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Local stations grapple for slots to make a mark

MIKE HUGHES

TELEVISION

Yes, TV networks keep gobbling up realestate. They take primetime, daytime, latenight, late-latenight. Still, they can’t have it all. Local stations still have slots to play with, making things interesting.

This is the turf of syndicated shows.

Oprah reigned here. “Wheel” and “Jeopardy” were on top for a while, replaced by “Judge Judy.” A few comedies – from “Seinfeld” to “Big Bang” – have thrived. This year’s big newcomer is “Steve,” at 2 p.m. weekdays on WILX (Channel 10). And yes, that looks suspiciously like “Steve Harvey,” which just finished a five-year run on the same station.

It’s not, Harvey insists. The old show was following the daytime formula of helpful advice, telling people “how to become a coupon queen and how to make your dresser look better with new knobs .”

People don’t need that, he said.

“They got YouTube. (They) just need to laugh in the middle of the day.”

So he hopes “to bring latenight TV to daytime.” He’s even bringing back Jay Leno and “Headlines.”

The other big change: WLNS is adding a 5:30 p.m. newscast, giving it a 90-minute string of local news.

“This is a unique market in some ways,” said Jam Sardar, the station’s news director. Lansing has lots of news, but fewer stations chasing it. So the dominant stations keep adding more shows: WILX (Channel 10) has four-anda- half hours of local newscasts each day; WLNS has five.

But when it comes to real estate, Gary Baxter, the WSYM general manager, has the most.

This spring, WHTV (Channel 18) went off the air, joining the spectrum auction. That left MyNetwork available; beginning Oct. 9, it will be at 47.4 (via WSYM digital), with more syndicated shows. And since Fox skips daytime and latenight, WSYM has acres to fill on its own station. It has:

» Lots of court shows – both esteemed (Judge Judy Sheindlin remains dominant at 74) and not.

» One new talk show. “Pickler & Ben” debuts at 3 p.m. Monday (Sept.

18), with country star Kellie Pickler.

That may seem odd in the middle of court-land, but Baxter said it’s logical.

See TELEVISION, Page 2D

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