Here’s what in The Grab Bag on this Friday:
– One day after Merlin Media re-launched WKQX as an Alternative Rock outlet, the company launched a new news/talk station in Philadelphia Monday with former WBBM-TV and Access: Hollywood anchor Larry Mendete as the centerpiece. Billed as “IQ 106.9” (WWIQ-FM), the station is being touted as an alternative to all-news KYW-AM with a mixture of news and talk in the morning with Mendete along with Philly radio vet Al Gardner, with the rest of the day filled with syndicated conservative talkers Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, and soon Rush Limbaugh. While Mendete touts his new station as a fresh change of pace in this YouTube video, its basically no different from what other news/talk stations offer. If you recall, Mendete was an anchor at KYW-TV in Philadelphia, but was fired in 2008 after it was revealed he hacked into the e-mail account of a fellow anchor.
Merlin acquired the former WKDN-FM last December, ending religious broadcaster Family Radio’s 43-year ownership of the station.
– Good riddance: In a move that doesn’t really come as a surprise, Khloe Kardashian Odom has left her one-hour a day lunchtime gig at Clear Channel-owned KDMX-FM in Dallas after just three months. The handwriting was on the wall when her basketball player husband (Lamar Odom) was released from the Dallas Mavericks a month ago (the defending champs were recently swept in the first round of the playoffs by the Oklahoma City Thunder.) Just as bad, tabloid reports surfaced that their marriage was circulating the drain. With no employment prospects for Lamar Odom in the Metroplex (what, you thought he was going to try out for the Cowboys?), the couple have since moved back to the Los Angeles area. Hiring Khloe Kardashian to do only an hour shift was an out-and-out stupid idea, and was nothing more than a cheap publicity stunt right out of Randy Michaels’ playbook (hopefully, there won’t be a set of headphones waiting for her in Chicago at the new Q87.7.)
As for that other bad radio hire… there is no word if Chicago Blackhawks player Daniel Carcillo or his Bomb Shelter radio show would return to WGN-AM, but there is a possibility since he recently signed a two-year extension with the team. Carcillo’s show has not aired since suffering an season-ending injury against the Edmonton Oilers.
– The Chicago Reader may soon have a new owner: the geniuses who are currently running the Sun-Times into the ground. In the best argument against media consolidation, Wrapports (the Sun-Times’ parent company) has reportedly made a deal to buy the alternative weekly for $3 million, according to Crain’s Chicago Business. If the deal goes through, the Reader would fold into the Sun-Times group, which consists of the flagship paper, seven suburban papers, and more than thirty suburban weeklies. The Reader generally focuses on Chicago’s art, music, and lifestyle scene, an area the Chicago Tribune’s free daily Red Eye has eaten into increasingly the last few years.
– Turning to TV: TBS has picked up the Courtney Cox comedy Cougar Town after ABC passed on renewing the series for another season. TBS has ordered 15 episodes from ABC Studios for its fourth year, which would add to the already existing 61 episodes needed for syndication, which TBS has also acquired. Cougar Town is looking to duplicate the success of The Game, which was canceled by CW in 2009, but resurfaced on BET last year.
Disney-ABC needed another off-net sitcom in its stable since syndication contracts are expiring soon for According to Jim and Scrubs. New episodes of Cougar Town is expected to debut in January 2013.
– More TBS news: Team Coco’s getting ready to make another stop in the Windy City. Conan O’ Brien’s late-night cable talker is taping four shows during the week of June 11 from the Chicago Theater as part of the city’s Just For Laughs Festival from June 12-17, which features comedians performing at venues all across Chicagoland. Conan O’Brien sure loves the Chicago Theater – this is his third time at the venue since 2006, when he taped a week’s worth of shows when he was still with NBC and held The Legally Prohibited From Being Funny On Television Tour in 2010 (which of course, wasn’t televised due to his settlement with NBC after the fallout with the network over the Jay Leno debacle.)
For more information on Conan taping in Chicago and for free tickets, click here. Conan airs Monday-Thursday at 10 p.m. on TBS.