The Media Notepad: “GMA” expansion forces “The Chew” off the road

Also: New host of Check Please is a familiar name; Chicago radio still playing R. Kelly’s music; Peoria public radio in trouble; CBC cancels arts show who visited Chicago

In a mind-numbing move, ABC announced Wednesday it was expanding Good Morning America to three hours. Only problem is… the extension is airing at Noon Chicago time, 1 p.m. Eastern time – in the afternoon. “Over the past six years Good Morning America has solidified its place as America’s No. 1 morning show,” said Ben Sherwood,the co-chairman of Disney Media Networks and president of Disney-ABC Television. “We believe there is great opportunity for viewers and advertisers in expanding to a third hour.”

This is basically more about “branding” than anything else. But why put it on in the afternoon? A better idea would have been to move The View to 1 p.m. ET/Noon CT and put the third hour of GMA at 11 a.m. ET/10 a.m. CT. But as we all know, logic generally typically escapes TV and radio executives.

To make room for GMA’s expansion, ABC canceled food/talk hybrid The Chew after seven seasons and ends its run in September. As you recall, ABC upset legions of soap fans by cancelling All My Children and One Life To Live and replaced them with Chew and talker The Revolution as the latter show was canceled just three months into its run. Even though ratings weren’t available, it was understood The Chew was performing quite decently.

No word on who would host or anchor the third hour of GMA. A similar effort was attempted in 2011 with Good Afternoon America as a temporary replacement for The Revolution.

While The Chew is headed to The Great Big Chopper In The Sky, WTTW’s Check, Please is getting a new host…who looks a lot like the old one. The PBS station announced Wednesday Alpana Singh is returning as host, beginning this fall. According to Crain’s, Singh signed a two-year contract with WTTW and is taking over from Catherine De Orio, who replaced Singh five years ago.

Robert Feder noted De Orio is in the planning stages of a new travel/food show at WTTW.

Singh left the show after she opened a restaurant in River North, and after owning two other restaurants, has a new perspective in the industry. “I have a breadth of knowledge from a restaurant owner point of view that I didn’t have before,” Singh told Crain’s. “There’s so much criticism out there—Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google reviews, etc., but what’s missing is the voice for restaurant owners. Yes, the host should maintain a neutral perspective, but I can bring in a different perspective. I want to dig deeper and give a voice from the restaurant perspective. That’s missing from the conversation today.”

In addition, Singh also wanted to add to the increasing number of minority voices on television and in the media business in general – an issue that’s been in the spotlight recently. During the recent upfronts, the broadcast networks are showcasing more people of color in their new prime-time series.

Debuting in 2003, Check, Please is a show where several food experts discuss and review area restaurants in a round table discussion. Singh was the host for the show’s first ten seasons.

It looks like Chicago radio stations haven’t banned R. Kelly’s music…yet. According to an article about the R&B superstar’s numerous problems two weeks ago in the Chicago Sun-Times, writer Natalie Moore noted a local radio station was still playing his music. As you know by now, the Chicago native has been accused of numerous sexual abuse and harassment against numerous women and was also accused of running a sex cult featuring numerous young women – some underage. Kelly has denied the charges, saying it is a smear campaign.

Moore, who grew up in Chatham (next door to where I grew up, Avalon Park) and is the author of the book The South Side, did not identify the local station. Thanks to numerous grass roots movements from #MeToo and #TimesUp, several streaming services have removed Kelly’s music from their playlists, including Spotify (even though his music is still available on those services) and Tom Joyner’s syndicated morning show has also removed his songs.

In the past, Kelly’s music has been in heavy rotation among the city’s African-American targeted stations including iHeartMedia’s WGCI-FM and WVAZ-FM (V103) and Crawford’s WPWX-FM (Power 92) and WSRB-FM (Soul 106.3). Neither station had announced any decision to pull R. Kelly’s songs or those of fellow Chicago native Kanye West, who made controversial comments about slavery and announced his support for President Trump. Only WMGC-FM (Bounce 105.1) in Detroit has pulled Kanye West’s music thus far, which was dismissed as a publicity stunt given the station recently returned his music to rotation.

And in case you’re wondering…Moore turned the dial when Kelly’s music came on.

Another radio station in downstate Peoria is facing an uncertain future – the Peoria Journal Star is reporting public radio station WCBU-FM could be left homeless as its home at Bradley University is being torn down.

The public radio station has only five full-time employees – the minimum required to receive funding, has no announced any plans for a new home – raising speculation about its future. WCBU’s staff is smaller than surrounding public radio stations in the region.

WCBU is on Bradley University’s campus and broadcasts from the soon-to-be demolished Jobst Hall, although it is not specially known what would replace the venue.

As the article noted, having such a small staff makes it harder to produce programming. As the Corporation of Public Broadcasting’s budget is being reduced, more and more stations are consolidating – an ongoing trend in the media business.

The news comes as money troubles are plaguing small public radio stations nationwide – WCBU had only a $1.1 million budget last year, with a defect a little over $600,000.

Making matters worse, Peoria is seeing its population decrease with the current total at 112,383 as of July 1, 2017, down 1.3 percent from the April 2010 census – the largest population drop of any large city in the state, even larger than Chicago. Not helping matters is Illinois’ poor financial picture, which affects smaller media markets in Illinois more than their Chicago and St. Louis-area counterparts. Illinois has lost more residents than any state in the country due to high taxes and dysfunctional political leadership.

Should WCBU go dark, it would be another blow for Peoria residents, already struggling with a reduced local media landscape due to a declining populace. In 2008, a local businessman shut down two commercial radio stations because of the poor economy. In 2016, Quincy Media purchased the rights to Sinclair’s WHOI-TV’s programming and network affiliations – including those of ABC and CW, and moved them to digital subchannels of its NBC affiliate WEEK-TV, leaving WHOI being programmed as a Comet digital subchannel on channel 19.1.

Nielsen counts the Peoria TV and radio markets differently: The Bloomington and Normal portion of the DMA are lumped together with Peoria to form the nation’s 122nd-largest TV market, but ranked separately in radio, with Peoria ranking 158th and Bloomington-Normal ranking 233rd.

Here’s an update on a Canadian program who recently looked at the struggles of Chicago’s minority neighborhoods. And unfortunately, it is curtains for Interrupt This Program as the CBC canceled the series after three seasons. According to TV eh, the documentary-style program from the public broadcaster was dropped from the lineup as their 2018-19 schedule was released Thursday morning.

Interrupt was about the use of art as a tool for political and social change, in places of crisis. The program visited Chicago last year as the city’s homicide and shooting rates spiked considerably and drew worldwide attention.

