The Media Notepad: “Maury” to end after 31 seasons



B96 unveils new Morning Mess show; Amazon’s purchase of MGM finalized

The news was tipped by Broadcasting & Cable in January 2021 and mentioned here in July 2021, but the best-kept secret in television is now out of the bag: Maury Povich and his “who’s the father” show Maury is finally ending after 31 years on the air as the 83-year old host is retiring as a number of outlets reported this weekend as his contract to host the show expires at the end of this current television season. 

“Six years ago when I was ready to retire, my the NBCUniversal family asked me to continue the show,” Povich said in a statement. “Even though I told them I was ready for assisted living, out of loyalty to NBCUniversal and my more than 100 staff and crew members, Tracie Wilson and I agreed to one more deal. I’m so proud of my relationship with NBCUniversal and all those who worked on the Maury show but as I occasionally tell my guests on Maury, ‘Enough, already!’”

The one-time WMAQ-TV anchor left nightly tabloid newsmagazine show A Current Affair in 1990 to sign with Paramount for what was originally called The Maury Povich Show, launching on September 9, 1991. He departed to launch a nightly newsmagazine show with his wife Connie Chung for DreamWorks for the fall of 1998, but the show didn’t sell. So he returned to the daily talk show grind the same year under a new syndicator (Studios USA – the same outfit who handled Jerry Springer’s show and is now known as NBCUniversal Syndication Studios) and renamed it Maury.

“Maury” was the only TV show in the world where you can conceive a child.

Not surprisingly, the show took a more tabloidish turn and became known for paternity tests and the phrase “You Are the father!” or “You are not the father!”. The show – along with Springer and Steve Wilkos, were longtime staples on Tribune stations, although WGN-TV only carries Maury as it has done since January 1993 and carried Wilkos for only its first two seasons.

But Tribune was sold to Nexstar in 2019 and is moving away from conflict-talk programming, as is many stations – not to mention the advancing ages of Springer and Povich also became an issue. Another factor is the daytime audience’s taste in programming is shifting more toward friendlier multi-topic programs hosted by Tamron Hall, Drew Barrymore, and Kelly Clarkson (soon to be joined by Jennifer Hudson) as fans of confrontational programming have moved on to cable/reality streaming shows such as Real Housewives or Love and Hip-Hop and to a lesser extent….politics. For blue-chip advertisers who avoided conflict-talk like the plague, this is welcome news.

Springer’s show unceremoniously came to an end in 2018 as he went on to do Judge Jerry, which was canceled two weeks ago after three seasons. In an interview with NPR’s WVXU in Cincinnati, Springer – who is now 78, said he too, is calling it a career.

As station lineups now mostly consist of independents and affiliates of The CW and My Network TV, Maury – like Springer’s talk show, is remaining in reruns though it is unclear if WGN will continue to air his show after this season as the fate of Wilkos’s show remains undecided. But it is the end of an era as Maury, Geraldo, Jerry, Jenny Jones, and their ilk left their mark on society. Whether that’s good or bad is certainly up for debate.

If you are familiar with contemporary hit radio (CHR for short), then you know about the term Morning Zoo. Well, in the next few weeks, Chicago will get something not resembling a zoo, but a mess.

Last week, Audacy’s B96/WBBM-FM announced a “new” morning show called The Morning Mess, which is basically being imported from Phoenix – literally. The messy foursome are Joey ‘Nachoo’ Rodriguez, Jeana Shepard, Aneesh Ratan, and Karla Hernandez. The show premieres April 4 and runs from 5:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. The quartet are moving from Phoenix to Chicago, but their show will remain on sister Top 40 outlet KALV-FM. No word if the show plans to simulcast live or tape-delayed back to Phoenix (the time difference between the two cities varies throughout the year due to Daylight Savings Time.)

“After a long search we are thrilled to bring ‘The Morning Mess’ to Chicago,” said Audacy Chicago Regional President and Market Manager Rachel Williamson in a press release. “This show is a fun, energetic and close team who embrace their diverse cultures and lifestyles to bring lively and relatable entertainment to listeners every morning.”

The same press release also had this bit of information: “Karla Hernandez is a young and fun Mexican-American beauty queen who enjoys giving listeners a sneak peek into her dating, partying, and personal life. Hernandez joined the company [Entercom] in January 2018 and became part of “The Morning Mess” in January 2019.”

Guess there isn’t much partying that can be done when you have to get up at 3 a.m. every day.

This is the latest attempt by B96 to build a morning drive franchise since Eddie and JoBo left in 2008 after a two-decade run. Previous efforts since included former Kiss 103.5 FM/WKSC-FM personality DreX (who lasted all of ten months) and a morning show host by Gabe Ramirez and Nina Hajian, who left in September and now is co-host of Westwood One’s nationally syndicated evening show Elliot & Nina, with Elliott King. 

B96 continues to trail Kiss 103.5 in a format which isn’t as influential in pop culture as it used to be. This space speculated on the future of B96, as in recent years, the station has scored ratings not seen since the waning days as a soft rock outlet in 1982, before the flip to “Hot Hits”, a top 40 format created by the late Mike Joseph. But the move to hire a new morning team signals Audacy is remaining committed to the CHR format.

As for the Morning Mess… cleanup in aisle six.

Another media merger has been finalized: On Thursday, retail giant Amazon closed on its $8.5 billion acquisition of MGM, giving them rights to more than 4,000 film titles and 17,000 television episodes, including the Orion, American International and Filmways libraries and of course, the James Bond franchise.

The library however, consists mostly of post- May 1986 MGM material as most of the pre-May 1986 MGM material belongs to WarnerMedia. In 1985, Ted Turner purchased MGM from Kirk Kerkorian to air programming on his TBS Superstation and later, TNT and Turner Classic Movies channel. But after failing to find financing for the deal, he sold back the company to Kerkorian but kept most of the pre- May 1986 MGM libraries. The post- May 1986 and the United Artists material (MGM and United Artists originally merged in 1981) formed the basis of MGM going forward. 

In 1995, WarnerMedia forerunner TimeWarner purchased Turner Broadcasting, including the pre-May 1986 MGM libraries. 

Television series now owned by Amazon include Green Acres, The Addams Family, Cagney & Lacey, The Outer Limits (the original series and the 1990s revival), Poltergeist: The Legacy, and The Pink Panther. MGM currently produces Survivor, The Handmaid’s Tale for Hulu, and ABC’s Shark Tank (with Sony.)

MGM was previously in the diginet business with ownership of This TV (with Weigel and later Tribune) and Light TV, but sold both to Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios in 2020. As Light TV was shuttered, This TV recently lost the rights to all MGM programming, leaving the network airing Entertainment Studios’ programming, indie movies, and more infomercials.

Even though the transaction was completed and received the European Union’s blessing, it still hasn’t received similar treatment from the Federal Trade Commission. The agency did not file any challenges, though many Democratic politicians on Capitol Hill have gone on record objecting to the deal. MGM’s content isn’t exactly as large as most Hollywood studios, and even if the FTC or someone else ordered the deal unwound, it would certainly hard to do so at this point.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *