ON AND OFF THE AIR:
* Did you ever notice how many ads there are on daytime television for job training or re-training opportunities? We've got truck driver schools, welding academies and bar tending courses galore, and the ads are obviously targeted at the homebound jobless.
This week Maryland Public Television and radio station WJHU-FM 88.1 are targeting the same audience, but with some practical advice. "Jobless! Now What?" is an hourlong program running from 3 to 4 p.m. daily through Thursday, with repeats each night at 11 o'clock.
MPT newsman Dave Durian and family counselor Jeff Moss co-host the call-in program, with expert guests who can answer questions about unemployment benefits, job-hunting and family stress.
The program is also tied in to the state Department of Economic and Employment Development's job bank.
* More proof that television is first and foremost a promotional medium -- as if anyone needs it -- is provided by recent editions of ABC's "Good Morning America," "CBS This Morning" and "Today" on NBC.
All three have recently been or are now on the road, which is one of the conventions of a "sweeps" rating period. The "Good Morning America" gang was on a bus touring the Deep South last week. CBS weather guy Mark McEwen is on a Caribbean cruise liner this week, and the "Today" bunch is basking all week in Hawaii.
Isn't it obvious that the subtle sales message of these outings is related to the beginning of the winter travel season to sunny climes?
When you tune in cable's Travel Channel, you know you will be seeing some seductive "come on down" blandishments. But does anyone else think it is somewhat jarring, and perhaps unfair, in the context of a morning news show?
It used to be easier on TV to pick out the commercials from the shows.
* Thanksgiving Day will mark the seasonal debut of First Lady Barbara Bush as a radio story-teller on WBAL-AM 1090.
The station has announced it will carry a dozen editions of "Mrs. Bush's Story Time," in which she and others -- including Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, Peter Jennings, Big Bird and even Reggie Jackson -- will read children's stories.
On Thanksgiving, the first show is a four-hour special from 8 p.m. to midnight, and a second four-hour special is scheduled from 1 to 5 p.m. on Dec. 22. Ten weekly half-hour editions, at 9:30 a.m. Sundays, are scheduled to begin Dec. 8.
* A previous occupant of the Pennsylvania lodgings now occupied by Barbara and George Bush is under the "Biography" spotlight tonight on cable's Arts & Entertainment network (at 8 o'clock).
The subject is Ronald Reagan, whose career is recounted by a variety of commentators, including staff and family members.