Predictably, arts-based programming such as Interrupt on the CBC doesn’t attract huge audiences – even in Canada as more viewers prefer programming on private broadcasters such as CTV, Global, and City – all dominated with American scripted and reality programming. But like their American counterparts, Canadian broadcasters are also losing audiences to alternatives such as cable and Netflix (Hulu and Amazon’s streaming services are not available in Canada.)

Among CBC’s new programs this fall is a reboot of Street Legal, based on the 1987-94 series of the same name, which was the launching pad for future JAG star David James Elliott’s career, who is not expected to appear in the revival. Also renewed is the sitcom Schitt’s Creek, picked up this week by Debmar-Mercury for broadcast syndication in 2020.

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Dick Biondi out at WLS-FM

Radio legend calls it a career – or more likely, someone called it a career for him

In what looks like the end of the line for one of Chicago’ most iconic radio personalities, Cumulus-owned WLS-FM has released Dick Biondi from his contract.

As first reported by Robert Feder, the 85-year old broadcasting legend was off the air for a little over a year due to a leg aliment, and Biondi was hoping to return to his weekend morning shift at WLS. But late last fall as the station’s management was transitioning, Biondi’s employee status at WLS went from “inactive” to “former”. Cumulus was also in the middle of Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings during this time.

The Sunday time slot Biondi was in is now occupied by reruns of American Top 40: The ’80s, with original host Casey Kasem. The station recently dropped the ’70s version of the show.

Biondi was one of Chicago’s most popular and recognizable personalities in the medium, starting his local radio career here at WLS-AM in 1960, shortly after the station changed to a Top 40 format. His nighttime show on the station drew over half the nighttime radio audience at one point and was heard in much of the country and in Canada.

His Chicago radio stops included the former WJMK-FM and WJJD-AM and a short-lived stint as morning personality at WBBM-FM in 1983-84. Biondi helped launch the new WJMK when it debuted its Oldies format in 1984.

Among numerous honors Biondi has received included being inducted into The Radio Hall Of Fame, and an honorary street designation sign in an alley south of WLS’ old Michigan Avenue studios.

As expected, reaction to Biondi’s departure was meet with a mixture of sadness and of course, some anger – this is Cumulus we’re talking about. At one point during his WLS-FM tenure, Biondi was on in late-night hours – 11 p.m. to 2 a.m., to the dismay of many of his longtime fans.

If this is the last stand for Biondi, we should wish him the best and thank him for all the great radio he has blessed us with.

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“WWE Smackdown” close to massive deal with Fox

Smackdown returns to broadcast TV AND Friday nights

Further signaling a shift away from scripted fare, Fox is expected to land rights to WWE Smackdown, taking over the rights in October 2019. In addition, the series would return to Friday nights.

Fox reportedly is paying one billion dollars in a five-year deal lasting through 2021. Fox pounced after NBCUniversal passed on renewing Smackdown, which currently airs on USA Network Tuesday nights. USA is expected to keep the rights to Raw, which has aired live on Monday Nights for the last 25 years.

The WWE nor Fox had any comment.

The deal further solidifies Fox’s plans to go all-in on sports and live events as the network is separating from the studio, with Disney buying the bulk of 21st Century Fox in a $52 billion deal announced last year. Barring any last-minute surprises (from Comcast, who is looking to outbid Disney), the deal closes sometime next year. With Smackdown heading to Friday nights, recently acquired Last Man Standing is likely headed to another night if it get picked up by Fox for another season.

This is not the first time Smackdown has aired on a Fox property: between 2008 and 2010, the WWE show aired on Fox-owned My Network TV, consisting of mostly former UPN affiliates who aired Smackdown when the series premiered on the now-defunct network in 1999. After six years on Thursday night, UPN shifted Smackdown to Fridays, a year before the network merged with The WB to form The CW. In 2008, The CW dropped the show  because it didn’t fit in the direction the network was going in (young, female-skewing dramas) and was pulling in lower ad revenue.

In 2010, the WWE made a deal and united all of its properties under one roof with NBCUniversal, with Smackdown airing on SyFy. In 2014, the show switched back to Thursday nights and to USA in January 2016, and moved to Tuesdays six months later so it can do live broadcasts (with the exception of a few instances, Smackdown generally taped on Tuesdays.)

The moves come as the WWE’s star continues to rise with marketers and the willingness to evolve. During NBCUniversal’s upfront presentation recently, WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon talked about women’s empowerment and announced a rebranding of the Divas Division to the Women’s Division. Three women superstars appeared on stage, including former UFC superstar Ronda Rousey.

During the first few years of its UPN run, Smackdown was singled out by activists for its reliance on sex and violence, notably the Parents Television Council. Over the last few years however, the WWE has toned down the raunchiness of its product to make it more family-friendly, so it won’t be an issue for Fox.

There is no word on if Smackdown would be live on Friday nights instead of taped.

As for the impact on Fox’s schedule, the Smackdown deal takes away another night of programming, meaning those shows on Fox next season will have to work harder to earn renewal stripes.

Hey, want more? Then follow The T Dog Media Blog on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.

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The Lite 93.9 reboots Melissa Forman’s morning show

WLIT brings back former morning personality

As you may be aware, television is all awash in “reboots” of classic TV shows these days. Now radio is doing the same with former personalities.

But this reboot a lot of Chicago radio listeners will like.

As first reported by Robert Feder, iHeartMedia-owned WLIT-FM – known as The Lite 93.9, announced it was rehiring Melissa Forman for morning drive beginning May 29.

This is actually the third time Forman has been employed at WLIT from 2001 to 2006 and again from 2007 to 2009. Forman later joined Jeanne Sparrow to host WCIU’s You and Me This Morning for eight years until the show was canceled. It was replaced by The Jam, who made news of its own last week with the exit of co-host Danielle Robay as she is returning to Los Angeles.

To make room for Forman’s return, WLIT released morning personality Kristina Kage after three years, as her contract wasn’t renewed. She joined the adult contemporary station from sister station KXJM in Portland, Ore.

The move is among one of the latest WLIT has made in order to bring back familiarity to a station and reconnect with former listeners as the station was known as My 93.9 FM over the last few years, featuring syndicated content from Sean Valentine and Mario Lopez. WLIT recently brought back long-time staple Delilah for evenings.

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The CW expands to Sundays with “Supergirl”, “Charmed” reboot

“Charmed” is back with a new look – and a new cast. (The CW — © 2018 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved)

Network expands to a sixth night with its all-drama lineup

The CW recently unveiled its 2018-19 lineup before its upfront presentation on Thursday and features five new shows – two of them debuting this fall.

