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In Movies & TV Commentary

Charlie Gibson signs off for good this evening on ABC's "World News."

In Movies & TV Commentary

Diane Sawyer takes over ABC News' lead anchor chair on Monday evening.

In Movies & TV Commentary

Phil Cianciola and Dick Alpert celebrate Christmas in a holiday podcast that will be posted today.

OnMedia: The changing of the guard at ABC News

While Charlie Gibson's departure from ABC "World News" after this evening's newscast is getting some attention, along with his replacement by Diane Sawyer, this just isn't the big deal it would have been a few years ago.

Obviously, audiences have been declining for decades.

The three network newscasts still regularly pull in more than 20 million viewers each night. In 1980, before the launch of cable news alternatives and the Internet, that number was 52 million. Roughly a million viewers stop watching every year.

The cable news alternative makes it unnecessary to wait for 5:30 each evening to find out what's going on.

Probably the most interesting part of Sawyer's move into the anchor chair is the lack of comment about her gender. Katie Couric's move to CBS three years ago absorbed all that chatter.

Instead, there's been a lot of talk about George Stephanopoulos' move into Sawyer's "GMA" job. Can he soften enough for the morning job?

Of course, it's far too early to come to a conclusion. But I'm willing to bet on Stephanopoulos' ability to adapt. There was talk that he couldn't make the transition from an insider in the Bill Clinton administration to the world of Sunday morning political talking heads.

He's done that well, and there's no reason he can't show a different side in the mornings.

Gibson signs off at 5:30 this evening on Channel 12.

Sawyer signs on at 5:30 p.m. Monday.

On the radio: Podcaster Phil Cianciola tries for a modern-day take on the old Andy Williams Christmas specials in the holiday edition of his "Philcast" that's set to be posted sometime today at He's joined by another former WTMJ-AM (620) voice, Dick Alpert. He was nice enough to let me drop by as well, and take part in the 90-minute extravaganza of holiday chat and music.

  • Despite some Internet chatter claiming WQBW-FM (97.3) is on the verge of change, the Clear Channel-owned radio station known as "The Brew" looks pretty secure in its current format.
  • WTMJ-AM talker Charlie Sykes has joined the Twitterverse.
  • Pandora Media Inc. tells the Wall Street Journal that it's exceeded 40 million registered users this year, doubling the size of the online radio service.
  • New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan (remember him?) and Rabbi Harlan J. Wechsler, who both have Sirius/XM satellite radio shows, will get together at 2 p.m. Sunday for an interfaith dialogue on Sirius channels 159 and 102 and XM channels 117 and 155.

A little Christmas interrogation: The weakest of the annual network animated Christmas specials, 1969's "Frosty the Snowman," and its even weaker 1992 sequel, "Frosty Returns," -- at 7 p.m. on Channel 58 -- is about all you'll find tonight on the broadcast channels.

Absent better choices, here's a little bit of Jack Bauer of "24" trying to find out who's naughty and who's nice in this clip.

For the record, the real "24" returns to Fox on Jan. 17.


devidia | Dec. 18, 2009 at 12:33 p.m. (report)

Agreed, "Frosty" is the weakest of the bunch in retrospect. Never have found a satisfactory explanation as to how a magician's hat could create a sentient, self aware snowman. On the creepy side, you have that Michael Keaton "Jack Frost" movie which is just, well, weird.

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