Chicago Sun-Times
Lewis Lazare follows Chicago media and marketing news

Recently in CNN Category

Have you noticed how ratings-challenged CNN is letting some of its most high-profile on-air talent do the heavy lifting for management as the cable channel commences a near total -- and desperately needed -- overhaul of its prime time line-up? Everything we said needed to happen at the once high-flying cable news channel in a column last year is now coming to pass.

First, smarmy Anderson Cooper sidekick Erica Hill departed Cooper's show and the cable channel. Then the barely competent Campbell Brown said she would voluntarily step down from her mishmash of a show so CNN execs could replace her with former New York governor Eliot Spitzer and Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker.

Now comes word that Larry King has suddenly decided he actually wants to retire, which strains credulity. But nonetheless King is doing just that, whether or not he was quietly pushed to do so by CNN management.

That leaves Cooper as the only CNN prime time host left standing. And who knows for how long. Cooper has eagerly taken on the role of vigilante crusading for truth and justice in the Gulf region as he covers the BP oil disaster. But his show hasn't exactly been a ratings winner either, which may leave him vulnerable.

Of course, we won't know for a while whether the new cast of characters that will arrive at CNN over the next several months will help boost the ratings. Or just make the situation worse.

lew26 COL BW_fin.jpgRoland Martin, the Chicago-based radio and television journalist and commentator, is getting his big break on cable channel CNN. Starting in mid-April, Martin will begin filling in for Campbell Brown as the host of her early evening "No Bias No Bull" CNN program while Brown takes maternity leave for around eight weeks. Martin, of course, is no stranger to CNN, where he has served since 2007 as a commentator on a number of the news channel's regular programs, including "Anderson Cooper 360" and "The Situation Room."

Since last September Martin also has served as senior analyst on the Tom Joyner morning show at Clear Channel Radio's urban contemporary station WGCI-FM (107.5) in Chicago. Martin will relocate to New York and the CNN studios there while he is filling in for Brown. And a spokesman for Martin said the "No Bias No Bull" show will use the same producers and stick to its regular format while Brown is away. Meanwhile, Martin is developing another program for CNN that will probably air on Saturdays. The exact format and launch date are still to be determined.

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Lewis Lazare has written the Media Mix column for the Chicago Sun-Times for the past seven and a half years.

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