The big news is The CW’s return to Sunday nights for the first time since 2009, as reported here in February. The night kicks off with a relocated Supergirl from Mondays, followed by a completely new version of former The WB series Charmed. Unlike the other broadcast networks who start the evening at 6 p.m. (CT), The CW plans to only program from 7-to-9 p.m. (CT) with the 6 p.m. slot remaining with affiliates to program themselves. ABC, CBS, and NBC have programmed the 6 p.m. hour in full since 1975 and Fox since its inception (the Big 3 actually programmed the slot until 1971, when the now-defunct prime-time access rule forced the networks to give back part of the Sunday hour back to the affiliates.)

“It is such an exciting time at The CW. We are thriving, innovating, and now we’re expanding, adding Sunday nights to our primetime lineup this fall, said The CW President Mark Pedowitz. Starting in October, we will have 12 hours of original scripted series on our schedule – more than any other broadcast network besides CBS.”

Pedowitz also added: The CW is bigger, and better than ever before, with more quality content and more ways for advertisers to connect with our valuable young audience, on every platform.”

Relocating to Monday nights to take Supergirl’s place is D.C.’s Legends of Tomorrow, followed by Arrow in a new time slot. Tuesdays remain unchanged from midseason with The Flash and Black Lightning. Wednesdays nights features returning Riverdale and new drama All American, based on a true story about a Beverly Hills high school football coach who recruits a standout from Compton.

Thursdays has veteran Supernatural leading into new series Legacies. The description of the new show was quite skimp, but it seems to be similar in vein to The Vampire Diaries and The Originals.  Finally, Friday has Dynasty and Crazy Ex- Girlfriend (more on this series below.)

Midseason enteries include new drama In The Dark and Roswell, New Mexico, a sequel to the former The WB and UPN series (both networks merged to form The CW in 2006.)

To see the new fall schedule, click here.

While some can scoff at The CW’s sub-one ratings, keep in mind these shows have a larger fan base than you think as many viewers watch via other means, including The CW App and most shows have strong social media followings. The network has the lowest median age of any broadcast network, and that makes it very valuable to advertisers at a time when the rest of the broadcast business – including CW affiliates themselves outside of prime-time – is skewing older. And while Dynasty in theory should be canceled due to nearly non-existent ratings, strong international sales keeps the show on the air.

The CW’s Sunday lineup could achieve the same lackluster results the network achieved in 2008 when it leased the night to Media Rights Capital with awful product. At least Supergirl is proven and so is Charmed…in a way. Plus, the ratings achieved by those forgettable shows back then are more acceptable now.

The CW also announced three of their veteran series are retiring next season: iZombie, Jane The Virgin, and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. The mutual decision to end the latter show is puzzling; only 44 episodes in three seasons have been made and there should be more stories to tell – but then again, I’m not the showrunner. Stability seems to be the key word here as only Valor and Life Sentence were dropped. But The CW will soon have to develop new programming to replace several departing shows in 2019, and it won’t be an easy feat.

On another note, The CW will open the season in October with the iHeartRadio Music Festival, despite the radio conglomerate in bankruptcy proceedings. Though The CW did not comment further on the two-night extravaganza, its future seems secure for now. As they say, the show must go on.

In lieu of official trailers, clips of new CW programming can be viewed here.

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Reboots of ’80s shows headline CBS’ 2018-19 lineup

Murphy Brown, Magnum P.I. lead eight new programs for next season

CBS unveiled its 2018-19 lineup with the ongoing battle between CBS and Viacom as a backdrop. As you know by now, the two companies are at a tug-of-war over a proposed merger with CBS suing majority shareholder National Amusements over control. CBS CEO Les Moonves was absent at CBS’ annual preview breakfast Wednesday, opting to sit out amid all the drama.

Viacom was spun-off from CBS in 1971 due to the then-fin-syn rules, and acquired CBS in 1999 before splitting into two in 2005. It’s like seeing a child battling his parents for control over the estate.

But the show must go on. At the upfront presentation, CBS unveiled eight new shows: three dramas and two comedies and a revamped Monday night slate for the 2018-19 season. Unlike a few years ago when CBS eliminated comedies on Mondays for the first time since 1949, at least one hour of comedies will open the night – The Neighborhood and Happy Together, followed by the reboot of Magnum PI with new leading man Jay Hernandez and no stache. Bull relocates from Tuesday to finish up the night.

Tuesday has NCIS and followed by new drama FBI, produced by Dick Wolf in his first non-NBC show in ages, followed by NCIS: New Orleans. Wednesdays remain unchanged (of note is once again, The Amazing Race temporarily replaces Survivor in the winter.)

Thursdays start off with the long-running Big Bang Theory, followed by a returning Young Sheldon. Leading out of Mom is the Murphy Brown reboot, which has a thirteen-episode order. Finishing up the night is sophomore crime drama S.W.A.T. Fridays remain unchanged.

Sundays has new drama God Friended Me, bumping Madam Secretary to the final prime-time slot of the evening. In the middle is returning NCIS: Los Angeles.

For more information on the CBS fall schedule, click here.

Midseason entries include comedy Fam and dramas The Code and The Red Line, which is set in and filmed in Chicago, with Ava Duvernay and Greg Beranti as executive producers. The series is named after the most-used transit line in Chicago, stretching from Howard Street to the north to 95th Street to the south.

The most interesting program by far on CBS’ schedule is the return of Murphy Brown – no doubt the mother-son rivalry working on opposite morning political shows with opposite views is very fascinating…but Brown on Thursday doesn’t sound right…it should be on Monday, where it originally aired.

Speaking of Monday, no comedies are scheduled in the 9 p.m. ET hour Mondays this fall, but if you live in Chicago, sitcom reruns (at 8 p.m.) on WGN and WCIU may fill your comedy need. You know we’ve reached the heights of absurdity with reboots when the new man who is the new star of Magnum P.I. comes at a time when the person who once played him is still a star at the network on another show!

The Neighborhood would’ve been funnier (and more realistic) if the show were set in Chicago and not L.A. If there is anyplace for NIMBYism, it’s our hometown. FBI thankfully, is not a reboot of 1960s drama The FBI but don’t look for Mudler and Scully hanging around the office or for the crew to investigate paranormal activity as the truth won’t be out there. And God Friend Me is what happens when you combine Highway To Heaven with social media elements, to awful results.

Point be taken, and with the exception of The Red Line, the drama involving Les Moonves and Shari Redstone is more interesting than any of the new CBS dramas next season. Or the veteran ones for that matter.

