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Channel 7’s revamped morning show benefits from more chat, less weather and Katie Morse

This is what I’m thinking:

• After watching the new version of the Channel 7 morning program three times last week, I can report it is livelier than the earlier failed weather-centric version.

The energy improvement is partly because anchor Katie Morse is much livelier moving the newscast along than her predecessor, Laura Gray.

Gray was a decent anchor, but wasn’t ideally suited for the morning. She is good enough to resurface on another station – possibly Channel 2 – if she wants to continue in television news.

Morse and her morning teammates appear to have borrowed a page from Channel 2 by sharing more about themselves during brief light moments together on the news set discussing “What is Trending?”

Channel 7 has lowered the volume on weather, but it still has a big part of the program. I counted about 10 weather hits every hour featuring meteorologist Andy Parker.

The program also makes a joke of the term “breaking news,” but that’s nothing new in the TV game. Reporter Ed Drantch mans the “Live” desk of breaking news, even though there is often little substantial breaking news at 6 a.m.

Of course, there is little traffic for Autumn Lewandowski to report as well. Desiree Wiley, the former traffic reporter, now is doing soft feature interviews.

Matthew Bove is one of the station’s strongest younger reporters and does a good job in the morning. I should probably note that Bove took a class from me at SUNY Buffalo State, but that has nothing to do with my praise. He probably deserved it earlier.

It is extremely tough to change viewing habits, especially in the morning.

And Channel 7 doesn’t help itself with infrequent technical snafus like the one Thursday that found it showing a sound bite from Nevada football coach and former WNYer Brian Polian when the clip was supposed to be of the Rev. Darius Pridgen, the president of the Common Council.

But this version of the morning program certainly is an improvement and deserving of a look by all the viewers tired of the cheeriness in the morning at Channel 2 and the traditional way of doing things at Channel 4.

• The first two games of the Bills season have garnered local ratings on Channel 4 that are in Super Bowl territory. The opening win over Indianapolis had a 43.8 rating, the loss to New England a 45.2 rating. Super Bowls get national ratings in the 40s, but ratings in the low 50s here. You might think that Sunday’s 4:25 p.m. game in Miami would have a bigger audience since the first two games had 70,000 potential viewers at the Ralph and late games generally get higher ratings than 1 p.m. games. But the loss last week may have deflated some fans and lowered today’s potential rating.

• It wasn’t surprising that University at Buffalo graduate Gary Vider didn’t win “America’s Got Talent.” Making it to the finals was quite an achievement that should help his stand-up career. During my recent interview with him, he mentioned he has performed at a Helium Comedy Club and would love to perform at Buffalo’s Helium. If I were a Helium booker, I’d be on the phone to Vider immediately.

• Here’s some bad news. There will be a regular November sweeps after all, undoubtedly filled with silly sweeps series. Nielsen has delayed its plan to provide stations with monthly demographics from October to January.

• Inquiring minds want to know: How is “Late Show with Stephen Colbert” doing in Western New York? He averaged a 2.9 rating on Channel 4 for the first two weeks of his program to finish second in the late-night talk wars. “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” averaged a 3.9 on Channel 2 and “Jimmy Kimmel Live” a 1.5 on Channel 7. It is a marathon and not a sprint, but you would have thought that Colbert would have drawn a larger audience as viewers checked him out.

• Inquiring minds also want to know: Will Channel 2’s “Sunday Sports Extra” ever return? Doubt it. It doesn’t air during the “Sunday Night Football” season, primarily because it would be on too late because NBC’s broadcast often ends around midnight and then Channel 2 carries its local newscast. After the NFL season ends, the expectation is that Channel 2 will move its new Sunday morning program, “Sunday Sports Talk,” featuring Buffalo News sportswriters Jerry Sullivan and Bucky Gleason, to 11:30 p.m. Sunday.

• I’ve read a lot of good jokes about NBC’s decision to replace presidential hopeful Donald Trump with Arnold Schwarzenegger as the host of “The Celebrity Apprentice.” Fallon notes that NBC replaced Trump with an immigrant. But the best lines came from Conan O’Brien. He mentioned several potential signature lines that Arnold could use to replace Trump’s “you’re fired.” My vote for Conan’s best one comes from the famous movie line by Arnold: “Hasta la vista baby.”

• I was stunned when I got a release from the Buffalo Bills saying the team planned to show a Carubba Collision of the Game at home games. The announcement made the team look tone deaf to the concussion crisis in the league. I’ve been at the Bills two home games and thankfully haven’t seen one. Either I missed it or someone apparently came to their senses.

• One of the more amusing things I have seen on “The Rex Ryan Show” was a feature on Bills defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman that noted that he was a first team All-State high school quarterback in California and beat out two pretty famous players. Would you believe NFL Hall of Famer Warren Moon was second team? Hall of Famer, and former Bill, James Lofton was third team.

• If you missed last week’s “NFL Today,” then you didn’t hear CBS analyst Boomer Esiasion refer to Rex as “The Donald Trump of the NFL.” No argument here.

• Here’s some more bad news for the Buffalo TV market. It has slipped from No. 52 in the country to No. 53. Providence-New Bedford passed Buffalo. Local TV executives say a little more than half of the 27,000 households it lost in a year came from Nielsen’s moving Orleans County from the Buffalo market to Rochester. There are now 585,000 households in the Buffalo market. The size of the TV market can impact national advertising sales.