STAY TUNED: '57 channels and nothin' on'

BILL GREEN

The headline may be from a 1992 Bruce Springsteen song, but more than 80 percent of U.S. households have cable or satellite TV, offering hundreds of channels for your viewing pleasure; and for many, there’s still nothin’ on.

You’d think with all those channels, we’d at least be able to see just about any program our heart desires. You’d be wrong. There are all kinds of cable channels and shows we are missing.

Today, we’re going to talk about syndicated programs you cannot watch here in beautiful southwest Florida; no matter how many channels you subscribe to.

I was inspired to write this column after receiving numerous inquires from seasonal residents who say to me, I watch so and so on ABC in Boston, etc., but I can’t find it here.

First, what is syndicated programming? For the purpose of this column, we’ll define it as shows like “Judge Judy” and “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire,” that stations purchase to fill airtime between network and news programming.

When the fall of 2012 ushered in some new talk shows, such as “Katie,” “Ricki” and “Steve Harvey,” some shows, such as “The Nate Berkus Show” and “The Wendy Williams Show,” disappeared, not surprisingly.

You most likely assumed they were canceled. With Berkus, you’d be correct. With Williams, you’d be wrong. Her show is still in production; it’s just not carried on any stations locally. Fortunately for Wendy fans, you can find her show a week behind schedule on BET at midnight. Other shows aren’t so lucky.

So what are we missing here in southwest Florida? And why? Glad you asked.

Remember “Better,” the daily magazine show from Better Homes & Gardens? It used to air weekday mornings on Fox-4. Then it was moved to the wee hours of the morning before disappearing altogether.

Not only is the show still in production, airing on stations in other markets, but the show’s producers just signed a deal and will be on Hallmark Channel in the fall.

While the show has slowly grown in the ratings, it doesn’t give stations the ratings promise of a Katie Couric. But it also doesn’t come with the Katie’s price tag.

What else are we missing out on? Many of Scripps stations dropped their contract with “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy” in favor of a pair of new shows called “The List,” a newsmagazine; and “Let’s Ask America,” a game show. They also have an Internet clip show called “Right This Minute” that airs weekdays on some stations.

You probably recognize the name Leeza Gibbons, formerly of “Entertainment Tonight.” How about Bill Rancic? Hubby of E’s Giuliana Rancic.

Did you know they anchor a daily newsmagazine called “America Now?” ITV studios started the show for Raycom Media, which operates 47 television stations across the country.

There are even syndicated morning shows. TV 6 once aired a portion of “The Daily Buzz.” Did you know it’s still in production? Three fresh hours every day. And it’s not alone. “Eye Opener” bills itself as a “different kind of morning show,” and offers two new hours daily.

TV 6 also aired “First Business” until the beginning of the 2012/13 season. That show remains in production as well.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

So why are we missing so many shows from our airwaves? There are three main reasons.

We touched on the first. Some of these shows are in limited release or are being produced primarily for station groups.

Then there’s need. Fifty percent of stations or more in a given market won’t need a syndicated morning show. And given the amount of local news produced in this market, we need a lot less syndicated programming.

Finally: The demographics of a market can determine how popular a show is. Wendy Williams may win her time slot in Miami, but fail to gain a significant audience just a few miles up the road in West Palm Beach.

Do any of my seasonal readers watch any of the above shows? Drop me a line and tell me about ’em.

Mayberry redux

Last week, we discussed the incredible staying power of the late Andy Griffith and his shows.

Here’s what some readers had to say:

Salann, from Naples, writes, “Andy is timeless, as are his shows. Nothing today can begin to compare. WGN Chicago every day has two hours of “In the Heat of the Night” starring Carroll O’Connor and a fabulous cast in another timeless show. These shows are so well done with terrific actors and great storylines. There is nothing in current TV that can match them. Like your column a lot; keep up the great work.”

Thanks, Salann.

Scott writes, “I enjoyed your article on the staying power of ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ and ‘Matlock.’ I noticed the same thing many years ago and helped create the ‘Andy Griffith Show Mayberry Mania Game’ (out of print but highly successful) and more recently ‘Mayberry-Opoly’ (still in print but not nearly as successful as Mayberry Mania).

“I am just a fan who has an entrepreneurial spirit and took it upon myself to find a couple very small companies who would produce and distribute my idea. I always like to spread the word for fans of the show.”

You can find those games at www.bizrate.com/mayberry-mania-game-board-game-900538724/shop and www.amazon.com/Late-for-the-Sky-4102554/dp/B000RTAUZO.

Mario, of Naples, writes, “To add to the many comments regarding Andy Griffith: To me, Mr. Griffith, always maintained (even in Hollywood) his God-fearing humility.”

Until next time, stay tuned!

Bill Green is a Naples Daily News/naplesnews.com journalist and a professional couch potato. Contact him at bgreen@naplesnews.com. Connect with him at facebook.com/billdgreen.

© 2013 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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