Here are trailers for the new shows:

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ABC reveals new 2018-19 lineup

Makes aggressive changes; brings comedies back to Friday nights

ABC released its 2018-19 schedule Tuesday morning in advance of its upfront presentation on Tuesday, and there are some numerous changes.

For one, long-running series Once Upon A Time, Scandal and The Middle have retired and Agents of SHIELD was picked up at the last-minute only to get burned off next summer (2019). And ABC is back in the comedy business on Fridays after a year off when Last Man Standing was on the schedule (now on Fox)

In all, ten new series have been picked by ABC for the 2018-19 season, and six of them debut this fall.

“We enter the new season bolstered by success and the stability that it affords us,” said ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey. “The new shows we unveil today strengthen an already-vibrant schedule of some of the best television has to offer. These shows, with their compelling characters and aspirational storytelling, will keep our momentum going.”

With Monday nights unchanged from last season (The Bachelor takes over from Dancing With The Stars in winter), Tuesday brings the Roseanne revival back to lead off the night for thirteen episodes leading into The Kids Are All Right, a single-cam sitcom sets in the 1970s featuring an Irish-Catholic family. The other new show on the night is The Rookie, a traditional cop drama with Nathan Fillion.

Wednesdays has a new sitcom out of Modern Family: Single Parents, a single-cam sitcom about a single dad who “lost sight of who he is as a man” as his single parent friends try to get him back out in the dating world. The night concludes with new drama A Million Little Things, which is This Is Us meets thritysomething.

Thursdays remain unchanged from spring, though How To Get Away With Murder is being replaced midseason by For The People.

Significant changes are taking place Friday nights. Relocated sitcoms Fresh Off The Boat and Speechless lead off the night, followed by Child Support. While the title suggests a daytime court show featuring deadbeat dads, it’s actually a game show in the vain of Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader, the 1982-83 CBS game show Child’s Play, and 1990’s syndicated The Quiz Kids Challenge.

Sundays leads off with Americas Funniest Home Videos, following by Dancing With The Stars Juniors, featuring celebrity kids paired up with junior ballroom dancers (with American Idol likely taking its place in February.) Leading out of Shark Tank is The Alec Baldwin Show, which got a sneak peek on Oscar night back in March.

Midseason shows include The Fix, Grand Hotel, Whiskey Cavalier (which is getting some buzz already), and Schooled.

To see the 2018-19 schedule, click here.

Looking at ABC’s sked, Roseanne is back this fall for only thirteen episodes. The program doesn’t have to talk about Trump in order to be controversial as a previous episode (Go Cubs) illustrated. The Kids Are Alright was actually one of the working titles for That 70’s Show – but don’t look for anyone named Kelso or someone wearing a Green Bay Packers helmet when they screw up (the Packers were screwups in the 1970s…in fact, so were the Bears.) Nathan Fillion meets every criteria to be overqualified as a forty-something newbie cop on The Rookie. Only in TV land, folks.

The most interesting risk being taken here is on Sundays with The Alec Baldwin Show. Baldwin picks the guests and controls the show, and is similar in vain to Charlie Rose’s and Dick Cavett’s interview programs (no audience or house bands.) Give ABC credit for trying something different instead of another failed high-priced drama and besides – it’s a nice way to close out the weekend.

As for Dancing Juniors, this may…or may not work – my guess is much of the cast could be filled with Disney Channel stars – not exactly broad appeal.

As for the upfront presentation itself, Jimmy Kimmel was indeed the best attraction:

“No one at ABC expected ‘Roseanne’ to be a big hit. But to be honest, we don’t expect any of our shows to be hits.”

“I have to admit, I’m excited about ‘Murphy Brown.’ I think it’s exciting to see anything brown at CBS.” [Not a poop joke.]

“We even canceled ‘Marvel’s Inhumans.’ Somehow we managed to have the only unsuccessful project with the word ‘Marvel’ in its title. It had never been done before.”

“NBC, I have an idea for a show. It’s called Chica-go to Another Fucking City Already.” [I’m a native Chicagoan and even I agree with this assessment.]

You can watch the trailers for seven of the new shows below:

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Fox brings familiar faces back for 2018-19

Tim Allen? Vicki Lawrence? The once edgy Fox brand is history as the network retools to attract older audiences

Fox announced its 2018-19 schedule and it is a radical departure from what it was in years past. In the 1990s, Fox was synonymous with “hip, edgy programming” with The Simpsons, Beverly Hills 90210, In Living Color, and Melrose Place dominating the schedule. Today, the lineup has a canceled ABC show whose 64-year old star was on Home Improvement two-and-a-half decades ago, and a woman who once donned a wig on Mama’s Family and headlined her own daytime talk show from Group W in the early 1990s.

You can thank the recent “deal” sending much of 21st Century Fox’s assets to The Walt Disney Corp., (or Comcast, who is considering making another bid) as “New Fox” is taking shape earlier than expected. It appears the new schedule is meant to appease affiliates given the unconventional fare (tons of single-cam “hipster” comedies such as New Girl) weren’t solid lead-ins to their local newscasts, although in Chicago, this has actually been the opposite.

The difference between today and the 1990s is many Fox affiliates did not have local news operations back then. And the seeds “New Fox” planted actually came in 1994 when the network made a deal with New World Communications, who switched their then-twelve stations from traditional, local news-producing Big 3 affiliates to Fox in markets such as Dallas, Detroit, and Atlanta. Certainly, the success of American Idol in the 2000s kept the lights on and provided a steady revenue stream to the network.

And with the success of the Roseanne reboot on ABC – the outspoken Trump supporter at age 65 has network executives reexamining the fare they’ve been producing and whether if it’s mainstream enough outside of New York and Los Angeles. Fox thinks it can strike lightning again with Allen and Standing. The sitcom continues to post strong numbers in off-network syndication – especially at WGN-TV, who airs back-to-back episodes weeknights at 8 p.m. when not pre-empted by sports.

With younger audiences migrating to streaming services – a problem for every broadcast network, “New Fox” is  focusing less on scripted series (serialized ones in particular), and more on sports and live events and some reality shows. Nevertheless, the show must go on.

The beginning of the week is heavy on dramas with three consecutive nights: Mondays has The Resident and 9-1-1; Tuesdays has The Gifted and Lethal Weapon (who recently replaced Clayne Crawford as co-star); and Wednesdays has the returning Empire and Star.

Thursdays has football of course, but no programming was announced for the night when it doesn’t air the NFL.

