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WBBZ Has a Lot Riding on Bills-Miami Game

Some leftovers along with some new material after enjoying a three-day weekend:

If anyone is thrilled that the Buffalo Bills game Thursday with Miami on The NFL Network is sold out in time to be televised locally, it is probably WBBZ Owner Phil Arno.

The station already had a considerable amount of promotional money invested in the game, which WBBZ hopes will attract more viewers to the independent station or to at least find it. (It is Channel 67, but can be viewed in most cable areas on Channel 5 or Channel 710 in HD.)

WBBZ already had to deal with Time Warner Cable’s recent deal with The NFL Network, which means the game will have double coverage in this market. WBBZ expects more viewers will watch it on its channel than on The NFL Network.

In years past when prime time Bills games have been carried on ESPN and a local affiliate, more viewers watched on the local affiliate. However, that could be partly because all viewers are aware of where local network affiliates like Channel 7 are on their TVs.

WBBZ General Manager Bob Koshinski, who also hosts a couple of sports shows on WBBZ, will host a two-hour pregame show on the station starting at 6 p.m. Thursday.

Paul Peck, the former Channel 4 sportscaster who remains the voice of the University at Buffalo football, will be involved in WBBZ’s coverage. Radio personality Rob Lucas of 102.5, who was involved in the station’s national July broadcast of “Buffalo Night in America,” also will be involved in covering the pre-game party from Eastern Hills Mall, where WBBZ is located.

WBBZ is believed to have paid $100,000 or more for the rights to televise the game, which it hopes to recoup with advertising. Back in June when WBBZ pulled the upset over rival local affiliates to land the game, Koshinski told stilltalkintv “We put in a very aggressive bid, well beyond anyone else…We paid more than anyone has paid for an in season game.”

At the time that WBBZ won the rights to the game, the Bills were presumed to be a playoff team and the Dolphin game was considered by many fans to be a likely win. Neither of those presumptions is accurate now. However, the game is still expected to get a combined local rating between cable and WBBZ in the 30s or low 40s.  

After two weeks of the November news sweeps, Channel 2 continues to dominate in the early morning, at 5 p.m. and at 5:30 p.m. and wins at 6 p.m. in a tight battle with Channel 4. Channel 4 wins comfortably at 11 p.m., though the race has tightened from a year ago. Channel 7 is third in all time slots.

Channel 4’s 10 p.m. newscast on WNLO-TV also dominates over Channel 2’s 10 at 10 on WNYO-TV.

There are several things of note after half of the sweeps have concluded.

News ratings are up substantially at all three stations, most likely because of the November election and the coverage of Hurricane Sandy.

Jodi Johnston: Leaving Ch.2 Shortly

Channel 2’s 6 a.m. rating for “Daybreak” is higher than the rating the station gets at 11 p.m.

Channel 2’s rating at 11 a.m. with Mary Friona is up about 30 percent, possibly because of the coverage of the election and the hurricane.

The only Channel 2 newscast that has declined from a year ago is “10 at 10.” Not to beat a dead horse, but I think you know why I think its ratings are down. However, Channel 4 also has slipped at 10 p.m., though it still dominates.

Channel 4’s “Wake Up” ratings have taken a big hit in the first book since co-anchors Victoria Hong and Joe Arena have left.

There are multiple factors for Channel 2’s dominance in the morning besides Channel 4′s implosion. One of the additional factors – the popularity of co-anchor Jodi Johnston —  will be eliminated when she exits the station for a big public relations job after the sweeps end. The station isn’t expected to announce Johnston’s replacement until January. Melissa Holmes is the leading in-house candidate for the job, but it wouldn’t be surprising if the station also is looking at outside candidates.

If Holmes ultimately gets the morning job, Channel 2 will also have to find a new female co-anchor at 5 p.m. and a new anchor at 10 p.m. because no anchor is likely to volunteer to work Johnston’s incredibly taxing split shift of 5 a.m. and 5 p.m.

pergament@msn.com

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Like GOP, WBEN “Too Old, Too Male, Too Mean”

 

I have been listening to a fair share of WBEN radio the last few days during the presidential race post-mortems. I know — I am a glutton for punishment.

While listening, I couldn’t help but think of what NBC’s Chuck Todd reported a prominent conservative was quoted as saying after Republican Mitt Romney lost the presidential election to President Obama.

“Our party needs to realize that it’s too old and too white and too male and it needs to figure out how to catch up with the demographics of the country before it’s too late,” said Al Cardenas, a Republican leader who heads the American Conservative Union.

Sandy Beach

Add “too mean” to too old, too white and too male and it describes WBEN’s local afternoon talk show host Sandy Beach and national host Rush Limbaugh, and it isn’t far off with younger morning host Tom Bauerle, who is approaching 50.

They are as out of touch as the Republican analysts Newt Gingrich, Karl Rove, Ed Gillespie and others who predicted that Romney might even win by a landslide and were startled when it didn’t happen.

Listening to Beach and Bauerle can be a painful experience that ends with one often asking, “who can listen to this garbage for more than 15 minutes?” All right, I mean more than 15 seconds.

So I did some research. I called a local radio expert and discovered that 68 percent of the station’s summer audience was over 55, about half over 65 and 24 percent over 75. In other words, mostly old people listen.

I did find it amusing Tuesday before the election when somehow a caller got through to Beach and said he was voting for President Obama because he didn’t think he got much of a chance to correct things in four years because of the Just Say No Republican Congress. My immediate thought was how did he get through to interrupt Beach’s local radiothon for Romney votes?

After President Obama won, the local blowhards have taken up Limbaugh’s rant that the Dems won because the voters like free stuff and don’t want to work hard. It’s as if they just heard Romney’s devastating 47 percent speech, which he disavowed because he realized it was disgusting.

On Thursday morning, Bauerle went to great length describing how hard he worked at minimum wage jobs even while attending high school and college because he wanted to take personal responsibility unlike those darn Democratic voters.

The WBEN talkers not only demean Democrats, they demean Republicans who make some good, thoughtful and valid points about how they believe it is best to fix the country.

Do Bauerle and Beach really believe that many of the demographic groups that voted for President Obama – the young, women, African Americans and Latinos – don’t want to work?

I teach four courses at two colleges with diverse student bodies. Many of the students support the President, as do a majority of younger voters. Almost all of them are working while going to college. Some of them work full-time. I have one guy who comes to class at 2 p.m. after finishing a full-time work shift that starts at 5 a.m. I have a few female students who work full-time as waitresses late at night before coming to class early in the morning.

Beach and Bauerle should be ashamed of themselves for practically calling all Democratic voters bums who are looking for handouts. Bauerle even suggested Thursday that some of them “squirt out 15 babies” to go on public assistance.

Don’t they realize that there are hard-working Democrats who remember that the United States is a nation of hard-working immigrants who may need some help at times? Don’t they realize that they include women who wonder why Republicans want to deregulate business but regulate their bodies?

One of my Democratic friends once said Republicans want the government to force women to keep their pregnancies but they don’t want the government to pay for the children after they are born.

There are real differences between the parties on issues concerning the environment, business, health, gay rights, the military and others. One party doesn’t have the only supporters  who work hard or who get government help.

The harshest critics of Republicans since Romney lost haven’t been Democrats and liberals, but fellow Republicans.

ABC’s Nicolle Wallace, who worked for Sarah Palin in the 2008 campaign, said after the election that pro-life Republicans have to realize that being pro-choice doesn’t mean that someone is pro-abortion. It means even some pro-life women believe other women should have the choice. It is a point that was lost on two Republican Senate candidates who damaged Romney’s chances. Wallace seemed to have the revolutionary thought that Republicans have to consider the other side’s views.

If you stayed up past 1 a.m. Wednesday, you would have heard Republican strategist Mike Murphy – who used to work for Romney – tell NBC’s Brian Williams that the party has to reconsider many of its policies to expand its supporters if it ever expects to win the Presidency again.

The overall feeling one got from listening to Republicans like Murphy who know Romney is that he is a good and decent man who had to go too far right on immigration and abortion during the primaries to get the nomination and it cost him the Presidency.

The next Republican presidential candidate in 2016 would be wise to ignore extreme positions, ignore Limbaugh, ignore the local Limbaugh clones like Beach and Bauerle, and enter the 21st Century on issues that many old white men don’t understand or haven’t accepted.

pergament@msn.com

 

 

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Ch.2, NBC Big Winners Here; Fox News Also Scores

The local winner on Election Night in Western New York wasn’t too close to call.

It was Channel 2 News in a landslide.

It even won decisively at 11 p.m., when it was the beneficiary of the strong lead-in from the NBC News team headed by anchor Brian Williams. Channel 2 News undoubtedly wishes that NBC’s prime time entertainment programs supplied it a similar lead-in at 11 p.m. weekdays, one of the only two places that Channel 4 still dominates locally.

I don’t want to bore you with too many numbers after you endured the counting of millions of votes Tuesday, but it is a necessary evil to a degree.

Megyn Kelly

Karl Rove

Let’s just say that Channel 2 and NBC had strong double-digit ratings from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Election Night, and those figures are double what many NBC prime time programs receive. Channel 4, the local CBS affiliate, hit double digits at 6 p.m. Channel 7 remained a poor third with much higher numbers than usual.

From 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. when the broadcast and cable networks concentrated on the presidential race and other big national races, NBC was tops here on Channel 2 with an impressive 11.2 rating.

The second-place finisher here may surprise some – it was Fox News on cable. Yes, it even beat Channel 4’s network (CBS) and Channel 7’s network (ABC). That confirms what we already knew: President Obama won Erie County decisively but portions of this area are much more to the right than most of New York State and there are many fans of right wing cable news and right wing talk radio (WBEN). (Of course, some of my blog readers represent that remark.)

Fox News also was the most unintentionally entertaining, when analyst Karl Rove forced anchor Megyn Kelly to take a long walk and seek out the guys who projected that President Obama the winner of Ohio and therefore the presidency. They stood firm. “Saturday Night Live” should have a field day with that walk.

Fox News ((7.5) decisively beat CBS (5.2) and ABC (4.3) here from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. CNN, which was my go to channel, was fifth here with a 3.9 and left-wing MSNBC sixth (2.7). PBS (WNED-TV here averaged less than a 1.0 rating.

Nationally, NBC was first, ABC second and CBS third in the network competition and CNN squeaked by Fox News in the cable competition.

There is one other interesting thing to note about Fox News. Rove may have forced many viewers to stay up an extra 90 minutes before Romney would give his gracious concession speech after 1 a.m., but most Fox viewers didn’t stay around to watch President Obama’s inspiring victory speech at around 1:45 a.m.

The results after midnight actually further illustrate that to the victor goes the spoils and that viewers head to the channel that loves their guy. After midnight, MSNBC decisively defeated Fox News here. By the time President Obama spoke, MSNBC tripled Fox’s rating. Fox didn’t even hit a 1 rating when the President spoke, an indication the great majority of its viewers didn’t want to hear what he had to say. CNN, which had a significant lead-in advantage over MSNBC, actually was No. 1 after midnight and had a rating here four times higher than Fox News when the President spoke.

pergament@msn.com

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A Healthy Dose of Political Reality and Dial Switching

Just about every person standing behind Mitt Romney was white. In contrast, the people standing behind President Obama were a diverse group with a high percentage of minorities. The reporters and analysts didn’t mention that. But those images spoke louder than words and may have a say on who wins the Presidency tonight or Wednesday morning.

Those words were near the end of Tuesday morning’s blog. My observation concerning the people standing behind the presidential candidates at rallies foreshadowed the big story Tuesday night when President Obama was re-elected.

Analyst after analyst Tuesday concluded that Gov. Romney lost because the Republican Party is just too white and hasn’t learned the importance of attracting the increasing population of Latinos and other minorities.

Chuck Todd

CNN’s David Gergen, who has worked for presidents in both parties, may have put it best after an Obama victory was clear. “It is extremely unhealthy for the country to have a Republican party that relies on whites for 90 percent of the vote,” said Gergen.

It was a theme that was also picked up by ABC’s Matthew Dowd, who used to work on Republican campaigns and was one of the best analysts Tuesday night.

Election Night was a night for a healthy dose of dial switching and political reality. The switching did make things a little more confusing since each network seemed to have a different Electoral College count and was declaring victory in different states at different times. NBC was the first to declare President Obama was re-elected, ABC was the last to declare him the winner.  

I ended up watching more of CNN than any other broadcast or cable network because it seemed to do the most thorough job.

For all the speculation that America might not know who would be President until Wednesday morning or later, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer noted the President was projected to be the winner only 18 minutes later than he was in 2008 when he was first elected. And CNN was several minutes later in calling it than NBC. Channel 2, the local NBC affiliate, switched to its network in time to catch the announcement while rivals Channel 4 and Channel 7 were staying with local news and waiting for their networks to call it.

The writing was on the wall more than an hour earlier when CNN’s Republican pundit, Alex Castellanos, looked at what was happening in Ohio and other swing states and said: “My silent majority hope is not there. It is not only silent but invisible. It is very tough for Mitt Romney… This is not going to be a loss just for Mitt Romney. This is going to be a repudiation of the Republican Party.”

David Gergen

 It was like listening to the late Dandy Don Meredith sing “turn out the lights, the parties over.”

Of course, the party lasted for a few more hours before Romney conceded, made a brief concession speech that analysts called “gracious” and the President followed with a speech that got positive reviews as well.

If you lost sleep, blame Fox’s Karl Rove, who apparently convinced the Romney camp that Ohio hadn’t been lost for an extra hour or so.

I was half expecting Ed Gillespie, a Romney strategist, to get back on TV and say he was still optimistic. Starting in the afternoon, Gillespie was constantly saying how well things were going for Romney. It got to the point that you wondered if he thought saying it would make it true.

The delay in Romney’s concession meant the nets had to filibuster waiting for his speech and that led to one entertaining slam by NBC’s Brian Williams aimed at Donald Trump. Williams said The Donald “has driven well past the last exit to relevance and veered into something closer to irresponsible” before he read some of Trump’s Limbaugh-like and Hannity-like tweets.

No argument here. It was notable that Williams was embarrassing the guy who hosts one of NBC’s few demographic hits — “The Apprentice.” The network anchor is safe since “Nightly News” is No.1 .But you do have to wonder how much more NBC can take of Trump before someone has to guts to tell him “you’re fired.”     

Without further ado, let’s fire up some more things that struck me over the seven hours of coverage that ended for me at 2 a.m. That’s why this blog was slightly delayed. Blame Karl Rove.

The Winner Is Nate Silver: If anyone’s reputation was on the line, it was the New York Times’ Nate Silver, who predicted on his 538 blog that President Obama had a 90 percent chance of winning and would get more than 300 Electoral College votes. Silver has become a TV star, appearing on “The Colbert Report” on Monday. He is a bigger star now because he was so accurate. At one point, I read he had accurately predicted the winner in 44 of 44 states. Silver made his projections based on a collection of state and national polls, almost all of which turned out to be more accurate than many people could have expected.

Team Obama Has Better Ground Game Than the Bills: At least it used its ground game better. You also knew that Romney was in deep trouble when ABC’s Republican analyst Nicolle Wallace said her Florida sources conceded they underestimated Team Obama’s ground game. The ground game was mentioned so often it could have been a beer pong game for college students.

What Enthusiasm Gap? As I had suggested Tuesday, my anecdotal evidence from teaching at two colleges was that young people were going to be engaged and those stories suggesting enthusiasm for Obama wouldn’t be as high as it was in 2008 was going to be wrong. According to early exit polls, young voters showed up at the polls.

Math Major: NBC’s Williams noted that the President’s camp won with “a scientific approach” that used math. In other words, as President Clinton suggested in his convention speech lambasting Romney’s economic plans, good arithmetic is important.  

Inspiring Talk: PBS’ David Brooks, a conservative New York Times columnist, labeled the Obama win as “not inspiring but a tenacious victory.”

Words of the Day: Reluctant to call races as quickly in the past, CBS noted when states were “leaning to President Obama.” All the leaners ended up being accurate. CNN used the word “estimated” in declaring states. All the estimates proved accurate, too. NBC’s Chuck Todd noted the network was going to be a little extra “cautious” in calling races. That was true. He was able to show viewers that things looked good for the President in Florida and Ohio when he was ahead because most of the votes that hadn’t been counted were in heavily Democratic areas. Similarly, CNN’s John King was terrific in showing that Obama was likely to win key states without declaring victory.

Traffic Report: NBC’s David Gregory used a baseball reference to note that Team Obama sent President Clinton to a state where the President might have been vulnerable. Gregory called Clinton the Mariano Rivera of Team Obama. He saved Pennsylvania. 

Fox Report: Around 7:30 p.m., Fox’s Brit Hume noted that conditions in America made it easier for a challenger against President Obama, but he added the president was considered a hero and a historic figure when he won in 2008. “A great number of people don’t want to let go of that,” said Hume. He added that didn’t necessarily mean Obama was going to win but you got the sense Hume was preparing Fox for the possibility.

Traffic Report: CBS’ Bob Schieffer questioned Romney’s visit to Cleveland on Election Day, noting that it was a heavily Democratic area. “Maybe he was trying to tie up traffic to keep Democrats from voting there,” cracked Schieffer.

All Politics Is Local But… I know the Kathy Hochul-Chris Collins congressional race was very important to local viewers. However, I usually found it so distracting when the networks gave the local news teams a few minutes each hour that I often just turned to the cable channels to see what was up with the more compelling presidential race. I did switch to local news twice to see Channel 4’s Luke Moretti go to a Williamsville restaurant to get the opinions on the presidential race from a young white female, an older white businessman and a middle-aged white woman. If he found any person of color there I missed it. Someone should tell Channel 4 that Williamsville isn’t the go-to-place to find the diverse audience that votes. By going there to find opinions about the presidential race, Channel 4 looked as clueless as Gergen and other analysts thought the Republican Party looked.

pergament@msn.com

 

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A Tale of Two States in Ads and Football

 

Yes, Virginia it is almost over.

Yes, Ohio, Wisconsin, Colorado, Pennsylvania — and even New York lately — our long national nightmare of non-stop commercials have almost ended.

I was in Virginia over the weekend to be briefly reminded how lucky we are to live in New York State since it is a solid President Obama state and isn’t in play.

While visiting two of my children who live in Virginia, I almost was afraid of turning on the TV or answering the doorbell.

The ads were non-stop. On Sunday, I went to a local bar with my oldest son to watch the Bills flop against Houston. I went to the bathroom and I still couldn’t escape the ads. They were playing non-stop on a loud speaker. Talk about getting a captive audience.

 My children claim they stopped listening to the ads long ago and no ad or knock on the doorbell was going to change their minds.

Jim Haslett

My daughter left her house briefly, which meant I had to open the door to greet two 30something people who I assumed were Obama supporters. They were. They were looking for my daughter. When I told them she was out, they wanted to persuade me. I told them I was from New York and they had already won there so they moved on.

My youngest son, who is in an out-of-town college in a small town in New York near the Canadian border, had it the easiest. He told me Monday night that he had mailed in his ballot earlier in the day.

The popular theory is that younger voters are going to be less likely to vote than they were in 2008 when the history made by the Obama campaign excited them. I teach at two colleges and my anecdotal evidence is that college students appear to be just as engaged as they were four years ago.

The ads that I saw in Virginia weren’t really trying to appeal to college kids. The Mitt Romney ad that struck me the most featured a pretty woman in her late 30s or early 40s who spoke directly about the economic troubles in the country during the Obama Administration. She spoke as the camera caught images of a beautiful suburban house that suggested she and her family weren’t doing too badly. The images actually belied the message that was aimed at young  women voters who Mitt Romney needs to win Virginia. My immediate thought was: Couldn’t they have found a woman whose house symbolized the struggling economy?

I was thankful that ad from a Republican Political Action Committee hadn’t appeared in Western New York. But when I returned him, there she was — Miss Disappointed. I could only think the Romney PACs have so much money left over they are even pouring it in New York, where they know they can’t win.

The negative Obama ad from a PAC that struck me the most was one featuring workers displaced from one of the companies that Romney’s old Bain Capital took over. One of the unemployed guys featured in the ad looked like the guy in the silly, discredited anti-Chris Collins who talked about what the Republican congressional candidate supposedly did to Buffalo China workers when he took it over.

I’m not sure these negative PAC ads do their candidates any favors. Collins’ opponent, Kathy Hochul, may have even been hurt by PAC ads that even turn off her supporters.

I think the positive ads may work better. I saw a lot of Colin Powell, a Republican who endorsed President Obama again recently on the CBS Morning News. The ad is effective and may even make CBS relevant in the morning again.

Heck, even ESPN was relevant when the President and Mitt Romney appeared at halftime of the Monday Night Football game in interviews with softball-thrower Chris Berman. I almost would rather watch another campaign ad than watch ESPN’s Berman interview a presidential nominee again.

My final images of the campaign came this morning while watching NBC’s “Today.” It concerned the people standing behind President Obama and Romney as they gave their final messages at rallies that thousands of supporters attend.

Just about every person standing behind Romney was white. In contrast, the people behind President Obama were a diverse group with a high percentage of minorities.

The reporters and analysts didn’t mention that. But those images spoke louder than words and may even have a say on who wins the Presidency tonight or Wednesday morning.

My trip to Virginia didn’t only give some lessons about life in the swing state. It also gave me some lessons about the NFL.

As my son drove me to Union Station to catch a train to the Baltimore airport, we listened to a post-game show after the Washington Redskins lost at home to the woeful Carolina Panthers.

I felt like I didn’t need to fly home because I was home already. The analysts and the fans were calling for the head of Jim Haslett, the ex-Bill who is the Redskins defensive coordinator. Haslett was getting it worse than Bills D-coordinator Dave Wannstedt. They blasted Coach Mike Shanahan for abandoning the running game when they have one of the best running backs in the league. Shanahan was getting it worse than Bills Coach Chan Gailey. The major difference between Bills fans and Skins fans was that they believe in their quarterback, Robert Griffin III. But wait until next year Robert. Bills fans loved Ryan Fitzpatrick for awhile last season.

The point is that fans in just about every NFL city react the same way to losses and want to change coaches more quickly than they change presidents.

pergament@msn.com

 

 

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Ch.2′s “Daybreak” Dominates; Election Polls Tested

  • The departures of Joe Arena and Victoria Hong from Channel 4’s “Wake Up” have taken a toll on the morning news program.
  • Hurricane Sandy didn’t have much of a negative impact on Western New York but it had a huge impact on local news ratings.
  • Channel 2 News is solidifying its leads at 5 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. but its “10 at 10” on WNYO is slipping.

Those are some of the headlines from the first week of the November news sweeps.

Jodi Johnston

First things first, with an apology for all the numbers. Remember I used to be a math major, which is probably why I like Nate Silver’s 538 Blog in the New York Times.

At 6 a.m., Channel 2’s “Daybreak” with John Beard and Jodi Johnston (in her final sweeps before leaving for a bank job) posted a 7.9 rating, which is 40 percent higher than the 5.7 rating it averaged during the entire November sweeps last year.

Channel 4’s “Wake Up!” with newcomers Nalina Shapiro and Ed Drantch averaged a 4.6 rating, which is 15 percent lower than the 5.4 rating it averaged a year ago with Hong and Arena. Its 7 a.m. “Wake Up” on WNLO slipped to a 1.3 rating, down 85 percent from a 2.0 a year ago.

At 5.a.m., Channel 2 holds a 4.0-3.0 lead over Channel 4, a reversal of Channel 4’s win a year ago by 3.8-3.4. Meanwhile, Channel 7 jumped to a 2.1 at 5 a.m. from a 1.5, indicating Channel 4’s personnel losses have led viewers to sample the third-rated morning program.

Channel 7’s morning program with Ginger Geoffery and Patrick Taney averaged a 3.0 rating at 6 a.m., the same as it averaged a year ago. If you do the math, Channel 2’s “Daybreak” had a higher rating than its two competitors combined.

The 7.9 rating also is higher than the 7.3 rating that Channel 2 averages at 11 p.m., when it is closer to Channel 7 (6.5) than Channel 4 (9.6.) which benefits from the strong lead-ins it gets from CBS entertainment programs. Channel 4’s 10 O’Clock News on WNLO also defeated Channel 2’s 10 at 10 by 4.8-1.7. Both stations lost audience in their 10 p.m. newscasts, which could be a product of strong 10 p.m. network entertainment programming or people heading to bed earlier.

Channel 2 continues to dominate at 5 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. and it maintained a slim lead within the margin of error at 6 p.m. The news ratings were up significantly in the early evening news hours, primarily because of interest in Sandy. Channel 2 averaged double-digits in all three time periods, Channel 4 did so at 6 p.m. Those are exceptionally high news numbers that will be tough to duplicate for the rest of the month.

Of course, news ratings are done similarly to election polling and often leave viewers shaking their head that so few people can determine them.

The November presidential election Tuesday not only is a contest between President Obama and Mitt Romney, but also a referendum on polls.

Romney has been ahead frequently in the daily national Rasmussen Poll and in Rasmussen polls of several swing states. Gallup also has had Romney ahead by a significant margin for weeks.

However, The New York Times highly-respected 538 blog (it is named for the number of electoral college votes that determine the winner)  by Silver has given the President a 70 percent to 85 percent chance of winning based on his interpretation of a collection of polls of the national race and the races in swing states.

Clearly, Silver’s reputation and the reputations of Rasmussen and Gallup are on the line Tuesday along with the presidency.

Locally, The Buffalo News and WGRZ-TV poll of the congressional race between incumbent Kathy Hochul and Chris Collins really isn’t on trial because it calls the race a statistical dead heat even though Collins has a one-point lead.

pergament@msn.com

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Some TV Reasons to be Happy

 

San Antonio Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich is known for his dismissive attitude towards sideline reporters assigned to interview him during moments when the game action is suspended and he has other things on his mind. Like game strategy.

In those moments, Popovich’s attitude can be unintentionally funny.

One of those moments came late Thursday night before the fourth quarter of the Spurs game with Oklahoma City. The teams were tied, 66-66, at the time.

TNT’s David Aldridge asked Popovich before the fourth quarter if he “was happy” about the Spurs’ shot selection. Pops’ answer should be viral by now.

“Happy?” asked an incredulous Popovich. “Happy? Happy is not a word we think about in the game. Think of something different. I don’t know how to judge happy.”

Aldridge then asked Popovich to think of a better word than happy but he didn’t get an answer.

Sometimes you wish coaches would be just as honest when they are asked inane questions at halftime or before the next quarter begins.

Gregg Popovich: Happiness Is Elusive

In any event, TV critics aren’t often happy, either. But I know how to judge happy. And thanks to Popovich, I began to think about why I should be happy to blog about television. Sometimes, I think of a better word – thankful.

So here are some things I am thankful for or happy about.

I am thankful that I lost the notes I took months ago when I previewed the new Reba McEntire comedy premiering on ABC tonight. In “Malibu Country,” McEntire plays a divorced country singer who moves to Southern California with her teenage kids, and Lily Tomlin plays her outrageous mother.  I don’t remember much about it except that I can’t get those 22 minutes of my life back. It is dreadful. It would have looked old and tired decades ago when Tomlin was very funny and not reduced to playing a role that Betty White could play in her sleep.

I’m happy to see the makeover of Channel 4 reporter Rachel Kingston. Since coming over from WBEN radio, Kingston has been a strong TV reporter but my readers have noted that her appearance has been well – a distraction is the best word that I can think of. I’m happy to say it no longer is one.

I’m thankful that NBC’s “Meet the Press” continues to be must-see TV on Sunday mornings with David Gregory as the moderator. Last Sunday, New York Times columnist David Brooks called the presidential campaign the worst in history. Hard to argue, though the media is partly responsible.

On the same program, the issue came up of why married women are supporting Mitt Romney by a much large percentage than unmarried women, who favor President Obama. I’m happy to weigh in with a theory of why that is, though it comes at some peril. I’ve pretty much spent my life proving I don’t understand women, but I have a theory based on anecdotal evidence.  A lot of suburban married women take the political positions of their husbands, and men are supporting the former Massachusetts governor over President Obama by a significant margin. More of the women who think for themselves are less likely to be Romney supporters.  Remember, it’s just a theory and just may prove further I know nothing about women.

I’m happy to provide an alternative theory to the one that suggests Clint Eastwood’s empty chair stunt at the Republican National Convention was part of the reason that his recent baseball movie “Trouble with the Curve” struck out at the box office. I wonder if Eastwood pulled his stunt because he knew the movie belonged in the minors and he wanted something else – like his political stand — to be blamed. I saw the movie and let’s just say it was duller than a spring training game.

But back to Popovich. He had reason to be happy late Thursday when Tony Parker hit a shot at the buzzer to give his Spurs an 86-84 win over OKC. I am very happy the NBA season is back in a November without the NHL and its unhappy millionaires.

pergament@msn.com

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New Deal for Radford; Ch.4 Makes Good on Promise

This is what I’m thinking:

I’m hearing that veteran Channel 7 co-anchor Keith Radford recently and quietly agreed to a new deal before the November sweeps began.

Radford couldn’t be reached for comment. It is believed to be a multi-year contract to continue his role on the No. 3 rated news station in town. His present contract was about to expire.

With all the changes at Channel 7 in recent years, the calm Radford and co-anchor Joanna Pasceri have provided much-needed stability on the late afternoon and evening newscasts.

No word on the details of the deal for the 61-year-old anchor, but anchors in Buffalo have been taking pay cuts lately because of the declining market size and Radford has had to be do it before.

Keith Radford: A New Deal

Cheers to Channel 4 for making good on a campaign promise.

The CBS affiliate carried the second half hour of “Face the Nation” with Bob Schieffer on Sunday even though my Time Warner Cable guide had paid programming listed in the 11 a.m. hour. “Face” is listed on the guide for the full hour this Sunday.

Earlier in the presidential campaign, Channel 4 said it would consider carrying the second half hour as the race wound down.

Sunday’s show included some clips introduced by Schieffer in which late-night hosts Jimmy Fallon and Jay Leno took some shots at his age. Schieffer is 75. Leno isn’t exactly a spring chicken, either. He is 62 and probably wants to host “The Tonight Show” until he is 75.

Had to laugh at the political  ad making its debut Wednesday night in which incumbent Erie County Clerk David Shenk, a Democrat, used a Red Coat as a prop and said he didn’t need one to ask the tough questions and do audits. It was an obvious dig at his Republican opponent, former Channel 2 reporter Stefan Mychajliw, who has run some effective ads in which he looks into the camera and highlights his Red Coat reporting experience at Channel 2. The ads promote Mychajliw’s honesty and his plan to stand up for you (as he did on Channel 2) if he wins. Clearly, Mychajliw knows how to use the camera to his advantage.

You wonder how the Mychajliw ads play inside the Channel 2 and Channel 7 newsrooms. He worked at both stations before starting his public relations career.  Channel 2 eventually did re-hire him to briefly co-host its political talk show, “2 Sides,” with Kristy Mazurek and he actually gave it some life. Curiously, Mazurek, a Democrat, is involved in Shenk’s campaign.

The winner of the Mychajliw-Shenk ad contest is obvious: Channel 2, which gets promoted in both ad campaigns and even sees the ads run on rival stations.  

I’m sorry it took the heartbreaking mess in New York and New Jersey from Hurricane Sandy to  take the focus away from the presidential race. But I’m sure I’m not the only one who felt worn out by all the political talk and needed a news break from the Obama-Romney campaign for a few days. Somehow Sandy made the presidential race seem less important for a few days.   

Inquiring minds want to know: When is NBC’s “Smash” coming back? It returns with a two-hour premiere on Feb.5 featuring Jennifer Hudson. The NBC comedy “Community” returns two nights later.

pergament@msn.com

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World Series Ratings Up Here; “10 at 10″ Survives

This is what I’m thinking:

The World Series wasn’t exactly a home run for Fox or local affiliate WUTV. San Francisco’s four-game sweep of the Detroit Tigers averaged about a 7.3 rating, hitting a high of 8.5 for Sunday’s concluding win. The first four games of the 2011 series between the St. Louis Cardinals and Texas Rangers averaged about a 5.4 rating here so this year’s rates are up substantially. However, there are a couple of asterisks.

This year, the Series didn’t have to compete locally against any Buffalo Sabres games. And last year’s series went seven games, with the decisive Game 7 getting a strong 12.4 rating. Despite the gains here, nationally the series was the lowest rated and least viewed ever. The series averaged a 7.6 rating nationally, which is only slightly ahead of how well it did here.

Hope you enjoyed CBS’ Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts working Sunday’s Miami 30-9 win over the New York Jets. The pair will be working the Bills’ next two games against Houston and New England.

Ouch. A fan – presumably from Buffalo – took a cheap shot on Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick Sunday on CBS’ pregame show. Host James Brown, who like Fitzpatrick is a Harvard grad, read aloud the question asking whether the QB could be intercepted on a bye week. Shannon Sharpe said yes after criticizing Fitzpatrick for a late, game-changing interception in the loss to Tennessee.

The Halloween-themed ad attacking Kathy Hochul in her congressional race is a late candidate for the worst local political ad of the year. It’s the one in which a squeaky-voiced announcer masquerading as a child talks about the treats Hochul promised and the tricks she supposedly benefitted from. It’s an asinine ad. It would be nice if it was dropped Thursday, the day after Halloween.

