The Media Notepad: WLUP’s format to stay alive online

Also: Oscars notch record-low audience; Home Improvement has a new “home”

A few more notes on WLUP’s demise:

Not only The Loop is headed to the great radio graveyard in the sky, but so are the call letters (at least in Chicago.) According to Radio Insight, new owner Educational Media Foundation is changing the calls to WCKL-FM, currently at EMF’s K-Love station in Starke, Fla. as they would assume the old WLUP calls. The call letter changeover for K-Love isn’t a big deal since EMF doesn’t use them in their branding.

The transition takes place on Saturday, but no exact time for the switch has been set.

Meanwhile, it looks like WLUP is going to get a send-off after all: even though the station is now on automation until Saturday, former WLUP discjockey Steve Dahl is taking over for a goodbye party from 2 to 6 p.m. on Friday. Dahl also holds down the same shift on Cumulus’ WLS-AM in the same time frame.

Dahl of course, rose to prominence at The Loop, where he and Garry Meier did mornings at WLUP until 1981 and returned to the station with Meier in 1986. The duo went their separate ways in a well-publicized split in 1993.

Even though The Loop is signing off on terrestrial radio, the station is continuing online at and the HD2 channel of Merlin Media’s WKQX-FM, at least for now. And speaking of WKQX, Tim Virgin is shifting over to the alternative rock station as afternoon host, the same position he held at WLUP.

To no one’s surprise, the 90th Academy Awards Sunday night scored record-low numbers in ratings and total viewers. The ABC telecast drew just 26.5 million viewers, down 19 percent from the 2017 show, which aired a week earlier. This year’s show aired a week later outside of the February sweeps, because of the Olympics.

In the ratings department, the Oscars drew an 18.8 household live same-day rating and 30 share, down fourteen percent from 2017’s 21.9/35.

Much like the NFL (who also experienced declining ratings over the past year), many people blamed the stars’ raving about politics for the ratings drop. But the Oscars has been political for years; there was a lot of support for the “MeToo” movement at this year’s show. The presentation was a huge marked 180 turn from the widely-panned 2013 Academy Awards, helmed by Seth MacFarlane and gave us the song “We Saw Your Boobs”.

In a history-making moment, Jordan Peele became the first African-American to win the Best Original Screenplay Award for Get Out. But the movie didn’t win Best Picture, which went to The Shape Of Water instead.

From the “if you care” department: digital subchannel Laff has acquired the rights to Home Improvement, the 1991-99 ABC comedy from Disney-ABC Domestic Television Distribution. The deal includes all 203 episodes of the series and begins airing in September.

“Laff is becoming the sitcom hall-of-fame. Home Improvement adds to an incredible collection of iconic comedies already driving network growth of 60% year-over-year,” commented Jonathan Katz, President and CEO of Katz Networks.

Home Improvement is the third Disney-ABC off-network sitcom to air on Laff. Other titles from the syndicator on the channel include Spin City, Empty Nest, and Ellen (but no Golden Girls.)

Starring Tim Allen, Home Improvement was a runaway hit for the network, and finished as the top-rated show of the 1993-94 season. The show was sold in broadcast syndication by the former Buena Vista Television in 1993 for a September 1995 start at a staggering $3 million per episode. In Chicago, the first cycle aired on Fox-owned WFLD-TV from 1995 to 2002 and the second cycle aired on Tribune’s WGN-TV from 2002 to 2007, but slotted in an overnight time slot. The series has also run on cable’s TBS, Hallmark Channel, Nick at Nite, TV Land, and WGN America.

Home Improvement premiered in off-network the same time Sony’s Seinfeld did. But while Seinfeld continues to air in broadcast syndication, Improvement sputtered and ran out of gas. The series was also subject to a lawsuit against Disney by the show’s creators over syndication profits.

Allen previously resurfaced in Last Man Standing, a sitcom some critics dubbed as Home Improvement 2.0 (or really, All In The Family 2.0.) So I guess a reboot of Home Improvement is out of the question.

Or not.

Laff can be found on Univision’s WGBO-DT, Channel 66.3.