Tool Man Taylor is back. (ABC/Adam Taylor)

Fridays has Last Man Standing back in its old time slot when it was son ABC, followed by another multi-cam sitcom, The Cool Kids with Vicki Lawrence. Hell’s Kitchen finishes up the night.

Saturdays has college football and repeat programming; Sundays has The Simpsons; Bob’s Burgers; Family Guy; and an another multi-cam sitcom, Rel.

Fox has numerous midseason entries – some of them likely to land on Thursdays once football is over and others scheduled for summer 2018. The list: The Four: Battle for Stardom, Gotham (for a fifth and final season), The Orville (returns Dec. 30), The Passage, Proven Innocent, So You Think You Can Dance, Beat Shazam, Gordon Ramsay’s 24 Hours To Hell And Back, Love Connection, Masterchef, Masterchef Junior and Showtime at the Apollo.

Also set for midseason is Cosmos: Possible Worlds, a sequel to the Cosmos mini-series from a few years ago. And Fox plans a three-hour musicial featuring Rent on January 27, wedged in between the NFL Conference Championship Games and the Super Bowl (on CBS.)

To see the 2018 fall schedule, click here.

As mentioned earlier, Fox is going heavy with drama and for the first-time in ages, there are no single-cam comedies anywhere in sight. In fact, just three live-action comedies are on the schedule, all multi-cam. Fox should decently do well on Fridays with the return of Standing, but Kids remains a question mark. A show set in a retirement home is slightly above one set in a funeral home (1990’s Good Grief with Howie Mandel, also on Fox.)

Fox’s Sunday lineup will get a boost from NFL lead-ins on weeks it has one, and congrats to Bob’s Burgers for getting the spot it rightly deserves on the schedule. But the fates of these shows will likely be determined on how the Disney (or Comcast)-Fox deal plays out and whether if it is economically feasible to continue producing the animated series with Disney (or Comcast) taking over.

And in the least surprising observation, Fox is going to have a hit with Thursday Night Football.

As for some bubble shows, Fox announced the cancellation of The X-Files Monday after co-star Gillian Anderson said she would no longer do the show – but she rightfully pointed out the show’s ratings decline on Twitter as a reason:

Fox also punted on future decision of single-cam comedies Ghosted and LA To Vegas, though they remain in contention for midseason slots.


Here are the trailers for six of the new shows on Fox next season. Enjoy!

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Bubble Bustin’ Weekend: NBC saves “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”; more shows canceled

Leah Remini (l.) and Kevin James on “Kevin Can Wait”.
(Photo By Jeff Neumann/CBS via Getty Images)

Fox and NBC save shows; why do the networks cancel all these shows in a three-day window?

The Bubble didn’t just burst on Friday for several on-the-fence shows…it exploded.

According to TV Line, a total of nineteen shows were canceled in twenty-four hours’ time between Thursday and Friday – not unusual for this time of year as the major networks shape up schedules for next season ahead of the upcoming week’s network upfronts. While the broadcast networks continued sweeping out programming, two networks added programs cast off from others.

In a surprise move, NBC late Friday night picked up Brooklyn Nine-Nine for a sixth season after Fox canceled it after five. This comes despite the comedy averaging less than a 1.0 Nielsen rating over the years. Universal Television – who parent is NBCUniversal – produces Brooklyn.

Meanwhile, Fox decided to pick up Last Man Standing after getting its cancellation on ABC a year ago.  The move generated strong reaction on social media – but negatively from fans of Fox’s three recently canceled sitcoms, including Brooklyn. It also signals a shift away from single-cam comedies from the network overall as Fox is preparing for life without its sister studio as it is being sold to Disney – or someone else.

The cancellations continued however into its second day with a total of eleven series getting whacked. ABC bore the brunt, cancelling Alex, Inc; The Crossing; Deception; Designated Survivor; Kevin (Probably) Saves the World; and Quantico. Also, Inhumans was finally canceled six months after its final episode aired; and for good measure, ABC canceled The Mayor again doing so in January.

NBC dropped four shows on Friday: The Brave, Great News, Rise, and Taken, while Fox added Lucifer and Chicago-shot The Exorcist to its casualty list. Earlier this week, The CW dumped Valor and Life Sentence.

As of this writing, CBS so far can canceled three shows: Kevin Can Wait, Scorpion, and Superior Donuts. And a few shows are still on the bubble: Despite series star Gillian Anderson passing on another season of the show, Fox has punted on a decision to bring back X-Files, basically letting the decision rest in Chris Carter’s hands. ABC has yet to decide about the fate of Agents of SHIELD, whose season finale may provide a hint of things to come – or not to come:

There were also plenty of renewals as many shows came off the bubble. ABC renewed How To Get Away With Murder for a fifth season; CBS renewed a volley of programs including Criminal Minds, Elementary, Man With A Plan, Life In Pieces, and in a surprise, Instinct. Fox also officially picked up last-minute renewals for Bob’s Burgers and Family Guy, though their fates were never in doubt.

A note about this “Bubble Bustin” stuff – after the very lackluster results for Inhumans last fall after its eight-episode run had completed last November, it took ABC six months to announce the show’s cancellation. Six months. So I’m wondering…why does the major broadcast networks wait until the days before the upfronts to cancel shows?

I find it ridiculous for ABC to wait this long to cancel Inhumans. The show had no realistic chance at renewal so why wait half a damn year? The headlines we see about “20 shows canceled in 24 hours” makes the industry look bad and you wonder why the network television business is no longer respected. Look, network television is losing viewers – especially younger ones year after year and this “collusion”- type stunt a measly three days a year hurts the credibility of the major networks and the TV business in general – especially when cable networks and streaming services and even syndicators make renewal/cancellation decisions year-around.

What’s worse, the timing of these cancellations are plain awful as The Last Man On Earth and Scorpion ended their seasons on cliffhangers.

Fans of these shows and the people who work on them – whether behind the camera or in front of – deserve better. Tugging along their heartstrings just to build some phony drama before upfronts is crass and cruel.



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Bubble Bustin’ Thursday: Fox axes trio of sitcoms

But Rick and Morty gets a major pickup

With the upfronts next week, the major networks are jockeying for position and clearing out the deadwood to make room for new shows. In the past, the Thursday and Friday before the upfronts see numerous show cancellations, and this year is no different.

On Thursday, Fox shook up its comedy lineup by cancelling three single-cam comedies: The Mick after two seasons; The Last Man On Earth after four; and Brooklyn Nine-Nine after five. The moves are taking place as Fox is considering bringing back multi-cam sitcom Last Man Standing to the air after ABC canceled the show last year.

