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Jim Kelly and family may be at Knicks game tonight

By Alan Pergament

Jeff Glor, the CBS correspondent from Kenmore who reported on Jim Kelly's battle with cancer this week for "CBS This Morning," just gave an update on the Buffalo Bills Hall of Famer.

Glor went on Twitter to tweet: "Jim Kelly is getting out of the hospital for the weekend and is hoping to attend tonight's Knicks game with family."

The New York Knicks, who are in a battle for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, host the Washington Wizards tonight in Madison Square Garden.

The game is being televised by MSG Plus (the Sabres are on MSG) and the game director most likely would show Kelly and his family if his pain is under control and they make it to the Garden.




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.


Sabres TV ratings continue slide as nightmare season nears end

By Alan Pergament

How low can the Buffalo Sabres go?

We're not talking about in the National Hockey League standings. They can't get any lower than 30th  place out of 30 teams.

We're referring to the team's television ratings.

After the NHL lockout ended in January of 2013, 13 of the Sabres' first 23 TV games last season had ratings of 10 or higher. The Sabres reportedly averaged about an 8 rating in the shortened season for games carried on the Madison Square Garden Network.

Because of this season’s pitiful start under former Coach Ron Rolston, TV ratings dropped early in the season to average about a 6 rating. There was a brief surge when Ted Nolan was named interim coach. His first game against Toronto had a 10.3 rating, the second game the next night a 7.9 rating.

But as the nightmare season thankfully nears its end, the Sabres are getting ratings that would appear to be at or near the historically low end since the advent of people meters in the Buffalo market in 2000. I say "appear" because statistics from all the years are unavailable.

Continue reading "Sabres TV ratings continue slide as nightmare season nears end" »

Analyzing Ch.2 "history"; Bills' Brandon has "Draft Day" cameo

By Alan Pergament

Call it the Tale of Two Releases.

While I was gone for a week, I received two different takes on the news demographics during the recent February sweeps.

Not surprisingly, Channel 2 and Channel 4 had very different outlooks on what occurred in February in the so-called "money" age groups.

By that, I mean stations sell demographics to advertisers, not overall household ratings.

In some cases, what the stations didn't include in their takes was as interesting as what they did include.

Continue reading "Analyzing Ch.2 "history"; Bills' Brandon has "Draft Day" cameo" »

Media skepticism is wise in Trump interest in Bills

By Alan Pergament

Pardon my skepticism, but some elements of the local radio and TV media went way overboard Tuesday over the speculation that Donald Trump might buy or invest in the Buffalo Bills after the death of owner Ralph Wilson.

Of course, regular readers known I am skeptical of just about everything involving the billionaire blowhard.

I would gladly cheer if Trump saved Bills fans a lot of angst, bought the team and kept it here.

I just wish Channel 4 and Channel 2 had watched ESPN's "Pardon the Interruption" at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday before they carried their stories on Trump's interest based on his remarks on WBEN radio earlier in the day.

"PTI" co-hosts Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon both agreed that Trump's purchase of the Bills would be "great" for the National Football League and for Buffalo. But they added the chances of it happening are minimal because he would need approval from other NFL owners who still hold a grudge against him for being a strong voice when he owned a team in the USFL and sued the NFL.

The local stations also would have been wise to have read a post by the Buffalo News' Tim Graham Tuesday that noted the USFL lawsuit and added that Trump's ownership of casinos would prohibit him from owning a team.

Those two nuggets belonged in any Trump story related to the Bills Tuesday because they added much needed perspective. The chance that Trump would give up a sure money-winner like owning casinos to take a financial risk and own the Bills is about equal to the chance -- well -- that he would run for governor of New York State.

Continue reading "Media skepticism is wise in Trump interest in Bills" »

Bills hire multi-media journalist with local ties

By Alan Pergament

The Buffalo Bills have added a new member to its team of reporters covering the National Football team for its website and other media ventures.

Alexandra Vitale, who most recently was a sports multi-media journalist and weekend anchor at a Columbus, Ga. station, is joining the team's marketing and broadcasting department as a multi-media reporter.

Vitale, who was an accomplished swimmer at Canisius College before she eventually graduated from Saint Leo University in Florida, joins Chris Brown and John Murphy for the Bills' internal coverage of the team.

She replaces Hannah Buehler, who left the Bills to become a reporter at Channel 7.

According to the Bills, Vitale will cover the team and report on community, marketing and business intitatives and off-the-field endeavors for buffalo and other Bills media properties.

She previously was a production assistant and in-studio host of Patriots This Week for the New England Patriots'  Kraft Productions. The Patriots are owned by Robert Kraft.



Kenmore's Glor scores with emotional interview with Kellys

By Alan Pergament

A couple of weeks ago, I tweeted "I wish Ch.4 and other stations would respect Jim Kelly's privacy."

My heart was in the right place, but I couldn't have been more wrong.

Since that March 19 tweet, it is clear that Kelly and his immediate family want all the attention the Buffalo Bills Hall of Famer can get.

The attention is comforting to the Kellys as the Bills legendary quarterback battles cancer. And that is especlally true if it includes prayers from people all around the country.

The Kellys first drew attention by posting photographs -- often very sad -- of Jim from his hospital bed as he was visited by family members and former teammate Thurman Thomas.

And Kelly's battle received national attention Monday from a poignant piece on "CBS This Morning" by Kenmore native Jeff Glor that clearly moved anchors Gayle King, Norah O'Donnell and Charlie Rose.

Continue reading "Kenmore's Glor scores with emotional interview with Kellys" »

Javad, Brown, Richert win State Emmys; CBS report on Kelly powerful

By Alan Pergament

Catching up on the headlines after a week away:

A while back, I told you that Channel 2 sports reporter Jonah Javad, who I initially criticized for trying too hard to be clever, is growing on me a little bit.

