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

Recently in WMAQ-TV Category

Chicagoans really care about the weather -- especially when a potentially historic blizzard is about to hit the city. Late news overnight ratings were unusually high for all late local newscasts Monday night, with the notable exception of Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32.

Top-rated ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7 still bested all other stations with a whopping 11.2 rating (392,000 households), about two rating points higher than usual. But Tribune Co.-owned WGN-Channel 9's hour-long 9 p.m. newscast, which features popular meteorologist Tom Skilling in its weather reporting arsenal, was a close second with a 10.2 rating (357,000), nearly double what the station's average late news rating has been in recent weeks. The station has long considered Skilling a major draw, but no more so than now with the blizzard approaching. On Tuesday, the station's spokeswoman Diana Dionisio had even taken to reminding reporters that "we ARE weather to Chicago, after all."

Both NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5 and CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2 also had considerably better-than-usual ratings success Monday, scoring 8.7 (304,500) and 8.0 (280,000) ratings respectively for their late newscasts. Only WFLD seemed unable to pull in any new viewers with the blizzard on the way. The station could only manage a 2.5 rating (87,500) for the night, about what it has been drawing in recent months.

Carol Marin will host a NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5 special "Like Father, Like Son," described as a tale of the two Mayor Daleys -- Richard J. and Richard M. -- who both served 21 years in office. The special program makes use of extensive archival footage dating back to 1955 -- when Richard J. Daley was first elected Mayor of Chicago -- to examine the similarities and differences between father and son. The special also includes interviews with Bill Daley, brother of Richard M. Daley; Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Lois Wille; Rev. Jesse Jackson, and former 34th Ward alderman Wilson Frost.

The special will air on Sunday, Dec. 26, at 9 a.m. and repeat on New Year's Day at 5 p..m. Carol Marin is Channel 5's political editor and a Sun-Times columnist.

NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5 is launching a Chicago Bears-focused blog called "Grizzly Detail." The blog will provide coverage of every Bears game and will focus on the six players and team coaches and managers who will be key in determining the team's fate this season: Jay Cutler; Brian Urlacher; Johnny Knox; Julius Peppers, Lovie Smith and Jerry Angelo.

Among those contributing to the blog will be WMAQ reporters Peggy Kusinski, Paula Faris, Daryl Hawks and Mike Adamle, as well as Chicago Sports writer Maggie Hendricks. Hall of Fame former Bear Dan Hampton will contribute videos each week. The blog will be supported by extensive on-air integration and social media tie-ins via Facebook and twitter.

Terry Gallaher is joining NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5 as director of integrated media, effective July 19. Gallaher will oversee the editorial and revenue generation of the Web site He will also be the primary liaison with the local integrated media team in New York on other Web ventures. Gallaher joins WMAQ from Crain's Chicago Business, where he has been general manager of Crain's interactive for the last three-and-a-half years. He was responsible for and, as well as a number of new content initiatives.

"Terry has done a terrific job at Crain's interactive," said Frank Whittaker, station manager and vice-president of news at WMAQ. "He led significant audience and revenue growth during his time there, and we are pleased to be able to have him join our team," added Whittaker.

DSC00798.JPGAmy Jacobson, the ex-WMAQ-Channel 5 reporter now turned conservative talk show co-host on WIND-AM (560), will make her first appearance on Channel 5 in nearly three years when she shows up on June 12th at the rather early hour of 12:30 a.m. in a segment for the local TV show "24/7 Chicago."

In the segment Jacobson and three other women, including "24/7" host Catie Keogh, Kathleen Henson and Mary Smithe, pay tribute to the characters from the popular "Sex and the City" TV series and subsequent feature films -- the latest of which has been near universally trashed by movie critics. For the tribute, the four Chicago women dressed to resemble the "Sex and the City" characters.

Jacobson was abruptly dropped from WMAQ in 2007, after she showed up in a bikini with her kids in tow at the home of Craig Stebic, whose wife Lisa had gone missing. WBBM-Channel 2 caught the Jacobson visit to the Stebic home on tape and subsequently aired it.

Count NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5 leader Larry Wert among those who would love to see the Stanley Cup finals go on forever. The first two games of the finals pitting the Chicago Blackhawks against the Philadelphia Flyers pulled nothing short of phenomenal ratings in the Chicago market on WMAQ. Especially considering this was hockey. Not football or basketball.

