When The Morning Show launched in April 2009, a top executive at the troubled Tribune Co. media empire thought it could "revolutionize TV" with its design and blow other "hilariously dated" newscasts off the air.
Instead, the much-ballyhood show -- an experiment that combined the Tribune-owned Sun-Sentinel newsroom with its TV station, WSFL -- has been canceled after only 15 months on the air.
Sun-Sentinel Publisher Howard Greenberg sent an email informing all Sun-Sentinel and WSFL staff this morning. The cancellation was also apparently announced on the show itself. Here's the text of Greenberg's email:
From: SS Administration
Sent: Wednesday, August 04, 2010 10:00 AM
To: zzSSC.1Exchange.Users; zzWSFL.Group
Subject: The Morning Show
Earlier this morning, WSFL-TV announced the cancellation of The Morning Show, with today being the last broadcast. Launched on April 13, 2009, the program was designed to provide the competitive South Florida market with a fresh take on morning news. We had high hopes for the program, and significant effort from throughout the company went into developing the show. While we're proud of what we accomplished in a short period of time, the audience didn't build the way we had anticipated, and we had to make the difficult decision to end production. Every effort is being made to help affected employees with this transition, including assisting them in exploring placement within our organization and at other Tribune properties. We're also helping facilitate the production of resume tapes and other material for departing staff members.
We are committed to serving the local community. Starting mid-August, we plan to air five local news breaks each weeknight, and in early September, WSFL-TV plans to re-launch its locally-produced weekly program addressing community issues.
To those of you who rallied around the show and helped support it, thank you. We appreciate your patience and understanding.
The problem, of course, was that there wasn't really anything new about it all -- it was a traditional morning show at its core, only with younger hosts and an emphasis on the show's website that never really created any buzz or took off.
The end of the show is just more bad news for the Sentinel and its parent company, which is in bankruptcy with billions in debt. But early on, The Morning Show, which was fronted by Dave Aizer, was supposed to be the way to the future for Tribune, which owns a couple of dozen TV stations and ten newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune. Old-school Pulp readers will remember the ramblings of Lee Abrams, the Tribune Co.'s "Chief of Innovation," who wrote "think pieces" for Tribune employees across the country.
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When The Morning Show was launched, Abrams, in his own inimitable (I won't say "crazy") way, wrote that he believed it "could truly revolutionize TV" and that the challenge would be "to get the other 20 hours of [WSFL] to match the magic of the morning show. 24/7/365."
Inside, you can read Abrams' take in all its glory.
Here's Abrams' full take on the show when it launched:
Very blown away by the morning show! Not only the show, but the spirit and attitude of EVERYONE involved. If we can get 10 percent of this level of afdi, energy and willingness to reinvent at our other stations, we'll truly revolutionize TV.
There were quite a few nitpiks that I'll review today with the group, but overall, they are soooo local and soooo refreshingly and NOTICEABLY different from EVERYone else.
The other stations look disconnected, TOO professional and slick and "nationalized" in comparison, and I think this show is on track to hit its psychographic head on. Watched the competition and it was hilariously dated--Stiff, evil looking Ivory Tower news people wearing 1987 Reagan era suits, taking "news speak" with blue and silver everywhere. As organic and real as a chunk of linoleum. The CONTENT was generally fine, but undermined by a dated-playbook presentation. They know their place on the intellectual/culture scale---and nail it well.
One BIG challenge is going to be to get the other 20 hours of sfl to match the magic of the morning show. 24/7/365
There's of course a lot for them to do but I can tell we have the makings of a winner that can be influential at our other stations. This show is SO south Florida, you can't simply recreate it, but it CAN serve as a model of breaking away, blowing up the playbook, creating a wonderful internal vibe (more like a killer radio station in 1975 than a TV station), and afdi.
I'm impressed and excited about where this can go. In a year...look out!
There are so many things they're doing right--the breezy way they refer to YouTube and facebook (vs "tech minute") to the set (love the retro photos and the painting of the city instead of a fake backdrop). A work in progress of course, and not perfect, but they got the mojo going. Now, just gotta make sure this sprit happens 24/7....and the whole station sings with new image innovation!
ZERO TV baggage...and it shows. Traditionalists will laugh...kinda like the old farts at BMG laughed at the audacity of "digital music".