ESPN 1000 sinks further beneath the Score

wmvp-studioOn Friday, news broke that John Jurkovic, veteran host at WMVP-AM/ESPN 1000, was resigned to a multi-year renewal. This is the latest of moves made by the station plagued with years of downward ratings.

The impetus for ESPN 1000’s ratings woes by and large came in Jan. 2009 with the sudden exit of superstar host Dan McNeil, who months later would resurface on WSCR-AM/670 The Score. McNeil’s ESPN 1000 exit was a self-inflicted wound since it was Jim Pastor, the station’s then general manager, who gave him the boot.

McNeil’s former afternoon co-hosts Harry Teinowitz and Jurkovic were joined by Carmen DeFalo to help steer the ship, while Tom Waddle and Marc Silverman would continue to hold the fort during middays. Since then, it seemed to be a matter of when, not if, the “Waddle and Silvy” show would eventually move to afternoons.

Months turned into years, while ratings fell deeper, further distancing themselves from the Score.

In March, and a little more than four years following the station’s last significant programming change, ESPN 1000 was ready for change. Gone was Teinowitz, leaving DeFalco and Jurkovic the remaining two hosts in afternoons. In April, the station pulled the trigger on moving “Waddle and Silvy” to afternoons while “Carmen and Jurko” moved to middays (but not after also renewing DeFalco’s contract). A few other programming tweaks made room during the 9 a.m. hour for Colin Cowherd’s nationally syndicated ESPN Radio show, “The Herd.”

The station was quick to tout themselves as the “all new ESPN 1000.”

Ugh, perhaps, more like a fresh coat of paint?

While I don’t think the swapping of the “Carmen and Jurko” and” Waddle and Silvy” shows will mean much in the long-run, there are a few justifications for at least trying.

  1. Waddle and Silvy’s continued relationship with Bears quarterback Jay Cutler. With Cutler appearing as a weekly guest during Bears season, afternoons may allow for added exposure. This may hold more weight if the appearances take place as sponsored remotes, in which more people may be able to attend after their work day.
  2. Even though the Score’s “Boers and Bernstein” show is doing very well in the ratings, a lot of people don’t like the awkward, brash, silly and tension that often accompanies the show. Those not liking B&B who previously may not have warmed up to “Carmen and Jurko” may potentially warm up to “Waddle and Silvy.” This, however, is dicey because the many who can’t stand B&B still listen anyways (which is the same reason why people read Jay Mariotti in the Chicago Sun-Times each day).

Another glaring hole in the programming department is the “ESPN 1000 Post Game Show.” Featuring noteworthy segments from the day’s “Waddle and Silvy” and “Carmen and Jurko” shows, the 6 p.m. hour is more or less a throwaway. Since the station continues local programming on most weeknights from 7 to 10 p.m., would it hurt to eliminate the “Post Game Show” and offer an additional hour of live programming, preferably with Jonathan Hood?

I would like for ESPN 1000 to put up more of a fight. I’ve been listening on and off to AM 1000 since the mid 1990s (dating prior to the ESPN Radio takeover in 1998). I’ve also had the privilege of meeting some of their personalities through the years. Personal bias aside, I admit that my ESPN 1000 listening has decreased in sync with other Chicago sports fans who now get most of their sports talk from the Score.

Four months after the swapping of the “Carmen and Jurko” and “Waddle and Silvy” shows, ratings appear to be stagnant. And with Teinowitz’s firing in March, he so far is the lone scapegoat for the station’s ratings woes.

For all we know, overtaking the Score may not be the ultimate goal for ESPN 1000 management, or that of ESPN Radio corporate in Bristol, CT. As long as revenues meet expectations, they just might be content with second place.

On the surface, that appears to be the playbook they are abiding by.

Ranting about CBS 2 News and television’s overuse of live reports

There are plenty of times when being live and on scene where news is happening or recently happened greatly enhances the ability to tell a story. The camera can capture visuals while the reporter gathers information by talking to news makers face-to-face (i.e. police, witnesses, etc.).

Then there are other times when being live on location does nothing to enhance the broadcast. Unfortunately, this happens more often than is necessary in television news, both locally and nationally. At some point in time, some research must have concluded that viewers are more interested in a story when live and on scene at a given location where news has happened or soon will.

A perfect example is right now on the WBBM-TV/CBS 2 morning news  broadcast, where reporter Susanna Song is reporting live in front of U.S. Cellular Field all morning to report on the anticipation of star Yankee third baseman Alex Rodriguez possibly playing in tonight’s game against the White Sox. Of course, the spotlight is on Rodriguez due to his impending suspension that is expected to be announced today due to his alleged use of PEDs.

