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Ch.7's morning program calms down weather, but doesn't find any magic

Channel 7 started calming down its weather portion of its early morning program today, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t include a good numbers of forecasts for the July 4th weekend.

The newscast didn’t have as much weather as it foolishly has had for months, but meteorologist Autumn Lewandowski showed up at least 10 times from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. to deliver boating forecasts, golf forecasts, backyard forecasts and more forecasts on a program that was raining women.

With meteorologist Andy Parker off, Lewandowski, news anchor Laura Gray, traffic reporter Desiree Wiley and reporter Rachel Elzufon were the only faces on the program until about 6:40 a.m. when reporter Matt Bove showed up to do a story on road construction on Main Street.

Gray also delivered plenty of short news stories in Channel 7’s latest attempt to rebuild its third-place morning program.

“We’re trying to find a balance between news and weather that meets the needs of the audience,” said Channel 7 General Manager Mike Nurse.

The morning changes are evolving and the program will undoubtedly be different and perhaps improve when Parker is back.

He is a much better at ad-libbing than Lewandowski, who wasn’t comfortable with Gray’s efforts to put a little personality in the program.

Noting that the Channing Tatum movie “Magic Mike XXL” has arrived at theaters, Gray asked Lewandowski if she had seen the original.

“I think I did see the original,” said Lewandowski. “It was long ago.” (Actually it is a 2012 film.)

"I think you would remember if you saw it,” replied Gray.

I’m very sure I saw a few other uncomfortable moments in the hour.

At one point, Gray read a tease noting that “everybody was talking” about how England lost its women's World Cup game Wednesday to Japan.

I was on the edge of my seat and expected to possibly hear about it when Wiley did the “What’s Trending”? portion of the program.

Unfortunately, Wiley didn’t immediately realize either time in the hour she was going on the air from the newsroom to do stories about “What’s Trending?”

The second time it happened, Channel 7 pulled away from Wiley, who clearly didn’t realize her microphone was on. I’m guessing she was going to discuss the soccer game.

It wasn’t the program’s most embarrassing moment, either. At another point, Channel 7 ran a graphic that told viewers they were watching the 5 a.m. portion of the program. Unfortunately, it was well past 6 a.m.

Channel 7 is smart to tweak its morning newscast and calm down the weather portion. But if it is going to see a positive trend, it needs to cut down on its errors and have its newscast deliver more personality in addition to more news.

In short, it needs a little more magic “that everybody will be talking about” more than its fumbles.

Now it is time to empty my notebook with some leftovers BEFORE the long holiday and I take some time off:

I had to laugh at a Channel 4 News promo that says it has counted the stories it and Channel 2 did in a week and concluded that it did 30 more. It isn’t how many stories you do, it is how well you do the stories. I haven’t counted Channel 4’s stories, but I would bet most of the extra 30 are crime stories of little importance to anyone but those involved in the crime. Channel 4 has always been much more interested in crime than Channel 2.

On the other hand, NBC is smartly running promos now extolling how often new “Nightly News” anchor Lester Holt heads to the scenes of major stories.

Like many news viewers, I was curious last Friday about which big story the network newscasts would lead off with the Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage or the killing of escaped prisoner Richard Matt.

NBC and ABC led with the escape story, CBS with the decision to legalize same-sex marriage.

CBS’ decision gets my vote. The court decision was historic. The escape story was more timely since it came down later in the afternoon but it didn’t have the same national significance as the court decision.

Inquiring minds want to know: How are local ratings for Rush Limbaugh’s program, who reportedly is losing national audience? In the winter book that runs in a period from January through March, Limbaugh's ratings on WBEN were only down about 8 percent here year-to-year. About 50 percent of his audience is over the age of 65, which follows the audience composition of WBEN. The spring book is expected to arrive in a few weeks.

How popular is HBO’s “Game of Thrones”?

If you are on Twitter, you might think everyone in WNY watches it.

The season finale had a live rating of 3.8 at 9 p.m. Sunday June 14 opposite game 5 of the NBA Finals. That’s an impressive live rating for a pay-cable series. Viewership rose 33 percent to a 4.8 three days after it aired with viewers who DVRed it or watched on HBO on Demand were added.

For the 10 times that HBO carried the “Thrones” finale, it had a 6.9 rating up to three days after it aired. That would include fans who have watched the episode twice.

To put the viewing of “Thrones” in perspective, the finale had slightly more viewers than the average episode of ABC’s “Scandal” and “Secrets & Lies” and Fox’s “American Idol” here during the May sweeps, but it looks like it had fewer viewers than several broadcast network series that have mid-level audiences here, including NBC’s “Mysteries of Laura” and CBS’ “The Good Wife.”

Of course, broadcast network shows have a larger potential viewership than HBO series and their survival is more dependent on ratings and demographics than pay-cable series that don’t have advertising.

During the four “Game” episodes carried during the May sweeps at 9 p.m. Sunday, it averaged a 3.1 live rating that grew by 20 percent to a 3.8 rating after three days and to a 3.9 rating after seven days.

In addition, “Thrones” gets terrific demographics that many broadcast shows would die for. Not that it helps HBO that much since it doesn’t sell advertising.

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