I also foolishly spelled his name wrong once, which led to him tweeting me the proper spelling.

Well, Javad is making a name for himself statewide now.

On Sunday night, he was one of three local winners at the State Emmy Awards in New York City, a competition dominated by the big network affiliates downstate and the sports channels there.

Jovad won in the category of "Sports: News Single Story" for a Feb.25 " story called "Rising Son" about the triumph over extreme adversity by Buffalo State College basketball star Jake Simmons. (The photographer on the story was Ben Read.)

Continue reading "Javad, Brown, Richert win State Emmys; CBS report on Kelly powerful" »

TV, social network reflections highlight Wilson coverage

By Alan Pergament

ST. MARTIN - Traditionally when I go away big news happens.

I can not imagine any bigger than the news I got via text from my older son as I sat on a beach in the Caribbean: "Ralph Wilson died." I headed to the Internet on my phone and saw that the Buffalo Bills confirmed it.

It was time to reflect on Wilson's well-lived 95 years and all the things that have changed in pro football and in life over that time.

The text I received on my iPhone was one small example. I am also writing this on an iPad. I immediately wished I could see the local television coverage of Wilson's legacy and life in what will be one of the biggest stories of the year in WNY. And then I remembered I could because all the local TV stations stream their newscasts and I have WiFi at my hotel.

I was able to watch Channel 4 anchor Don Postles tell viewers that the news was not unexpected because of Wilson's age but it was still a bit of a shock.

A short time later, Channel 4 was carrying a live news conference in which former Bill Steve Tasker told a wonderful, moving story about how Wilson welcomed him to the team and wished him well before his second game. Tasker thought it was a nice gesture and didn't realize he was talking to the owner.

Tasker appeared ready to tell another moving story when Channel 4 inexplicably cut to comments made by County Executive Mark Poloncarz. Bad move. A little later, I saw Channel 2 sports anchor Adam Benigni's report on Wilson's death that was aided by file footage from an exceptional special on the owner that at the time seemed preparation for an obituary. Good stuff.

I also headed to Facebook to see a post by Erie County Legislator Lynne Dixon that told a sweet story about Wilson joining her for a meal and trying to make her feel comfortable in her role as a reporter back then.

There were several sweet Facebook posts that illustrated how much many Western New Yorkers appreciated Wilson and his kind gestures. But I couldn't help but think that people who aren't Buffalo natives appreciate what Wilson has done for the community more than those who have lived here all their lives.

I am one of them. I came here when I was 21 and 20 years later watched my first Bills Super Bowl not knowing if I would root for the Bills or the team I grew up with -- the New York Giants. (At kickoff, I learned I was a Bills fan.)

Since I am not a Buffalo native, I think I understand how fortunate the area has been to have had Wilson as an owner more than natives.

The world has dramatically changed since Wilson bought the team in 1960. At the time, Buffalo might have been a top 30 TV market or close to it. Now it is outside the top 50.

The community has lost population and Wilson hasn't been able to charge as much for tickets as owners in bigger markets. I have a friend who is a Giants season ticket-holder who pays three times as much as I do for a Bills game and he also has to pay a license fee. I couldn't afford to go to one Giants game a season, even if I could get ahold of a ticket.

The disparity in ticket prices and market sizes is one of the reasons I have supported the Bills in their position against lifting the NFL blackout rule. I think lifting the rule could hurt attendance here and attendance is one of the ways this area can show it belongs in the NFL despite its market size.

Some people have criticized Wilson for a variety of things, including unfairly suggesting he didn't spend enough money on players. There were few such complaints when the Bills made four straight Super Bowls in the 1990s.

The NFL rules have changed and there is no way today a team could afford to keep all the Hall of Famers on the same team. Wilson is a Hall of Famer, too, which would seem to say how big his legacy is in Buffalo.

However, there is some sentiment that his legacy here would be tarnished if the Bills don't stay here forever. To the contrary, Wilson did everything he could to keep the team here in a world changed by TV money, technology and population shifts in the 54 years he's owned the team. If the Bills ever move, it is on WNY, not Ralph Wilson.

Jolls' puppets searching for Museum; "Walking Dead" revived on WNYO

By Alan Pergament

Cleaning out my notebook before I take a week off.

If I had to do it all over again, I would have spent more time in my Sunday piece on Channel 7 weatherman Tom Jolls talking about his second career launched in 1965 hosting a children's program as Commander Tom.

I've come to that conclusion because since the story ran there have been as many comments about his work as the Commander as there were for his sunny (and not so sunny) forecasts.

I wrote much more about the Commander Tom phase of his life when he retired 15 years ago.

Here are some excerpts from that article:

"After showing some classic television shows, he did segments with puppets between commercials. Jolls wrote the sketches on a program that lasted until 1991... Jolls created a variety of characters: Dustmop, named after a dog he knew growing up; Mattie, an alligator-giraffe combination; Sorcella, a bad witch; Cecily, the witch's good twin sister, and Furryburry, which consisted of a furry head and eyes that juggled atop a pencil body. Furryburry was around to annoy the Commander.”

 "His fame as the Commander is international, as evidenced by a signed photograph in his TV room from hockey great Wayne Gretzky to the Commander. Young Wayne grew up near Toronto watching the program, along with most of Western New York.

"Jolls and his wife made the puppets from scratch and he created all the voices. He believes his experience as an only child helped him develop those characters, as he often had to use his imagination growing up."

Continue reading "Jolls' puppets searching for Museum; "Walking Dead" revived on WNYO" »

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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 |