Could Bill Cunningham and Bubba the Love Sponge soon become the talk of the town? That's the latest word as Tribune Co. hopes to get back into the television talk show business in collaboration with Richard Dominick, former executive producer of "The Jerry Springer Show."
Sean Compton, who was promoted this week to president of programming for Tribune Broadcasting, met Wednesday with Dominick to finalize plans to tape pilots for two proposed syndicated talk shows at the studios of Tribune-owned WGN-Channel 9.
Published reports identified one of the hosts as Cunningham, a Cincinnati-based radio personality, who taped an earlier pilot with Springer for a show that went nowhere. In addition to his daily local show, Cunningham also hosts a weekly syndicated show, which airs here Sunday nights on Citadel Broadcasting news/talk WLS-AM (890). Tribune Broadcasting's other would-be host, according to insiders, is Bubba the Love Sponge, the Sirius XM Radio personality who's carried on Howard Stern's Howard 101 channel.
Both are expected to tape one week of shows next month at Channel 9. They'll be produced by Dominick and directed by former "Springer" director Greg Klazura for testing on air in July. If approved, they could turn up on Tribune and Sinclair Broadcast Group stations in January and be offered for national syndication in fall of 2011. In a memo to Channel 9 staffers, vice president/operations Steve Farber wrote:
"As you may know, we are planning on shooting several pilot shows for a talk show concept at WGN. It's part of our continuing effort to find new ways to create interesting television. The pilots will be taped over two weekends in June (June 12-13, June 19-20) and will include a live audience. Details on the program concepts will be coming at a later date. We're moving with an experienced team that's been successful in the talk format. We may ask for your help in recruiting an audience for the show tapings. Until then, thank you to those of you already involved in getting this project together on a short timeline."
Staffers last week were unofficially told that studio space had been reserved through June for a "Springer"-style talk show to be hosted by Mancow Muller, the Chicago-based syndicated radio personality who's also been in talks with Compton. Muller declined to comment on those reports or on speculation that he's under consideration for a role with news/talk WGN-AM (720).
Bubba the Love Sponge (who was born Todd Clem) briefly hosted mornings here in 1991 at the former WYTZ. The station's consultant at the time was Randy Michaels, now CEO of Tribune Co. Cunningham also is an old pal of Michaels and Compton from their years together in Cincinnati.
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