As you can imagine, the news of Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s cancellation was not well received by fans. And just as bad, Earth finished its recent season on a cliffhanger.

None of these comedies were ratings hits, as even The Mick lost its creative momentum after its strong launch. Each program earned less than a 1.0 rating in the adult 18-49 demo.

Fox picked up several on-the-bubble shows this week including Empire and Star.

But the biggest renewal story of the day didn’t come from a broadcast network. That came from Adult Swim, who trumped everyone by renewing animated sitcom Rick and Morty for an eye-popping 70 episodes.

Premiering in 2013, Rick and Morty is television’s number one sitcom in the adult 18-34 demo, even beating The Big Bang Theory. The seventy-episode order brings the show’s total episode count to 101, which makes it eligible for off-network syndication. However, the market for such programming is very tough these days and the 100th episode might not even air until 2026 at the earliest, given there are only ten episodes per season.

In other cancellation/renewal news, SyFy pilled the plug on The Expanse, doing so in an unusual manner: announcing the cancellation in the wee hours of Friday morning.

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21st Century Fox to buy Sinclair stations

Fox re-purchases three stations; Chicago’s WPWR could switch owners as a result

Exactly a year after Sinclair Broadcasting announced its purchase of Tribune Media, the Hunt Valley, Md. company announced Wednesdaya the sale of seven Fox affiliates from the deal to 21st Century Fox.

Of the seven, three Fox are re-purchasing: KDVR in Denver; WJW in Cleveland; and KSTU in Salt Lake City. All three were sold to Local TV LLC in 2007 when then-owner News Corp. was looking to trim non-strategic assets. Local TV was purchased by Tribune in 2013.

Fox also purchases CW affiliate WSFL in Miami; currently WSVN is the market’s Fox station. Fox would likely relocate to WSFL; The CW could land at current My Network TV affiliate WBFS, who is owned by CW part-owner CBS and is in a duopoly with WFOR-TV.

And with its purchase of KTXL in Sacramento and KSWB in San Diego, Fox now has a huge imprint in the state of California with six owned-and-operated stations in addition to duopolies in Los Angeles and San Francisco. KSWB has been a Fox affiliate since 2008, when it wrested away the network from Televisa’s XETV, who no longer targets English-language audiences.

Fox also gets KCPQ in Seattle, who it long coveted (but not sister station KJZO, which remains with Sinclair.)

As part of the deal, Sinclair gets an option to purchase CW affiliate WPWR here in Chicago and Fox-owned KTBC in Austin, Tex. For WPWR, Sinclair would likely take up the offer sooner than later so it would pair up with former CW affiliate WGN-TV, part of the Tribune deal. If this happens, expect some huge behind-the-scenes shifts regarding programming and digital subchannels as management shifts from WFLD-TV to WGN in the duopoly. WPWR is also expected to remain its My Network TV affiliation – given Sinclair owns numerous CW and My Network TV affiliates including Milwaukee, Baltimore, and Cincinnati.

At one time, Fox tried to trade WPWR to Tribune for KCPQ, but the deal never materialized.

Sinclair’s Fox stations also receive extensions on their affiliation pacts, officially ending any possible deal with Ion Networks.

Fox Television Stations CEO Jack Abernethy said: “This transaction illustrates Fox’s commitment to local broadcasting and we are pleased to add these stations to our existing portfolio. With this acquisition, we will now compete in 19 of the top 20 markets and have a significantly larger presence in the west, which will enhance our already strong platform. This expansion will further enrich our valuable alignments with the NFL, including our new Thursday Night Football rights, MLB and college sports assets. We are also happy to add many talented Tribune employees to our group, some of whom we know well.”

Now this is contingent on whether or not the Tribune-Sinclair deal is approved by the FCC. The deal was announced exactly one year ago Monday, and the agency has the shot clock currently stopped at 167 days out of 180. Sinclair recently resubmitted its proposal for the fourth time, modified so they would have a better chance of passing muster with government officials and the Justice Department. It looks like the fourth time indeed is the charm.

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The Media Notepad: WBBM Newsradio celebrates 50 years

Screenshot from 1987 commercial. (YouTube)

The original is still the best: WBBM-AM (Newsradio 78) celebrated fifty years in the all-news format this week, with the anniversary of the switch taking place May 6. Believe it or not at one time, WBBM was known for something other than news: the station launched in 1924 , with the calls standing for World’s Best Battery Maker as the station was  founded by the owners of Mallory Battery (later variations included “We Broadcast Better Music” and “World’s Best Ballroom Music”.) CBS became associated with the station in 1928 and bought it outright in 1933. CBS later bought the original WBKB-TV (then at Channel 4) and renamed it WBBM-TV to pair with the radio station. WBBM actually played music in the 1950s and 1960s of the middle-of-the-road variety, segued into news/talk in 1964 and then all-news on May 6, 1968.

During this time, other CBS radio stations also converted to all-news formats, including Los Angeles’ KNX-AM who made the transition a few weeks later; KCBS-AM in San Francisco (not related to KCBS-TV in Los Angeles); and WCBS-AM in New York, who did so in 1972.

Among the first journalists at WBBM-AM in the all-news format included John Callaway and John Hultman. The station’s first sports director was Brent Musburger, who later went on to become a sports anchor for WBBM-TV, and of course, CBS Sports, ABC Sports, and ESPN.

Challengers have certainly come and gone (WNUS, NBC’s effort over 101.1, WMAQ-AM, and more recently, FM News on 101.1.) As a testament to how strong the station is, WBBM is the highest-billing station in Chicago, and is among the top ten highest billers in the country. WBBM took over the FM frequency of sister station WCFS in 2011, shortly before FM News launched. And the station is home to the Bears and also took the Cubs away from WGN-AM after 90 long years (games now air on sister station WSCR-AM.) Today, WBBM is still associated with CBS News, despite the parent company selling its radio properties to Entercom last year.

For more about WBBM’s 50th Anniversary, click here.

If you think the deal Disney made with 21st Century fox is a done deal… think again. Comcast is now throwing its hat into the ring to purchase most of Fox’s assets. Comcast is talking with banks to help finance an all-cash transaction. Fox initially rejected Comcast’s overtures, despite topping the $52 billion bid Disney offered for Fox last December.

Comcast is awaiting to see what the courts would say regarding the AT&T-Time Warner deal, being opposed by the Justice Department. A decision is expected next month and if the merger goes through, Comcast could pursue 21st Century Fox.

Comcast is also pursing Fox’s Sky, which has to be approved by British regulators.

