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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014

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In Movies & TV Commentary

Emmy and Grammy winner Stephen Colbert will take over for the retiring David Letterman on CBS in 2015. (PHOTO: shutterstock.com )

With Colbert in for Letterman, local late night landscape shifts


This week, CBS announced that Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert will replace David Letterman when he retires from the "Late Show" sometime next year.

It's this latest move that creates an opportunity to look at the unique Milwaukee history with the TV shows on after the late local newscasts.

The hosts of the late night shows have been, (except for the whole Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien thing at NBC), pretty stable since Johnny Carson left "The Tonight Show" in the early 1990s. But by 2015, Jimmy Kimmel will be the most experienced late night talk show host. Even five years ago, none of us thought that would be the case.

When Leno took the torch from Carson at the Peacock network, Letterman was upset at not getting the gig and jumped over to CBS, going head to head with Leno. That meant the slot starting at 11:30 p.m. local time had to change, too. O'Brien replaced Letterman on NBC, and Letterman brought in Tom Snyder on CBS.

Since the days of the Iran hostage situation, ABC had "Nightline" in the late night slot.

From then to now, we've had Craig Ferguson, Carson Daly, Greg Kinnear, Tom Snyder, Craig Kilborn, Dennis Miller, Bill Maher, Arsenio Hall, Chelsea Handler, Jon Stewart, Chevy Chase, Magic Johnson, Stephen Colbert, Wanda Sykes, Seth Meyers, George Lopez, John Oliver, Jimmy Fallon and others with different shows on networks, cable outlets and in syndication.

Over at NBC, Fallon – who had been on "Saturday Night Live" – took over for O'Brien at "Late Night" when Conan briefly helmed the "Tonight Show" while Jay Leno had his run in primetime at 9 p.m. weeknights. When Leno wanted his old job back, O'Brien was bought out of his contract. When Leno left "The Tonight Show" for the second time, Fallon took over, and Seth Meyers took over "Late Night."

O'Brien is at TBS, Jon Stewart is at Comedy Central on "The Daily Show." Stephen Colbert, after being on "The Daily Show," was given his "Colbert Report" at Comedy Central.

"Nightline" ran through its changing course at ABC and Kimmel is now head-to-head against Fallon and Letterman in the same time slot. And next year, it will be Colbert, Kimmel and Fallon.

Well, almost.

In Milwaukee, WISN-TV Ch. 12 moved "Nightline" to 11 p.m. years ago, running "Access Hollywood" at 10:30 p.m. So, when Kimmel was bumped by ABC to the 10:30 slot in other markets, here in Milwaukee he's still on at 11.

But this isn't the only deviation that makes late night unique in Milwaukee. In the 1980s, "The Tonight Show" didn't run on NBC affiliate WTMJ-TV Ch. 4, and instead, ran on independent WVTV-TV Ch. 18. Basically, WTMJ wanted to push the show back later to run other programs right after the newscast and NBC didn't like that.

Previous to that, WVTV ran other late night shows from Dick Cavett and Merv Griffin when they were rejected or preempted by then CBS channels WITI-TV Ch. 6 and WISN-TV Ch. 12.

Got all that?

The Milwaukee TV market has had its fair share of differences from the rest of the nation, and it is always fun to look back at where we were before moving ahead to future late night landscape.

Have your favorite memories of late night TV in Milwaukee? Share them with me here or on Twitter at @SteveKabelowsky.

QUICK TURNAROUND: On Tuesday evening, Hearst Television and DISH Network were unable to come together on a retransmission deal, determining the fees Hearst would collect for delivering local television stations in more than 20 markets.

That meant a blocked signal of WISN-TV Ch. 12 for DISH customers in our market.

Later on Wednesday, a deal was struck and the Hearst stations were back on the air. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

NEW MARKET MANAGER: In late March, Entercom named Chuck Sullivan as the new VP and market manager of the group's three stations in the Milwaukee market. Sullivan, who last worked in Mobile, Ala., will oversee WXSS-FM 103.7 Kiss FM, WMYX-FM 99.1 The Mix and WSSP-AM Sports Radio 1250.

Sullivan and Ed Schulz – who takes on the VP and market manager gig for Entercom stations in Madison, replace Michael Kreck who resigned earlier this year.

"Entercom is proud to add two of the strongest people in radio to our leadership team," Entercom Regional President Michael Doyle said to the writers at the RAMP radio industry newsletter.

"Chuck and Ed bring with them a wealth of experience, unique perspectives and a passion to make their powerful brands and their clusters not only the strongest in Wisconsin, but in all of radio."

Talkbacks

SteveKabelowsky | April 12, 2014 at 12:09 a.m. (report)

Buck, I wish we could see the three-way late night race here in Milwaukee. But for WISN, the gain is the additional local commercial inventory. As long as the ratings support it, my guess is Ch. 12 rather keep the money than let Jimmy run at 10:35 p.m.

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buck | April 11, 2014 at 5:59 p.m. (report)

Note to Channel 12: Put Kimmel on at 10:35. No one needs to see the exact same news at 10:30 that you just aired at 10. This is pointless. If you want to show more news at 10:30, get a digital subchannel.

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