- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 3, 2002

Channel Surfing

The Channel Surfer hopes you're not looking for your favorite local television executives at the beach this summer. They're too busy putting the finishing touches on their fall schedules to waste time catching rays.
At network-affiliated stations, managers are deciding which syndicated shows to air during the time slots in which their networks don't offer programming, usually late mornings, late afternoons and early evenings.
These are crucial decisions: Affiliates generally make one-quarter of their revenue from the advertising they sell during the syndicated shows they air.
A big-city station may pay as much as $100,000 a week to air an established syndicated program, such as "Oprah," or as little as $10,000 a week for a newcomer, such as "Dr. Phil," an advice show that NBC-affiliate WRC-TV (Channel 4) will air beginning in September.
The stations recoup their investment by selling advertising during the programs. Shows that generate higher ratings command steeper ad rates.
The biggest battle this fall will occur when Fox-affiliate WTTG-TV (Channel 5) moves "Judge Judy" to weekdays at 4 p.m., pitting it against "Oprah" on ABC-affiliate WJLA-TV (Channel 7).
Both shows are ratings powerhouses, although Miss Winfrey's numbers are fading. In May, 108,528 local households on average tuned into "Judge Judy," which airs weekdays at 5 p.m. About 87,248 households tuned into "Oprah."
WTTG is moving "Judy" to make way for the 5 p.m. newscast it plans to begin this fall.
The Fox affiliate has purchased for its fall lineup "Dharma & Greg" reruns and a new talk show from former Fox News Channel host Rob Nelson. UPN-affiliate WDCA-TV (Channel 20), also owned by Fox, has purchased "That '70s Show" reruns for fall.
WJLA plans to keep much of its lineup, save for one addition: "Pyramid," which will replace the canceled "Family Feud" weekdays at 10:30. Donny Osmond hosts the game show, an updated version of the old "$25,000 Pyramid."
WJLA also plans to debut a noon newscast in September, bumping "Inside Edition" out of that time slot.
The station's late-night schedule is up in the air. WJLA hasn't decided if it will carry the new "Up Close" program that will air on most ABC stations weekdays at 12:05, beginning this Monday. That program replaces the recently canceled "Politically Incorrect," which WJLA dropped in September.
Also this fall, CBS-affiliate WUSA-TV (Channel 9) plans to dump "Weakest Link" weeknights at 7 and replace it with the new syndicated version of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire," hosted by Meredith Viera of ABC's "The View."
WUSA also gets "Crossing Over with John Edward," which moves from WDCA. The show, in which Mr. Edward supposedly chats up dead people, will air weekdays at 10, replacing the very low-rated "Lucy Show" and "Cheers" reruns that occupy the slot.
Over at WRC, management is excited about "Dr. Phil," which features "Oprah" regular Phil McGraw. It also gets a talk show from "America's Most Wanted" host John Walsh and "Life Moments," a touchy-feely documentary-style show. Time slots have not been determined.
WBDC-TV (Channel 50), in the meantime, plans to air "Will & Grace" reruns at 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. The WB affiliate will also add new talk shows from comedienne Caroline Rhea and psychic James Van Praagh. It will also pick up "The Jerry Springer Show" from WDCA and "Jenny Jones" from WTTG.

Spin city
That whirling you hear is the sound of WTTG's newsroom door, which is spinning more than presidential adviser Karl Rove lately.
Weekend sports anchor Dyrol Joyner left the Fox affiliate in May when his contract was not renewed. On July 18, the station will replace him with Lou Holder, a Washington native who is a sports anchor for NBC's affiliate in West Hartford, Conn.
Todd Wallace, an early morning anchor for WTTG, left two weeks ago for Dallas, where he will report for the local NBC affiliate. No replacement has been named.
Yakenda McGahee, a reporter for Baltimore's CBS affiliate, joins WTTG this month.
The station is also gearing up for its new 5 p.m. news show. Most of the station's 10 p.m. news anchors are expected to preside over the new show, except for weathercaster Sue Palka, who will stick to the late news.
CBS-affiliate WUSA also is making staffing changes. It has chosen to not renew reporter Heather Cabot's contract. It also is talking to Steve Davis, a sports anchor for Fox's Baltimore affiliate, about replacing departing sports anchor Jess Atkinson.
Got a tip for Channel Surfing? Call Chris Baker at 202/636-3139 or send an e-mail to [email protected]

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