T Dog’s Media Notepad: Funtime is over

The latest news and um…notes: Todd Cavanah, sticking to….stuff not related to politics, a lackluster MTM tribute, and correction to make and more

Todd Cavanah takes over programming duties at US99

WBBM-FM and WJMK-FM program director Todd Cavanah is adding another new position in his arsenal – program director of sister station WUSN-FM, according to Robert Feder. He succeeds Jeff Kapugi, who was forced out last December. Cavanah was interviewing people for the PD job, but decided to take it himself.

Cavanah is also running WXRT, but is expected to cede the PD job and WJMK-FM’s to another program director.

The moves come as CBS Radio is expected to spinoff from CBS Corporation later this year, making it a likely acquisition target. CBS Radio’s FM properties have been losing ground to rival iHeartMedia’s in market share thanks in part to WUSN’s huge ratings decline in the face of opposition from iHeart’s startup WEBG (Big 95.5 FM.) Last September, Cavanah shifted Stylz & Roman from contemporary hit radio WBBM-FM to a morning slot at US 99 – a move yet to pay dividends.

Riverdale gets off on the wrong ratings foot

The heavily-hyped premiere of the CW’s Riverdale got off to the wrong ratings foot Thursday night as the new drama debuted to a weak 0.5 live-plus-same day rating in the adults 18-49 demo. Based on the characters of the Archie Book, the series details the goings-on in the small town populated by Archie, Betty, Veronica, and Jughead. Yours truly will address this further in a TV show review.

The biggest winner of the night? The return of ABC’s TGIT block, led by twelve-season old Grey’s Anatomy, which drew an eye-popping 2.6 rating. This type of number for a veteran show – and in a tough time period no less – is simply amazing. Also benefiting was Scandal (1.5) and How To Get Away With Murder (1.1), both also coming back from long hiatuses.

MTM CBS special dominated by Oprah

The MTM logo, featuring Mary Tyler Moore’s cat, Mimsie. The company was sold to TVS in 1988.

If you tuned in to the Mary Tyler Moore tribute on CBS Thursday night, you probably came away quite disgusted. The special – slotted at the last minute – drew only a 0.8 rating, but this was besides the point. Hosted by Gayle King, the special featured an interview with “her best friend” Oprah Winfrey, which lasted longer than necessary. On social media, it led a lot of viewers wondering if this was a tribute to her rather than Moore.

In addition, CBS showed a photo of Television City where the facility “didn’t have a women’s bathroom” to accommodate Mary Tyler Moore’s writing staff – a third of whom were female. Only problem is, MTM was actually filmed at Studio Center in the Radford section of Los Angeles, not Television City – both owned by CBS. In fact, MTM for a time owned half of the Studio Center facility with the network. At the time, Moore’s show was filmed in the same studio My Three Sons and Gunsmoke was.

Finally, the retrospective ended with the final scene of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Nice, but they could’ve used the final production credit card on the show where in place of Mimsie the Cat, Moore imitated Porky Pig and said “That’s all folks”! (unfortunately, it’s not on YouTube.) Plus, the clips shown lacked context or insight.

A complete total failure for The Church Of Tisch on this special. For all she’s done for the medium – and for CBS, she deserved a better tribute.

Oh and by the way, Winfrey was named “special correspondent” for 60 Minutes.

Think Tank Express: Stick to….whatever

Finally, as everyone knows, the last few weeks have not exactly been “sunshine and rainbows”, especially since President Trump has taken office. I’ve never seen anyone squander his/her “honeymoon period” so fast (in Trump’s case, his “honeymoon” lasted all of a half-second.) My social media feeds – especially Twitter – has been dominated by all things Trump as he takes a weed wacker to issues such as education, civil rights, abortion, and immigration. In fact, many people on Twitter have complained about too much Trump in their timelines. Many people I follow in the TV and film business hardly tweet about those subjects anymore as my feed has gone from talking about the latest TV shows, movies, and the NFL to Muslim bans, hate crimes, and immigration.

So…should I continue to write or tweet about TV? About geek and science fiction stuff? About radio and sports? I thought about this as writing about HYDRA, Fisk (from Daredevil), Roe Conn, Kenya Moore, and Wil Wheaton seems ridiculous these days given there’s a real villain in the White House: the antics of the Lyon family on Empire just doesn’t measure up. And complaining about The Bachelor clogging up the airwaves seems like a waste of time.

But politics is relative. It affects our lives, whether we like it or not. Politics drives everything in media from TV/radio station ownership to storylines on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Scandal, and The Good Wife. And yes, part of the business I cover is also political, given yours truly writes about journalism and FCC-related issues. As I learned long ago when I read Three Blind Mice by Ken Auletta, the only “liberal” part about the business is Hollywood and the music industry. In other words, the creative talent.

And my turn to vent will be coming soon when new FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai eliminates net neutrality and deregulates the media industry even further. A looming casualty as a result locally could be a sale of Tribune Media, owner of WGN-TV, WGN-AM, and CLTV – not to mention a merger between the Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times.

So, to put things in perspective, writing about how Mancow got his job at the Loop or the 32nd reboot of Steve Dahl’s career or the latest WGN Radio travesty  (putting John Williams back in middays isn’t one of them) seems trivial compared to the injustices here at home and in the rest of the world. The game has changed, ladies and gentlemen. It’s a matter of adjusting.

In the words of That ’70’s Show’s Red Foreman, “Funtime is over.”


An item last week featured an error regarding XETV’s network programming prior to 1994 and how it received American programming being based in Tijuana. The article should have stated network programming was taped in San Diego from an east coast feed and trucked across the border to Tijuana where the station’s facilities are. T Dog Media apologizes for the error. (Thank you to Tom for pointing this out!)


1 thought on “T Dog’s Media Notepad: Funtime is over

    • It may have been a little more basic, but ABC’s 20/20 MTM special on Friday night was much better, and let the focus remain on Moore.

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