ABC 7 cancels ‘190 North’ after 14-year run

190 North, Chicago’s longest running lifestyle and entertainment program, is going south. After 14 years on ABC 7, the show will air for the last time as a weekly series March 31.

John Idler, president and general manager of ABC 7, cited “economic challenges facing our industry” for the decision. “Our plan is to continue an extension of the valued 190 North franchise both on-air and online,” he said in announcing the cancellation Thursday.

Idler said in an interview that he envisions 190 North returning as a series of quarterly specials. “I think we can probably add that to some of the franchises we have on the air now,” he told me. “It would give us the opportunity to celebrate some of those things that 190 North has been known for in the community.”

Talks are underway on a role for Janet Davies, who’s been the genial host and executive producer of 190 North since its inception in 1998. A mainstay at ABC 7 since 1984, Davies also has been a feature reporter and host/producer of specials, including the station’s annual New Year’s Eve Countdown Chicago.

“190 North has had a terrific run in Chicago, due in large part to the vision and creativity of host and executive producer Janet Davies,” Idler said in a statement released by the station. “We especially want to thank Janet, along with the 190 North team of contributors and producers, who have given their all to produce a high quality, award-winning show week after week for the past 14 years.”

Doug Banks, Mark Nilsson and Eva Saha, who have been the show’s main free-lance contributors, will be leaving. But it’s still unclear whether any staff positions will be affected by the cancellation. No decision has been made on a replacement for 190 North on ABC 7’s schedule, Idler said.

With the expansion of ABC 7’s top-rated 10pm weekend newscasts to one hour in November 2011, 190 North moved to a later time — at 11pm Sundays. The effect on the ratings was significant. “There was some ratings erosion,” Idler said. “It was not delivering what we needed the show to deliver to be profitable.”

Since May 2011, ABC 7 has focused its local production resources on Windy City Live, the one-hour live, local talk show airing at 9am Monday through Friday (and repeated at 12:07am). Earlier this season, the station added Windy City Weekend, a half-hour edition at 11pm Saturdays, featuring highlights of past shows. That bumped the weekly repeat of 190 North to 11:30pm Saturdays.

190 North derived its title from the address of ABC 7 studios at 190 North State Street.


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