Best/Worst Super Bowl Commercials of 2018: We’re having the time of our lives

Tide strikes again

Last year, Tide had two memorable ads in the top ten as Procter & Gamble “cleaned up” in the Best Commercials category.

This year, Tide took over the whole damn show.

That sums up T Dog Media’s twelfth annual Super Bowl Commercial roundup, featuring a marked change from years past – with ads showing social activism and the human side of life, with several heart-tugging ads addressing hurricane relief, cancer, and beating long-odds. Another ad (T-Mobile) addressed pay inequality.

There were also some funny ads – notably the Tide spots and of course, some lame offerings from Sprint and a Dodge truck spot, using Martin Luther King Jr.’s voice in perhaps a new low for advertising.

The Amazon Alexa Ad topped USA Today’s annual Super Bowl Ad Meter, but yours truly found it unexciting – however, it wasn’t among one of the worst. And the M&M spot would have been better if the Red M&M turned into Wil Wheaton – and then get smacked all over the place.

Here are the top ten best and the top ten worst. Promos, movie trailers, and the one featuring a black screen do not count. Keep in mind some of these videos on this page may not be available later on.


1. Toyota, Good Odds. The first commercial to air during the Super Bowl was also the best. Featuring Olympic Gold Medal Winner Lauren Woostencroft This proves anything can be possible it you work hard at achieving your goal – despite the circumstances.

2. The PepsiCo Mash Up (Doritos Blaze vs. Mtn Dew Ice.) This ad with Peter Dinklage and Morgan Freeman rap-syncing is everything. And more.

3. Tide, It’s A Super Bowl Ad. (All four). Yours truly decided to group all four Tide ads into one group, and talk about thinking out of the box with Stranger Things’ David Harbour telling us “It’s A Tide Ad”. Well done, P&G! To see the other ads – all fifteen seconds in length, click here, here, and here.

4. Groupon, Who Wouldn’t. Tiffany Haddish in a spot where a real-life Hans Moleman gets a football to the groin.

5. NFL, Touchdown Celebrations To Come. It’s the New York Giants’ Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. in an ad parodying Dirty Dancing! And it’s much better than last year’s piece-of-shit TV-movie remake!

To see the rest of the commercials ranked sixth to tenth, click on the links.

6. Avocados from Mexico, GuacWorld. Aww. We won’t get to meet and greet Mr. Man Who Lived Under The Seats on Late Night With David Letterman.

7. Lexus/Black Panther. Not a trailer, but this ad ties-in to the highly anticipated Black Panther movie with terrific results.

8. Rocket Mortgage. Keegan-Michael Key (Key & Peele) explains to people what they’re really getting. Rapper Big Sean makes a cameo.

9. Tourism Australia, Dundee. This ad featuring Danny McBride and Chris Helmworth had us thinking we were going to see a Crocodile Dundee reboot. Instead, it’s a clever ruse to visit Australia!

10. E-Trade, This Is Getting Old. If you run out of money during your retirement… oh man, you are so screwed.

Honorable mention: Jack In The Box, Jack vs. Martha. Even though this ad only aired regionally (Jack In The Box bolted from the Chicago area by 1980), this commercial – part of YouTube’s Ad Blitz, was completely hilarious. Jack vs. Martha Stewart is a rivalry worth following. But if all fails, Martha could always blow up the box…


Surprisingly, there weren’t as many clunker ads this year as there were in the past. But there are always THOSE ads (click on the links to watch)

1. Dodge Ram/MLK. I have a dream… that a treasured civil-rights icon such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would never he used in ads to push a four-wheel drive truck. Did Dodge speak to the geniuses who came up with the Adrianna Furs’ “I Have A Dream Sale”?

2. Sprint, Evelyn. A bunch of robots laughing at a human because he doesn’t use the nation’s worst telecom carrier. Coming up next, the poor sap gets insulted by The Progressive Box.

3. Wendy’s, Iceberg. Burger King made the best anti-McDonald’s commercials.

4. Turisk Airlines, Five Senses With Dr. Oz. Dr. Oz – who appeared in front of a House committee a few years ago over false weight-loss claims, is now pitching a Turisk airline? I’ll drive to Turkey, thank you.

5. Diet Coke, Groove. For a product that tastes like cat piss, their commercials follow suit. Of note is this ranked dead last in USA Today’s Super Bowl Ad Meter.

Halftime Show

This year’s halftime show featured the return of Justin Timberlake – and we all know what happened the last time he appeared. With that said, his performance – a medley of hits and some new material was meh-like. Though yours truly likes a lot of his material, Can’t Stop The Feeling – one of his weakest songs in my opinion – was overplayed to the point of nausea.

Keep in mind a lot of people believed Timberlake didn’t deserve the spot due to him throwing Janet Jackson under the bus during the Nippelgate fallout. Super Bowl halftime shows are often hit or miss, but this one missed by a mile.

Grade: D

Black Screen Of Death

Regarding the commercial with the black screen, NBC had a technical difficulty when they threw it to a break that didn’t exist, and after fifteen seconds, went back to the game. The action resulted in dead air and a black screen. No commercial was scheduled, but the fifteen-second “Black Screen Of Death” resulted in hysteria on social media, which was kind of ridiculous.

Further reading

This is the twelfth consecutive year T Dog Media has done a Super Bowl Commercial roundup. For past reviews dating back to 2007, click here (older videos posted in those reviews may no longer be available.)

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Fox signs five-year deal for Thursday Night Football

Fox doubles down on football despite declining ratings, financial losses

In a blockbuster deal, Fox announced Wednesday it has acquired the NFL’s Thursday Night Football package in a five-year, $3 billion pact, roughly $550 million a year. Effective next season, Fox replaces CBS and NBC as the primary broadcasters.

The deal calls for Fox to produce the entire slate (eighteen games in total) of games for the NFL Network, who would also continue to carry Thursday night games, with Fox eleven of those. In addition, the deal includes a sponsorship from Anehuser-Busch, titling it Thursday Night Football Sponsored by Bud Light. Also, Fox gets expanded digital rights through mobile phones, and also gets to broadcast games in Spanish through Fox Deportes.

The NFL has yet to award digital rights for TNF, which went to Amazon last year and to Twitter in 2015. There is no word who would be the announcing teams but it’s unlikely Troy Aikman and Joe Buck would be in the booth for TNF as Buck has post-season baseball duties in October (since Fox also has rights to the World Series, Major League Baseball is expected to avoid scheduling those games on Thursday nights.) The Thanksgiving night game isn’t part of the package; it remains with NBC under its Sunday Night Football deal.

The news wasn’t received well by investors. Shares of Fox’s parent company (21st Century Fox) dropped in midday trading. Ratings declines for NFL games for the past two seasons have been well-documented.

There were numerous bidders for the package; in addition to Fox, CBS, and NBC, ABC/ESPN also bid on the package, but dropped out. There was concern from CBS and NBC about TNF disrupting the regular prime-time schedules as it has did for the past few years, as it lost money for both networks. Now with the entire package at Fox, that won’t be the case – except for the money-losing part.

For example, CBS moved the first few episodes of The Big Bang Theory of the season to Monday nights for the last few years while football was airing on Thursdays, it’s usual home.

The decision for Fox to acquire the TNF package surprised observers; for one, the games are the lowest-rated of the NFL packages; plus, the contests have not been well-received, noted for the low-scoring and the poor quality of play. Players have complained about the games because of the potential of injuries given many teams have only three days’ rest before the next game. Plus, ratings for NFL games this year have declined over the last two years due to numerous factors.

Still, the package draws more viewers than any other program on the evening. And as Fox’s parent company is selling much of its assets to The Walt Disney Company, the “new” Fox is looking to fill more of its prime-time hours with sports and other live fare, including news.

The deal comes as Fox begins its 25th year airing NFL games this fall, as the network “shocked the world” back in December 1993 by outbidding CBS for the National Conference Football package, leaving the network without football after 38 years. The NFL helped cement Fox as America’s fourth network (further driven home by the success of American Idol.) But as linear television broadcasting continues to lose viewers, Fox is making a case an even slumping NFL would be a good bet.

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The Score sees red: WSCR picks up Bulls telecasts


Multi-year deal shifts broadcasts away from WLS-AM

Entercom-owned sports station WSCR-AM (The Score) announced Wednesday it has acquired the rights to air Chicago Bulls games for the rest of this season and future seasons.

Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but the pact runs though the end of the 2020-21 season. No changes are being made to the broadcasts, with Chuck Swirsky remaining as play-by-play man, and former Bull Bill Wennington at color. WSCR’s first broadcast takes place Saturday afternoon against the now Blake Griffin-less Los Angeles Clippers from the Staples Center. The final WLS game is tonight, against the Portland Trail Blazers.

The purchase comes as Cumulus and both the Bulls and the Chicago White Sox agreed to part ways due to the company’s Chapter 11 filing. Cumulus stated the Jerry Reinsdorf-owned sports teams were losing money for WLS as the company was shredding “unprofitable contracts”, including an agreement to purchase two Chicago rock radio stations from Merlin Media.

News of the deal was announced this morning on Mulligan & Hanley. The move by Entercom is a smart one given senior vice-president and market manager Jimmy deCastro had a strong relationship with Reinsdorf, as his Evergreen Media held the rights for the team through WMVP-AM in the late 1990s. The acquisition gives WSCR pro sports programming during the winter months, as the Cubs take up the spring and summer slots on the station.

“We are thrilled to welcome the Chicago Bulls on our air at 670 The Score,” said de Castro. “Entercom is the nation’s unrivaled leader in local sports talk radio, and today’s announcement underscores our continued commitment to expand our leading sports platform and to provide the top-rated content that our listeners crave.”

The deal also returns the Bulls to the 670 AM frequency as the former WMAQ held the rights from 1985-1988 and again from 1991-96.

If there are any conflicts with the Cubs, Bulls games would simply shift to Salem Communications’ WIND-AM (560). WIND was the home of the Bulls from 1970 to 1985, excluding 1980-82, where they were on WVON-AM and WGCI-FM, respectively.

As for the White Sox, no deal has been announced as of yet, but potential suitors include WMVP and WGN-AM, whose parent Tribune Media is being sold to Sinclair.

The move gives Entercom rights to three of five Chicago’s pro sports franchises, along with the Cubs and Bears,whose games airs on WBBM-AM. Entercom also has an opportunity to cross-promote the Bulls with Entercom’s other properties – particularly new Classic Hip-Hop/R&B station WBMX-FM (104.3 Jams), who finished third in its first full PPM “book”, albeit a holiday one.

Entercom is betting the Bulls would be a better-performing team by 2021 as they are going through a rebuild process. This fall and winter has been a brutal one for Chicago sports fans as the Bulls, Bears, and the Chicago Blackhawks all are/were in last place in their respective divisions. Television ratings for all three however, remain respectable given today’s media environment.

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T Dog’s Think Tank: Enough of the reboots

Party like it’s 1988: “Roseanne”, above, and “Murphy Brown” – who debuted weeks apart, are returning with new episodes this year.

As the major networks go all in on rebooting familiar television shows – even using the same stars, they risk becoming irrelevant

Over the last few weeks, you’d think network television executives were taking cues from those who run Chicago radio: over the last few years, we were treated to “reboots” of Jonathon Brandmeier, Mancow, Steve Dahl, Bob Sirott (and Marianne Murciano), as the medium locally continues to recapture the glory years of the 1980s and 1990s. Yours truly once said “Chicago radio has become a nursing home for broken-down talent who refuse to leave the stage.”

Now broadcast network television is taking the same approach with these “reboots” of shows from the 1970s through the 1990s – whether they were popular or not. In the last few days alone, rehashes of programs such as Murphy Brown, Magnum P.I., The Greatest American Hero, Charmed, Get Christie Love, and Cagney & Lacey were announced. This is in addition to other recently announced reboots such as American Idol, Roseanne, and existing ones such as Will & Grace and The X-Files, the latter one not being well-received.

And the rumor mill churns with other names resurfacing: Sister Sister, Martin, Friends, Living Single, and others.

Even the XFL is making a comeback.

So what’s with the reboots?

For one, these programs are recognizable names – even the ones who long faded from the limelight. In an era where people have so many viewing options, familiarity sells. It worked for Will & Grace, who got renewed for a second season. It worked for Fuller House and One Day At A Time – the latter also a critical success and both are hits for Netflix.

Second, with the off-network syndication market collapsing, the networks (and the studios) no longer feel the pressure to have a show needing to get to one hundred episodes to cash in on riches. As viewers are now reject any program with an (R) beside its name, television programming has become more disposable like a diaper or a razor. The days of creating the next timeless classic – think Honeymooners, Cheers, M*A*S*H, or The Simpsons unfortunately may be long gone. Local stations (such as Tribune’s WGN and Fox-owned WFLD) have all but bailed out of the off-net sitcom business as they replaced such fare in key early fringe and prime access periods with newscasts or first-run strips.

And thus, there’s the reason why Will & Grace did, and Roseanne and Murphy Brown plan to tackle topical issues such as the current political atmosphere. As I wrote earlier, Murphy Brown didn’t have much success in off-network, because of its topicality and much of the material felt dated.

