T Dog’s Media Notepad: President Obama grants interviews with Chicago TV stations

President Obama invites Chicago stations to interview him; Robin Rock returns; ABC 7 launches new anti-fake news campaign; Dish Nation returns for two more seasons.; NBC launches new station in Boston; TCA’s Winter Tour begins 

Thursday was a big day for local Chicago TV news operations as in an unprecedented move, outgoing President Obama gave interviews with all five local stations at the White House. Interviewing the commander-in-chief were Jay Levine for CBS 2; Carol Marin for NBC 5; Judy Hsu for ABC 7; Muriel Clair for WGN-TV; and Dawn Hasbrouck for Fox 32.

Among the questions asked by viewers were whether Obama was going to move back to Chicago (he’s actually staying in D.C. for two years as his daughters are in high school), and several economic issues. But the biggest question asked were about Chicago’s unrelenting gun violence, which President Obama described as “heartbreaking”. Unofficially, 762 people were killed in 2016, the highest total in nearly two decades.

The murder capital designation and shrinking population could cost the Chicago area millions in lost revenue, as it did Detroit, St. Louis, and New Orleans (with an assist from Hurricane Katrina) over the years.

Still, the opportunity for local stations to interview the President on several issues was indeed a shining moment for local journalism.

As you know, there has been some controversy over “fake news” being reported on numerous media outlets. Well, ABC 7 released a promo a few weeks ago addressing the issue, trumpeting this is the station you can trust and the news being presented is genuine. The promo also shows a few ABC 7 viewers taking a tour of the station’s 190 N. State Street newsroom and even hugging a few members of the news team!


While this is nice, this is a bit…bizarre (have you hugged your anchorperson today?)

Of course, this isn’t the first ABC 7 promo known for its unusual nature. WLS-TV and its Eyewitness News Team regularly aired a bunch of “bizarre” but brilliant promos in the 1970’s featuring Joel Daly, Fahey Flynn, John Coleman, and Bill Frink. The one below won a Clio Award!


Fresh after another successful Christmas music season, iHeart Media’s WLIT-FM (known as My 93.9 FM) has brought back Robin Rock to middays last week. It is a homecoming for Rock, who was with WLIT for 17 years – 15 of those in middays.

But the move does have a casualty – the Hot AC station let veteran Brooke Hunter go. It was Hunter who replaced Rock at WLIT in 2013.

During October 2016 – the last month Nielsen’s radio ratings were not totally affected by Christmas tunes, WLIT finished with a 2.9. In the most previous Nielsen report (for December), WLIT – with Christmas tunes – finished second with a 6.3, behind WBBM-AM.

Despite ranking near the bottom of the ratings, Twentieth Television has renewed Dish Nation for two more seasons, taking it through September 2019. The show features radio DJs gossiping about celebrities in segments only shot for the TV show. Even though the series earned a 0.8 rating in households this season, Dish Nation fares better in younger demos. The series is averaging 4.1 million viewers a week, according to a press release. The series airs weekdays at 3:30 p.m. and 11:35 p.m. on WFLD-TV.

You can argue the recently-axed Celebrity Name Game had better ratings (1.3 in households), but it was likely increasing production expenses that sunk the show. Dish Nation on the other hand, costs less to produce and is profitable. After all, it is less expensive to gossip about celebrities than to have them on a game show.

Also renewed is CrimeWatch Daily with Chris Hansen, which was recently renewed for a third season. The Warner Bros. show saw ratings increases this season thanks to the addition of former Dateline reporter and revamping the format to focus on true-life crime stories and catching predators in the act – something Hansen was known for on Dateline.

Crimewatch airs weekdays at 3 p.m. and 3 a.m. on WGN-TV.

NBC finally launched its Boston station eleven days ago with the new WBTS taking over for WHDH-TV January 1 as the market’s NBC affiliate. So far, NBC’s departure hasn’t hurt WHDH much – the new independent is still second in most news time periods, while WBTS claimed a New Year’s Day victory with the NHL Winter Classic between the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues in hockey-mad Beantown.

However, reports show WBTS finished behind its competitors in the key 25-54 news demos. Today, which aired on WHDH previously, was also beaten by the competition in its new home.

WBTS is an NBC O&O whose over-the-air reach is used by many low-power stations on channels 8 and 60.

Generally, ABC affiliate WCVB is the market’s leader in news programming and overall. This is Boston’s fourth television affiliation realignment – the last came on January 2, 1995 when WHDH and WBZ-TV each exchanged affiliations.

The Winter portion of the TCA Press Tour is underway, and on Saturday, there was an SMH moment: during the Hulu portion of the tour – the streaming service announced it acquired the exclusive streaming rights to ABC’s Black-ish. Ho-hum, right? Well, the muted reaction didn’t compare to the one a 30-year TV show received – when Hulu announced they secured the exclusive streaming rights to The Golden Girls, according to tweets I received, everyone reacted in shock. Really!

The acquisition was even a front-page story on Broadcasting & Cable’s website Saturday.

The Emmy-award winning sitcom ran on NBC Saturday nights (when the night still had viewers) from 1985-92. Reruns aired in NBC Daytime from 1988-90 and in broadcast syndication from 1990-96, where the program didn’t meet stations’ expectations. However, the show has had a resurgence on cable TV in recent years, notably on Lifetime and Hallmark Channel, and of course, on DVD (an excellent place for this show would be diginet Laff, where spin-off Empty Nest already airs.)

Both Golden Girls and Black-ish are distributed by Disney/ABC Domestic Television.

In other TCA news, CW announced a renewal of seven veteran shows – including Arrow, Flash, and the lowest-rated show on broadcast television – the critically-acclaimed Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Pedowitz noted the numbers for some of these shows reality didn’t matter. From Variety: “It has nothing to do with numbers,” Pedowitz said. “‘Crazy Ex,’ ‘Jane,’ as franchises, have helped alter the perception of what the CW has become. When you have great critical work, critically acclaimed, award-nominated shows like ‘Crazy,’ it deserved to be picked up. Sometimes with critically acclaimed, great programming, you just [renew it] and hope that it finds an audience. In today’s fragmented world, [awards nominations] give you a calling card.”

(See the item above on Dish Nation – only the series is NOT critically acclaimed.)

Pedowitz wouldn’t give a timetable on when or if Frequency and No Tomorrow would be picked up for another season. Yours truly’s guess is a decision – and all decisions regarding the fate of all broadcast shows –  would be made shortly before the upfronts in May.



2 thoughts on “T Dog’s Media Notepad: President Obama grants interviews with Chicago TV stations

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