Comcast’s Chicago Tribune Live badly needs revamping



There’s nothing like utilizing a media platform owned by the Chicago Tribune company to constructively criticize another one. Chicago Tribune Live, a show airing on Comcast Sports Net Chicago, is in dire need of formatting overhaul.

Basically, it’s all middle-aged white male panel is like an inferior stock portfolio- no diversification. Between the host, usual special guests and regular panel, the show has a very narrow demographic. It’s one step from baseball and golf, where the main sponsors are boner pills- and for good obvious reasons.

CTL could be so much more, and they could start by having more gender, racial and age equality among their guests. Right now, the show needs more appeal to women, minorities and the youth.

But there’s another level to CTL’s narrow rigidity which is even more of a turn off.

I know it’s a Chicago Tribune show, but would it really kill them to have more panelists not from the Trib on? And not only does it seem like it’s ALWAYS and ONLY Tribune people, but it’s the same small group of Tribune guys every time! Watch the show every day for a week, I guarantee you that at least one, most likely two, of the following names will be part of the four person panel: Brian Hamilton, David Haugh, Brad Biggs, Teddy Greenstein, K.C. Johnson, Brad Biggs, Fred Mitchell and Chris Kuc.

The Chicago Tribune has more than 8 sports writers, correct? And there are other Chicago sports media professionals working in this town than just these 8 men, yes? I loved the old format of the show, with a diversified three person panel. In fact, the third guest was almost always someone from way outside the Chicago sports media beltway. And the show was a far superior product because of it. They need to get back to that. Having David Schuster from WSCR and that bartender/restaurant owner guy doesn’t count as straying from the current rigid structure.

And I don’t say this just because the show badly needs to have me as a guest panelist (and of course that will never happen under the current format). They badly need to have more voices like mine, guests who aren’t within the same tired mainstream. Basically, the show should be Chicago Sports Media Live not just the Chicago Tribune, because there is no television show that is just about local sports media here in the third largest market.

Sure, there’s the three talking head shows on Sunday night; but those are geared towards the person who watches one game a year. The level of discourse is for the tourist and the dilletante; not the expert. WGN, NBC and Fox’s sports shows on Sunday nights are pretty brutal to watch, but that’s another post for another time.

CTL needs a format change to become 2012. Instead it’s stuck in the era of “The Sportswriters on TV,” which aired on CSN’s precursor’s precursor Sports Vision. It was the show with three guys in their 80s and Rick Telander. They were all accomplished sports journalists, I’m not denying that, but all you could see was smoke and a typewriter in the most poorly lit television show of all time. But sports media has progressed way beyond the 1950s when it was dominated by old white men with cigars.

CTL once knew that, but seems to have forgotten that lesson today.

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports, an official Google News site generating millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter, Yardbarker, MSN and Fox Sports

A Fulbright scholar and MBA, Banks has appeared on live radio all over the world; and he’s a member of the Football Writers Association of America, U.S. Basketball Writers Association, and Society of Professional Journalists. The President of the United States follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB) You should too

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