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Tom Skilling gets Blockbuster, 10-Year Contract Extension

Discussion in 'Chicago News' started by 24994J, Sep 19, 2012.

  1. 24994J

    24994J
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    http://timeoutchicag...skilling-at-wgn

    You read that right...Tom Skilling, WGN's chief meteorologist inked a deal today to remain with the Chicago station until 2022. The majority of the contract was written up prior to now-former GM Marty Wilke's departure.

    Let's break that down...
    • 10-year contract
    • 70 years old by end of contract
    • 44 years with WGN in 2022
    • 1 million dollar salary (rumored)
    • 12-person staff
    Holy shit...good for him!
     
  2. abric

    abric
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    When it comes to knowing the weather, Trust Tom.
     
  3. 8Viewer

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    He deserves every dime. He is a broadcast legend.
     
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  4. ABC 7 Denver

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    What is WGN? 3rd or 4th (in ratings) in the market?

    This is why.

    To put this politely (and I bet a lot of you will disagree), Tom Skilling is a doddering old codger. WGN used to be a powerhouse of broadcasting. Now... Not so much. But it won't let go of its past, which I can understand.

    The new owners of Tribune may put up the entire division according to this article: http://timeoutchicago.com/arts-culture/chicago-media-blog/15520326/wgn-ratings-on-the-line-a-tale-of-two-stations. That threat in and of itself is why I'm not surprised Marty Wilke jumped ship. She saw, as do I, the forthcoming title wave and wanted to get the f*ck out!

    From what I hear on this TVNT, that wouldn't completely be a bad thing if all Tribune stations are sold. As we know Cablevision just trashed WPIX from their line-up and no one seems upset.

    I am a Denverite; KWGN is run under LMA by LocalTV. While I am sad about the direction it's taken because of the station's history, I don't watch the station and would feel no regret if it was sold to LocalTV or another broadcaster. I think the same is true with many folks and WGN. I know WGN has a lot of history in Chicoland and a lot of history nationally as the first national broadcaster, but in it's current form it is not worth a heck of a lot.

    First, WGN is affiliated with The CW, a network that targets young women (not meaning to sound like a sexual predator). I realize that that is a specialty demographic. But the news doesn't exactly represent what that demographic is interested in.

    Second, WGN America can most closely relate to MyNetTV. Tribune has hardly done anything with their national channel. If I owned an investment firm, I would buy WGN America and make it a a sydni channel. Instead of MyNet, you could affiliate with WGN America which has a full range of programming where MyNetTV only has a few hours a day. Bully for WGN America!
     
  5. A3N

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    Did you even read the article that you linked to? Former GM Wilke said that WGN was doing pretty well in ratings, coming in second in the mornings and midday behind WLS, and in the late evening, third or fourth. Evening including 9 & 10 pm newscasts, and it is also mentioned that they have "outdelivered" FOX Chicago News at 9. And you can't leave out this nugget from Feder's article...

    Marty Wilke, who’s been vice president and general manager of WGN-Channel 9 since 2008 and subsequently added oversight of CLTV, has kept the station competitive and profitable throughout her tenure. Its success is underscored in July's Nielsen ratings so far.

    It could be that she may have been spinning the numbers, or the fact that its July sweeps, who knows. But there could be a variety of reasons why Wilke left, from wanting stability to more money, who knows. From what I have seen of Tom Skilling on WGN America (Superstation before that) over the years, is that Skilling knows his stuff, and is very well prepared. Since I don't live in the market, I won't speculate or comment if viewers tune in more to watch Skilling during severe weather. But evidently, he must be worth at least a million bucks a year to keep around.
     
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  6. 24994J

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    When your flagship broadcast is up against the last hour of network shows, yet your ratings are 2-3 times greater than that of your direct competitor and more than twice that of your own lead-in, clearly they're doing something right. Sure, their ratings are down over the last decade, but so are everyone else's. It's said that viewer loyalty doesn't mean anything, but something can be said to the kind of respect and acknowledgement that Mr. Skilling and the WGN News product has in the Chicago area - from viewers young and old.

    I can't speak for Denver, New York, or any other markets on a personal level. However, I've grown up watching the news in Chicago, and the two most reputable, respected and (most important to the direction of this discussion) consistent products are WLS and WGN...the two stations that are number one in their own strongest categories. WGN is frequently tops after 7am, number one at noon, and sees the highest viewership increases from it's primetime lead-in...and the 2nd, 3rd and 4th place spots at 9 and 10 are often traded back and forth by WGN, NBC5 and CBS2. It all depends on the night.

    When it comes down to it, WGN is successful. I don't know why Tribune has so many issues with their other stations, but management has let WGN's product evolve naturally. When you watch, you get stability, familiarity and not too much crap. For thirty-four years, there has been a solid foundation in Tom Skilling. He's been one of their best marketing tools, and while I don't know if a million dollars is appropriate in this current landscape, I do know that the guy has a passion and authenticity that cannot be faked, and keeps viewers coming back. The kind of disaster that management would suffer should they fire him would be huge, and would affect ratings across all shows.

