WMAR cancels Rodricks show TV: Belt-tightening ABC affiliate cites declining advertising. Final show Sept. 5.

August 14, 1999|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,SUN STAFF

"Rodricks for Breakfast," Sun columnist Dan Rodricks' Sunday morning live talk/variety show on WMAR, Channel 2, will air its final program Sept. 5.

"I'm naturally disappointed but not surprised that Channel 2 has decided to drop `Rodricks for Breakfast,' " Rodricks said. "It's been a lot of hard work and a fun run."

News that ABC affiliate WMAR is canceling the show, one of the few locally produced non-news shows on Baltimore television, comes within days of the announcement that the Scripps-Howard-owned station will be trimming its work force through a voluntary buyout package.

Earlier this week, station Vice President and General Manager Steve Gigliotti, despite the imminent staff reductions, reiterated WMAR's commitment to local programming. Unfortunately, he said, "Rodricks" was the victim of a declining ad base and increased competition for the advertising dollar.

"Their attention is elsewhere," Gigliotti said of advertisers who would rather spend their money on prime-time cable offerings than Sunday morning broadcast shows. "There's a whole host of cable networks that you can buy advertising on."

Gigliotti clearly regretted canceling the show, however, and said he hoped to work out a deal with Rodricks for a series of prime-time specials to run throughout the year.

"It's a top-quality local show," Gigliotti said. "I am very proud of the production, of not just Dan's efforts, which were great, and the producer's efforts, but the efforts of the small band of folks here who worked very hard to put it on every Sunday."

For his part, Rodricks said he is proud of the show he and his staff have been putting on for nearly four years.

"I got to introduce the viewers who found the show to dozens of local characters, artists, musicians, chefs, community activists, authors and experts on a wide variety of issues," he said. "I heard from hundreds of grateful viewers who said they appreciated a TV show that celebrated the positive and often-overlooked aspects of life in Baltimore. For me, that's been the greatest reward."

The logistics of what will fill the 10 a.m.-noon Sunday slot that's being vacated by "Rodricks" are still being worked out. Both network and syndicated programming are being considered, along with "The Baltimore Sun High School Sports Show," a weekly look at scholastic athletics that is switching from WBAL, Channel 11, to WMAR.

Pub Date: 8/14/99

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