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3 Things We Love About ... Chicago television

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burton.JPG Ron Magers and Cheryl Burton anchor the ABC 7 News at 5 p.m. (Dom Najolia/Sun-Times)


1. The cable TV sports connection. If you're talking sports and cable television in Chicago, you've got to be talking about Comcast SportsNet. Chicago is many things, but it is most assuredly a sports-fixated city, and CSN is everything a sports junkie could hope for -- starting with a generous supply of live game telecasts. But as fun as the games themselves are, CSN also has a stable of smart anchors and color commentators who do a fine job of analyzing games and putting the performance of our professional sports teams in the proper context.

2. A great public television station. It may not be the nation's flashiest public TV outlet, but WTTW-Channel 11 very well may be the classiest. WTTW's cadre of producers and directors don't always get the credit they deserve, but they have excelled, in particular, at developing programming that spotlights local culture. WTTW has to work hard each year to raise a lot of money from viewers and corporate sponsors, but all who contribute should feel proud when they see what the station does with that money. "Chicago Tonight," the intelligent nightly news magazine that is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, is but one example of what we're talking about.

3. Aggressive local TV newscasts. Morning, noon or night, Chicago television viewers invariably can find a local TV newscast to tell them about whatever is breaking news that day in the city. There's also no shortage of veterans covering the news and anchoring newscasts, and they typically help make our local TV news packages a cut above those in comparable markets such as New York City and Los Angeles. It's hard to pinpoint exactly when Chicago first became so admired for its local news coverage, but if we had to, we'd say the legendary anchor pairing of Bill Kurtis and Walter Jacobson at CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2 and the newscasts they fronted nightly back in the 1970s and early 1980s created a stunning gold standard that all our local TV stations still strive to match every day.

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8 Comments

3 things column- How about Tinley Park being featured. A lot of southsiders have moved to Tinley and we are diehard WHITE SOX FANS.Also, starting May 15'th we have our benchs on parade, a different theme each year, this year old Hollywood movies. We have our metra station at 173rd and Oak Park which is the center of activity, it turns into concert and movie night in the summer and we have Ed and Joe's for great food and music and of course our concert center formerly Tweeter center.

Who in the heck wrote the copy for the first favorite thing - the Comcast PR team?

Similar to #3, but how about the ability to CHOOSE your nightly news at 9 OR 10pm? For the early to bed, early to rise types, WGN is a great way to end the night.

In a more general (and Midwest) sense, the entire TV primetime schedule from 7-10 is something to love instead of having to wait until 10pm to watch that drama you love, only to fall asleep after the second round of commercials.

Dinner Topics

Cable TV sports connection?? I'm a huge sports fan, and while it's nice to have an extra station that broadcasts games, in no way is Comcast SportsNet interesting except when the games are actually on (with commentary by announcers hired by the TEAMS, not the station).

With the death of Norm Van Lier, pre- and post-game analysis is now a complete snooze, and I suspect most viewers probably won't even recall if the Sox game on a given night was broadcast on Comcast, WGN, or WCIU.

Actually, I find it pretty idiotic to sign a deal with all of the Chicago teams and sign off on games where you KNOW there will be overlap, only to relegate a game to a different station such as CLTV or Comcast SportsNet Plus (or whatever that extra station is that only seems to exist when Comcast has the Cubs and Sox on at the same time while WCIU is showing Bernie Mac reruns).

Knowing a Cubs, Sox, or Bulls game is never in the same place twice, many fans' nightly process is to flip on the guide, spend a minute FINDING the game of their choice, watch the game, then turn off the game when it ends. All of the vanilla pre and post coverage is largely ignored by the masses.

Calling the broadcast of Mark Schanowski(sp?) deferring to someone like Bill Melton as he says the Sox need to play better after a 12-1 loss as something we "love about Chicago television" is an insult to the other things which truly ARE great about Chicago television.

Ha, ha. Good one, Lewis. Almost had me fooled.

Re: Par 3 about the old newscasters. The old staff generally pronounced Chicago correctly as Chi-CAW-go. Notice how the majority of announcers, voice-overs, weather, sports etc mistakenly say "Chi-CAH-go". They are most likely transplants. I'm afraid that eventually the correct pronunciation will diappear. My credentials, born, raised, educated and worked in Chicago for over 80 years.

Why do you have a picture of the ABC news team on line if Comcast SportsNet is #1?

I agree, Comcast SportsNet is the Place to be to watch what everybody is talking about in Chicago...The Blackhawks, Cubs, Sox and the great up start Chicago Bulls...what a great series against the Boston Celtics. Instant Classic Sports Television! Sun Times, Congrats you nailed this one!

I'm not exactly sure why both local papers are in bed with ABC 7 but they really need to ease up on their total admiration and take a gander at some of the other local newscasts.

I graduated with a degree in broadcast journalism and actually used the degree for a couple of years after my 1989 graduation. I'm certainly not anywhere close to being an expert in the field but I think we all can agree that a viewer’s choice in newscasts is more habit driven then anything else. I admit I was a habitual WLS watcher myself for a long time.

CBS 2 has moved up the scale considerably since Rob Johnson became anchor. He is quick, observant, and does a great job of making any story interesting to all who watch. CBS 2's entire news team is excellent and really on their game. If everyone would take the time to watch them for one week I bet they would be hooked.

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This page contains a single entry by Mark Bieganski published on May 11, 2009 8:32 AM.

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