Revivals of programs have had a mixed track record in the past. While former canceled network shows such as Charles in Charge, It’s A Living, and Mama’s Family had successful revivals in first-run syndication, the syndicated reboot of WKRP lasted just two years (1991-93), but you can blame financial troubles at then-MTM parent International Family Entertainment. Reboots of other former network series such as We Got It Made, Flipper, and Knight Rider were outright flops, as was a reboot of American Gladiators in 2008. On the other side of the coin, Star Trek: The Next Generation was a monster hit, without the original cast of the previous series.

But this reboot frenzy is out of control – it sends a message to viewers and advertisers the industry is out of ideas. Instead of creating original and fresh programming, they decided to trot out the retreads – a common complaint yours truly has made regarding Chicago radio in recent years. Personally, I have no interest in the return of Roseanne and Murphy Brown, since I’ve never watched them regularly in the first place as I was 16 when they premiered and like most people my age at the time, didn’t care for political or working-class humor. As television writer Ken Levine noted, Murphy skewed older compared to other sitcoms from the era, and the new Murphy may not attract younger viewers (the 18-49 crowd.) Murphy’s peak came at a time when CBS was known as a network who skewed “old to dead”.

This reboot nonsense also sends a message the broadcast networks are no longer the place for innovative programming – something basic cable and streaming services have long offered, hampering efforts to attract those young viewers. The one thing going for the broadcast networks is reach – available in every home due to its over-the-air status, it’s a strong selling point to advertisers, but even they’ve found cable (especially local cable avails) and streaming (YouTube, Hulu) better targets for their products.

So in retrospect – pun intended, it is ridiculous to see the broadcast networks go all in regarding the retro craze. Like other trends, this too will come and go.

But in an era where anything can happen, the worlds of network television and Chicago radio could collide and a give us reboot of Brandmeier’s 1991 late-night series Johnny B. On The Loose. If this happens, you know we’ve reached the ultimate point of absurdity in the media business.

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“Murphy Brown” rises from the dead

The latest in reboot fever

Get ready… she’s going to be firing secretaries again.

CBS and Warner Bros. Television announced Wednesday a thirteen-episode order of Murphy Brown featuring the woman who played her, Candice Bergen. According to the press release, Bergen reprises her role “set in a world of cable news, social media, fake news, and a very different political and cultural climate.”

Bergen is also executive producer of the revival, along with original series creator Diane English.

There is no word on what or how many original cast members would join her. Two actors who appeared on the show – Robert Pastorelli and Jay Thomas (who was also morning personality at Los Angeles’ KPWR-FM at the time) have since died.

The move comes as the major broadcast networks are finding some success rebooting programs from the 1980s and 1990s and NBC with Will & Grace and Fox with The X-Files attests. Coming up is ABC’s Roseanne reboot, and Netflix successfully rebooted former ABC series Full House as Fuller House.

The original Murphy Brown premiered on November 14, 1988 and ran for ten seasons. The series was a linchpin of CBS’ Monday night comedy lineup (fondly remembered before it degenerated into junk like 2 Broke Girls and Superior Donuts) and ran on the night nine of those ten years. The series was a ratings and critical smash, winning a total of eighteen Emmy Awards with Bergen taking home five of them.

The series reached a high-water mark in 1992 when then-Vice President Dan Quayle criticized a fictional storyline from the show for Murphy Brown having a baby out of wedlock, regarding a lack of family values. The comments made Quayle a subject of ridicule – even from retiring late-night host Johnny Carson (and as you might have guessed, the topic is still a talking point for Republicans, as a GOP candidate running for office recently used the crutch as the main reason for Chicago’s gun violence problem in a recent forum.)

The fifth-season premiere of Murphy Brown addressed the controversy, with Bergen – in her Murphy Brown character – firing back at the Vice-President in an hour-long episode drawing nearly 70 million viewers. Unfortunately for Murphy Brown in Chicago, the premiere was up against a Bears game on ABC’s Monday Night Football, who thrashed it in the ratings.

In another controversy – though less publicized, Brown was struggling with breast cancer in the tenth and final season and used medical marijuana to ease the side effects of chemotherapy, as the treatment was criticized by conservative groups. By this time however, Murphy Brown moved to Wednesdays and fell to the bottom of the ratings.

Unlike other successful sitcoms from the period, Murphy Brown was basically forgotten from a pop-culture standpoint after it went off the air. Reruns of the series were sold into off-network syndication in 1992, but its performance was lackluster at best as WGN-TV in Chicago and KMSP in Minneapolis shoved the show into overnight time periods after only a few years. A post-syndication run on cable network Lifetime wasn’t successful. Only the first season (regarded by many fans as the best season) was released on DVD, as expensive music rights prevented the show from streaming.

But there is good news for fans who want to see the classic episodes – diginet Antenna TV (available locally over WGN-DT 9.2) runs Murphy Brown in primetime every weeknight.

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Review: “Man Of The People”

WGN’s new weekly show lives up to hype – and then some

Enjoy Man Of The People Chicago, because Lord knows what’s going to happen when new ownership takes over.

The series premiered Saturday night at 10 p.m. over Tribune’s WGN-TV with the station’s morning sports anchor Pat Tomasulo. It was billed as the first series taped at the Bradley Place facility since Bozo stumbled off the air in 2001. Of note, the audience looked younger than those who attend Windy City Live, so we already know they didn’t bus in folks from the nearest Old Country Buffet.

Part Daily Show and part Last Week Tonight (without the swearing), Man Of The People worked on several comedic levels, thanks to Tomasulo’s smugness and timing.

The show opened with Tomasulo unveiling a statue of himself and pitching it to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (to little success.) Reminiscent of a Saturday Night Live sketch last year featuring White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer (Melissa McCarthy) and that podium, Tomasulo dragged the statue all around Chicago – to the bar, Millennium Park, the Sears Tower – even a Bulls and Blackhawks game – yours truly couldn’t stop laughing.

The next segment featured a hilarious interview with three fans of The Bozo Show who were put on the show’s infamous “waiting list” to get tickets but never got in. They were invented to People and actually got to meet the long-footed clown himself.

This won’t be a tourist attraction anytime soon.

Then Tomasulo did a piece called The Voice Of Reason, and discussed the Tide Pod Challenge, where teenagers who don’t know better swallow the stuff inside the plastic bags on YouTube (Procter & Gamble – the manufacturer of Tide – even had to make a video featuring the New England Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski urging people to don’t do it.) Tomasulo thought the concern was ridiculous since dumb people… always do dumb stuff.

Finally, Bozo came out and gave a pie to the face to ol’ Pat and had the Grand March.