There is nothing more ridiculous than a news reporter standing in front of an empty baseball stadium at 4:50 in the morning to report on a story when none of the potential news makers (i.e. Rodriguez, Yankee Manager Joe Girardi, teammates, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, etc.) are going to be on hand. The visual of a dark U.S. Cellular Field at 4:50 in the morning also doesn’t provide any valuable visuals that enhances the broadcast. Nor will it make much difference at 6:50 after the sun has risen.

There is no reason for Song to be in front of U.S. Cellular Field at this time. There’s no reason why the story even has to be live. I didn’t watch last night’s CBS 2 newscast, but I’m willing to bet that the assigned sports anchor had likely mentioned a thing or two about Rodriguez . Wouldn’t it have been more efficient for that anchor to have filed a one or two minute report in studio to be played during this morning’s newscast? Or, why not just keep Song in studio where she can deliver the same report as she did in front of the ballpark, or perhaps send her to report on a more newsworthy story while allowing one of the in-studio anchors to mention Rodriguez?

Many of these questions are rhetorical, of course.

Beyond the ridiculousness of Song being live at the ballpark, this story also is CBS 2’s top story at the start of this 5 a.m. broadcast (after first beginning with traffic and weather)! While our current news cycle involves a heightened alert for potential terrorist activity, abundance Chicago gun violence, and record setting attendance at this weekend’s Lollapalooza, CBS 2 thinks the most important story of the day is Rodriguez!?


A few other notes and observations from this morning’s newscast…

– Marissa Bailey and Roseanne Tellez are anchoring this morning’s newscast while Kris Gutierrez is absent. Though there was no mention of him at the start of the 5 a.m. broadcast, I assume Gutierrez is simply enjoying the day off (the CBS 2 staff did celebrate his birthday with him on Friday).

– Speaking of Bailey and Tellez, both have been rotating morning anchor duties since the station’s dismissal of Susan Carlson in May. Bailey has typically anchored Monday and Tuesdays (on top of her weekend morning anchoring duties) while Tellez has been anchoring Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. When exactly does CBS 2 plan on hiring a permanent replacement for Carlson?

While I think either Bailey or Tellez are fine choices, CBS 2 should pick one of them already to go all five days for the sake of consistency. Then again, CBS 2 may not want viewers to get use to one person in anticipation of eventually hiring an outsider.

– With Derrick Young off again today, meteorologist Megan Glaros is holding down the fort doing both weather and traffic.Was this a planned scheduling, or did someone forget to schedule a substitute? Somewhat of an odd occurrence considering CBS 2 had scheduled meteorologist Ed Curan to fill in on traffic last week.

– Young will be back on traffic for tomorrow’s broadcast.

– Speaking of Carlson, it amazes me at the amount of traffic her dismissal still brings to this website. Going on three months since her exit from CBS 2, the Google search queries for her have barely tapered since. After a few weeks off the grid, Carlson is keeping plenty busy as afternoon news anchor for the “Roe & Roeper” show on WLS-AM 890 and as a reporter for the WMAQ-TV/NBC 5 weekend news.

Sirott and Murciano warming up for soon to be full-time work at WGN

Bob Sirott and Marianne Murciano, the soon to be full-time WGN-AM 720 hosts, are warming up the pipes in anticipation for their eventual debut to weekdays. As for now, they are simply filling in for the vacationing Mike McConnell. The couple filled in yesterday from 12  to 3 p.m. and will be on again tomorrow and Monday from 10 a.m. to noon.

Though WGN President and General Manager Jimmy de Castro acknowledged the couple’s hiring to Chicago media journalist Robert Feder, no official start day or time slot has been announced.

Larz at has repeatedly hinted that McConnell, who now holds down the 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. slot (while the 2 p.m. hour is occupied by various part-time hosts) is likely on his way out in the coming weeks, leaving the entire 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. time up for grabs. Sirott and Murciano would likely inherit a two or three hour show within those hours while the remaining time could go to either Bill Leff, the station’s overnight host, or Steve Cochran, who recently returned to the station as a fill-in host.

Sunday night host Brian Noonan, who has been deemed a rising star, recently announced that he had accepted a full-time job outside of radio, thus eliminating him as potential replacement for middays.

At this time, the only sure thing is that Sirott and Murciano will soon be heard five days a week on WGN. Anything outside of that is simply rumor or speculation. For all we know, de Castro may have a few more aces up his sleeve, leaving the potential for this to play out completely different.