Bill Cunningham Staying Home For Fifth TV Season

Sep 16, 2015

Bill Cunningham in his New York television office.
Credit Bill Cunningham Show

Bill Cunningham won’t be commuting to New York City to host his “Bill Cunningham” daytime show on the CW network this fall.

No more taping long radio interviews without callers from his Manhattan TV office to air on his midday 700 WLW-AM show while in the TV studio.

Why?

Because Cunningham taped his fifth TV season – which started this week (3 p.m., Channel 12.2) – immediately following the fourth season. Shows airing now through May were filmed in New York from last October to March 2015.

Although the award-winning WLW-AM talk host is last in the 3 p.m. TV ratings in his hometown, his “conflict talk” show (that’s what they call this genre) is a big hit in other cities, he told me recently.

Bill Cunningham's make-up session before taping a show.
Credit Bill Cunningham Show

“The ratings are good. I’m the No. 1 show in New York and Chicago, and I beat ‘Steve Harvey’ in Chicago in the time period. They’re happy with it. They've got a bank now of 650 shows,” says Cunningham, 67.

Even without TV, Cunningham works six days a week – broadcasting noon- 3p.m. weekdays on WLW-AM, and doing a national 10 p.m. Sunday night radio show.

In case you can’t watch, his TV show topics this week include:

Wednesday, Sept. 16: "Family Warfare! Feuding family members come face to face with the loved ones who hurt and betrayed them."

Thursday, Sept. 17: "You're A Low Down Deadbeat Dad! Don't miss this DNA… drama where one man confronts his ex-girlfriend’s new man while another questions his child’s true paternity."

Friday, Sept. 18: "Twisted Sisters Fight Back! Sister wars are on as women confront the siblings they feel have hurt and betrayed them."

“Bill Cunningham” started in September 2011 as a test on Chicago's WGN-TV and other Tribune-owned stations, and WXIX-TV here, at the invitation of Tribune Broadcasting President Sean Compton, a former WLW-AM employee and son of the late Dale "Truckin' Bozo" Sommers. The next year he went national in the CW afternoon lineup. He’s “typically No. 1 or No. 2 in his time period in many markets, including New York and Los Angeles,” says Jessica Bellucci, Tribune Broadcasting vice president for communications.

Cunningham says he’ll learn in November if CW renews the show. If so, he’ll resume TV production in April, he says.