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updated: 5/29/2019 4:48 PM

O’Donnell: AM-1000 bosses should have taken ‘Silent Cal’ route over minor ratings correction

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  • Brian Hill/bhill@dailyherald.comESPN host Mike Golic, center in red, takes a selfie with fans during a show last year from Austin's Saloon and Eatery in Libertyville.

    Brian Hill/bhill@dailyherald.comESPN host Mike Golic, center in red, takes a selfie with fans during a show last year from Austin's Saloon and Eatery in Libertyville.


SILENT CAL COOLIDGE said, "Sit down and keep still."

Toni Preckwinkle didn't ask for a recount after Lori Lightfoot defeated her by more than 47 percentage points in the runoff for mayor of Chicago.

That's why station management at momentum-free WMVP-AM (1000) left more astute observers busting a gut when it trumpeted a recent correction by Nielsen Audio in audience numbers for the Chicago market's April ratings period.

Due to Nielsen's failure to give the ESPN o-and-o credit for its provable digital listenership, the final tally for AM-1000 was bumped up by 0.1 percent.

That lifted the snaking flatliner to a 1.3 all-ages for the period and pulled the station out of a tie for 25th in a 30-station market and all the way up to a solo No. 25.

All that was left unsaid was whether they were popping Cold Duck corks or merely dropping Alka-Seltzer Plus tablets in the executive suite at the shrewd sports tune-through.

Station chief Jim Pastor went on to lambaste Nielsen and its Portable People Meters and imply that AM-1000's "target demo" was significantly higher than reported and midday earbuds David Kaplan, Carmen DeFalco and John Jurkovic were grievously impacted by the technology.

To some degree, possibly yes. But also, consider:

No. 1: By any reasonable measure, AM-1000 isn't succeeding. As one of only two radio stations owned by ESPN -- KSPN-AM in Los Angeles is the other -- that's remarkable in the worst sense of the word;

No. 2: AM-1000 and WSCR-AM (670) essentially joust month after month for approximately 5 percent of all over-the-air radio listenership in Chicago. That means close to 95 percent of the market pays no notice. And in any meaningful demo, WMVP isn't competitive with its less uninspiring rival;

No. 3: The station implodes itself every workday morning by airing the ESPN national "Golic and Wingo" show. As the late Tip O'Neil meant to say, "All sports talk is local." At The Score, gabby Mike Mulligan and buttoned-down David Haugh are made to look like the second coming of Wally Phillips and siren-chasing Larry Schreiner;

No. 4: At AM-1000, potential market impacters such as Tom Waddle and regular contributor Mark Giangreco are lost in a very bad low tide of structure and imagination.

So, Pastor and associates might have felt self-righteous enough to go tell it on a mountain about their upstroke of 0.1 percent.

But would they have been better served to simply take the pocket change, look under the station hood with a little more snap and sizzle and listen to Silent Cal?

STREET-BEATIN': Splish-splash line movement in the NBA Finals opener from host Toronto plus-1 to 1-point chalks over Golden State (ABC-7, Thursday, 8 p.m.). If Raptors' backers win, maybe they can finally buy a verb for those "We The North" T-shirts. … Keith Reinhard -- The Daily Herald sports writer who walked off the face of the earth in a dead Colorado mountain mining town more than 30 years ago -- is the focus of two planned documentaries, including one by a major cable concern. The full story will likely never be told. … If the once-touted White Sox prospect Eloy Jimenez doesn't prove to be a warm-weather MLB hitter, at least there's always the Starlin Castro cutout bin. … Also from the wait-and-skate file, maybe the Cubs should stay within budget and just try Miracle-Gro in their bullpen ($6.98 at Lowe's). The leaky blue already has 11 blown saves, which is a speck ahead of the pace of that championship in 2016 when they had 15 all year. … NBC's inaugural coverage of the Indy 500 bumped all-source viewership by 11 percent from last year's record low on ABC. Danica Patrick is a star -- "The Today Show," hello -- and Mike Tirico is proving to be the Jim McKay of his generation. … On the subject of stars, NBC's Keith Jones has once again emerged as the alpha of the Peacock's crisp coverage of the Bruins-Blues Stanley Cup Finals. Not bad for a 50-year-old grinder who played 491 NHL games after four seasons playing for Western Michigan. … Dick Duchossois, 97, is back making limited rounds at Arlington Park, which is welcome news for his friends. … The Daily Herald's hustling Patricia Babcock-McGraw will work as color analyst alongside p-b-p-er Lisa Byington when the Chicago Sky opens its 2019 home slate vs. the defending champion Seattle Storm Saturday (WCIU-26.2, 7 p.m.). … And ABC/ESPN's trench-wise Jeff Van Gundy, going behind the bounces on contemporary pro basketball: "One thing you learn in the NBA, you always have to have someone ready to blame because that's how the NBA works. Whoever you're blaming, just have your list ready."

Jim O'Donnell's Sports & Media column appears Thursday and Sunday. Reach him at