The Grab Bag: “Brandmeier” renewed; Antenna TV a hit – in Cleveland

Chicago-based Antenna TV is "Hot In Cleveland".

This week’s Grab Bag include plenty of local TV items – and some not so local:

In an item first reported Saturday at Chicagoland Radio and Media, Brandmeier has been picked up for a second cycle by NBC-owned WMAQ-TV. The series stars WGN-AM morning host Johnathan Brandmeier where takes on the week’s headlines and interviews special guests. Brandmeier had been airing Friday nights at 7 pm on Chicago Non-Stop, WMAQ’s digital subchannel and on WMAQ late Friday nights after Later With Carson Daly. The first cycle aired last fall.

And as for Brandmeier’s replacement… WMAQ has turned a political blog into a weekly television show. The station’s Ward Room (which is also the name of the blog on is hosted by political reporters Carol Marin and Mary Ann Ahern and premiered Friday night on Chicago Non-Stop in the time period vacated by Brandmeier last December. The series plans to interview local political “game changers” (whatever that means) and focuses on political stories in Chicago and beyond. On a night with the second-lowest HUT levels of the week, Ward Room goes head-to-head with WTTW’s Chicago Tonight: The Week in Review, a program both Marin and Ahern have both appeared on (in case your wondering, Ward refers to an Aldermanic district, which there are too many of in Chicago.)

Friday’s premiere was an absolute snoozefest, featuring rather meaningless interviews and analysis, and making yours truly long for the days of ABC’s TGIF comedy block (then again, yours truly doesn’t exactly watch political chat shows.)

Yeah, we saw this coming: Mike Lederman is out after less than a year as executive producer of WFLD’s low-rated and critically panned 9 p.m weeknight newscast. Lederman’s departure was expected after news director Phyills Schwartz was hired last  month to replace Carol Fowler. No word yet on who will replace Lederman.

Despite no Oprah, no All My Children, and no One Life To Live, ABC-owned WLS-TV continues to dominate, according to an article on Reel Chicago’s website this week. WLS’ 10pm newscast beats its two network-owned rivals handily according to the piece, but ratings for the newscasts are down across the board, mainly due to the warmer – and less snowier-than-usual weather we’re having in Chicago this winter. The article also mentions Windy City’s Live dominance at 9 a.m. a mere nine months after replacing Oprah, but a commenter below the article said in key female 25-54 demo, its WGN-TV’s Live! With Kelly that’s the victor –  something the author neglected to mention in his story.

In news outside of Chicago… crime is a daily part of Detroit’s newscasts, everyone knows that. But there’s one crime in particular that generating attention not only in the Motor City, but also across the country and internationally. The murder case of Jane Bashara has been a boon for Detroit’s three local TV news operations – but especially for WDIV. The usually dominant NBC affiliate’s 11 p.m. newscast beat ABC affiliate WXYZ-TV and Fox-owned WJBK-TV combined Wednesday night and surged 66 percent in rating from a Law and Order: SVU repeat, according to Broadcasting & Cable.

Jane Bashara was found dead was found dead in a vehicle in Detroit Tuesday night, miles from her home in affluent Grosse Pointe Park (which is a non-Eight Mile suburb bordering Detroit’s East Side.) Police determined she was murdered  in her home and was dumped in  a Detroit alley. Her husband Bob is a “person of interest”, but has not been charged. Michigan Buzzboard posters have been talking about the coverage and scrutinizing it.

According to Sitcoms Online, WJW in Cleveland is seeing some surprise numbers with its affiliation with Chicago-based Antenna TV, which is carried on its 8.2 digital channel. Case in point: reruns of a 55-year old comedy (Leave It To Beaver, which premiered on CBS in 1957 and moved to ABC in 1958) airing at 6pm is outdrawing first-run syndicated and network fare in the market. During the month of December, Beaver outdrew America Now!, Anderson, Family Feud, Lifechangers, and The Talk among adults 18-49 and 25-54. Another vintage series (Adam-12) outdrew six main Cleveland stations head-to-head with its Saturday night airings among the same two demos.

In December, Antenna TV drew more viewers in the Cleveland market than cable nets Disney XD, OWN, Versus, NFL Network, Weather Channel, and others.

So you can say, Antenna TV is “Hot In Cleveland”… without Betty White.