The cable conglomerate bought NBCUniversal in 2011, which includes Universal’s massive TV and film library.

Is Last Man Standing coming back? According to reports, Fox is looking to revive the multi-cam sitcom for a seventh season after spending six years at ABC. Even though Tim Allen said his conservative politics were partly to blame, the reason mainly rests in ABC not owning the show and paying a license fee to producer Twentieth Television. The series earned a 1.6 average demo rating – on a Friday night – and outdrew most sitcoms on network television in higher visibility slots. Standing also went into off-network syndication last year and continues to pull strong numbers.

If Fox picks it up, where would it go? According to former NBC and Fox exec Preston Beckman (known as “The Masked Scheduler”), the program could be a fish out of water at Fox, as it would be the first multi-cam on the network in years. He also pointed out most assets of 21st Century Fox may be sold to Disney, the parent company of ABC if Comcast doesn’t interfere (see above.)

Network show switches were common in the past, but not so much today due to vertical integration- and most weren’t successful. Perhaps the biggest gamble made was CBS’ $40 million dollar bid to take TGIF stalwarts Family Matters and Step By Step away from ABC in 1997 to form a Friday night comedy block of their own. Going even further back, CBS bought the rights to air and produce former NBC comedy Get Smart in 1969 only to last one season.

If Fox does revive Standing, it could wind up on Sundays with animated comedies The Simpsons and Family Guy, the latter who also has a political bent (to the left.) Filled with young-skewing single-cam comedies, Tuesday nights are likely out unless it finds a compatible multi-cam to pair it with.

One of the members of The T Dog Media TV Hall Of Shame, the awful CNN docuseries “Chicagoland” in 2014.

One of this blog’s features is being retired. After several years, The T Dog Media TV Hall Of Shame is closing – mainly because it has run its course. “The Shame” was created in response to a weak Chicago Tribune article featuring “The 25 Worst TV Shows”. The list on T Dog Media grew to over one hundred entries.

In the last few years, really big bombs have been harder to come by with the major networks giving more time for programs to find their footing and even the “worst” TV shows (note The Orville) have an avid following. The criteria for entering The Shame meant the show has to be critically panned with public indifference and these days, fewer and fewer programs are meeting these goals. The only primetime show to make the Shame this season was Inhumans.

Plus, critics really no longer write about bad TV shows, instead focusing on more acclaimed fare. Also to blame is the explosion of programming in the marketplace, with more than 500 scripted shows and about one thousand overall. Also, I haven’t been updating the list recently because I usually forget to do so and hasn’t exactly been a priority.

The T Dog Media Blog’s look is being updated soon and some features are being discontinued. This is a chance for T Dog Media to evolve and become a more reputable site for media news and commentary and as you have noticed in the last few years, I’ve phased out the jackass stuff and cutesy names (Church Of Tisch, The Court Jester, occasional swearing, etc.) Even though it is no longer taking entries, the T Dog Media TV Hall Of Shame will be archived as a regular post from May 2018.

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Kanye West puts black radio stations in a bind

Backlash over comments made by the Hip-Hop star about slavery and over Trump have some wondering what to do

Urban radio programmers are waiting to see what effect Kanye West’s recent comments would have on their stations with one outlet – Detroit’s WMGC-FM (known as 105.1 The Bounce) taking action and pulling his music.

The Classic Hip-Hop station became the first urban outlet in the country to do so over comments he made Tuesday on Warner Bros.’ syndicated TMZ Live, seen locally on Fox-owned WFLD-TV about slavery. During a discussion of “free thought”, West said “When you hear about slavery for 400 years, 400 years?! That sounds like a choice.” The comments were challenged immediately by a TMZ staffer, Van Lathan. The comments made by West came under fire from many in the African-American community and is already under criticism for his support of President Donald Trump, who isn’t popular among people of color.

Thursday morning, The Bounce’s morning personalities Big and Shay Shay announced they were pulling West’s music off the air. According to the Detroit News, the station felt West went too far with his comments about slavery with listeners calling in to voice their disapproval of the comments and asked his music not be played. Bigg told the Detroit News: “In my 20-year radio career, this is one of the largest responses I’ve ever seen; the largest reaction on The Bounce, too. It’s very overwhelming right now. I’m just trying to keep up. Lots of people in support, but the people that aren’t are taking personal jabs. Weird.”

WMGC is owned by Beasley Broadcast Group and flipped to the Classic Hip-Hop format in June 2016 following a trend of other stations around the country who did so, including Chicago’s WBMX-FM. WMGC previously hosted a sports talk format.

So far, no other urban-oriented stations announced plans to pull Kanye West’s music from the airwaves, including Chicago’s five music stations targeted to African-American listeners. A Chicago native, local stations here have supported West in the past, including iHeartMedia’s Urban Contemporary WGCI-FM and Urban Adult Contemporary WVAZ-FM (on WFLD’s Flannery Fired Up this week, WGCI’s Leon Rogers did call West’s comments “delusional”.) West does have a new album coming out next month, but it is not known if any promotional singles would be released to radio. Recently, many contemporary urban and pop stations weren’t playing West’s music in the first place since he hasn’t had a chart single in years.

Since returning to Twitter, West has been creating controversy with numerous tweets. West even butted into the current saga involving The Simpsons’ Apu character by endorsing a screenwriting contest sponsored by an Indian-American writer, who wanted to “correct” the problem. The irony here is, West is endorsing a contest to “fix Apu” – and yet makes comments about slavery being a choice.

As for Bounce, it would be tough for other stations to “ban” his music. Unlike in the past when local stations had control over what music they played, large radio chains such as Radio One, iHeartMedia, Entercom, and Cumulus own most urban-oriented radio stations and do not allow radio personalities to pick songs as playlist decisions are made by higher ups. So if you continue to hear West on your local station, the decision isn’t really in their hands – that’s how corporate radio works in 2018. But if West continues to make comments detrimental to the African-American community, those radio chains would have to take another look as serving the community should be their main priority.

Meanwhile, West isn’t the only artist from Chicago facing scrutiny from black radio. Last week, Tom Joyner in an interview with MeToo founder Tarana Burke, announced he would no longer play R. Kelly’s music on his syndicated program as the R&B singer faces allegations of sexual misconduct, including holding women in a sex cult. So far, no other urban syndicated program or radio station announced any plans to drop his music as Kelly has a history of sexual misconduct toward women.

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The Media Notepad: Conviction ends “Cosby Show” runs

With Bill Cosby’s conviction on sexual assault changes, African-American targeted diginet Bounce (seen locally on WCIU-Ch. 26.5) has once again pulled reruns of The Cosby Show.