    And frankly, even at the high cost, is there something so wrong with keeping an icon on the air? I'll watch an older, heavy bald man like Skilling give a reliable, knowledgeable forecast any day versus the eye candy so many stations have thrust on the air just to get some instant viewers. That's only really worked twice in Chicago, with Amy Freeze and Ginger Zee...and it turns out that they didn't sway the ratings and this city was merely a stepping stone to greater things. I'm more than confident that he got better offers back in the day, but he didn't accept. That says something to his character and to how this city has grown to appreciate him. There aren't many like him left in this city or the industry as a whole, so I think it's worth the investment to keep them around as long as they are willing to put in the effort. If he was phoning it in at this point in his career (and many would) than I'd be the first to tell him not to let the door hit him on the way out, but he's not...and he's providing a necessary service to the viewers that have given him their trust over the years.
     
  7. jase

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    Ten yrs. and a $1 mil. per year salary is a bit much for one person (regardless of who they are). The station could very well be sold to owners who could make drastic cuts to lower cost and to get back some of their initial investment right away. A contract like this could be seen as a financial albatross if there isn't any type of out clauses or the like. Not to mention the cost associated with having such a large weather team. Twelve people are NOT needed to put together a weather forecast.

    No doubt, the station is solid (ratings-wise), but who knows what may happen 3, 6 or 9 yrs. from now. Wilke left for a reason, so that shouldn't be overlooked. Everything may look perfect from the outside, but who knows how things are internally. The smarter option would have been to offer a smaller contract (4 yrs, 5-10% salary increase) and a reduction in staff. While one can admire a company for sticking by their people, there are times in which you have to be smart about things and make tough decisions.
     
  8. susquvalleywgal

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    Tom Skilling is a broadcast legend ... So agree, worth every dime.
     
  9. tmanokc

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    I've seen Tom Skilling quite a bit on WGN's newscasts through both WGN America and WGNTV.com's live stream and he is good at what he does, I haven't seen how well he does during severe weather coverage (I'm not sure if WGN-TV streams their severe weather coverage online like they do breaking news and their newscasts, minus the video portion of the sports segments). $1 million might a bit much for a salary, but I don't blame them for doing it. WGN-TV/CLTV have a weather staff of at least five people already, including one that is only seen usually on CLTV, a 12-person weather staff would work if WGN employed some of the new weather staffers to perform storm tracking duties during severe weather coverge. I'm not sure if that would work given that severe weather coverage on Chicago TV is probably handled much differently from how severe weather is handled on local TV where I'm from, but given that the station is located in the Midwest and Chicago is at the edge of (the designated) Tornado Alley, that is probably the only way that a 12-person weather staff would make sense.
     
  10. bixpchiphead

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    In addition to their WGN-TV/CLTV duties the wx staff also crank out forecasts and graphics for the Tribune, provide forecasts for WGN Radio 24/7 and forecasts and gfx for the websites and social media for all of the above.
     
  11. Weeters

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    12 weather people sounds like it's going to be some dumb, god awful promotional stunt. "More metereologists than the other leading news team!"

    Does WGN still have camera operators and "traditional" cameras? I've always liked how they had people behind every camera.
     
  12. tmanokc

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    Given how many duties the current six-person staff has to handle, with the WGN-TV-AM/CLTV operations, maybe some of the new meteorologists could be used to take over some duties for the existing staff. For example, I researched and CLTV has rolling news programming daily from 4 a.m. to 12 a.m. (minus breaks for rebroadcasts of WGN-TV newscasts and some local programs like Politics Tonight and a few shows shared between CLTV and WGN-TV) and apparently a stray half-hour at 2 a.m. (while the rest of the late night lineup is infomercials), all on-camera weather duties for CLTV are handled by Duffy Atkins, Mike Hamernik, Tim McGill and Jim Ramsey, if I'm not mistaken. Certain dayparts could be filled by a couple of the new meteorologists in order to relieve duties for Hamernik and McGill, aren't they working pretty much non-stop during the morning and afternoon hours on their respective shifts? I know Hamernik does the weekend morning news on WGN-TV as well, in addition to his CLTV work and he and Ramsey are the only ones who split time between full-time shifts on both CLTV and WGN-TV. They could employ two people to fill the afternoon slots, I say could but it might not work that way. Although Bay News 9 in Tampa actually does have a six-person OCM staff.
     
  13. 24994J

    24994J
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    Via Tom's Facebook:
    And when it comes down to it, without Skilling, who would they put on their Snuggies?
    http://www.artflo.com/wgn.html
     
  14. bostonmediaguy

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    I'm certain that the 12-person staff is not all on-camera "talent." It includes producers and other support personnel (perhaps a personal assistant, too?).
     
  15. 24994J

    24994J
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    ...Like the guy that answers the "Ask Tom Why" questions.
     

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