T Dog’s Media Notepad: Megyn Kelly stumbles, bumbles in premiere

If you are employed during the day, be extremely grateful you don’t have to witness the battle of the mediocre at 9 a.m.: September 25th saw the premiere of Megyn Kelly’s new talk show on NBC competing with Live With Kelly and Ryan on ABC affiliates in most markets, including nine of the ten largest with programs actually tying each other with an identical 2.2 household ratings and 8 shares. In the top four markets however, Live came out on top over Megyn – including Chicago, here Live airs on WLS-TV and Megyn on WMAQ-TV.

Live also topped Megyn in New York, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia, although Hot Bench beat both talk shows in New York.

The reviews for Megyn Kelly were brutal – perhaps the worst (or the best, depending on your point of view) came from The Washington Post’s Hank Stuever:The debut was like watching a network try to assemble its own Bride of Frankenstein, using parts of Ellen DeGeneres, Kelly Ripa and whatever else it can find. The resultant lovely creature, dressed in a mauve, pussy-bow blouse and skintight pants, moved stiffly and waved her arms around in broad gestures in a bizarre attempt to generate excitement from an audience that was already standing and cheering as duly instructed. She interviewed people nervously and so awkwardly that they were cowed into giving monosyllabic answers. She also never missed an opportunity to talk about herself.”

Former Chicago Tribune and current Variety TV critic Maureen Ryan took issue with a segment on Chicago violence: “In a later segment on a nun who works with young people and bereaved mothers in a low-income neighborhood in Chicago, Kelly again never quite connected with her subjectsThe pre-taped piece had little depth — its talking points (i.e., the city is a ‘war zone’) reinforced a skewed and incomplete picture of Chicago as a place full of random gun violence.”  Viewers generally don’t seek out hard news pieces in the morning, and besides, this is your typical national/international news piece on Chicago violence only intended to score rating – and political – points.

There was also a segment involving the entire Will & Grace cast, which is better off not being talked about.

So the question is, what are you going to watch at 9 a.m.? Megyn Kelly, who once called Michelle Obama “a whiner” for speaking out against racism or Ryan Seacrest, who is annoying in every possible way, shape, or form. Don’t be surprised if most Chicagoans stick with WGN Morning News in the time period – until Sinclair takes over and they screw that up. Because watching Megyn Kelly and Kelly & Ryan go at it is like watching the San Diego Padres and the San Francisco Giants battle for fourth place in the National League West this past season – you just don’t care.

If you watched WGN-TV lately, you’ve noticed a promo for a Chicago Bears game airing on October 9. Well, it’s true – WGN acquired the local rights to carry the Bears as they take on division foe Minnesota Vikings on ESPN’s Monday Night Football. It is the first time WGN has carried a regular-season Bears game since 2010, when they played the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, Tex.

WCIU has carried Bears games in the past early in the season as ABC-owned WLS-TV (a corporate cousin of ESPN) wouldn’t take the rights due to Dancing With The Stars, always a popular draw in Chicago. But WGN became an independent station again last year, enabling them to bid on Monday night Bears games, though not in time as WCIU aired two Bears games last year in prime-time. With no more network commitments, WGN can once again air sporting contests without conflicts.

But the big problem now is – the Bears could come in conflict with game four of the National League Division Series between the Chicago Cubs and Washington Nationals on TBS. The schedule hasn’t been set, but it’s likely the World Series Champs would play in primetime opposite the football game – creating headaches for Chicago sports fans – especially with Mitch Trubisky starting for the now-benched Mike Glennon.

The tabloid wars between CBS’ Daily Mail TV and Twentieth’s Page Six has once again declared a draw. According to B&C, both shows tied each other in their first full week on the air. Both shows had identical 0.7/2 metered market household ratings/shares, and Page out delivered Daily in the key 25-54 demo, 0.5 to 0.3.

Both shows are different in their approach: Page has a roundtable discussion led by host John Fuselgang with contributors (only one is from the New York Post’s Page Six column) focusing mainly on celebrity gossip; Daily has host Jesse Palmer and reports on celebrity news but has other features as well – on September 26’s show, Kevin Hart’s alleged mistress was interviewed. Also mentioned was the health-care bill battle.

Page Six has increased ratings in New York, Washington D.C. and Baltimore over year-ago time slots; Daily Mail TV improved the time-period share in St. Louis at noon on Tribune Fox affiliate KTVI. Daily Mail also won its time period in Atlanta over WSB-TV, and on Jacksonville’s WJXT, beat Fallon and Colbert at midnight.

Among national ratings for new off-network sitcoms, Sony’s The Goldbergs debuted with a 0.9; CBS’ The Game with 0.4.


Charles Brennan with Larry David on the set of “Curb Your Enthusiasm”.

I guess the station’s call letters was a giveaway on what type of person he is: in a bizarre circumstance, a South Dakota radio station owner is forced to give up his outlet because of a change in state law regarding…payday lending. As reported by Radio Insight and Sioux Falls ABC affiliate KSFY, business mogul Chuck Brennan decided to shut down all of his business operations, including Classic Rock station KBAD-FM, located at 94.5 FM on the deal. Brennan bought the old KCFS-FM from the University of South Dakota in 2015 and launched the new format in November of that year. As of September 23, the station went dark.

The decision was tied to the demise of Brennan’s Dollar Loan Center, a payday lending store chain located in Sioux Falls (a Google Maps search even leads you right into one of  the stores! Don’t knock over the water cooler…) In November 2016, South Dakota voters approved a referendum limiting short term lending to a 36 percent interest rate, forcing Brennan to rework his business. But the state’s Banking Division rejected his new loan product, resulting in the shutdown.

Payday lending stores have been controversial as borrowing carries a very high interest rate.

The Dollar Loan Center was part of a larger business enterprise run by Brennan as a “community enhancement project” called Badlands, it which KBAD takes its name. According to a poorly-worded press release on the KBAD website, Badlands “included the best Race track and outdoor amphitheater ever built in the Midwest. It included a 70,000 square foot “Pawn Shop” that had a foundry, tattoo parlor, deli, gun range, gun store, concert venue, music department, casino, house band, entertainment group, radio station and retail store.”

The website claimed KBAD was “the best Rock station ever in Sioux Falls in KBAD [sic] with #1 ratings for 18 months in a row.” In reality however, KBAD only placed third in a six-station market – far behind the real market leader, country outlet KTWB-FM according to Nielsen. Brennan wanted to use KBAD as a flagship station for the “Gold, Guns, & Rock and Roll Network” and was used to draw people to the pawn shop.

Brennan is now suing South Dakota. Despite the questionable business practices, Brennan never attracted any kind of scrutiny from the FCC, which makes you wonder why the agency approved this transaction in the first place.