 3:30 p.m. this fall on ABC7.

- Inside Edition/Jeopardy return to old time slot

- WMAQ adds 11 a.m. newscast

- Chicago Little Leaguers success on and off the field

- Dan McNeil, Cheryl Scott exit while Dish Nation adds a Real Housewife 

- Back to the future in early fringe: as expected, ABC-owned WLS-TV is returning syndicated first-run series Inside Edition and Jeopardy to its respective 3 and 3:30 p.m. slots, beginning on September 15. Also returning to its 2 p.m. slot is General Hospital, the only soap remaining on ABC’s daytime schedule.

Both Inside Edition and Jeopardy were both uprooted two years ago from their longtime slots and each moved an hour earlier to make room for Katie Couric’s ill-fated talk show, in a mandate which forced ABC-owned stations to air the show at 3 p.m. Katie’s last show on WLS is on September 12. The final first-run episode aired July 30.

On the other end of the success spectrum, Jeopardy recently scored a major victory by topping all syndicated shows for only the second time in ten years.

Rachael Ray, which WLS acquired in an ABC O&O deal, is being slotted at 1 p.m. starting September 15, as a lead-out to ABC’s The Chew. Not a surprise given both shows are cooking/celebrity oriented and compliment one another.

The news was first reported by Robert Feder on August 8.

- Daytime changes are a foot at NBC-owned WMAQ as well: as first reported by the Tribune’s Robert Channick Friday, the station is moving its noon newscast to 11 a.m. and expanding an hour, starting September 8. Marion Brooks is being teamed up with Stefan Holt to anchor the newscast, with a returning Byron Miranda on weather.

To make room, WMAQ is moving Days Of Our Lives from 11 to 12 noon – its traditional time slot it held for decades, up until the 1990s. Also starting on the 8th is Meredith Vieira’s new talk show, which replaces Access Hollywood Live at 1 p.m. There is no word if Live would be back for another season on WMAQ, given there is no longer room on the station’s schedule to air the show.

- Comings and goings… well, goings: Unable to come to an agreement, WSCR-AM decided to part ways with veteran sports talker Dan McNeil. According to Robert Feder, McNeil was seeking a pay raise from $300,000 to $500,000 a year – not to mention an unrealistic demand on being moved to afternoons, a spot now occupied by Terry Boers and Dan Bernstein.

Also on the outs is WMAQ weekend forecaster Cheryl Scott (snif), who also didn’t come to terms on a contract renewal (and jeers to the “blue site blogger” who suggested Scott should work for Pittsburgh’s Fox affiliate [WPGH]. One problem – their news is actually produced by the city’s NBC affiliate [WPXI]. Whiff!)

- This shouldn’t surprise anybody: Thursday’s Little League World Series game featuring the South Side’s Jackie Robinson West squad – beat both the Cubs and White Sox in the ratings. According to Nielsen, the game earned a 2.4 for ESPN, compared with a 1.4 season average for the Cubs and a 1.3 season average for the White Sox, both on CSN – ranking 26th and 27th among all MLB teams. Jackie Robinson West – the first African-American baseball team to go to the LLWS in 30 years – played again on Sunday, but lost to a squad from Las Vegas.

Jackie Robinson West: Chicago’s 2014 Major League Baseball Team.

- Dish Nation gets upgrades and adds a Housewife: According to AJC.Com’s Rodney Ho, Twentieth Television’s syndicated Dish Nation has added a new personality – from the Atlanta-based Rickey Smiley Show – but it’s not the same person heard on the radio show.

Claudia Jordan, the former Price Is Right and Deal Or No Deal model, replaced the recently released Ebonie Steele on Smiley’s syndicated radio show, which is heard in sixty markets, including Power 92.3 locally (WPWX.)

But Jordan is not the one joining Dish Nation.

Instead, the gig went to Porsha Williams, who is a Real Housewives Of Atlanta cast member. She has no plans to be on the radio show.

After Smiley’s show wraps up for the day (around 10 a.m. Atlanta time, or so), Jordan departs and Williams comes in, recording the Dish Nation segments with Smiley and the rest of his crew (this means what you see on Dish isn’t heard on the radio show.)

Williams – who is the daughter of civil rights activist Hosea Williams – was originally a fill-in after Steele’s departure. But the chemistry between her and the rest of the cast was there, and she fits in quite perfectly in this awesome sizzle reel:

The move convinced Fox-owned WAGA in Atlanta to recently upgrade the show to prime access (7 p.m.) from 11:30 p.m., due to increasing ratings, swapping slots with NBCUniversal’s Access: Hollywood. (Dish Nation recently scored an 1.0 household rating nationally.) Currently, radio shows from Los Angeles, Seattle, and Dallas (without Kidd Kraddick, who passed away last year) contribute to Dish.

Locally, Dish Nation airs on WFLD-TV weekdays at 5:30 p.m. and 11 p.m.

