Chicago’s weather wars

An article in Crain’s Chicago Business this week details the ongoing weather wars between Chicago’s television news operations. Competitors are taking aim at each other, particularly at Fox-owned WFLD-TV and new meteorologist Amy Freeze.

The weathermen at other local stations are taking their shots at her and her station, with one weatherman saying that WFLD’s breaking into regular programming for weather alerts is nothing but ratings desperation, and one competitor dismissed the station’s “Ten Day at Ten” weather forecast as a gimmick. (Of course, one could wonder if competitors are trying to tie WFLD’s news operations to the Fox News Channel, whose style irritates Chicago news bosses…)

Why so much emphasis on the weather? Because that’s what most people turn into local news for (it isn’t for the content, that’s for sure), and 40 percent of local stations’ revenues are derived from local news (especially important today, given the market for off-network programs have dried up, and first-run syndicated fare like Oprah is quite expensive while most newer syndicated fare, like The Megan Mulually Show, fails.)

Meanwhile, the hubbub over the weather hasn’t really affected the ratings much, where ABC-owned WLS-TV still wins all local newscasts head-to-head. WFLD’s 9 p.m. newscast is still behind CW affiliate WGN-TV, despite the fact that Fox’s prime-time lineup provides a much bigger ratings lead-in than the upstart CW does (I told you we use our remotes more frequently in Chicago… After all, the remote was invented here.)