Man Of The People was an entertaining half-hour of fun and enjoyable programming, and the deadpan delivery of Tomasulo was a huge factor. But the real question is…can he keep up this pace every week? Aside from a Ted Cruz reference, Tomasulo steered clear from politics in his opening episode, which is fine – the topic is covered enough from other late-night shows. Trying something different isn’t a bad idea.

Another plus: social media reaction was generally positive, and this review from Ray Hannia was glowing. Viewers responded too, with the premiere earning a 2.6 Nielsen household live-same day overnight rating.

As yours truly pointed out last week, WGN and other stations are filling time slots with more local efforts – something syndicators should worry about – even if it’s a weekly half-hour show. And since Man Of The People is actually good – they should be worried even more. Already, Tegna and Scripps have their own homegrown shows airing across their respective stations groups such as weekly talent competition Sing Like A Star and daytime talk-show strip Pickler And Ben.

Man Of The People would be good enough to air on Tribune’s station group. But there is one problem – Sinclair’s pending acquisition of Tribune, which is scheduled to close in the next few months. Sinclair has a different programming philosophy than other groups, though they have weekly series such as Full Measure and The Armstrong Williams Show, but those are conservative news and commentary shows. It is not known if Man Of The People would be a good fit in their portfolio.

Still, Man Of The People had a great start, and if Tomasulo keeps up the momentum, it would be a welcome addition to dreary weekend schedules filled with infomercials, tired off-network dramas, and fourth-rate syndicated programming. So enjoy Man Of The People Chicago viewers – before Captain Chesapeake fires the Man.

Grade: A

Man Of The People airs Saturdays at 10 p.m. and Sundays at 11 p.m.

To see the full episode, click here.

Pat Tomasulo’s quotes from Saturday night’s premiere:

“I’ve never wanted to be Carson or Letterman I wanted a weekly show on local TV where half the time I’d get bumped for a Cubs game.”

“We’re really going to work hard to make a great show one you could watch tonight, and say you know what? I’m think I’m going to start DVRing that show and then watch it on Tuesday.”

“I’ll come to your freaking house and program your DVR personally. I’m serious! Let’s see Jimmy Fallon do that nonsense.”

“You know… doing the show, sometimes I’ve got to pinch myself just thinking about the long history of WGN programming…you know, you think of Garfield Goose, Cubs baseball…Maury.”

“Yeah that’s right. First they get your toddler hooked on Tide and the next thing you know, he’s freebasing Cascade.”

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Cumulus seeks to end contracts with Merlin Media, Bulls, White Sox

Chapter 11 forces company to dump pricey agreements.

At last, I can sum up the sorry state of Chicago sports AND Chicago radio all in one post.

In news breaking Friday and first reported by Robert Feder, Cumulus announced it was seeking to get out of money-losing contracts of the Chicago Bulls and Chicago White Sox in a filing with the bankruptcy court as the Atlanta-based company is in Chapter 11. This is part of a larger restructuring plan by Cumulus who also wants to nullify a deal to buy classic rock WLUP-FM (The Loop) and alternative rock WKQX-FM from Merlin Media, which it has been operating under a local marketing agreement since 2014.

Cumulus owns WLS-AM and FM, both formerly owned by ABC Radio until its sale in 2007.

This means…yes, Randy Michaels – who teamed up with financial investor GTCR (once run by now-Illinois governor Bruce Rauner) to form Merlin Media – could retake control of both stations. As those of you know, Michaels bought WLUP and WKQX in 2011 and flipped the latter station to an all-news format, with unsuccessful results.

Merlin also bought stations in New York and Philadelphia, only to sell them shortly thereafter.

It was revealed in a filing Cumulus was seeking to terminate several contracts. In addition to Chicago’s two sports teams, Cumulus is looking to withdraw agreements with the NFL’s Buffalo Bills and Seattle Seahawks, and a Westwood One/CNBC deal. Cumulus has claimed since the start of the LMA with Merlin, they lost more than $8 million – with the greater losses coming in 2017. Cumulus exercised an option to buy the stations last year, giving them four in the Chicago market, in addition to WLS-AM/FM. The FCC has yet to approve the deal.

In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, Michaels said he is ready to step in and re-take operations of the stations. It would be business as usual and the stations would continue to be based at the NBC Tower, where they relocated last year with Cumulus’ other two stations. A bankruptcy judge will decide on Cumulus’ petition on February 1.

Cumulus filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on November 29; Merlin Media opted to sell the stations last October. It is not known if Merlin plans to keep the stations or sell them to someone else if the Cumulus deal falls through.

As for the Bulls and White Sox, WLS’ decision to drop the two struggling teams are a huge blow. Both are owned by Jerry Reinsdorf, and are usually packaged together in any media deal. If the bankruptcy judge agrees to Cumulus’ requests, both teams could lose their radio homes on February 1, forcing the Bulls and the White Sox to find new outlets quickly.

Many have criticized WLS-AM’s coverage of Reinsdorf’s teams, a deal struck in 2015 with a six-year deal. The teams were never a good fit for the station, which shifted back to a conservative talk direction earlier in the year. The teams received little promotion or fanfare on the station.

Merlin Media could operates WLUP and WKQX again if a deal with Cumulus isn’t reached.

The impact could be more pressing for the Bulls, who could be off WLS on the 1st – right in the middle of the season. It’s a situation that would be unthinkable two decades ago as the Bulls were a dominant team in the NBA under Michael Jordan. Since he left, the team has been one of the least successful franchises in the league, with only a handful of playoff appearances. Despite a better-than-expected season, the Bulls have been criticized for their management decisions under John Paxson and Gar Forman.

Television ratings for the Bulls on NBC Sports Chicago have been flat from last year (2.0), but still trail the Chicago Blackhawks, who have their own ratings woes due to a lackluster season.

Cumulus’ decision-making process is just as bad as the Bulls. The company staged a phony morning show-host contest a few years ago only meant to install Mancow Muller. And recently, they re-hired Marv Nyren as vice president and market manager, split up their popular morning show at WKQX and reassigned someone to run the station’s social media accounts as their “digital content captain”.

And you wonder why Cumulus is in Chapter 11.

So in all, Chicago sports (Cubs excluded) and radio is general, are pretty much one in the same. You’d think they deserve one another but this failed marriage, even pairing up the worst-run companies in America didn’t yield any successful results. Given it was Cumulus and Reinsdorf’s teams, no one should be surprised. With people like Paxson, Forman, and Nyren around, you can’t go broke.

But Cumulus somehow did.