Ironically, Jordan and former Tyler Perry’s House Of Payne star Demetria McKinney are being considered to join the Real Housewives of Atlanta cast – yes, the very show Williams is on. Could there be some “drama” if Jordan joins the show? If so, you can thank an unlikely figure – Rickey Smiley.

Chicago Media, Local TV (Chicago), Radio, Television , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

T Dog’s Think Tank: The media fails us on Ferguson


KSDK caught this image of the Ferguson, Mo. police dept. throwing tear gas at another TV crew. (KSDK.com)

KSDK caught this image of the Ferguson, Mo. police dept. throwing tear gas at another TV crew. (KSDK.com)

What can you say about the coverage of the Ferguson, Mo. disturbances from the broadcast networks and cable news networks?

They dropped the ball, of course, with the lack of live coverage of the events unfolding in the St. Louis suburb over the last few nights.

And if you were a journalist, you sure as hell didn’t have an easy time covering the chaos – which actually turned chaotic.

This all began last Saturday with the police shooting of an African-American eighteen year-old man named Mike Brown in Ferguson, who died on the scene. His death sparked outrage nationwide, especially on social media. Protests took place in Ferguson Sunday night, but took a violent turn and became an orgy of rioting and looting. Pictures of the mayhem were posted on social media.

On Wednesday night, Ferguson cops basically became the Barney Fife Police Force and started arresting citizens at will, including journalists. Reporters from the Washington Post and Huffington Post were roughed up by police and detained. Police shot a canister of tear gas at a Al Jazzera America crew during a live shot. And a news crew from local NBC affiliate KSDK was confronted by police “with guns drawn” and was told to get out of the area.

All of a sudden, Ferguson, Missouri became Ferguson, North Korea. Only in a communist country is where you would find someone trying to squelch freedom of the press. And the last time I checked, the United States of America did not fall under that jurisdiction. Not surprisingly, the Barney Fife police chief defended his actions in Ferguson.

Once again, the Internet and social media is where people turned to for a breaking news story.

But what about cable news you ask?

Ha Ha Ha. Don’t make me laugh. Did CNN find the Malaysian plane yet? Is Fox News through blaming President Obama for everything? Has Rachel Maddow of MSNBC developed a personality? I guess CNN would like to bring you live coverage of the Ferguson protests but would have to cut in to show that Rahm Emanuel infomercial called Chicagoland.  Cable news has become irrelevant – is it little wonder why those looking for information on Ferguson sought it out on the Internet – especially on social media?

And don’t even mention Chicago’s local news. Looking for information on Ferguson there is like looking for a physics book at Wal-Mart.

But let’s talk about St. Louis media for a moment. I found this message from someone named “Sick Simoni” on KMOV’s facebook page (click here for a larger view:)

Sick Simoni St. Louis

It helps to note there’s not much choice in local TV news in St. Louis, as media consolidation hit the local newsrooms hard. Last year, Gannett (the owner of NBC affiliate KSDK) bought Belo, the owner of CBS affiliate KMOV and tried to sell the station to a “shadow company” that would’ve given all of the profits to Gannett. (KMOV – a former CBS-owned station under the KMOX calls – is now owned by Meredith Corp.)

The newsrooms of Fox affiliate KTVI and CW affiliate KPLR merged a few years ago, and now share a single owner in Tribune Media.

And Sinclair-owned ABC affiliate KDNL-TV doesn’t even have a news operation.

What this means is those watchdogs put in place to check St. Louis government have lessened. Like Chicago and Cook County, St. Louis City and County are notoriously corrupt, with high taxes and residents fleeing the area.  In 1989, St. Louis ranked eighteenth in market size. Today, it ranks 21st.

Even worse, the St. Louis market ranked 25th with a mere $151 million in revenue (according to BIA/Kelsey in 2009 – the latest year I can find online), ranking it behind the smaller Charlotte and San Antonio markets.

And most recently, the last locally-owned station in St. Louis – My Network TV affiliate WRBU-TV – was recently sold to ION after Roberts Broadcasting went bankrupt (Koplar Communications, another locally-owned outfit, sold KPLR to ACME Communications in 1997, which was swallowed by Tribune in 2003.)

At one time, there was five choices in local TV news in St. Louis. Today, there are only three, tying financially-troubled Detroit for the fewest of any major market.

Look, its about time local stations start earning their FCC licenses. I know the discussion of issues like racism and police brutality isn’t going to send viewers into the entrances. But there are those who are looking for this type of discussion – civic-minded people who are looking for meaningful discussions. Unfortunately, Madison Avenue and Wall Street don’t value these audiences. Instead, you get the same shootings, fires, and accidents you always get on Chicago and St. Louis TV news, and elsewhere because its easier to serve local news like a Big Double at Happy Burger.

As the picture above states, social media is starting to make news outlets useless, on all levels, as proven the last few nights. TV news need to get their act together. And quick.

[Edited at 11:23 a.m. on 2014-08-18: corrected KTVI's network affiliation]

Journalism, Television , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,