T Dog’s Grab Bag: WLS-AM fined by FCC

5366News briefs from Chicago and beyond:

– Cumulus-owned WLS-AM has been fined $44,000 from the Federal Communications Commission for failing to disclose eleven news items it broadcast were advertisements.  The “news items” aired on WLS between March and May 2009 (during the ownership reign of Citadel, Inc.), for Workers Independent News, who pretended to interview a local politician. Workers failed to disclose it was a paid promotional piece, which led listeners to confuse it with an actual news story. WLS has until February 25 to pay the fine.

– Back by popular demand: Remember a few weeks ago when RadioDiscussions.com shut down? Well, guess what – it’s back. The site resurfaced Tuesday morning after Streamline Digital (who run the RBR website) closed the boards in December 2013 due to the inability to generate advertising revenue. But Streamline had a change of heart: “Since the site went away we’ve learned how passionate radio people were about it and how much they missed it”, said Deborah Palenti, who is executive vice-president-radio of Streamline. “I made it my mission to bring it back and integrate it back into the community of people who love this industry. It also broadens our offering to advertisers because of the different audience profile from our other publications. Plus Boz’ (Charles Bosworth) is not only passionate about radio, he has a deep understanding of the technology and the importance of online communities. He was one of the original moderators when Doug Fleming was running the site. We think he will make it very successful.”

Fleming originally founded the site, when it was known as Radio-Info in 1998. Bosworth (or Boz) is the site’s new General Manager and Chief Moderator.

Radio Discussions’ will soon return to T Dog Media Friends links section, which is located to the right.

– Viewers outside of the area who don’t have Chicago ties probably haven’t noticed, but WGN America, the national “Superstation” version of WGN-TV Chicago, has dropped the 9 p.m. local newscast from its lineup, replacing it (for the time being) with syndicated reruns. The move comes as WGN America is repositioning itself as a national cable channel to compete with TBS, USA, and others for advertiser dollars. WGN America is set to debut several original scripted series this year, as the channel held its first-ever TCA presentation last month.

If any indication, this move is resembling the TBS/WPCH separation in 2007, when Time Warner decided to permanently split the national and local feeds of WTBS in Atlanta (the local feed was rebranded as Peachtree TV, or WPCH-TV.) Longtime staple Atlanta Braves baseball left TBS in 2007 and left Peachtree after the 2012 season. The Chicago Cubs are reportedly looking for a new TV home in 2015 as their contract with WGN-TV and WGN America expire this year.

WGN’s 4 a.m-5 a.m. and noon-1 p.m. newscast remain on WGN America for the time being.

– Quincy, Ill.-based Quincy Newspapers, Inc. has bought several stations from Granite Broadcasting and Malmara Broadcasting: WEEK-TV, the NBC affiliate in downstate Peoria, in addition to WPTA (ABC) in Fort Wayne, In.; KBJR (NBC) and satellite KRII in Duluth, and WBNG (CBS) in Bingamaton, N.Y. With the acquistion, Quincy is to provide operating services for ABC affiliate WHOI and My Network TV affiliate WAOE in Peoria, along with SagamoreHill stations in Fort Wayne and Duluth.

On Monday, Granite announced it was selling its Detroit (WMYD) and Buffalo (WKBW) stations to Scripps. The Cincinnati-based company already owns ABC affiliate WXYZ in the Motor City.

Quick Hits & Bits:

– From Robert Feder: WLS-TV, Chicago Sun-Times enter new marketing agreement, which includes weather updates delivered by the ABC-owned station to the paper’s website.

– Mancow gets a new distributor, who is basically the Byron Allen of the radio syndication business. So far, no sign of the show returning to WCKG-AM, its former outlet before the syndicator change.

– From Lewis Lazare: WMAQ-TV receives more good ratings news from the Sochi Olympic games.

-Syndication beat: Connection III’s Made In Hollywood, Made in Hollywood Teen Edition, renewed for the 2014-15 season.

– There goes the neighborhood: San Francisco’s KRON-TV, a onetime dominant NBC affiliate, is moving into the facilities of ABC-owned KGO-TV, according to 415 Media’s Rich Liberman. Unlike other situations where there are two or more stations in a single facility via a local, shared, or joint marketing agreement, both KRON and KGO are to retain separate operations. Which led yours truly to say this Monday: