- The Washington Times - Monday, April 29, 2002

NewsChannel 8, the local 24-hour cable news network, will begin simulcasting Sam Donaldson's radio talk show next month.
The veteran ABC newsman began a daily two-hour radio talk show last September. In Washington, the program is heard weeknights at midnight on ABC-owned WMAL (630 AM).
Initially, NewsChannel 8 will only simulcast Mr. Donaldson's Friday show, beginning May 17. It will air while Mr. Donaldson tapes the radio show from 10 a.m. to noon at the ABC News bureau in downtown Washington.
Mr. Donaldson isn't convinced his radio gig will make compelling television, but he's happy NewsChannel 8 wants to showcase it.
"You're going to see me shuffling papers, talking into the microphone, talking to my producer. As far as I'm concerned, I'm doing a radio program, and that's where my focus will be. If NewsChannel 8 wants to put that on television, terrific," he says.
If the TV ratings are good, NewsChannel 8 chief John Hillis doesn't rule out airing a daily simulcast. "That would be a big investment of time for us, but you never say never," Mr. Hillis says.
The NewsChannel 8 simulcast will be similar to the arrangement cable TV network MSNBC has with syndicated radio talker Don Imus. MSNBC simulcasts Mr. Imus' show weekday mornings, often keeping its cameras fixed on him when the radio program takes commercial breaks.
NewsChannel 8 probably won't take a commercial break every time Mr. Donaldson's radio show does, either. "We expect there will be times where [Mr. Donaldson] will be talking exclusively to our audience," Mr. Hillis says.
Rumblings about a partnership between Mr. Donaldson and NewsChannel 8 surfaced last week on Dcrtv.com, a Web site that monitors local radio and television. Details of the deal weren't ironed out until late last week.
Transferring a radio show to television is often a tricky business.
The televised version of Mr. Imus' radio show on MSNBC isn't exactly a ratings monster. The E! network, however, gets big numbers by televising highlights of Howard Stern's morning radio show weeknights at 10 p.m.
Locally, CBS affiliate WUSA-TV (Channel 9) joined forces with pop music station WRQX (107.3 FM) for an unusual experiment in the mid-1990s.
WUSA placed cameras inside the WRQX studios and aired bits by deejay Jack Diamond on its morning newscast. Despite much fanfare, viewers didn't warm to the arrangement, and it ended after a few weeks.

Tough year for TV
A new report from Chantilly media research group BIA Financial Network confirms what many folks already knew: the sluggish economy made 2001 a tough year for TV stations.
Broadcasters across the nation saw their annual revenue drop between 2000 and 2001, including the six major network affiliates in Washington, the report says.
Top-rated NBC affiliate WRC-TV (Channel 4) is still the biggest moneymaker in town, but the station's revenue declined from $131.7 million in 2000 to $111.2 million in 2001, according to BIA's estimates.
Fox affiliate WTTG-TV (Channel 5) generated $100 million in 2001, down from $106.3 million in 2000. Next was WJLA, which generated $97.9 million in 2001 (down from $114.8 million in 2000), and WUSA with $73.4 million in 2001 revenues (down from $90.5 million in 2000).
UPN affiliate WDCA-TV (Channel 20) generated $31.1 million in 2001 revenues, down from $42.5 million in 2000, according to BIA's estimates. WB affiliate WBDC-TV (Channel 50) generated $17.9 million in 2001 revenues, down from $21 million the year before, BIA estimates.
A similar BIA report last month found only three of the 33 major commercial radio stations in Washington saw their revenue increase between 2000 and 2001.

Hee haw
The Channel Surfer has proven himself to be a quite a donkey.
The last edition of this column questioned the future of "The Sports Junkies" radio show after industry trade publication All Access reported that Westwood One is dropping the Junkies from national syndication.
Unfortunately, the column reported the wrong time slot and studio location for the Junkies. Their show is heard weeknights from 7 to 11 p.m. on WJFK (106.7 FM) in Fairfax.
For those of you who don't listen to the Junkies, a "donkey" is the term they use for a foolish person.
Enough said.
cChannel Surfing is published every other Monday. Got a tip? Call Chris Baker at 202/636-3139 or send an e-mail to [email protected]

This just in
"Crossing Over with John Edward," the syndicated TV talk show in which Mr. Edward chats up dead people, is crossing over in Washington. The show, now seen weekdays at 1 p.m. on WDCA, will move to weekdays at 10 a.m. on WUSA this fall.
WRC will air "The Chris Matthews Show," a half-hour weekly syndicated talk show, this fall. Mr. Matthews also hosts "Hardball" weeknights on MSNBC.


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