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TV Statistics Indicate Our ‘Mature’ Taste

SUNDAY, JAN. 11, 1998

You can tell a lot about a town by the TV it watches.

Here at Spotlight’s Media Research Facility (my messy desk), we decided to compare our local prime-time Nielsen numbers to the national Nielsen numbers.

The conclusion: Spokane is uncommonly fond of “Diagnosis: Murder,” but uncommonly indifferent to “X-Files.” Does that tell you anything?

It tells you that our tastes skew a bit more conservative and a bit more - mature, if that’s the word I want - than the national average. For instance, “Diagnosis: Murder” is the Dick Van Dyke vehicle that appeals strongly to those with hair as grey as Dick himself.

Taken as a whole, however, our tastes aren’t ITAL that UNITAL much different than the rest of the nation. We love “ER” and “Seinfeld” and “Friends,” just like everyone else. Of the top 20 national shows during the November sweeps, 16 were also in our local Top 20.

On the other hand, those four missing shows might be significant: “The X-Files,” “Frasier,” “NYPD Blue” and “King of the Hill.”

“The X-Files” is the most striking local anomaly: It finished seventh in the nation, 25th in Spokane. Instead, our Top 20 list has “Promised Land” (31st nationally), “Soul Man” (38th nationally) and “Spin City” (40th nationally).

Here are the Top 20 rankings, for all households, as measured by Nielsen during the November sweeps: Spokane

1. “Monday Night Football.”

2. “ER.”

3. “60 Minutes.”

4. “Touched By An Angel.”

5. “Seinfeld.”

6. “Friends.”

7. “Home Improvement.”

8. “Veronica’s Closet.”

9. “Wonderful World of Disney.”

10. “Union Square.”

11. “Dateline NBC.”

12. “CBS Sunday Night Movie.”

13. “Diagnosis: Murder.”

14. “Promised Land.”

15. “20-20.”

16. “Drew Carey Show.”

17. “Dharma & Greg.”

18. “Cosby.”

19. “Soul Man.”

20. “Spin City.”


1. “ER.”

2. “Seinfeld.”

3. “Veronica’s Closet.”

4. “Friends.”

5. “Touched By An Angel.”

6. “CBS Sunday Movie.”

7. (tie) “60 Minutes.”

7. (tie) “X-Files.”

9. “Monday Night Football.”

10. ‘Home Improvement.”

11. “Union Square.”

12. “Frasier.”

13. “Dateline NBC Tuesday.”

14. “20-20.”

15. “Dateline NBC Monday.”

16. “Wonderful World of Disney.”

17. (tie) “King of the Hill.”

17. (tie) “NFL Monday Showcase.”

17. (tie) “NYPD Blue.”

20. “Drew Carey Show.”

Rose Bowled-Over

Did the Spokane media go completely overboard in covering the Rose Bowl?

Some people couldn’t get enough Cougar coverage. Others were thoroughly sick of it days before the game was played. How does a news director or editor decide how much coverage is sufficient and how much is blatant overkill?

A little feedback can’t hurt. So I’d like to know your opinion: What did you think of the local media coverage (TV, radio or newspaper) of the Rose Bowl, including the coverage leading up to it? What did you think of the quantity? The quality?

I’ll print some of the comments next week.

Leave a phone message at 459-5493, or send a fax to 459-5098, or send e-mail to, or send regular mail to Spotlight, Spokesman-Review, P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210.

The ‘Postman’ bombeth

The curse of the Inland Northwest strikes again.

Yet another movie filmed in our region has gone straight into the tank. Kevin Costner’s “The Postman” is already shaping up to be an unmitigated box-office disaster, having dropped out of the Top 10 in only its second week.

Thus it joins “Toys,” “Why Would I Lie,” “Vision Quest” and “Love Always” on the list of the Inland Northwest’s commercial failures.

Of course, this curse didn’t stop “Benny and Joon,” Steven Spielberg’s “Always” and “Dante’s Peak” from being hits. It’s a selective curse.

A familiar Grammy name

Did you know a Spokane native made the list of Grammy nominees last week?

Julia Sweeney, Gonzaga Prep grad, was nominated for Best Spoken Comedy Album for her CD version of “God Said, ‘Ha!”’

She will be competing against albums by Bob Newhart, Drew Carey, Garrison Keillor and Chris Rock.

A new name for Uptown Opera

The Uptown Opera has officially changed its name to - Spokane Opera.

OK, so the name is not exactly surprising, but it more accurately describes the status of this 12-year-old professional company. It truly has grown into Spokane’s opera institution, a staple of Spokane’s arts scene.

“The board of directors felt that a change of name to Spokane Opera would provide even greater community access, recognition and acceptance,” said Paul Allison, president of the board.

Spokane Opera will be doing “The Mikado” in May and “The Merry Widow” in September at The Met.

Metropolitan Opera auditions

Speaking of opera, the Metropolitan Opera’s district auditions will be held Jan. 24 at 2 p.m. at the Spokane Falls Community College auditorium.

Singing hopefuls from Eastern Washington, Idaho and Montana (plus a few from other districts) will compete for the chance to move up to the next rung, the regionals in Seattle in February.

This makes for a surprisingly entertaining spectator event. The public is encouraged to attend, and it’s free.

Many new Dianas

Eastern Washington University English professor Grant Smith gets a mention in the Jan. 12 issue of U.S. News and World Report.

Smith and a colleague have discovered an increase in babies named Diana or Diane following Princess Di’s death on Aug. 31.

Neighborhood symphony

On Wednesday, the Spokane Symphony will unveil a new program that will bring live symphony music to Spokane’s neighborhoods. This program will be underwritten by a five-year grant from Metropolitan Mortgage and Securities Co.

Details will be announced at 2 p.m. Wednesday at the Northeast Community Center, 4001 N. Cook. The public is invited to attend; a symphony ensemble will perform and refreshments will be served.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo

MEMO: Spotlight is weekly column of news and commentary on the arts and media. To leave a message on Jim Kershner’s voice-mail, call 459-5493. Or send e-mail to, or regular mail to Spokesman-Review, P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210.

Spotlight is weekly column of news and commentary on the arts and media. To leave a message on Jim Kershner’s voice-mail, call 459-5493. Or send e-mail to, or regular mail to Spokesman-Review, P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210.


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