Ready to use that useless trove of TV trivia you've amassed over the years for some purpose other than impressing your friends at Trivial Pursuit?
Show up at the Columbia Mall Saturday and, if you're good enough, you may end up as host of your own programming block on cable's TV Land. The cable channel that's a repository for all things nostalgic when it comes to television is holding its second "Ultimate Fan Search," to find the man or woman in the United States who has wasted the most time in front of the tube.
Registration for the local search will run from 10 a.m. to noon. Those who pass both a written and oral test will be invited onstage for one of two rounds of public competition, at noon and 2 p.m. Do well at that, and you'll be included in the 4 p.m. finals.
The competition will end with the crowning of a local champion, who will win a trip for two to New York (plus $500 spending money) and the chance to compete in "TV Land's Ultimate Fan Search Tournament of Champions." The tournament will be taped in June, and air on TV Land in August.
On hand Saturday will be TV's favorite second banana, Bill Daily, remembered for playing the wacky friend on both "I Dream of Jeannie" (as Maj. Roger Healy) and "The Bob Newhart Show" (as airline pilot Howard Borden).
By the way, if it should come up during the trivia contest, Raquel Welch once played a stewardess on "Bewitched."
The 17th annual "Children's Miracle Network Telethon," to benefit the Johns Hopkins Children's Center, will air this weekend on WMAR, Channel 2.
The marathon will run from 9 p.m. Saturday until 6 p.m. Sunday, with the only break coming at 11 p.m. Saturday, so WMAR can broadcast its local newscast. About half of each hour will focus on what is being done right here in Baltimore, with WMAR on-air personalities serving as hosts. The remaining minutes of each hour will showcase the national telethon, featuring celebrities from the entertainment and sports fields.
WMAR has aired the telethon annually since 1984. During that time, the money raised has increased from $400,000 to $2.3 million.
Note: Among the ABC programs to be pre-empted by the telethon will be Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals between the New Jersey Devils and Dallas Stars. Hockey fans can catch the action on Washington's WJLA, Channel 7, or on Comcast cable channels 25 (Baltimore County), 54 (Howard County), 69 (Harford County), 22 (Anne Arundel County) and 15 (Annapolis).
On top of the news
A strong sweeps month for WJZ, Channel 13, left Baltimore's CBS affiliate with ratings victories in four of the five daily newscasts.
The good news for WJZ begins at 6 a.m., where it's weekday early-morning team of Don Scott and Marty Bass earned a higher rating than WMAR, Channel 2, and WBAL, Channel 11, combined. At noon, the station doubled WBAL's audience (WMAR does not carry a noon newscast), and at 6 p.m., WJZ finished 1.4 ratings points higher than WBAL, 5.5 higher than WMAR. Each point translates to about 10,000 viewing households.
At 11 p.m., the only newscast where all three go head-to-head Sunday through Saturday, WJZ finished on top by 1.3 ratings points (about 13,000 households).
WBAL, which had won both the 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. newscasts during February sweeps, remained on top at 5 p.m., out-distancing WJZ by one-half of a ratings point, or roughly 5,000 viewers. Analysts at Baltimore's NBC affiliate also took solace in noting that the station won the weekday 11 p.m. ratings race by one-tenth of a point -- provided one excludes the four evenings when unusually large "Big Game" lottery drawings attracted extra viewers to WJZ, where the winning number was chosen during the newscast.
There was even some good news for the folks at WMAR, whose 11 p.m. newscast was the only one in that time period to grow since February in both ratings (the number of viewing households) and share (the percentage of the viewing market watching). Channel 2's late-night newscast finished with a 6.0 rating, up roughly 8,000 households, and 12 share, up from 10 in February.
The Scripps Howard-owned station has a long way to go, however, to challenge the two local frontrunners at 11 p.m. WJZ finished with a 21 share; WBAL a 19. And at 6 a.m., 5 p.m. and 6 p.m., WMAR's share is still less than one-half its competitors.
Finding an audience
"Shalom Baltimore," a weekly talk radio program of WJFK-AM (1300) focusing on Jewish interests, is attracting a growing number of listeners to its Sunday morning broadcasts.
The latest Arbitron radio ratings show that "Shalom Baltimore" has an audience of some 2,500 listeners from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m., and nearly double that for 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. That's better than a 300 percent increase over the audience that WJFK was attracting in that time period a year ago.
Jay Bernstein is host of "Shalom Baltimore," which debuted last Aug. 1.