Media Notepad: WTTW exec exits after long run

And… James Holzhauer’s final Jeopardy scores in ratings; Gov. Pritzker honors Rockford local show; Viewers skip Red Line.

The man who helmed the Window To The World has called it a career.

As first reported by Robert Feder, Dan Soles is stepping down from powerhouse public television station WTTW after 24 years on the job. His most recent position was senior vice president and chief television content officer of the position.

The move comes as the station is looking to revamp the station’s focus, including a new strategic three-year plan for both WTTW and classical music station WFMT (98.7 FM.) Exactly what is in that plan has yet to be revealed.

During his tenure, Soles oversaw programs such as Chicago Tonight; Check, Please; and other projects. Soles final day is June 28; a replacement has yet to be named.

Despite an internet leak which saw James Holzhauer lose Monday, Jeopardy scored huge in the overnight ratings, scoring a season high.

As tweeted by a Fox Sports executive, Jeopardy earned a 10.1 Nielsen household rating (no share was posted) coming within striking distance of the game two overnight household rating of the NBA Finals. This came despite Monday’s episode being leaked online Sunday night, which helped fuel rumors of Holzhauer’s defeat. The story was on the front page of several TV trade websites, including TVNewsCheck.

Ratings for Monday’s episode in Chicago, where it airs weekdays at 3:30 p.m. on WLS-TV were not available.

In addition, Jeopardy easily beat game four of the Stanley Cup Final, and a Holzhauer episode Thursday outdrew game one of the NBA Finals in Philadelphia.

Jeopardy executive producer Harry Friedman was not happy about the leak, and said someone performed the action in-house. He said whomever leaked the video would be dealt with.

As you recall, Holzhauer was defeated Monday by Chicagoan Emma Boettcher (you can read the details here on how she did it.) The University of Chicago librarian retained her Jeopardy championship Tuesday, playing almost the same way Holzhauer did.

Can’t wait for Man Of The People’s Pat Tomasulo’s on-air rant on why Illinois isn’t honoring him for his show: a Rockford TV game show has caught the eye of Governor J.B. Pritzker as last week, the state’s highest official praised high school quiz show The Bergstrom Stateline Quiz Bowl, which airs on Nexstar-owned WTVO (ABC) and WQRF (Fox) in the nation’s 135th-largest market.

Also praising the show were Illinois congressman Adam Kinzinger and congresswoman Cheri Bustos.

In addition, the show received a proclamation from the State of Illinois, presented by state senator Steve Stadelman on May 17.

Airing for the past five seasons, Stateline Quiz Bowl has had more than 1500 students from fifty high schools across Illinois participate. In addition to Rockford-area schools, educational institutions from other areas who have participated include Peoria, Champaign, Quad Cities, and Chicago (the Chicago DMA borders Rockford to the west.)

“Aside from local news, you don’t see a lot of TV stations producing 40 straight weeks of a locally originated show like this,” WTVO-WQRF general manager Kelly Lattimer told TVNewscheck, who reported this story.

Similar high school quiz programs have aired around the country – most notably It’s Academic from NBC-owned WRC-TV in Washington D.C., who holds the Guinness Book Of World Records for the longest-running game show, dating back to 1961 (a local version appeared on WMAQ-TV aired during the 1960s and 1970s.) Another high school quiz show – this time focusing on African-American culture called Know Your Heritage – has aired on numerous Chicago TV stations sporadically from the 1970s through the 2000s.

This comes as Nexstar is set to close on a deal to buy Tribune Media, who owns WGN-TV in Chicago, where Man Of The People airs. The deal would give Nexstar a presence in almost every DMA in Illinois, though it is not known if there’s any plans to expand Stateline Bowl Quiz to other Nexstar markets once the deal closes.

So is Pat Tomasulo next in line to get a proclamation from the state for Man Of The People? We shall see (not likely.)

Everybody off: The Red Line has reached the end of its line. The eight-hour miniseries set in and filmed in Chicago finished its run May 19 on a quiet note, with a 0.3 rating in the adults 18-49 demo, far below what regularly-scheduled CBS programming earned in the time period. During its four-week run, Red Line averaged a lowly o.35 rating in the demo, ranking it as one of the lowest-rated series on television. In the demo, Red Line drew fewer viewers than recent shot-in-Chicago flops Chicago Code and APB.

However, the series did fare a bit better among total viewers, averaging 3.88 million viewers throughout it run. But viewership declined week-to-week from 4.8 million in its first week to 3.38 million in its final week.

Red Line had numerous strikes from the start. For one, the scheduling – two hours a week for four weeks at the end of the season screamed burnoff as it really had no chance. Second, the series was on opposite American Idol on ABC, where even a weakened edition of the show destroyed it in the ratings. Moreover, HBO’s final season of Game Of Thrones and Fox’s Sunday night animation lineup also beat Red Line decisively.

Red Line dealt with the aftermath of a police shooting of an African-American doctor by a white cop as its major plot, and it may have hit too close to home as Chicago viewers who simply stayed away from the show, given recent real-life events such as the LaQuan McDonald case and the Jussie Smollett saga dominated the headlines. Despite decent reviews and strong talent behind the scenes (Greg Berlanti, Ava DuVernay), Red Line was quite mediocre, with over-the-top acting and predictable, if not gripping storylines.

Though it was a “limited series” making any renewal prospects slim-to-none, it is off to the train yard for The Red Line, where it would be remembered for very little if anything at all.

(Editor’s Note: CBS officially canceled “The Red Line” on Friday.)


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