WBAL late news is back on top TV/radio


Backed by a dominant NBC prime-time schedule, WBAL (Channel 11) has wrested the 11 p.m. news crown back from WJZ (Channel 13).

Nielsen ratings for the May sweeps, which ended last week, show WBAL's late-evening news with an 11.8 rating, compared to 10.6 for WJZ and 5.3 for WMAR, Channel 2. WBFF's 10 p.m. news (Channel 45) finished with a 5.6 rating. Each ratings point translates to roughly 9,800 viewing households.

In February, WJZ rode CBS' Olympics coverage to its first 11 p.m. victory in nearly three years. But a strong slate of programs on NBC, including the "Seinfeld" finale and "Merlin" miniseries, helped WBAL regain the top spot.

"Between 'Seinfeld' and 'Merlin,' it was a lead-in that was one of the greatest advantages a station could have," WJZ news director Gail Bending said. "They had a real hot network prime-time schedule."

Elsewhere, the tug-of-war between WJZ and WBAL for news dominance continued. At 6 p.m., WJZ eked out a three-tenths-of-a-point victory, 10.5 to 10.2 (a margin of victory just one-tenth of a point larger than February). At 5, WBAL increased the gap between it and WJZ, winning the time slot by 1.9 ratings points; in February, WBAL won by 1.7.

Noting that WBAL benefits from having both Jerry Springer and Oprah Winfrey leading into its early evening newscasts, Bending allowed as how WJZ, an affiliate of CBS, does not provide as "news-friendly" an environment as its cross-TV Hill rivals.

WJZ's noon news continued to more than double the competition's ratings, finishing with an 8.0, compared to 3.9 for WBAL and 3.6 for WMAR's 11 a.m. news.

In what could prove a bad portent for WJZ, however, the station's long-dominant 6 a.m. morning show saw its lead sliced in half, besting WBAL's by 1.4 ratings points, compared to 2.8 in February.

Seinfeld live

Jerry Seinfeld, whose series swan song was a ratings blockbuster, if something of a critical disappointment, will be returning to television in August for a live broadcast on HBO.

"Jerry Seinfeld Live: I'm Telling You for the Last Time ..." is slated for an Aug. 9 broadcast. The performance at Manhattan's Broadhurst Theater is scheduled to be the final stop in a world tour beginning next month and winding through such venues as Melbourne, Sydney, Stockholm, Reykjavik and London.

McKay and Steiner

Baltimore's own Jim McKay, who can look back on a career has taken him from Loyola College to The Evening Sun, WMAR-TV and an Emmy-winning tenure at ABC, is the scheduled guest on Friday's edition of "The Marc Steiner Show."

McKay, who's also a part-owner of the Orioles, will be on hand to discuss his book, "The Real McKay: My Wide World of Sports." He'll be Steiner's guest during the first half of the show, from noon to 1 p.m.

Other coming guests include Washington Post (and former Sun) film critic Stephen Hunter, discussing his book, "Time To Hunt" (noon-1 p.m. Monday) and Sun sports columnist Milton Kent, who'll be talking sports with WMAR-TV sports anchor Keith Mills (noon-1 p.m. Tuesday).

"The Marc Steiner Show" airs on WJHU-FM (88.1) from noon to 2 p.m. weekdays.

Radio, TV telethons

WMAR-TV and WWMX-FM (106.5) will be joining forces this week to raise money for the Johns Hopkins Children's Center.

Beginning at 6 this morning, WWMX morning DJs JoJo Girard and Kenny Campbell will (or have already, depending on when you read this) begin a marathon 106-hour stint on the airwaves. Throughout the week-long broadcast, which raised $436,000 last year, they will be talking with patients and their families at the Children's Center.

WMAR's 15th annual Children's Miracle Network Telethon, with hosts Stan Stovall and Mary Beth Marsden, kicks off at 9 p.m. Saturday and will run until 6 p.m. Sunday. The previous 14 telethons have raised nearly $18 million for the center.

Magicians strike back

Fed up with the recent spate of TV shows purporting to reveal their secrets, magicians are fighting back.

Proclaiming that "exposure is immoral," the Society of American Magicians -- a group formed in 1902 to protect magicians' secrets -- is asking the public to write to the networks that air such programs as Fox's "Breaking the Magician's Code: Magic's Biggest Secrets Finally Revealed," as well as the shows' producers, syndicators and sponsors.

Exposing the mystery behind a magician's illusions, according to a society press release, "impairs our moral values of decency and respect for dedicated and hard-working magicians who bring mystery, laughter, wonder, happiness and entertainment to millions of the public."

Moving on

Katherine Green, whose 26 months as news director at WBAL, Channel 11, saw the station solidify its position as the dominant force when it comes to Baltimore's evening newscasts, has accepted the position of vice president of news at WTTG, the Fox affiliate in Washington. She's slated to leave WBAL next month.

Pub Date: 5/27/98

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