T Dog’s Grab Bag: Alternative rock returns to 101.1

q877It’s official: the alternative rock format, which vanished from the 101.1 frequency in 2011 after Merlin Media took over, returned Friday morning at 9 a.m. prompt, simulcasting sister station WKQX/87.7 FM for a period of 30-45 days.  The move came a week after Cumulus announced it was taking over operations of three Merlin Media stations in Chicago. According to Radio Insight, the first song played on the new 101.1 was the Foo Fighters’ Times Like These.

Though you won’t see the Q101 branding return, Cumulus also announced it has asked the FCC if it would shift the WKQX call letters back to 101.1. That’s not sitting well with WCKG-AM owner Matt DuBiel, whose Broadcast Barter Radio Networks paid big bucks for the intellectual rights to the Q101 name and likenesses – none of which are being used to brand Cumulus’ 101.1. DuBiel vents in this rather long, rambling fifteen-minute YouTube video he taped while he was driving (yes, driving.)

While one would agree with what DuBiel is saying, keep in mind this is the guy who brought Mancow back to the local airwaves and came up with the idiotic “Save The Loop” campaign, whatever that was.

– WGN-TV wasn’t the only station basking in good ratings news for its “polar vortex” coverage, many local news stations in snowbound markets saw double-digit ratings increases last Sunday and Monday. Just up the road in Milwaukee, the four major news stations saw their 5 p.m. news ratings surge 8 rating points from November’s time period averages (ABC affiliate WISN-TV swept all major time slots.) Just to the southeast of us in Indianapolis, usual ratings doormat WRTV stayed with the cold weather stories all day on Sunday and finished first (non-sports) at 5 p.m. Even when usually dominant NBC affiliate WTHR joined in at 6 p.m., the ABC affiliate’s ratings still remain strong. And In Buffalo, CBS affiliate WIVB clocked in Monday at 6 p.m. with a 19.3 rating, ahead of WGRZ’s (NBC) 16.8; and WKBW’s (ABC) 9.4. Together, all three network affiliates produced a 45.5 rating at 6 p.m. – on par with the Super Bowl. In fact, those 6 p.m. news numbers – for WIVB and WGRZ at least, are on par with what the Buffalo Sabres earn when they were in the playoffs (which hasn’t been in a while.)

Now you know why in the TV news business they refer to snow as “white gold”. But even in places like snow-happy Buffalo, entertainment fare such as Downton Abbey and reliable-standby Jeopardy! couldn’t have their ratings dominance dented.

wwe-network– The WWE unveiled the new WWE Network this week at the Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas. But you won’t find it on cable or satellite. Thanks to the Internet, the WWE is bypassing the MSO route and giving it straight to the fans. WWE plans to offer the 24/7 channel to subscribers “over-the-top to fans for $9.95 a month with a six-month commitment to start.

Fans receive original programming, pre and post game Raw and Smackdown shows, a multitude of on-demand programming (such as classic matches) from the WWE library, and all twelve pay-per-view matches, including Wrestlemania and SummerSlam. Not surprisingly, the plan has gotten a chilly reception from at least one MSO – DirecTV said it is looking into the possibility of dropping the WWE’s PPV offerings fearing the cheap internet price per month would undercut their profits made off the product (WWE’s PPV go for as much as $60 per pop.) Will other MSOs make similar threats? Stay tuned.

– In news anyone with any business sense saw coming, Marvel announced it would once again publish Star Wars comics and graphic novels, replacing Dark Horse, which had been in charge of publishing the comic for 23 years. Both Marvel and Star Wars owner Lucasfilm, Inc. were purchased by The Walt Disney Co. in 2009 and 2012, respectively. Marvel published Star Wars from 1977 until 1991.

Marvel takes over from Dark Horse in 2015, when the first of several new Star Wars movies start hitting the silver screen, with the J.J. Abrams-directed Episode VII.

Quick Hits & Bits

– According to his Facebook page, Chicago radio veteran Brian Middleton is out after seven years at Hubbard’s WILV-FM (100.3 FM). Replacing Middleton in afternoons on a temporary basis is evening personality Cara Carriveau. 

– Didn’t know this show was even on the air until Friday – when ABC canceled it: The Assets is out after two episodes.

– After only a year, CBS Television Distribution’s OMG Insider is now back to being known as The Insider.

– Now some news from the TCA Winter Press Tour: HBO renews Boardwalk Empire for a fifth and final season, and Girls was picked up for a fourth.

– Also ending its run is AMC’s Mad Men, but its finale won’t air until next year.

– Starz announced at TCA it would offer 75 hours of original programming by 2015, including DaVinci’s Demons and The White Queen.

– Discovery’s generic-sounding The Military Channel is being rebranded as American Heroes. Good move.

More TCA Press Tour news is on the way, so stay tuned!