Unusual radio homes

While the Cubs and Bears have always enjoyed coverage on 50,000-watt clear channel AM blowtorches, this wasn’t always the case for other Chicago sports teams. Case in point:

– After a 56-106 record in 1970 and very low attendance at Comiskey Park, WMAQ-AM dropped the Chicago White Sox and the team’s games shifted to WTAQ-AM (now WRDZ-FM), a 500-watt station in west suburban LaGrange during the 1971 and 1972 seasons. WTAQ carried Spanish-language White Sox games in the 1990s.

– Before Michael Jordan came to Chicago, the Bulls had trouble drawing fans to Chicago Stadium – and drawing radio listeners. During a time when the NBA was also struggling (playoff games were being shown on late-night tape delay during this era), WIND-AM dropped the team and Bulls games wound up on then-urban contemporary WVON-AM (1390) during the 1980-81 season – one where the Bulls actually made the playoffs. Now on 1690 AM, WVON once again could be a logical home, albeit temporary, if Reinsdorf decides to split the package up.

– Similar to the White Sox’s struggles in the late 1960s, the Blackhawks also had trouble attracting fans at one point. The team was so bad in the early 2000s, they were unable to strike a rights deal with a Chicago radio station and were forced to eschew one and bought time on WSCR-AM (The Score) to get their games on the air.

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The state of syndication in 2018

WGN’s new “Man Of The People” is a new local Saturday night effort in a time slot that otherwise would have been filled by a syndicator.

With NATPE arriving this week, it’s nothing but slim pickings as veteran shows continue to have shows locked up

Looking for something new in syndication for 2018? You might want to stop.

With buyers and sellers depending descending to Miami this week for the 56th National Association of Television Programming Executives gathering, the syndicated marketplace for new shows is lackluster in numbers once again, as established shows continue their stranglehold on key time periods while others are being snapped up by local news expansion, or other local efforts.

Case in point: this Saturday night, WGN-TV is debuting a new, local comedy show hosted by WGN morning show personality Pat Tomasulo called Man of the People at 10 p.m. and has a stable of other local programs (S.E.E. Chicago, Chicago’s Best, etc.), continuing a trend of local stations or groups producing their own shows. For example, ABC’s WLS-TV continues with talk show strip Windy City Live, despite so-so ratings. Windy was moved to 1 p.m. to replace the ill-fated FABLife after the series was canceled.

Another example: Tegna has three shows (Daily Blast Live, Sister Circle, and Sing Like A Star) airing across their group of 47 stations – produced in Denver, Atlanta, and New Orleans respectively –  in the heart of Middle America where they own stations, in hopes to appeal to those type of audiences instead of producing them in New York and Los Angeles, where two of those programs aren’t even on the air.

All of this is troubling for syndicators, who now have to fight for every available time period in a business  – which at one time had shows for every daypart, now deals predominantly in daytime (remember when there was a late-night and kids’ business?)

So far, only a handful of shows have been announced and even fewer have deals. On Monday, Tribune and Sinclair – both who have a pending merger – made a deal to bring Investigation Discovery series True Crime Stories to their stations in an off-network barter deal, bolstering the true-crime genre already filled with Crimewatch Daily, Corrupt Crimes, Forensic Files, and Dateline, which has been a surprise hit. It is not known where True Crime would end up on Tribune’s WGN-TV.

Fox has a deal for a new courtroom series Caught In Providence from Debmar-Mercury featuring 80-year old Providence Judge Frank Caprio. The show is likely to find a slot on WPWR.

There are several announced projects still looking for a home: Warner Bros. is  shopping an untitled improv project hosted by Dolton native Jane Lynch; CBS Television Distribution has a conflict-talk show resolution show  hosted by Vivica A. Fox called Face The Truth (wondering why they are bringing this out since stations have clearly retreated from such fare.); Sony has a Cops-like project, Police Patrol– the last time a new show in this genre available for syndication was Real Stories Of The Highway Patrol and LAPD: Life On The Beat in the mid-1990s.

The most interesting aspect of this is many syndicated shows are on the bubble – believe it or not, all five NBC Universal daytime talk shows are on the bubble: Harry, Steve (who moved from Chicago to Los Angeles last year), and all three conflict shows. Others on the bubble include Twentieth’s Top 30; Warner Bros.’ CrimeWatch; CBS Television Distribution’s The Doctors; and many others.

Many observers believe the pending Tribune-Sinclair deal is holding up the process: NBC’s long-running conflict shows air on Tribune stations. Sinclair reportedly is no longer interested in carrying these type of programs, featuring Maury Povich and Jerry Springer (he and Steve Wilkos air locally on WCIU instead) – both had their ratings heydays long ago. It’s unlikely all five would exit simultaneously, but don’t look for Harry to return.

Already off the bubble: Judge Mathis, whose host decided to stay with his long-running courtroom show after completing a run for the Detroit-area congressional seat vacated by Rep. John Conyers; CBS renewed Daily Mail TV for a second season; and Fox stations renewed The Real through 2020.

But the bubble burst for CW’s Robert Irvine show after two lackluster seasons. It is not known if the time slot, whose roots date back to the days of Kids WB (the predecessor of The CW) would be turned over to affiliates or filled with something else.

Unlike the 1980s and 1990s, many syndicators nowadays introduce shows to the market months after NATPE takes place. Daily Mail was introduced to the market last March, more than two months after NATPE concluded and CBS brought out off-network sitcom The Game just last summer. So this scenario could change quickly.

And speaking of off-net product, so far two shows have been sold for next fall: NBCU’s Chicago P.D. (to Fox stations) and Disney’s black-ish (to Tribune/Sinclair). But as of this writing, nothing else is in the pipeline as the off-net sitcom drought continues.

It would be some time however, before the industry gauges how the new mammoth  Tribune/Sinclair beast would affect the business – not to mention the Disney-21st Century Fox deal, where Twentieth Television would likely be swallowed into a bulked-up Disney-ABC Domestic Television Distribution. If you haven’t noticed, Twentieth – who tested a few shows on its Fox stations the last few summers – isn’t bringing anything to market this year.




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The Media Notepad: WRXQ radio personality fired from job after appearing on “The Profit”

Also: Telemundo expands local and national news; Funny You Should Ask renewed through 2021; Fox interested in Sinclair stations

You’d think an appearance on a national TV show would be a great thing for your local radio station, right? Well, in this case, it turned out to be a huge nightmare.

Alpha Media’s WRXQ-FM in southwest suburban Coal City fired evening personality ‘Crazy’ Ray Odom just hours before his appearance Tuesday night on CNBC’s The Profit where he said in a promo for the show: “On the radio, this is not me, I’m a sexist, egotistical, racist pig on the radio.”

Not exactly saleable material.

The reason Odom was on The Profit in the first place was because of his struggling outdoor business he co-owns in Morris, located sixty miles from Chicago. Hosted by Marcus Lemonis, the Camping World CEO works with such entities in return for a financial stake. In this case, Lemonis passed, and Odom’s comments may have played a role.

