T Dog’s Grab Bag – Jerry Lewis may walk out that door

You’ll never walk alone? You might have to if Jerry Lewis walks out the door.

– Did we hear Jerry Lewis sing You’ll Never Walk Alone for the final time? The Muscular Dystrophy Association announced this week it was cutting back its hours of its annual Labor Day Telethon from 21 hours to only six, regulating it from 6 p.m. to midnight on Sunday in order to attract more sponsors and big-name artists. But more telling in the announcement, the press release barely mentioned the 84-year old Lewis in any role for next year’s show or beyond. Stay tuned…

Telethons were television staples for decades, but stations have cut back such fare in recent years, with the Easter Seals and Children’s Miracle Network telethons all but vanishing from the airwaves, at least in Chicago. The MDA telethon hasn’t been exempt, with some stations already cutting back hours and not carrying the entire program.

There no word on whether or not WGN-TV (which has carried the telethon for 31 years) will continue to carry the telethon under the new format. Before WGN carried the MDA Telethon, WFLD-TV handled the duties from 1966 to 1978.

– The September PPMs are out for Chicago, and it was a successful survey for Clear Channel Urban AC outlet V103 (WVAZ-FM), which finished first among the key 25-54 demo and second overall (all-news WBBM-AM finished first.) But the big news is the continuing decline of Tribune’s WGN-AM. Even though the station only slipped to third overall, its 25-54 demos continue to erode. WGN did not crack the top 20 in 25-54s.

Many music-oriented stations had declines month-to-month in overall rankings as listeners headed back to school (and work) last month.

In New York, Clear Channel’s WLTW-FM (Lite) finished first in overall ratings, while the same was true for its sister Top 40 station in Los Angeles, KIIS-FM.

For a full analysis of September’s radio ratings for Chicago, click here.

– In a huge setback for PBS, Los Angeles’ KCET announced Friday it would drop the service by the end of the year and go independent (the question is, will anyone out there notice?) KCET plans to fill the hours vacated by PBS with news and documentary programming from other countries, and the stations has no plans at the present to convert its non-commercial license to a commercial one. KCET signed-on in 1964 as part of National Education Television, the forerunner of PBS. 

PBS fans in Southern California need not worry – there are three other stations serving the region: KLCS,  KOCE in Huntington Beach, and KVCR in San Bernardino.

– Even though its unlikely WGN-TV will revamp its newscasts, the opposite has become true for its sister station in New York, WPIX. The station added Jodi Applegate as sole anchor, replacing Kaity Tong and Jim Watkins, who both have been reassigned, and the format has been overhauled to make it more “live and local”. WPIX’s 10 p.m. newscast has struggled for years, typically finishing behind Fox-owned WNYW and even Secacus, N.J.-based WWOR, when they had news at 10.

– With Oprah Winfrey leaving, I guess anybody can get a talk show these days – Sony is currently pitching a talk show featuring Dr. Memhet Oz’s wife, Lisa, which would focus on solving relationship problems. Um… haven’t we seen this before with Barbara DeAngelis and Joy Browne?

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