Lena Dunham

I had to laugh at Fox News analysts Friday who thought that HBO star Lena Dunham of “Girls” fame may have lost the presidency for President Obama with a You Tube performance loaded with double entendres about her “first time” voting. Even the younger Fox analysts seem like old fogeys. If they really want to get offended, they should watch some of the sitcoms carried by Fox. The ad didn’t suit my tastes, but I imagine it hit the target audience of young people who don’t have puritanical sensibilities. I showed it to two of my classes this week and all the young students loved it and thought the controversy was silly. Surprisingly, only one of about 30 students knew who Dunham was, which suggests she hardly is the voice of a generation.

However, I found the two-minute video by Joss Whedon of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” fame that “endorsed” Mitt Romney by using zombie symbolism much funnier than Dunham’s bit.

Chris Spielman, the popular former Buffalo Bills linebacker who now is an ESPN college football analyst, is the subject of the NFL Network’s series “A Football Life” at 8 tonight. Here is a summary provided by the NFL Network of the episode : “Born and raised in the shadow of the birthplace of professional football, Chris Spielman was destined to become a football player. As a Parade All-American at Massillon High School and Ohio State, and throughout his 10-year NFL career, Spielman’s life was defined by football and the hits he delivered on the field. But the hardest hit of his life, however, came when his high school sweetheart and wife Stefanie Spielman was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1998 at the age of 30. The focus of his life shifted from the field to off it, and to the biggest challenge he would ever encounter.”

Finally, Channel 2′s foolish “10 at 10″ was back Tuesday night, meaning its No. 1 story on the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy didn’t air until 10:15 p.m. or so. I didn’t wait to find out when it exactly aired.

pergament@msn.com

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The Pictures Tell Sandy’s Story

The Crane! The Crane! The Crane!

The scene of a crane hanging precariously on the 80th floor of a construction site on the West Side of New York City normally would have been enough to symbolize the frightening nature of Hurricane Sandy Monday night.

That scene wasn’t as much out of “Fantasy Island” as it was “Nightmare Island.”

Jeff Glor

But as the hours went by, the crane scene was overwhelmed by shots of the famed FDR Drive turning into a river, of the boardwalk of Atlantic City, New Jersey disappearing, of the spontaneous electrical fires and of other scenes that Hollywood disaster movies would have had difficulty recreating.

This was one case of the national meteorologists predicting doom and it actually turning out worse than the catchy name Frankenstorm suggested.

As NBC’s Savannah Guthrie said on this morning’s “Today,” the storm damage actually “exceeded” expectations in several states.

The pictures told the story better than all of the news reporters who were foolishly sent into the middle of the floods as if their wading into the deep waters gave those pictures more power.

The reporters and anchors had to find different ways to say “unbelievable” and “incredible” when describing Sandy’s power.

They overwhelmingly did a terrific job putting the disaster in perspective, though there were some unnecessary predictions.

CNN’s Piers Morgan said “this could cause chaos for several weeks, possibly months.” He could end up being right, but he had no way of knowing if that is going to be true and shouldn’t have gone there.

I have many relatives and friends in Hurricane Sandy’s path and got some first-hand accounts of what was going on on Long Island, New York City and Washington, D.C.

My sister Sandy and my Aunt Irene – yes, I know having relatives named after the last two devastating hurricanes is a little eerie – both lost power on Long Island. So did two of my children on Washington, D.C. My companion in New York City still has power. They all seemed calm in the face of the storm.

Most of the reporters covering the disaster – including WNYer Jeff Glor on “The CBS Evening News” – also seemed calm as the waters surrounded them.

Even New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie had calmed down by this morning when interviewed on “Today” hours after he drilled the mayor of Atlantic City for allowing some citizens to stay in shelters rather than evacuate.

Gov. Christie, a big supporter of Gov. Mitt Romney in the presidential race, also heaped praise on President Obama’s disaster response and hoped that federal aid is coming to help New Jersey pay for the disaster. It is doubtful that the Romney campaign appreciated those pro-Obama comments, but you have to give Christie credit for being non-partisan in these difficult times.

The impact of Frankenstorm’s October Surprise on the presidential race is a secondary story, but there is little question if President Obama and FEMA handle it well it will help the President even if he doesn’t emphasize Romney’s past views suggesting he would cut federal disaster aid.

Romney might want to add his FEMA stands to others he has changed as he heads away from the right to the middle. The devastation of Sandy was pegged at between $10 billion and $20 billion, which wouldn’t be easy for any state budget to account for.

Thankfully, Western New York was one of the areas that appears for now to be spared from dire predictions. This isn’t to say there was no impact as the listing of school closings this morning was extensive, surely prompting a debate of whether administrators were overreacting. As proven downstate, a better safe-than-sorry attitude certainly seems reasonable.

There was one notable impact on local news.

On Monday night, Channel 2 didn’t use its ridiculous “10 at 10” format that covers stories in the backwards order of their importance. Of course, it would have been even more silly than usual to cover Sandy 10 minutes into the newscast. I’m not sure if this will be the end of the gimmick or if it will return tonight. Hopefully, it has been washed away forever.

pergament@msn.com  

 

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