* Is a chance to sit in the audience of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" a big deal?
If so, take note. The talk show diva (who ironically used to sometimes have trouble filling a studio audience when she was a beginner on "People Are Talking" on WJZ-Channel 13) is taping a show in Baltimore on June 19. And WMAR-Channel 2 is giving away 232 tickets to fill the audience.
Winners will be selected by random drawing, and the specifications for entering seem as detailed as an aerospace contract. Send a standard size postcard to: Oprah Comes to Baltimore, c/o WMAR-TV, 6400 York Road, Baltimore, Md. 21212.
Multiple entries are OK, but each must be hand-written, stamped and mailed separately. No computer-generated cards or bulk mailings are acceptable, nor is hand delivery.
Twice daily on-air drawings begin on May 13, in the noon and 5 p.m. newscast periods. Each winner gets four tickets, but all guests who attend must be 18 or older, and the tickets cannot be sold, traded or otherwise exchanged.
For further information, call the station at 377-2222.
* Is it a show or is it a commercial? That's not always an easy question.
WNUV-Channel 54, for example, began airing a new feature this week called "The Legal Docket," a series of five-minute mid-day broadcasts on legal topics, airing at 12:55 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Viewers may write the station with questions about a variety of common legal problems, and future shows in the 13-week series will offer some answers.
"We're using the power of television the way it should be," says station manager Joe Koff. And clearly, there is a public service here.
But the feature is also what the station calls an "infomercial," whose sponsor is just one law firm, Fine, Gibbons and MacMeekin (one of the local law businesses which many viewers may recognize from its other commercials). And like all TV advertisers, the firm is paying Channel 54 for the air time.
"We try to make ourselves known," says Thomas Grezech, a partner in the law firm. The informational aspect of the show is intended to show "we're not all crashing cars" in TV ads, he notes, adding that the five-minute format is a variation of an earlier half-hour show the firm aired on WBFF-Channel 45.
Grezech also said viewers who write "The Daily Docket" in care of the TV station should not expect any potential client contact, for "that's not the purpose" of the show.