T Dog’s Grab Bag: Happy trainwreck TV, everybody!

Happy New Year! The first Grab Bag of 2013 is here:

Countdown Chicago, ABC 7’s annual New Year’s Eve countdown special which aired from 11:08 p.m. to around 12:15 a.m., drew a huge 17.4 household rating and a 40 share – despite the annual bashing from viewers (after all, we still attend Cubs games, don’t we?) Hosted by WLS-TV’s Mark Giangreco and Janet Davies, the special was panned by message board posters, commenters (such as in Robert Feder’s article), and on social media platform such as Twitter.

Despite airing around midnight, Countdown Chicago outdrew every prime-time entertainment program in the market for the week. In fact, the special even outdrew original episodes of ratings heavyweights such as American Idol and The Big Bang Theory locally over the past year. The rule: never underestimate the power of local over-the-air television, even in an age of Netflix, Hulu, and cable TV.

Countdown Chicago actually came off as quality TV compared to other efforts, including the odious presence of Ryan Seacrest and Jenny McCarthy on ABC’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve; Kathy Griffin’s zany antics on CNN; and of course, Anaheim outlet KDOC’s live train-wreck NYE presentation in Los Angeles, which included F-bombs broadcasted live on the air – which was actually entertaining (to see the clip before someone takes it down, click here.)

So if Dr. Clayton Forrester is searching for something to torture Joel, Mike, and the robots on Mystery Science Theater 3000 with,  he can look no further than New Year’s Eve programming on various channels. It’s worse than Hobgoblins! 

Dave Fogel has been named new morning personality at CBS Radio’s K-Hits (WJMK-FM), effective January 7. He replaces the duo Eddie & JoBo, who were dropped from the station last month after a year-and-a-half of low ratings. Fogel was previously at rival WLS-FM, where he exited the station after the station’s flip from Oldies to Classic Hits last October. In the last PPM survey, WLS’ ratings slid 16 percent month-to-month.

But is Fogel a long-term solution for the station’s morning ratings problems? Despite his hire, it won’t dispel ongoing rumours about WJMK dropping K-Hits and hooking up with the recently-launched CBS Sports Radio Network, which already has a few full-time affiliates, including New York.

Remember those odious billboards featuring former governor Rod Blagoveich from the now-defunct FM News 101.1? Well, the now-imprisoned governor’s wife (Patti Blagoveich) is suing Merlin Media, the owner of WIQI for trying to profit off her husband’s woes. In a affidavit filed with the Circuit Court of Cook County, Mrs. Blagoveich claims Merlin used the image of her husband to attract audiences and to increase ratings and revenue (which of course, never happened.)

The billboard campaign lasted all of three months after a complaint from Blagoveich’s legal team forced the station to put a distracting yellow smiley face in place of the former governor’s, making the ads even more unprofessional (and ugly.) A year after it launched, Merlin pulled the plug on FM News in Chicago and New York last July, becoming one of the biggest flops in radio history.

Patti Blagoveich should really talk about embarrassment – a few years ago, she made headlines by appearing on NBC reality show I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here! , which failed to generate any ratings interest (except in Chicago; just see the first item of this post.)

In another sign The Jeff Probst Show may soon be voted off the daytime talk show island, CBS-owned WBBM-TV downgraded the show last week to an 1:07 a.m. overnight time slot, being replaced at 2 p.m. by Judge Judy reruns, which occupied the time period before Probst premiered on Sept. 10 (first-run episodes of Judge Judy continue to air at 4 p.m.)

For the week ending December 23, Probst earned only a 0.7 national rating, tying Twentieth’s The Ricki Lake Show and both are only ahead of NBCUniversal’s Trisha (0.5), which is expected to return mainly because the show has improved both lead-in and year-ago time period ratings, something Probst and Lake have not done.

The Jeff Probst Show and Judge Judy are distributed by CBS Television Distribution.