Chicago’s ‘Windy City Live’ ends production after 10 years

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A locally produced program in Chicago is ending today, Friday, Sept. 3, 2021, after 10 years on the air.

Windy City Live” was originally launched as a replacement for the hugely popular “Oprah Winfrey Show” by WLS in Chicago. It jumped around the schedule a few times, but eventually settled in at 1 p.m. local time and built a large following.

WLS was the original producer of “Oprah” and her show originated from the same space “Windy” has used for its entire run before Winfrey moved to a larger facility west of the station.

“WCL” was believed to be highly profitable for WLS because of its comparatively lower production costs, the fact WLS could keep all ad revenue and that it also featured sponsored segments designed to be “DVR proof.”

Starting Sept. 6, 2021, the ABC owned station will replace “Windy” with “Tamron Hall,” a syndicated talk show distributed by its parent company and produced by ABC News.

Opting for a syndicated show in place of “WCL” could end up being less profitable for WLS. Even though a nationally produced talk show with a well known host can potentially attract higher ratings, the fees the station has to pay to the distributor are often very high.

Stations offset or profit from this arrangement by selling advertising to local and national advertisers during the shows it pays for, hopefully bringing in more ad revenue than it costs to air the show.

Even though ABC owns the station and “Tamron” it’s likely WLS still has to pay for the show, though this could be viewed as simply moving money from one division to another. WLS will also likely lose some advertising time since syndicated shows often hold back a few slots to sell for themselves.

By not airing “Tamron,” ABC could feel that the show is missing the opportunity to build its viewership since, in the third largest media market in the country, it has been airing on a CW station at 10 a.m.

“Tamron” will continue airing that day’s episode on the WCIU CW 26’s sister station WMEU “The U” at 8 p.m. local time.

WLS firmed up plans that “Windy City Live” will live on in a weekly installment set to start Sept. 10, 2021, at 11:30 a.m., in place of the last 30 minutes of the station’s midday local news on Fridays.

Val Warner and Ryan Chiaverini, who have hosted the show since the beginning, will stay on to host that program, which will serve as a preview of weekday events and activities and be known as “Windy City Weekend.”

Film critic Richard Roeper will continue to contribute movie reviews to “Weekend” but the station did lay off about 10 people and an unknown number of freelancers also lost their gigs with the show ending daily production.

WLS’s approach with “Weekend” is similar to NBC owned station WMAQ’s “Chicago Today” effort. The two shows will go neck and neck against each other each week.