Coronavirus update: Local shows shut down production

CW 26’s The Jam, ABC 7’s Windy City Live enter production hiatus

The coronavirus epidemic has not only crippled the economy and changed the way we live, but it’s now affected television production in Chicago and nationwide.

The latest scheduling changes took place last week when CW 26’s (WCIU) morning show The Jam and ABC 7’s (WLS-TV) Windy City Live became the latest programs to enter production hiatus.

WCIU has not only stopped production on The Jam, but has taken it off the air altogether, albeit temporarily. On the show’s website last week, the hosts of the show urged viewers to follow the show on social media during the show’s production hiatus. However, The Jam plans to air on Facebook Live this Wednesday from 7-9 a.m., according to CW 26’s website.

There is no secret ratings for The Jam have been struggling, airing opposite the powerhouse WGN Morning News and ABC 7’s morning newscasts.

In the interim, CW 26 is airing syndicated fare: CBS Television Distribution’s The Doctors at 6 a.m., and MGM’s Couples Court and Paternity Court at 7 a.m. and 7:30 a.m., respectively. The Jam is simulcasted on The U (WCIU’s secondary channel) and is also being replaced by syndicated programming.

Meanwhile, ABC 7’s Windy City Live is also out of production, but is airing reruns in the interim. The weekday 1 p.m. strip never acknowledged publicly it was going on production hiatus, but the show’s Twitter account told a viewer it was in reruns.


The Jam and Windy City Live are the latest shows to shut down as production on virtually every talk show has grinded to a halt. New York City already has 10,000 people diagnosed with COVID-19, bringing the media and advertising center of the United States to its knees. In fact, all television production – scripted and non-scripted, talk, and otherwise – has been halted.

With no games going on anywhere in the world, sports segments have been cut back or eliminated entirely from newscasts, with many sports anchors using video chat from their homes or some other remote location. For one, NBC 5 (WMAQ-TV) has cut its Sports Sunday wrap-up show from 35 to 15 minutes while WGN-TV has put GN Sports and Instant Replay on hiatus. NBC Sports Chicago has also moved its nightly Sports Talk Live program to Facebook Live.

In another change, Nexstar-owned WGN Radio announced it was simulcasting sister WGN-TV’s 10 p.m. newscast and its 10:30 p.m. news show devoted to COVID-19 coverage beginning tonight. Last week, WGN-AM canceled Justin Kaufmann’s nightly radio show.

Chicago and the rest of Illinois are now under a shelter-in-place order until April 7, but it is likely to extend beyond that as the pandemic doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Already, more than 1,000 people in the state have been diagnosed with COVID-19 with 12 deaths as of this writing.

So far, little is known about how the financial impact on the coronavirus epidemic is going to have on the media and advertising industry since it is too early to tell what would happen. But many smaller newspapers and radio chains are already struggling and laying off employees as advertising money dries up and most businesses are closed. But the impact is expected to be felt in the smallest DMAs (such as downstate areas), who lack the financial clout of larger markets like New York and Los Angeles.

Even though ratings are up for newscasts across the country, the financial windfall isn’t expected to be lower as big spenders such as retailers and movie studios have suspended their advertising – though others such as automobile and pharmaceutical companies continue to advertise. Over time, this crisis will affect media companies as the biggest audience draws for cable and broadcast networks – are indefinitely suspended, creating a financial void for big media companies.

Remember, for more on how the coronavirus epidemic is affecting the media business, follow T Dog Media on Twitter @tdogmedia. Hopefully, I’ll have more material here on this blog as information comes in.


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