WMAR to bench coach, 'Geraldo!' until it counts

April 27, 1993|By David Zurawik | David Zurawik,Television Critic

The story of "Geraldo!" and the Northeast High School softball coach facing charges of having sex with a student is going to take another strange tabloid-TV turn this week.

Last week, an attorney for Ronald Walter Price charged that his client was being held without bail to gag Price by keeping him off the syndicated talk show "Geraldo!" Price was eventually released from the Anne Arundel County Detention Center and taped the show with Geraldo Rivera in New York.

Now comes word from Arnold J. Kleiner, general manager of WMAR (Channel 2), that his station will not air the show featuring Price at 11 a.m. Wednesday when it is scheduled for broadcast on stations in the rest of the country.

Is Kleiner trying to gag Price locally?

Not at all, says Kleiner. In fact, Kleiner said, he believes there's a huge audience waiting to hear Price tell his side of the story and he wants as many people as possible to hear it on Channel 2. Kleiner added that he just wants to make sure Channel 2 makes as much money off it as possible.

And that's why he's not airing the show on Wednesday.

'This is a straight business decision," Kleiner said yesterday, explaining that Channel 2 is going to delay airing the show with Price until 11 a.m. Thursday.

Why Thursday instead of Wednesday?

Because Channel 2 will get a bigger bang for its dollar then. The Nielsen audience survey known as May sweeps starts Thursday. And ratings taken between Thursday and May 27 will be used by TV stations, like Channel 2, to set advertising rates throughout the summer and fall.

"There's a tremendous amount of local interest in this story," Kleiner said. "And we just think we should take advantage of it by airing the show during Nielsen's May sweeps when it counts for us. . . . We see no advantage in airing it Wednesday with the rest of the country.

Kleiner added, "There's nothing wrong with that, is there?"

In the world of tabloid TV and May sweeps, it's only business.

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