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"Idol" Slips Here, "SNL" Soars With Justin


By Alan Pergament

AIRWAVES: This morning, I am reprising Airwaves, a feature I often used during my first stint as a Buffalo News TV critic.

First, here’s a little history about how and why Airwaves was born. One day, I didn’t have an issue to address for a full TV column so I decided to string together a number of quick-hitting, conversational-style items and opinions and call it a column. After I handed it in, it was sent back to me with a note from the late Buffalo News editor, Murray B.Light.

I thought he was going to tell me that it didn’t cut it and come up with something else. Instead, he wrote “do this more often. It is breezy and informative and I like it.” The quote may be a little off since it was 30 years ago but that was the substance of it.

In any event, in honor of Murray Light, here goes another AIRWAVES: I did something I haven’t done all season Thursday night. Most of you haven’t, either. I watched 15 minutes of “American Idol.”  It was the last 15 minutes, when the Fox reality show was about to announce who was going to be dropped from its Top 10. Nicki Minaj, (see below) one of the new judges this season, said she was going to leave the show if someone named Curtis was eliminated. I’m not sure if that was a threat or a promise. Sure enough, Curtis was cut and Nicki pretended to leave after some false drama over whether or not they judges would save him and keep him on the show. They couldn’t agree and he soon was saying “bye bye.”

A lot of WNYers have said bye bye to “Idol” this season. A couple of weeks ago, the two episodes didn’t hit a 6 rating on WUTV, the local Fox affiliate. In its heyday when Simon Cowell was a judge, the series had a local audience more than three times as high. This week as the Top 10 were competing, local viewership rose to an 8 rating on Wednesday for a performance episode and slipped to a 7.1 on Thursday when poor Curtis was dropped.

“Idol,” which also is experiencing big national audience declines, lost its time slot here by more  than a 2-1 margin to the combination of “Big Bang Theory” (16.9) and “Two and a Half Men” (13.9) on Channel 4 and had a lower rating than everything on CBS Thursday night. The rating of ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” on Channel 7 was also in the "Idol" ballpark.



In its 12th season, the fall of “Idol” probably was to be expected this season, especially since it has been so long since someone as talented as a Carrie Underwood or Kelly Clarkson has won and become a big star. And “Idol” still does better here than most Fox series. But don’t expect me to watch another 10 minutes this season. Unlike Minaj, when I say I’m done I am done…

Speaking of “Grey’s,” I also saw the last 15 minutes of the hospital series, tuning in just in time to see the name of Seattle Grace Hospital is being changed to the Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital in honor of some dead doctors on the series. Isn’t that special?...

A quick look at the local cable news ratings Wednesday night on the day Pope Francis was elected shows a decent-sized bump for CNN’s audience here but nothing to write home about for MSNBC or to explain why local news ratings weren’t so hot. A friend of mine said he wasn’t surprised that MSNBC didn’t do so well because its viewership is full of “Godless liberals.” He was kidding. I think…

With all the college basketball carried on Time Warner this season, you might have thought local TV viewers could have seen all the postseason conference tournament games played by Canisius College, Niagara University and the University at Buffalo. But there I was watching Nichols School graduate Will Regan’s incredible 36-point performance in UB’s win over Ball State Wednesday and UB’s loss to Kent State Thursday on my iPad, which pulls in ESPN3 better than my computer. Another reason why I love my iPad..

At least all Syracuse games in its final Big East Tournament all being carried on ESPN channels. It was amusing Thursday afternoon during SU’s win over Pittsburgh to see reporter Andy Katz only interview Pitt Coach Jamie Dixon and talk about what the Panthers planned to do without dealing with SU’s strategy. SU Coach Jim Boeheim has vowed never to talk with Katz again and called him an “idiot” and “disloyal” after the Orange lost to Connecticut in February. Someone in SU’s journalism school should tell Boeheim that reporters aren’t supposed to be loyal to the people they cover. If Syracuse upsets Georgetown tonight, it will be amusing to see how Katz and ESPN handle the post-game interviews…

ESPN reportedly banned Bill Simmons from Twitter for a few days for criticizing Skip Bayless and the debate program “First Take” on the social network. It should make the columnist-turned-TV star into a bigger hero because Bayless is about as popular as the flu…

Am I the only one who thinks Justin Timberlake should be the next host of the Oscars? His incredibly versatile appearance on “Saturday Night Live” got rave reviews and a big national audience. It also was a huge hit for Channel 2, averaging an 8.1 rating. That is most likely higher than the rating for
every NBC prime time program last week on Channel 2. And it is higher than “Idol”…

Has anybody seen anything more awkward than the appearances of Dallas Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban and Dallas Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones in Monday’s episode of “Dallas” dealing with the funeral of J.R. Ewing? It isn’t like those guys don’t get their share of TV time…  

In my Thursday blog, I asked if I was the only one thinking about the late Buffalo legend Tim Russert after Pope Francis became the first Jesuit to be elected pope. A colleague later told me that NBC anchor Brian Williams brought up Russert during the network’s Wednesday afternoon coverage. Sorry, I missed that because I was involved in my religion – watching Syracuse basketball…

Finally, you may have seen my byline on a number of stories on the Buffalo News website Thursday night and this morning.  I like to think I work hard, but not that hard. There is some kind of computer problem that is giving me credit for things I haven’t done, like covering a crime story in Farnham. I’ve never been to Farnham. To be honest, I don’t even know where it is but I am sure it is a nice place…


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About Talkin' TV

Alan Pergament

Alan Pergament

Alan Pergament has continued to blog about television topics since retiring in 2010 as The News' television writer after 28 years on the beat. From local on-air personalities to ratings to the latest on network and cable programming, he keeps you informed.

@StillTalkinTV |