The collision of Illinois primary election coverage Feb. 2 with the three-hour premiere of the sixth and final season of ABC's "Lost" could pose a Groundhog Day dilemma for WLS-Channel 7, Chicago's top-rated ABC-owned station.
Unlike the White House, which shrewdly decided not to schedule President Obama's State of the Union address on the same night as the much-anticipated return of "Lost," Channel 7 has no choice as to when voters' returns will come in for the U.S. Senate, Illinois governor, Cook County Board president and other races.
It's more than just an academic question, considering that Channel 7 leads the market every election night and has held the franchise on coverage of live events and breaking news coverage for years. Will it cede the news ratings this time to its rivals? Or will it risk angering the "Lost" faithful with interruptions or preemptions?
"'Lost' fans need not worry!" That was the official word Monday from Jennifer Graves, vice president and news director of Channel 7, who added:
"We will have local election updates throughout the night, without interrupting the premiere of 'Lost.'‚ We will also have continuous election returns on our website (abc7chicago.com) and wireless service (abc7togo.com) and live, streaming video on the web as events warrant. And, of course, we'll have an expanded edition of ABC 7 news at 10 p.m. with complete election coverage."
The bet here is that Channel 7 will win the ratings in a landslide that night, too. Elsewhere on the media beat:
- All eyes at Tribune Co.-owned WGN-Channel 9 are on morning news anchor Larry Potash, who wrapped up work last week without a contract renewal. Although he was back on the air Monday, there was no official word if he'd agreed on a new deal. "As per our standing policy, we really can't comment on the status of any contracts," a station spokeswoman said. "We can, however, confirm that Larry is the anchor of 'WGN Morning News.'" Potash, 43, a 15-year veteran of Channel 9, has been integral to the success of the morning show since 1996.
- Jill Urchak, who replaced Amy Jacobson as afternoon traffic reporter on Citadel Broadcasting news/talk WLS-AM (890) Monday, must not have received the memo on the show's name change. Now that Cisco Cotto has joined Roe Conn, it's officially called "The Roe & Cisco Show." (Doesn't Urchak read ChicagolandRadioandMedia.com?)
- The man who's been the public face of Arbitron's controversial Portable People Meter ratings system is out. In a surprise move Monday, Michael Skarzynski resigned as CEO after Arbitron said he'd violated an unspecified company policy.‚ One congressman alleged that Skarzynski "may have provided false testimony" during a Dec. 2 House committee hearing on the PPM service.
- Happy birthday, radio! At least by one measure, today is the 100th anniversary of the first radio broadcast -- a live transmission from New York's Metropolitan Opera by radio pioneer Lee De Forest's Radio Telephone Company. "This will only be an experiment and perfect results are not expected immediately," the New York Times predicted.
- First Oprah, now Simon? Word that Simon Cowell had announced plans Monday to quit "American Idol" after this season prompted Time Out Chicago editor in chief Frank Sennett to tweet: "Will Daley blame us for this, too? If so, shld get reward."