On Wednesday, Alpha Media market manager Brian Foster released a statement regarding the situation: “DJ Ray Odom, known as Crazy Ray on WRXQ, took part in a national television program. We do not condone the views he expressed in the program. The feelings portrayed are that of his own and not of Alpha Media or QRock. After an internal review, we have decided to cut ties.”

In addition, Odom’s business posted their own statement regarding his controversial comments, stating he would be taking an indefinite leave of absence. Odom denied he makes racist or sexist comments on the air or in private, saying he played “a racist persona on the radio”, pointing out the comments were taken out of context. The station fired him anyway, despite Odom not mentioning the radio station he works for on the air by name (still, his listeners would have recognized him and his voice.)

Which begs the question – why did he say this in the first place? Whatever it was, it was a bad idea and it cost him his radio career. Also, if his bosses knew he was playing such a character on the air, why did they let this continue?

WRXQ – known as QRock on 100.7 FM is an active rock station serving the southwest suburbs mainly in Will, Grundy, and Kankakee counties including Joliet, Kankakee, Braidwood, and Crest Hill.

More news is coming: Telemundo’s WSNS announced this week it was launching a new midday newscast at the Spanish-language station. Scheduled for 11 a.m. beginning January 22, the addition is part of an initiative from the NBC-owned broadcaster to increase its news output on its local stations and nationally. This comes as Telemundo is planning to launch a new national newscast (Noticias Telemundo Mediodia) at 12:30 p.m. ET (11:30 a.m. in Chicago) on the same day.

Mediodia would be the only midday national network newscast among Spanish and English broadcasters. CBS, NBC, and ABC do not program midday network newscasts.

The local effort meanwhile, is meant to be a companion to the national newscast. In addition to WSNS, new local midday newscasts are being launched at nine other NBC-owned Telemundo stations including those in New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston, and Brownsville-McAllen, Tex.

Viewers can also stream the network newscast on a variety of platforms, including on the web at and through the Noticias Telemundo app in addition to other social media platforms. Telemundo has invested heavily in news programming, hiring personnel and expanding into other dayparts. Recently, WSNS launched a new investigative unit in addition to its existing consumer investigative unit.

For those wondering what Noticias is, it means “news” in Spanish.

With the Justice Department forcing Sinclair to sell off ten stations to acquire Tribune Broadcasting, Fox has emerged as the most likely entity to buy them, according to published reports. Among the rumored sale include Tribune’s KCPQ in Seattle, a station Fox long coveted due to the NFC’s Seahawks in the market (Fox has the rights to almost all NFC games.) Fox owns stations in thirteen NFC markets.

Also likely to be sold is one of three stations in the St. Louis market – Sinclair already owns ABC affiliate KDNL and would be acquiring Tribune’s Fox affiliate KTVI and CW affiliate KPLR. Another market affected would be Salt Lake City, where Sinclair owns CBS affiliate KUTV and independent KJZZ while Tribune owns Fox affiliate KSTU. Oklahoma City is  another market where Tribune and Sinclair overlap.

Tribune’s duopoly in Denver (KWGN/KDVR) is also in play for Fox.

Fox used to own KTVI, KDVR, and KSTU, selling those stations and others to Local TV LLC in 2007. Tribune bought Local TV in 2013, which would lead to their undoing (the original Tribune Co. split a year later.)

If Fox buys those stations, they would not be part of the deal that is sending much of 21st Century Fox to The Walt Disney Company.

Now that’s showing faith in a program: Entertainment Studios announced Wednesday it has granted a two-year renewal for freshman game show Funny You Should Ask, hosted by former Chicago anchor Jon Kelley. The new deal takes the show through the 2020-21 television season.

In a recent ratings report, Funny earned a season-high 0.6 household rating, up 20 percent. The program is cleared in more than 90 percent of the country, including WCIU in Chicago, WLNY in New York City and KCAL and KDOC in Los Angeles. Among celebs who’ve appeared on the show include Byron Allen (who owns Entertainment Studios and is the show’s executive producer) Bill Bellamy, Jackee Harry, Howie Mandel, Caroline Rhea, and Tom Arnold, among others.

Funny airs weeknights at 11:30 a.m. and 3 a.m. on WCIU and various times during the day on Entertainment Studios’ cable network Comedy.TV

Speaking of celebrities on game shows, Buzzr recently picked up former syndicated first-run game show Celebrity Name Game from Debmar-Mercury for a Friday night time slot. The series was canceled in December 2016 after a three-season run. The diginet also picked up the most recent version of Supermarket Sweep, a game show whose origins were at ABC in 1965 and had revivals on Lifetime in the 1990s and PAX in the 2000s.

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Milt Rosenberg dies

The legendary WGN Radio host passes at 92

One of Chicago’s most recognizable and appreciated radio hosts has died.

Milt Rosenberg, who spent 39 years at Tribune’s WGN-AM passed away recently from complications of pneumonia.

Born as Milton J. Rosenberg in 1925 in New York City, attended Brooklyn College, University of Wisconsin and the University of Michigan, where he became an instructor in psychology. He later served as a professor of psychology at the University of Chicago. Rosenberg also authored several articles in professional journals and political magazines.

Rosenberg joined WGN in 1973 as host of Extension 720, with topics ranging from political issues and the arts to entertainment to financial investment. Among the numerous guests who appeared on his show included David Brinkley, Jimmy Carter, Henry Kissinger, Jim Lerher, Bill Murray, Carl Sagan, Maragret Thatcher, and many others. His shows were praised for intelligent conversation – something lacking on talk radio today. During his time on the air, Rosenberg dominated the ratings in his late-night time slot. Rosenberg was certainly part of WGN Radio’s heyday, which included talent such as Wally Phillips, Roy Leonard, and Bob Collins.

In 2012, WGN announced Milt Rosenberg’s “retirement” after 39 years – in a move some speculated as a ruse to push him out the door. The move was unpopular with listeners.

Rosenberg’s WGN podcasts were among the most-downloaded and he started his own in 2013, titled The Milt Rosenberg Show. But as time went on, his podcasts became more and more infrequent. Rosenberg returned to the airwaves via WCGO-AM in Aurora in 2015, but lasted only seven months due to budget cuts.

This is what yours truly posted on Twitter this morning:

Milt Rosenberg is survived by wife Marjorie Anna King, son Matthew, and two  grandchildren.

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Media Notepad: Mancow drops lawsuit against Nyren

Also, The Real renewed through 2020; Anamainics returns; Fox at TCA

Our long national nightmare is over: the Mancow-Marv Nyren feud is buried – for now.

