T Dog’s Fridge Pack: The twelve items that made the decade

In his 2008 speeches, President Barack Obama talked about change.

Well, in the media world, change arrived in the 2000s. And boy, did it ever!

When the decade started, who knew we would be watching clips on YouTube, or friending people on Facebook, or watching network TV shows online?

Or how broadcast television and terrestrial radio would both have trouble adjusting to the changes and now find themselves on the verge of possible obsoleteness?

If this was the decade of change – the 2000s were it. The T Dog Media Blog now takes a look at a twelve can pack of items that shook up Chicago – and beyond:

– YouTube. Invented in 2005 by three former Paypal employees, the new website was one where users can upload videos they shot and share them all over the world. The success of the site made individuals like LonelyGirl15 and a skateboarding dog viral video favorites. In addition, long-lost clips of television shows, music videos, and other material gave users an instant trip into pop culture’s past. Movie studios and other producers have used the site to promote their material – while others (notably Viacom) have kept their material off because of copyright infringement.

In 2006, YouTube was purchased by Google.

– The Internet. Okay, this went mainstream in the ’90’s, but came of age in the 2000s. Today, people can gets their news, watch most of their favorite television shows, listen to radio, go shopping – and a lot of other things – at the expense of traditional media. Some of the biggest news stories have broke on numerous sites, including TMZ and Twitter.

– Mac vs. PC. This campaign from Apple featured Justin Long (as “Apple”) and John Hodgeman (as “PC”) as dueling “computers” bragging about which one was better. The results? Hilarious ads too good to skip with a DVR.

– Electronic measurement. With the introduction of the Local People Meters fro television (LPMs) and the Portable People Meters for radio (PPMs), tracking who’s watching what – and who’s listening to what – has never been more accurate. And the implementation of the devices have shook up local marketplaces all over the nation.

– WDRV, The Drive. On March 15, 2001, longtime classical outlet WNIB-FM bid adieu and in came WDRV-FM (The Drive), which Bonneville International purchased a year earlier. Appealing to an older demo with timeless classics and deep album cuts. The Drive has been one of Chicago’s most successful – and profitable – radio stations – even in an era where youth is everything.

– Breaking curses. Heading into sports, the 2004 Boston Red Sox and the 2005 Chicago White Sox ended their long World Series droughts – while the Cubs…can we say Bartman?

– The Chicago Bears’ 2006 Super Bowl run. Even though they didn’t win Super Bowl XLI, the ride was the most fun Chicago has had since the wonderful 1985 season.

– The Chicago Blackhawks finally righting the ship. Once named the worst professional sports team by ESPN, the Chciago Blackhawks blossomed after owner Bill Wirtz’s death. In late 2007, new management (led by Rocky Wirtz, Bill’s son), lifted the decades-old home television blackout and brought a new audience to the team – just in time to discover the awesome play of young stars Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. As a result, the Chicago Blackhawks – who were once outdrawn by the Circus at the United Center and on TV by reruns of Sanford and Son –  has seen huge increases at the box office and in the Nielsens.

– American Idol. Turning to television… whether you love this show – or hate it (count me in the latter category), you can’t deny the phenomenon this show created. This show has saved two struggling entities at the same time – the television and the music industries, with millions and millions of viewers tuning to Fox every week to see the brighest upcoming superstars and made household names of judges Randy Jackson, , Paula Abdul, and Simon Cowell – not to mention host Ryan Seacrest. Idol also made Fox a legitimate competitor, after fifteen years of being known as “the coat-hanger network”.

Idol launched the careers of winners Kelly Clarkson, Fantasia Barriano, Carrie Underwood, and even of those who didn’t win – Jennifer Hudson, Clay Aiken, and Chris Daugherty. On the other hand, careers of a few Idol winners (Rueben Studdard, Taylor Hicks, and Kris Allen) have sputtered.

– Desperate Housewives. When ABC debuted this show in 2004, it was one of the most original dramas to hit television in a long time. The crazy antics of five married women in suburbia brought viewers in every week (and continues to do so), with the perfect blend of comedy and drama.

– Survivor. This show would re-define “reality TV”, which up until 2000, consisted of Cops, America’s Most Wanted, The Real World, and any Geraldo Rivera special. Survivor made a big splash for CBS that summer, which brought in young viewers the network sorely needed – and would bring “immunity idol” and “voted off the island” into pop culture lexicon. Today, Survivor is still a ratings force to reckon with, if the outrage regarding the recent screwjob of Russell is any indication.

– The DVR. First, it was the VCR that put the viewer in charge. And now, you have the Digital video Recorder – or the DVR – that put the viewer in even more control. The individual not only can record programs, he or she can pause live programming and skip commercials – striking fear into everyone on Madison Avenue.

Honorable Mentions.

Family Guy’s triumphant return to TV. In the past, letter-writing campaigns have gotten a few programs back on the air. But Family Guy did one better – after being canceled by Fox – twice – the show returned due to strong DVD sales of the program’s first 49 episodes – a historic feat. Meanwhile, strong DVD sales convinced Twentieth Television to also revive Futurama for Comedy Central this coming year.

– Lost. Little anyone know this program would become a pop culture phenomenon when it debuted in 2004. Who would’ve thought the island the survivors landed on after a plane crash would become as much a star of the show as they are?

– The Office. The “mockumentary” style of this show was groundbreaking (though the British version of this show did it first), though it inspired a few bad knockoffs (Parks & Recreation, notably)

– Battlestar Galactica. Can robots and humans get along? Just more than an update of the 1980 ABC sci-fi drama, this show went deeper than any other.

Others: The Daily Show With Jon Stewart (Comedy Central), Everybody Loves Raymond (CBS – also, the off-network hit of the decade), and CBS (the network of the decade), iPod (and its legitimate children, the iPod Touch and iPhone.), and Jump The Shark (website of the decade – before it was sold to TV Guide who later shuttered it. )

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