Right on time, ABC 7 gears up to promote 'Windy City LIVE'

No one expected WLS-Channel 7 to keep mining Nielsen ratings gold at 9am weekdays after The Oprah Winfrey Show signed off last May. But bosses of the ABC-owned station say they’re “very pleased” so far with the performance of Windy City LIVE, the local morning talk show that took its place.

Underscoring that confidence, ABC 7 is about to launch a major advertising effort to promote the program and its energetic hosts, Valerie Warner and Ryan Chiaverini. Right after Labor Day, the station will add outdoor, radio and Internet advertising — primarily targeted to women — to its own on-air promotional arsenal for the show.

Since its debut to critically mixed reviews three months ago today, the hourlong show has settled in to a comfortable format mixing coffee talk with commerce before a studio audience. Appearances by regular contributors Roe Conn and Mark DeCarlo are always highlights whenever they’re on. Live streaming on a sleek new website has broadened the show’s access to viewers.

Emily Barr, president and general manager of ABC 7, continues to be its strongest supporter. “The show is where we expected it to be, and we are very pleased with the pace of the show and the comfort level of the hosts and contributors,” Barr told me Thursday. “The live audience has been terrific, and our growing Facebook [14,000 fans] and Twitter [3,400] followers are testament to the show’s popularity.”
In overall household ratings, Windy City LIVE holds a fractional lead over its main competitors — the 9am hour of NBC’s Today on WMAQ-Channel 5 and the syndicated Live with Regis and Kelly on Tribune Co.-owned WGN-Channel 9. In July, Windy City LIVE had a 2.6 rating (91,067 households), followed by Today with a 2.2 (77,057 households) and Regis and Kelly with a 2.0 (70,052 households). August viewership has been slightly down for all three, which traditionally is the case during the summer dog days.

Barr pointed to demographics that indicate Windy City LIVE doing particularly well among black households, outdrawing Today and Regis and Kelly by substantial margins. “We really seem to be striking a chord with African Americans,” she said.

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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)