Windy City Live Celebrates 6 Months


Six months ago, I wasn’t so sure that WLS-TV’s “Windy City Live” program would still be around past the fall. The show premiered in the coveted 9 A.M. local time spot just one day after its predecessor “The Oprah Winfrey Show” ended a 25 year run. But now, I think the show will make it to its one year anniversary.

The official 6 month anniversary was last Saturday (November 26) but everyone was on Thanksgiving break. (I was in West Palm Beach, FL visiting relatives and catching up on much needed sleep).

Plus, the show didn’t have an official full month of episodes until June. So, December 1 should count as a half-year.

Anyway, I have watched the hosts Val Warner and Ryan Chiaverini become more comfortable with one another. In addition to that, I have seen Mark DeCarlo and Roe Conn do great jobs  while filling in during Ryan’s medical leave and Nina Chantele keep up the pace when Val needed a day off.

The segments flow better and the interviews are more timely and succinct. In fact, the month of November had the most star power: Harry Belafonte, Tom Brokaw, Pat and Gina Neely, and Martha Stewart. All of them were in town to promote books at a time that was partly coincidental (ratings sweeps) but highly advantageous for the show.

Yet, the best part of November was the Big Car Giveaway. Viewers voted and Eileen Guinane walked away with a 2012 Toyota Camry.

But there have been some bad parts too.

The “Know Your Neighbors Game” has potential but it has too much of a “Live with Regis and Kelly” feel to it. [By the way, I know that Regis Philbin’s last show was 2 weeks ago for all my graders out there.]

For one thing, Chicago has 77 neighborhoods. So, they could just focus on multiple facts about the city as a whole rather than trying to stretch 77 neighborhoods and hundreds of surrounding suburbs into a 20 “neighbors” a week schedule. Plus, the facts mean nothing if Chicagoans won’t remember the information that is given. There needs to be a way for people to collect facts like game tickets and compete in a Tournament during the next sweeps period.

If “Know Your Heritage” was a way to teach African-American teens about history, “Know Your Neighbors” could change into “Know Your City” and have teams of audience members compete for prizes. It would boost ticket requests and ratings because Family Feud is a popular alternative for talk shows.

Another bad part of the show is Ryan making it obvious that the floor director is telling him to wrap up. Instead of that, they should have a timer on the desk that tells them how much they can talk. If they can afford fancy iPads, they could use those devices to help them stay on schedule.

The last thing that bothers me is the mixed bag of pointless entertainment news and tourism pitches disguised as “segments.” I’ve been to the zoo and Navy Pier more than I could imagine. I don’t want to hear about a city I’ve lived in all my life as if I’m a tourist.

In 6 months, I hope some of my critiques will bring about some improvements with the show.


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  • Mail them to Jenny Milk of Milkin' It; apparently she has some influence or at least least smells like the Line Producer.

    I also predicted that Monsters and Money would last only 6 months, and I was wrong; it lasted 7.

  • In reply to jack:

    Jenny's husband is a producer of Windy City Live.
    I remember her writing that on this blog some time ago.

    But I think WCL can make it until next summer. After that, ABC's is probably going to extend GMA to compete with The Today's Show daily marathon of news.

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