As first reported by Robert Feder Thursday, WLUP-FM’s Mancow Mueller dropped his “lawsuit” against Marv Nyren, who became his boss again after being named vice president and market manager of Cumulus last fall, who owns WLUP and three other stations in Chicago. Mueller sued Nyren in Cook County Court, claiming he suffered emotional anguish while working for Nyren in the mid-2000s when he was employed at then Emmis-owned WKQX-FM and Nyren was the boss there (ironically, WKQX is also now owned by Cumulus.)

The two met last month and apparently ironed out their differences, leading Mueller to drop his lawsuit against Nyren. Mueller filed a similar suit against Nyren in 2006, and was settled in 2011. This suit was meant to avoid repeating this whole mess the first time around, according to Muller’s attorney, which was the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard of. Is Muller’s attorney also a fortune teller?

To steal a phrase from John Kass: Radio. “The Chicago Way”.

Meanwhile, alternative rocker WKQX-FM announced Wednesday its decision to split up its morning team of Brian Phillips and Lou Lombardo. As reported by Robert Feder, Phillips continues on in the daypart, but now as a solo host. Meanwhile, Lombardo shifts to evenings replacing Josh Macroni, Lombardo also takes over Marconi’s role of “digital content captain”, meaning he runs the station’s websites and social media accounts.

Nyren yammered on about “maximizing skills at positions”, or something.

The phrase”digital content captain” sounds a bit ridicious, but I guess you can assume  they better have the “digital content life preservers” on standby because as a company, bankrupt Cumulus is a sinking ship.

Another day, another reboot: Hulu announced Thursday it put in a two-season order of the popular animated series Animaniacs, which ran on Fox and Kids WB in the 1990s. Two seasons have been ordered to start in 2020, plus all 99 existing episodes are being added to the service.

The deal also includes other ’90s Warner Bros. animated series including Tiny Toon Adventures and Animaniacs spin-off Pinky And The Brain, which had an all-too brief primetime run on The WB.

The series centers around Yakko, Wakko, and Dot  after being locked in the Warner Bros. water tower for decades – escape and create all kinds of wacky stuff on the Warner Bros. lot (imagine if the Animanics had to deal with Charlie Sheen from Two And A Half Men – it would be a laugh riot!)

Animaniacs premiered as part of Fox Kids’ lineup in 1993 when they had a deal to program their two-hour afternoon lineup, but shifted to Kids WB two years later as Warner Bros. shifted all of its animated product to the new network, part of The WB (which later folded into UPN to form The CW.) Warner Bros. generally reduced the number of new episodes over the years, ending in 1998.

The series has won eight daytime Emmy Awards and a Peabody.

The series is produced by Steven Speilberg’s production company, Amblin Television and is returning in his role as executive producer.

Also on the Warner beat: Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution announced a two-season renewal for daytime talk show strip The Real, thanks to the Fox Television Stations group, who renewed the show through 2020. Even though ratings for the show aren’t exactly stellar (0.8 Nielsen household average this current season), the series’ social media element has been successful, thanks to The Real going live – something the series didn’t do at first. During the 2016-17 season, The Real saw more than 12 million social media interactions.

The Real was tested by a few Fox-owned stations in 2013 and debuted in national syndication in 2014. The show is hosted by Adrienne Houghton, Loni Love, Jeannie Mai, and Tamera-Mowry Housley. A fifth host (Tamar Braxton) was dropped from the show a year ago.

I’m thinking an Anamainics – The Real crossover. It’s entirely possible, people!

Dana Walden (l.) and Gary Newman. (Variety/Shutterstock)

For the first time since the announcement of Disney buying most of 21st Century Fox, executives of the latter met with reporters Thursday on the first day of the TCA press tour, and of course, questions were asked about the future of the network. Executives Dana Walden and Gary Newman noted it would be business as usual, and shows such as The Simpsons and Family Guy won’t be “Disney-fied”. Both shows are renewed through 2019; the deal is expected to close twelve to eighteen months from now.

Meanwhile, they confirmed the new company featuring Fox, Fox News, the Fox-owned stations, and Fox Sports would be named “New Fox”, though this is likely a working title. Walden also downplayed the possibility of the new Fox consisting of 80 percent “live events and sports”, as Fox would be open to programming from Sony and Warner Bros.

In other TCA news involving Fox, both Walden and Newman dismissed speculation about the future of the recently returned X-Files, as reports have surfaced Gilligan Anderson would not be doing the show after this season, which could end the short-term series. “Some days you’d get a ‘Yes,’ some days you’d get a ‘No.’ I would not exclude the possibility that there would be more. But not only is there no plan, there hasn’t been a single conversation. It’s too early to even speculate”, Newman said. But ratings may determine X-Files’ fate: Wednesday night’s return drew a 1.4 rating in the adults 18-49 demo, below what Empire was previously doing in the time slot.

Further reading:

Brittney Payton joins Good Day Chicago

Greg Mathis may leave TV show to run for Congress (more on this in a future post)

The Four debuted Thursday on Fox

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No contest: ABC, WLS-TV dominate New Year’s Eve programming

NBC 5, other networks could not compete

Like the New England Patriots bumrushing over everyone in the NFL, the competition was no match for the Mouse House with Ryan Seacrest, Jenny McCarthy, Janet Davies, and Cheryl Scott.

ABC and its owned-and-operated station in Chicago on New Year’s Eve  on Sunday night performed a ratings clinic – a complete total domination of the competition.

As reported by Robert Feder Tuesday, WLS-TV’s (ABC 7) Countdown Chicago posted an eye-popping 16.8 household rating and 39 share, up 36 percent from 2016’s show, which aired on a Saturday night.

By comparison, NBC-owned WMAQ-TV’s (NBC 5) New Year’s Eve special could only draw a 5/8 – down 48 percent from last year, when the now-defunct Chi-Town Rising aired in the slot. NBC 5 decided to continue producing the show despite the absence of the event, co-hosted by WKSC-FM morning personality Christopher Frederick (Brotha Fred), Marley Kayden and  Kalee Dionne (on Twitter, I mistakenly thought Fred’s morning co-host Angi Taylor was also hosting.)

Every other station in town ran their regular Sunday night programming, with the execption of Fox-owned WFLD, airing Steve Harvey’s special on a delayed basis (more on that in a moment.)

On a national basis, ratings for ABC’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve saw a big ratings boost from last year as reported by Deadline and Variety – earning a 3.1/13 in adults 18-49 and 10.5 million viewers for the 8-10 p.m. ET portion, up 63 percent from last year. The tally rose to 15.7 million viewers and a 5.0/20 in the 18-49 demo, up 35 percent and 39 percent, respectively. The 11:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. ET segment featuring Mariah Carey’s performance and the ball drop earned a whopping 8.2 rating in adults 18-49. The huge Rockin’ lead-in no doubt helped ABC 7 achieve ratings success for Countdown Chicago.

