Baltimore TV Stations Not Tapping into 'The Wire'

If B&C’s annual critics poll is any indication, HBO’s The Wire has a strong following among media types.

And now that the Baltimore-based drama is taking on the decline of newspaper journalism for its fifth and final season—with a fictionalized Baltimore Sun city room as ground zero—the ink-stained wretches at the real Sun have been watching closely.

But not so much at B-more’s TV stations. The Sun—where Wire creator David Simon long toiled as a police reporter—has published a number of stories about the show, and even has a special Wire section on its Website where readers can vote for their favorite character (Omar, of course). But none of the local station managers we polled so much as admitted to watching the show.

“It’s not exactly on our radar screen here,” says WUTB VP/General Manager Alan Sawyer.

Despite not having watched it, the station brass still had some strong opinions about the way The Wire depicts the so-called Charm City.

“They show how rough and tough it is,” says WBFF’s Group Manager Bill Fanshawe. “It’s not good for the community.”

They’d rather talk about job growth, the revitalization of the waterfront, and increased education levels. “There are still pockets of problems here, but things have generally moved in the right direction,” says WJZ VP/General Manager Jay Newman. “The Wire is not an accurate description of the market. In fact, it’s just the opposite.”

Baltimore’s TV mayor Tommy Carcetti couldn’t have said it any better.

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.