T Dog Media’s Notepad: Chicago TV stations make changes

An all-local edition, with news on local TV changes; Kap & Co. moving to another timeslot; Chicago loses population again; and another person featured in CNN’s Chicagoland is another victim of the city’s streets. 

With Tribune’s WGN-TV set to launch a new hour-long newscast at 6 p.m. April 4th, it has triggered other scheduling moves in the nation’s third-largest TV market, including some scheduling shifts not only at WGN, but also at the duopoly of Fox-owned WFLD and CW affiliate WPWR-TV.

These moves affect numerous early-fringe, prime-access, and late night timeslots on all three stations. Typically, local stations only change their schedules in September, in accordance with the start of the new TV season. But as audiences continue to dwindle, changes are needed to address audience shortfalls and to stay competitive.

Here’s some of the changes:

With WGN airing news at 6 p.m., reruns of Two And A Half Men are moving to 11:30 p.m. and midnight, respectively. Don’t worry, Charlie Sheen (or Ashton Kutcher) and Co. will continue to air from 7-8 p.m. on nights when there’s no sports. Men shifts The Middle from 11:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. The late-night revamp displaces the now-canceled Celebrity Name Game, which now only airs at 10 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.

– Not to be outdone, Fox’s Chicago duopoly also announced their own schedule changes beginning March 27. It’s good news for Simpsons fans, who get an extra airing at 5:30 p.m. on WPWR, in addition to an 11 p.m. showing, and of those for The Big Bang Theory, which is now double-run from 6 to 7 p.m.

But its bad news for others: Extra, which moved from WMAQ-TV to WFLD after 22 years in September, is losing its key prime access slot at 6 p.m. and being shifted to 3:30 p.m. In its place is TMZ, which moves up a half-hour with Modern Family returning to 6:30 p.m.

WFLD’s new late-night lineup from 10 to 12:30 a.m. consists of Modern Family, TMZ (again), Dish Nation, and Extra, and Family Feud.

Shifting back to CW 50, the station is adding a Dish Nation rerun at 11 a.m. and Family Feud running from 4 to 5:30 p.m. And while Harry stays at 2 p.m. on WFLD, CW 50 moved the same-day rerun to 3 a.m.

Other Chicago TV stations – including WCIU and The U Too – are remaining pat with their schedules.

If you are an ESPN 1000 listener, schedule changes are coming for you as well: beginning on April 3 (with the start of the baseball season), WMVP-AM is shifting David Kaplan’s Kap & Co. to 9 a.m. to noon essentially flipping time slots with Carmen DeFelco and John “Jurko” Jurkovic, known as Carmen & Jurko, which now heads to middays from noon to 2 p.m. The move was made to make Kaplan’s schedule easier, as he also is host of the Chicago Cubs pre-game show on CSN Chicago and some Cubs home games are 1:20 p.m. starts.

The move comes as WMVP ratings have grown in the past year, despite rival WSCR’s (The Score) success with Cubs baseball. In fact, Waddle & Silvy recently beat Dan Bernstein’s afternoon show in key demos, according to Nielsen. Kap & Co. ranks second in those same key demos.

In addition, Kaplan has a new book about the Cubs’ recent World Series Victory and the blueprint it took to get there (titled The Plan: Epstein, Maddon, and the Audacious Blueprint For A Cubs Dynasty.)

NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt is coming to town on April 20 to accept a distinguished journalism award from DePaul University’s Center for Journalism Integrity and Excellence, co-directed by peers Carol Marin and Don Moseley in an invitation-only ceremony.

Also being honored is data journalist Ben Welsh of the Los Angeles Times.

Holt worked for CBS-owned WBBM-TV for fourteen years as a reporter and anchor – many of you remember he co-anchored the station’s newscast with Linda MacLennan for a few years. After departing WBBM, Holt anchored NBC’s Weekend Today for twelve years before succeeding Brian Williams as anchor of NBC Nightly News in June 2015. Last fall, Holt moderated the first Presidential Debate, which was the most-watched in history with more than 80 million viewers.

(Scott Olson/Getty Images)

More bad news for Chicago media outlets: figures released from the Census bureau this week show the Chicago metropolitan area being one of only two major-market DMAs (designated market areas) to lose population in the past year, with the other (St. Louis) also losing population as the market’s DMA rank has been losing ground for years. The Chicago area has been losing population for years as residents continue to head for the exits.

Fewer people means fewer sales means fewer revenue for Chicago’s media outlets and ad agencies. It’s just as simple as that.

Radio revenues were flat in 2015 from the previous year, and 2014’s figures were down ten percent from 2013 – but last year’s figures weren’t released. While Robert Feder was sent a “cease and desist” from a law firm from publishing the figures, it’s easy to guess why they weren’t released (revenues probably declined again – no news is good news, right?) Taking a page from your local and state governments, this upset “market manager” clamping down on the release of such information is one of the most absurd actions yours truly has ever heard of. It’s no surprise local radio execs have resorted to “The Chicago Way”, given the mammoth size of the companies (iHeart Media, Cumulus, CBS, Hubbard, etc.) they work for.

And you wonder why Chicagoans are exiting the metropolitan area in droves.

Another individual featured in the little-watched (but buzz heavy) 2014 docuseries Chicagoland was gunned down last week. Jason Barrett, a former Fenger student featured in the series, was shot to death in his Roseland neighborhood on March 20. Barrett was near 113th Place and State Street when someone got of a car and shot him multiple times. In Chicagoland, Barrett was seen as trying to turn his life around after a stint in jail.

Barrett becomes the second person featured in Chicagoland to be gunned down. Another Fenger student featured in the series (Lee McCullum) was gunned down last May in the West Pullman neighborhood, at 126th and Normal.

Elizabeth Dozier, who was principal of Fenger at the time the series was filmed told DNA Chicago: “He’s really symbolic to me of what’s wrong with what’s happening here. What are we doing? We have these kids ages 16 to 24 who are not working, not in school. How is everyone stepping up to make sure that there’s a place in our city for those children, that (they) have a viable pathway to a productive life?”

Dozier was a mentor to Barrett and other Fenger students.

Fenger has long been plagued with gang violence and other problems – this 1981 article from the Chicago Tribune featured then-principal Leo Dillon talk about the problems in the school and the Roseland neighborhood in general, 33 years before Chicagoland premiered.

Since Chicagoland concluded its run, the city continues to make national headlines for its never ending gun violence epidemic as it became a top subject for President Trump to tweet about.

Chicagoland made The T Dog Media TV Hall Of Shame and was named the third-worst worst TV show of 2014 by this website, behind the Chicago Bears and The Wil Wheaton Project.

And speaking of those Bears… it’s not getting as much buzz as Chicagoland, but another documentary about capturing Chicagoans’ anguish is being produced – this time covering what it’s like to be a long-suffering Chicago Bears fan. ESPN has ordered a new docuseries titled We The Fans, as it chronicles the journeys of die-hard Chicago Bears fans and season ticket holders as they deal with yet another terrible season which saw the Bears win only three games. Like Chicagoland, We The Fans is an eight-part documentary but unlike the infomercial for Rahm Emanuel, We The Fans is only eight half-hour episodes, as opposed to eight hours for the former, so the torture at least, won’t be twice as long – but torture nevertheless.

We The Fans premieres on ESPN April 11 at 9 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., airing back-to back episodes for four weeks.