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Letterman retirement talk is a local ratings winner

By Alan Pergament

Western New Yorkers wanted to hear that David Letterman was retiring in his own words Thursday night.

Local ratings for "Late Show with David Letterman" on the night he surprised his New York City audience by announcing he was going to retire were higher here than the combined ratings for his two young rivals -- NBC's Jimmy Fallon and ABC's Jimmy Kimmel.

Because Letteman's show is taped in late afternoon for airing at 11:35 p.m., the big news was reported on the evening newscasts and served as an alert for late-night viewers. 

Kenmore's Jeff Glor -- who has had a busy week covering Buffalo Bills Hall of Famer Jim Kelly's battle with cancer and the General Motors crisis -- reported on Letterman's announcement for "The CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley."

One of the benefits of Letterman announcing he is going to retire about a year before he actually does is that many viewers will probably want to watch his Derek Jeter-like goodbye tour.

And with the two Jimmys getting so much attention for the way they are reinventing late night with sketches that go viral, Letterman needs every advantage he can get.

But back to Thursday, the fourth straight day that Letterman has won here in the competition with the younger Jimmys.

Letterman had a 6.8 rating on Channel 4, the local CBS affiliate. "The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon" had a a 2.7 rating on Channel 2, the local NBC affiliate. It barely beat Kimmel's late-night ABC show, which had a 2.6 rating.

It is hard to know what is going on here regarding Fallon, whose late-night show has been a national ratings hit and continues to create viral hits. This week, Fallon dressed up as Russian president Vladimir Putin in a sketch with Sarah Palin that has been a big internet hit.

This morning, I speculated that Jon Stewart of "The Daily Show" deserves Letterman's job.

Bill Carter of The New York Times, who has documented the late-night wars for years with books and even a movie based on one of his books, has thrown Stephen Colbert and Neil Patrick Harris into the mix.

Harris, one of the stars of "How I Met Your Mother" who also has impressed as the host of awards shows, is an intriguing candidate. He would be terrific in sketches but it's hard to know what kind of interviewer he might be.

But that's getting ahead of things anyway because WNYers still have a year to watch Letterman's goodbye tour.

apergament@buffnews.com

 

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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 | apergament@buffnews.com

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