“Effective immediately, Bounce is removing The Cosby Show from our schedule,” said a Katz Broadcasting spokesperson. Katz was recently purchased by Cincinnati-based Scripps Co., owner of NBC affiliate WTMJ in Milwaukee and other stations. Cosby Show was pulled from Bounce in 2015 but later returned to the schedule for unknown reasons.

Once a staple of television schedules on broadcast stations and cable networks, Cosby Show has seen its presence diminish after allegations of Cosby’s sexual assaults began to surface. The last time any local station aired Cosby here was in 2014 when WCIU’s former MeToo channel (WMEU-CA) carried the show and continued to do so even after the allegations surfaced. Cosby was dropped from the schedule only after WMEU became an affiliate of the Heroes & Icons network (in a odd twist, MeToo became a hashtag on social media with women telling their stories of sexual harassment.) Earlier Cosby series I Spy was dropped by fellow diginet Cozi TV in early 2015.

The conviction brings the curtain down on Cosby and one of television’s well-known programs. Cosby Show set a record for off-network syndicated sitcom rerun sales, earning a then-record of $4 million per episode when it was sold in 1986.

The move does not affect Cosby Show spinoff A Different World, where as Cosby has appeared in only a handful of episodes, mostly from the first season when Lisa Bonet was in the cast. Carsey-Werner owns the rights to both Cosby Show and Different World.

With Cosby gone, Carsey-Werner can take solace it has the recently rebooted Roseanne in its stable, as it has become once again one of TV’s top-rated shows.

It looks like 104.3 Jams may be sticking around: according to the latest PPM numbers released recently, the classic hip-hop station known as WBMX grew 13 percent month-to-month and finished fourth in the survey, only behind top-rated WVAZ-FM, WBBM-AM, and WTMX. Numbers had been falling for the Entercom-owned station after its spectacular debut last fall, but leveled off until this period.

Recently, WBMX hired New York Hot 97 veteran Ed Lover to be their new morning personality, In addition to WQHT, Ed Lover had stints at MTV and Backspin, Sirius/XM’s former classic hip-hop channel. Whether Chicagoans will warm up to a former New York radio personality remains to be seen – in recent years, only Sheila Nathan (who went from Nash-FM New York to WUSN-FM) has managed to pull it off.

Diana Steele was recently hired as midday personality on an interim basis, piped in from the San Francisco area.

Meanwhile, the debut of K-Love’s WCKL – the former WLUP – landed with a thud as expected, as the numbers plunged 59 percent, taking the frequency from 11th to 26th. Keep in mind K-Love does not depend on commercial advertising revenue to survive so the number is pointless.

And last and certainly least, WGN-AM finished with what has to be its lowest ranking ever in 22nd place. A bland talk lineup (not to mention lackluster Blackhawks and White Sox games) really didn’t help matters.


Are you ready for some Tuesday Night baseball? WGN-TV sure hopes so. You won’t be hearing Hank Williams Jr. singing a theme song (because there isn’t one – Thank God), but the Tribune Media station is branding Cubs and White Sox games under the title Tuesday Night Baseball since WGN has games on the night for 22 consecutive weeks – basically all season long.

“It all started with our programming manager looking at the possibility of scheduling several Tuesday night games during the season, which led to a final broadcast schedule worked out with the Cubs and White Sox of almost 22 straight weeks of Tuesday night baseball on WGN”, said co- creative director Tom Vodick as he spoke to TVNewscheck’s TVMarketshare blog. “This being a unique hook for one of our baseball seasons, we in Creative Services then set out to sell it, and try to give it a little different vibe than our other baseball game promotion.”

FirstCom supplied the music for the 30-second spot, which you can watch above.

The rebrand gives WGN an opportunity to attract advertisers who are interested in live, prime-time sports with its higher engagement with viewers than scripted programs and reality fare.

I guess the NHL doesn’t need the Blackhawks after all: ratings for Saturday night’s game featuring the new Vegas Golden Knights franchise first playoff appearance in their first year – yes in their first year, scored a ratings victory for NBC in primetime. According to Niesen through Sports Media Watch, the game between the Knights and the 1991 expansion San Jose Sharks drew a 1.7 overnight household rating, down 10 percent from the April 29, 2017 tilt between Pittsburgh and Washington but flat from the 2016 matchup of the same teams.

The game was a ratings smash in Las Vegas, earning a 14.1 household rating for Sinclair-owned NBC affiliate KSNV. In the Bay Area, the game earned a 2.6 rating for NBC-owned KNTV.

Ratings for the Stanley Cup Playoffs so far this year have been quite decent, despite the absence of top market New York Rangers and Chicago Blackhawks, who missed the playoffs for the first time in nearly a decade. Powerful draws Boston Bruins and the Penguins are still in the playoffs as of press time.

The Golden Knights are aiming to become the second pro sports franchise in history – remember, the MLS’ Chicago Fire was the first in 1998 – to win a championship in its inaugural year, an impressive feat given the expectations of a first-year team. The Knights finished the regular season 51-24-7, with the team sweeping the season series against the Blackhawks three games to none. It would be THE sports story of the century if the Knights pulled this off.

The Bulls-less NBA playoffs have also had its share of strong ratings success, with Game 7 between Cleveland and Indiana scoring the highest rating (5.4) for a first-round game since 2004. More proof the major networks no longer need to rely on Chicago teams to generate big ratings.

K-Bad to K-Good: In a follow up story from a few months ago, a radio station run by a former loan shark has been sold. Sioux Falls former classic rock station KBAD-FM was sold to Real Presence, a Catholic non-profit group from St. Paul, MN. The former owner (Chuck Brennan) was forced to sell KBAD after he was forced to shut down his payday loan operations after South Dakota voters passed a law in 2016 limiting short-term lending to a 36 percent interest rate. KBAD was used to promote Brennan’s business, which not only included the loan business, but also a 70,000-foot pawn shop, a tattoo parlor, a deli, a gun range, and more.

The sale continues a trend of former commercial outlets being snapped up by non-profit Christian radio operators, including two in the Chicago area: WCKL (see above) and the former “Nine FM” home of 99.9 FM in Park Forest. A college station in Raleigh, N.C. was also sold to the Educational Media Foundation.

Unlike WLUP, who played AC/Dc’s Highway To Hell as their final-ever song on the 97.9 frequency, KBAD went silent last September 23, so the station won’t be able to respond to the sale in kind as the former home of “Guns, Gold, and Rock & Roll” is now the home to God, God, and more God.