The first game Saturday night drew a 16. 8 overnight Nielsen rating locally. In other words, TV sets in 588,000 households in Chicago were tuned to the first Stanley Cup finals game. But Monday night's second finals game easily trumped the impressive Saturday night results with a 25.1 overnight rating. That means the hockey game was on in 878,000 Chicago area households. Huge. After hockey, the next highest-rated show in the Chicago market Monday night was ABC's "Bacherlorette," which could do no better than 4.8 rating.

"I think this is more remarkable than an Olympic number or a Chicago Bears number, because it is history in the making," said Wert. "A hockey game(s) never saw this kind of embrace by its home city; the fan base just grew exponentially," added Wert.

Dare we say it? Chicago Blackhawks-mania has gripped Chicago. The city's pro hockey team, considered a has-been operation as recently as a few years ago, now is headed for the Stanley Cup finals. The Hawks also proved to be powerhouse programming on NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5 Sunday afternoon. So much so that the telecast of Game Four pitting the Hawks against the San Jose Sharks had an impressive 14.3 overnight rating in the Chicago market. That was really big for a sunny Sunday afternoon in Chicago with temps near 90 degrees. But the rating for the Hawks-Sharks game telecast was even big enough to eclipse any and all prime time ratings Sunday night, including hit programs such as "Lost," which had a 9.3 rating in Chicago, and "Celebrity Apprentice," which pulled a 10.3 rating.

The Chicago Blackhawks have been smart about trying to embrace all demographics as they seek to make themselves the city's most-beloved (and well-attended) professional sports franchise. Which means the Hawks certainly haven't forgotten the kiddies in their quest to be idolized by one and all.

Witness the "Blackhawks TV for Kids" program set to air Saturday, May 15, at 1 p.m. on WMAQ-Channel 5. The first-ever programming of its kind, the show's content has been created especially to appeal to a younger demo.

Among other things, the show will include a segment about Blackhawks players and their dogs. Yes, these hard-charging hockey players do have their pooches too: Troy Brouwer has his Ari; Dustin Byfuglien has his Walter, and, best of all, Patrick Sharp has a dog named Shooter (!!).

Another segment will pit Hawks against each other in several mini-Olympics-style competitions: Brian Campbell and Kris Versteeg will go against Patrick Kane and Adam Burish in speed skating. Jonathan Toews and Andrew Ladd will be pitted against Patrick Kane and Dustin Byfuglien in a popsicle eating contest.

And last but maybe not least, team mascot Tommy Hawk will be seen in a featurette where he gets to demonstrate some of his trademark antics.

WMAQ-Channel 5 is slated to run a fourth installment of "The Best of Blackhawks TV" from 1:30 to 2 p.m. on Saturday, just prior to NBC's broadcast of the fifth game in the Stanley Cup playoff series between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Nashville Predators.

Included in the special are behind-the-scenes footage of the team at the "Jay Leno Show," a look at Blackhawks fever sweeping through Chicago, Patrick Kane's behind-the-scenes footage from the 2010 Winter Olympics, and Andrew Ladd's and Kris Versteeg's surprise visit to the Palace Grill diner on Madison Street after practice this past winter. The special also will include moments from Dan Akroyd's appearance at a Blackhawks's game last season. Akroyd will be seen driving the Blackhawks Blues Mobile to the United Center.

NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5 is adding more locally-focused programming to its Sunday morning line-up. Effective, Sunday Jan. 17, the station is introducing a new half-hour show called "Weekend Connection" at 8:30 a.m. The new program, hosted by Zoraida Sambolin and produced jointly by NBC News and WMAQ, will bring a local focus to top national stories of the week. Also, "The Talk," now hosted by Marion Brooks, will move to 8 a.m. from its current 7:30 a.m. time slot. "The Talk" focuses on the buzz of the week in politics, business, entertainment and sports. "Sunday Today" also will move back an hour to 7 a.m., while "Meet the Press" will move to 9:30 a.m. from 9 a.m. Also Chris Matthews' show moves up from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. as the lead-in to "Meet the Press," providing what WMAQ executives hope will be a lively 90-minute block of political discussion.



About the blogger

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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