Sources in Chicago said yesterday there has been no change in the condition of former Channel 9 anchorman Max Robinson ...

On Wednesday, Robinson, 48, was listed in critical condition with an undisclosed ailment by St. Francis Hospital in suburban Blue Island, Ill. He entered the hospital Dec. 4 ...

Hy Badler, vice president of operations for CBS News in Washington, retired yesterday after 37 years with the network ...

Badler has been in Washington the past 10 1/2 years ...

And out at NBC/WRC yesterday, 13 engineers with a cumulative service of 427 years with the network also retired. Joe Donahoe leads the list with 42 years. He joined NBC on Jan. 20, 1945, the day Harry S Truman was inaugurated as vice president with President Roosevelt ...

Also retiring yesterday were Mike Galvin (40 years of service); Aldo Argentieri (39); Warren Kearse (38); Art Redfield (38); Connie Goochis (37); John Thompkins (36); Harry Hall (32); Dave Wiegman (31); John Levy (26); Bill Benedict (26); Dick Slade (22); and Don Pavlet (20) ...

NBC's "Today" show won the morning network race for the sixth week in a row with a 4.3 Nielsen rating and a 21 percent audience share (each rating point represents 886,000 TV homes) ...

ABC's "Good Morning America" was second at 3.9/20, while the month-old "CBS This Morning" was third at 2.1/11 ...

Last week, the new CBS show had zoomed to a 2.5/13, CBS' best rating in the morning time slot since the week ending May 29, 1987, and its best share since the last week in January of last year, when "This Morning's" predecessor began the long, slow one-and-a-half toward Cancellation ...

"Today" spent six straight weeks behind GMA shortly after the Nielsen peoplemeters were introduced in mid-September. NBC researchers reported yesterday, with a hint of that self-satisfaction that researchers at every network seem to display whenever it's bad news for a rival, that for the fourth quarter that ended this week, "Today" had recovered well enough to finish first with a 4.5/22 over the 13 weeks, compared with a 4.4/21 for GMA and a 2.2/11 for the one month of "CBS This Morning" ...

(Let's hope that last night, 'midst the revels and the toasts, at least some of those NBC researchers resolved to be kinder to rival webs in 1988!) ...

The Arts and Entertainment cable network goes from 20 hours to 'round-the-clock, 24-hour service tonight ...

Part of the celebration: A&E's first live broadcast ever, a four-hour broadcast tonight starting at 8 called "Australia Live!" marking the 200th birthday of the friendly nation Down Under. More than 70 locations around the world, as well as the Soviet space station Soyuz, will be joined via satellite for the Australian fete ...

John Tesh and Helen Reddy, in New York, will anchor the American segment ...

Speaking of cable: Cable News Network's "Crossfire," which usually features a guest caught between hosts Pat Buchanan and Tom Braden, tonight at 7:30 will take telephone calls from viewers willing to argue about 1987 events with the terrible-tempered two ...

Aloha

Frank Sinatra this week has been reading a script prepared for him by the "Magnum, P.I." writers that would reprise his February 1987 role on the series as a retired New York cop ...

Charles Johnson, executive producer of the CBS series, said earlier this week that if he has the time and likes it, Sinatra could join the cast for one of the five shows still to be taped in this eighth and final season ...

So far, said Johnson, no decision has been made whether to do the series finale as a two-parter or a two-hour special (if the decision is for a two-hour finale, it could be delayed for the May ratings sweeps, he indicated) ...

The scripts for either version haven't been done yet, but Johnson has a pretty good idea what they'll contain, though he declined specifics ...

He does want to assure viewers they'll see "all the main characters come full circle and go on to other aspects of their lives, while remaining friends. And there's a very nice surprise in store for Magnum {Tom Selleck}" ...

Johnson also said that "we're going to deal with the character of Robin Masters," the invisible bestselling author whose posh Hawaii estate has been the home of Magnum and Jonathan Higgins all these years (in the first episodes, the late Orson Welles could be heard as their Master's voice in radio and telephone conversations) ...

"It's been such a carrot for us, I don't know quite how we'll wrap it up. And I can't say we'll meet him" ...

Johnson, in Honolulu, said the final wrap-up, now scheduled for mid-March, is "going to be very difficult for us, since we've been together for so long." Johnson, who has been with the series six years, including the last two as executive producer, said there are 75 on the permanent staff in Hawaii and another 50 located in Los Angeles ...

And the key to the "Magnum" success? Johnson guesses that it was "the stabilization of the writing staff in the third year of the series, when two or three writers established a cumulative narrative. Viewers were able to track the characters and we could bring people back once in a while" ...

As for plans for two additional episodes, to bring the total to 15 for the year, they are very much up in the air, according to Johnson. "A great deal depends on how long it takes to get the five remaining shows done. Usually it would be seven or eight days, but it has been as much as 15 sometimes this year" ...

Charlie Rose is up for contract renewal at CBS News, but his agent Richard Liebner and CBS News president Howard Stringer haven't had a serious chat yet ...

Liebner said earlier this week that "we'd love some additional exposure" on the network for his client -- who in four years has made "Nightwatch" something of a cult with the VCR and insomnia sets -- but scotched rumors that any mention has been made of Rose's becoming the regular replacement for Lesley Stahl whenever she takes time off from "Face the Nation" ...

Although Rose reportedly has had a nibble from another network, chances are good he'll remain with CBS and "Nightwatch" ...

The Public Broadcasting Service, a little slow with its audience figures, nevertheless claims that last season (October 1986 through September 1987) public TV averaged 96.8 million viewers a week, including 53.3 million in primetime. That's up from 92.8 million and 50.4 million viewers the year before ...

"Shoah" registered the highest cumulative audience per episode of any program offered on PBS that year, with an 8.4-million viewer count. "The Story of English" was next at 5.4 million, followed by "Eyes on the Prize," at 5.1 million viewers ...

While we're on the subject of public broadcasting, Congress finally voted the system $232.6 million for fiscal year 1990 in the big budget bill signed by President Reagan Dec. 22. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting was originally ticketed for $243 million as a compromise between the $238 million passed by the House and the $248 million approved by the Senate. But the across-the-board 4.26 percent cut applying to all nondefense discretionary appropriations reduced the final figure ...

"Pee-Wee's Playhouse" on CBS was the number one kiddie show on the networks for the week ending Dec. 27 with an undernourished 5.1 national Nielsen rating and a 21 percent audience share ...

Others in the Top Five last week were, in order, NBC's "Alvin and the Chipmunks"; NBC's "Smurfs III" and ABC's "Animal Crack-Ups," tied for third; and NBC's "ALF" ...

CBS' "Hello Kitty," with a very litter rating of 1.1/11, ranked 29th and last among kiddie programs ranked last week ...

In the daytime races, CBS' "The Young and the Restless" was tops with an 8.1/27, followed by ABC's "Disney World's Christmas Parade"; and ABC's "All My Children," "General Hospital" and "One Life to Live," to round out the Top Five ...

And Finally

Hidy and Howdy have been named official mascots of the XV Olympic Winter Games in Calgary, which ABC will air Feb. 13-28. The two giant toy bears, presumably with people inside, wear cowboy hats. We suspect viewers will see a lot of Hidy and Howdy on ABC in February -- although Captain Airwaves said yesterday their chances of appearing in the TV Column again any time soon are pretty slim...