South Korean boy band BTS performs on “Rockin’ Eve”.

New Year’s Rockin Eve completely swamped Fox’s New Year’s Eve special, replacing Pitbull with Steve Harvey. However, ratings were up from last year in the 8-10 p.m. portion, drawing 8.5 million viewers and a 2.9 adult demo rating, up 85 percent and 71 percent, respectively from 2016. The late-night portion of the special was delayed locally for an hour due to WFLD’s Bears recap programming (really?), but it’s hard to imagine anyone in Chicago tuning in for Harvey regardless if it were live or not.

The other networks were in repeats, including NBC, who saw its Sunday night football game taken away at the last minute as the NFL decided not to schedule a game in primetime.

Since Guy Lombardo’s New Year’s Eve specials went away some time ago, television on the night has become more of the train-wreck variety (as early as 1979), and this year was no different as people on social media rightfully point out. Ryan Seacrest and Jenny McCarthy were right at home, with their annoying presence being felt and made the humanoids watching feel right at home. After last year’s disastrous performance, Carey performed admirably. But perhaps the most disgusting aspect of the evening when CNN’s Don Lemon taking a hit from a bong on live TV- why is this man still employed is anyone’s guess.

As for the pre-taped portions of New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, Fergie’s (Stacy Ferguson’s) presence as host was sorely missed as Ciara’s skills as presenter leaves little to be desired.

Locally, the train-wreck aspect was fully on display – especially on Countdown Chicago. Viewers were treated (or tricked) to a dance-off, a performance from The BoDeans (who did the theme from Party Of Five – wow, what a major name!) and way too many people with no rhythm dancing. When the clock struck midnight, NBC 5 showed fireworks from Navy Pier, while ABC 7 had people celebrating from ballrooms across the city.

Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn also reviewed the festivities Tuesday in his column, and his reaction was more along the lines of “yes, we can do a worst job than the network guys.”

Despite the usual bashing from on Twitter, viewers still tuned in for the festivities, as both Rockin’ Eve and Countdown Chicago were the most-watched non-sports programs this week in Chicago. It demonstrates the power of television and how the medium still plays an important role in our lives – regardless of how good or bad it is.

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2017: How did we do?

Back a year ago, yours truly did a look ahead into 2017. So how did everything turn out? I have the answers right here!

1. The FCC under a Trump administration. With a 3-2 FCC majority, issues the FCC championed under Tom Wheeler: net neutrality, preserving the cross-ownership rule, and other issues are going to get a hard look at – and likely change.

And oh boy, did they ever. Ajit Pai took over the agency and basically gutted net neutrality, the media ownership rules, and made other changes.

2. Can Chicago bounce back from dreadful 2016? The only positive story Chicago produced in 2016 was the Chicago Cubs historic World Series victory – and even that was overshadowed by the emphasis on Chicago violence, on a record pace of its own. Unfortunately, 2017 isn’t off to a great start, either with a 60 Minutes piece on the subject and the racially-motivated beating of a disabled teen.

Even though the homicide and crime rate declined, President Trump continued to attack the city while Mayor Emanuel continued to crave the national spotlight by bashing him (“a city he’ll never sleep in”) on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. And this does not make “Mr. 16 shots and a cover up” a hero as the LaQuan McDonald case – which still hasn’t gone to trial – has all but been forgotten.

So in other words…no.

3. Can the Cubs repeat as World Series Champions? A World Series- winning – and contending Cubs team is good news for its local television and radio partners as fans hope there is another parade down Michigan Avenue in 2017.

The Cubs had a slow start, but bounced back and won the NL Central. But they were eliminated by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLCS.

4. How high can the number of scripted series go? With the number at 455, expect it to hit 500 as the glut of scripted programming continues to splinter audiences.

And it did.

5. Radio stations to watch. How will the retirement of Terry Boers impact WSCR-AM? Can US 99 bounce back from a bad 2016? Keep an eye an on WLS-AM to see if changes (Bob Sirott and Marianne Murciano) impact the station, and of course, WGN-AM.

Sirrott and Muciano were fired by WLS-AM as the station decided to return toward a conservative talk direction. WSCR’s ratings weren’t impacted while US 99 retook the lead over rival Big 95.5 in the country music race. And outside of new ownership in 2018, it has been a quiet year at WGN-AM. 

6. Can cable news keep the momentum? With the elections over, it’ll be tough for the three major cable news networks to match their record-setting ratings. But if Trump continues to make news – and he will – even lower numbers would be a big accomplishment.

With Trump continuing to run his mouth, of course cable news ratings were stable as Fox News (pro-Trump) and MSNBC (anti-Trump) remained strong.

7. Megyn Kelly’s move to NBC. Her shift from Fox News Channel to NBC could be be bumpy. Will her fans follow over?

Judging by the ratings and reviews…no.

8. MST3K returns. The highly-anticipated revival of the cult classic is due to drop on Netflix sometime this year. Can Crow and Tom Servo riff and wisecrack their way to a new generation of fans?

Reaction to the new MST3K has been very positive I’m happy to say.

9. NBC’s new Boston station. The industry will be looking to the ninth-largest market in the country to see if their fourth affiliation switch in history pays off for NBC as they shifted to the new WBTS on January 1 as a new O&O. Meanwhile, former NBC affiliate WHDH joined the growing ranks of independents – a list that also includes WGN-TV, which did so in September.

As expected, Ratings for the new WBTS has been dreadful as Boston’s new NBC station ranked behind every competitor in the market outside of primetime.

10. The AT&T/TimeWarner merger. In the first test for the incoming Trump administration, they will have to look what could be the biggest media merger in recent memory. Anti-trust regulators and Congress will also get a look.

In order for the deal to go through, the Justice Department told them they needed to sell off either CNN or DirecTV – and some speculated President Trump was behind the order, given his hatred for CNN. AT&T decided to challenge the decision in court, even as AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson remained on friendly terms with Trump.

11. T Dog Media website to get major revamp. About time, isn’t it? The site hasn’t changed in nearly six years, so an overhaul is expected to take place someplace this year. Look for improved links to more social media sites I’m on, expanded use of video, and yes – advertising (the time has come, my friends – the ad-free days are coming to an end. I’ve got to make money off this somehow.)

The only thing yours truly was able to do was change the hosting service as I ran into a busier schedule than expected. Can’t say at this point if there would be any change to the site in 2018. But at least T Dog Media finally got on Instagram.

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