Tuesday, December 27, 2005

As 2005 draws to a close and 2006 draws near,many media questions need answering in the new year:

Can Brian Williams keep the “NBC Nightly News” on top …

Or will ABC’s new Elizabeth Vargas/Bob Woodruff tandem cause him to drop?

And how long will Bob Schieffer hold CBS’ anchor desk?

No one is saying, but big money is on Katie Couric to be next.

Ted Koppel stepped off the “Nightline” after a career sublime,

How long before the trio that replaced him start fighting for airtime?

Fox News kept its lead in the cable-news race,

But CNN and the rest are coming, just ask Nancy Grace.

And if you call Ms. Grace, please do it slyly,

Lest you interrupt the shouting between Keith Olbermann and Bill O’Reilly.

Dwindling news ratings hurt the media like a sorely stubbed toe,

And Jon Stewart’s always ready with salt for the wound on “The Daily Show.”

Can David Letterman catch Jay Leno and does anyone care?

The answer appears to be “No,” unless Oprah’s in the guest chair.

On Washington airwaves, NBC 4 has been king,

But Channels 5, 7 and 9 have swords ready to swing.

In radio land, Howard Stern got real Sirius,

But can his star burn bright enough to make investors delirious?

Don’t discount XM, which leads the race with stars of its own:

Snoop Dogg, Ellen DeGeneres and that guy who sings “Like a Rolling Stone.”

The local dial leaders are WPGC 95.5 and Majic 102.3.

Can they hold off Howard U’s 96.3 and newsy WTOP?

From New York, D.C., Chicago, New Orleans and L.A.,

Newspapers will do more with less, but break news every day.

Some stories will make you laugh; others will leave you feeling downtrodden,

Just don’t blame us for losing Osama bin Laden.

The Internet has made the print outlook so gloomy: Will newspapers die?

Of course not. Don’t be silly. What a lie.

In fact, circulation will make the greatest gains in years —

Either that, or more unemployed reporters will occupy bar stools at Cheers.

2006 could also be a turning point for public broadcasting on radio and TV,

PBS, NPR and their members are going digital, but need lots more money.

The morning news programs will continue to draw viewers who rise with the sun.

Which celebrity break-up will fuel their fun?

Which gadgets will become media darlings and cause consumers to grapple?

None is a sure thing, unless it’s another IPod from Apple.

And what about the Sunday morning talk shows, or bloggers’ rising voices?

This column has limits, we had to make choices.

Many questions to answer, and here’s hoping 12 months is enough time.

My editors say one trend has started (and ended) early: Writing columns in rhyme.

• Channel Surfing runs Wednesdays. Call 202/636-3173 or e-mail dcat@washingtontimes.com.

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