The WNED-TV documentary, "Polonia: Western New York's Polish-American Legacy," made history in more ways than one.
The Sept. 14 premiere had a 5.1 rating, which was more than double what the public broadcasting station normally receives in prime time.
But the success of the program is even stronger when it comes to fund-raising. The 90-minute documentary aired over three hours, with the extra time devoted to asking for pledges.
According to WNED's Gwen Mysiak, the program set a record for the highest-recorded rating and pledge total for any locally-produced program and is in the top three of all-time pledge programs with the national pledge show, "Les Miserables" and "The Three Tenors."
The response extended beyond financial support, said Mysiak. The station took so many calls that the phone system crashed at one point, she said.
"We are getting flooded with calls and letters," she said. "It has been life-affirming."
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Ratings notes: Martha Stewart's premiere of "The Apprentice" just didn't fit in and bombed Wednesday in Buffalo, getting a 6 rating on Channel 2 and finishing third in its time slot. It brought down "E Ring" with it. The Benjamin Bratt show set in the Pentagon had a 7.3 rating here at 9 p.m. The big winner Wednesday was ABC's "Lost," which had an 18.1 rating at 9 p.m. on Channel 7 and fueled the premiere of ABC's new 10 p.m. series "Invasion" (13.6) to a narrow win over "Law & Order" (12.6).
The Emmy Awards, which had its highest-rated show in three years Sunday on CBS, got a boost from Buffalo's WIVB-TV. The show had an 18.2 rating here, which is in the ballpark of original episodes of "Desperate Housewives." The Tuesday premiere of NBC's best new show, the heavily-promoted NBC sitcom, "My Name Is Earl," scored an impressive 12.5 rating here Tuesday opposite Fox's powerhouse "House" (12.7 here). Unfortunately, the "Earl" lead-in didn't help the premiere of "The Office." It lost half of its lead-in, earning a 6.4 rating. If that continues, Steve Carell's show will either be moved or canceled.
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Inquiring minds want to know: What happened to the syndicated version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," which had been playing around noon weekdays on WGRZ-TV? It is now being carried at 3:30 p.m. weekdays on WNLO-TV, though few viewers have seemed to have noticed.
Channel 2 has begun carrying a one-day delay of the entertainment program "Extra" in the place of "Millionaire."
-- Alan Pergament