The World of TV & Radio
I’m going to discuss my random thoughts on both television and radio. It’s going to be the Great GBU Report: The Great Good, Bad & Ugly Report.
I DO love television and radio, but, yeah, I’ll say it…hate some things about both of them. I know it’s strong, but I say it because I care about the industries of both…a lot.
I’ve been involved in radio forever and television for a period of time in the 90’s, while doing radio at the same time. Much of what I’m going to discuss is is just speaking as a fan. I have ZERO agenda. I want EVERYONE to do well.
(Some have wondered where did I work…A few places…Radio: All over Indiana, Orlando and Minneapolis we’re a few. Television: A cable deal in the 90’s, which I taped in Indianapolis over weekends, while I did radio in Fort Wayne through the week. David Eppley is my real name, but most of this stuff was using the name, Zack Skyler. It’s just a name. All the same. I spent a period of time as well putting together the celeb/guest list for a showprep service called Guest Exchange. I did that for many years. My Entertainment & Pop Culture Calendar items we’re used often by Phillip and Bitboard for a period of time too. More than ANY of this… I’m just a fan of both radio and television.)
There’s promising tv pilots and we’ll find out what gets picked up from the tv nets at the upfronts this month. Some we’re already finding out about already. Here’s a complete list of the tv pilots from all of the tv nets.
CBS does everything better than the others and usually knows what will and won’t work. Is it perfect? No. Do they have a grasp on their audience better than most? Yes. They’re usually #1 with comedy and drama, plus they have the institution of 60 Minutes. I’m not much of a reality guy, but even their reality is better than the rest. Their tv pilots are a unique mix of things. I’m a bit curious if they’ll go with Crazy Ones starring Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Geller.
ABC is one that I respect quite a bit, because they’re willing to take a risk and try things. It’s that risktaking that over time did get them some major hits…Lost, Desperate Housewives, Grey’s Anatomy. ABC needs to have some hits or they could be swimming with NBC. They have some interesting things ahead, including: Mistresses. Will it be a hit or miss? You never know. Their tv pilots seem rather mediocre, but S.H.I.E.L.D. seems like a sure thing. I’m looking forward to that.
NBC is scratching their way to whatever they can. The Office is going, sadly. The depth they have is slim. Their tv pilots look better than the others, in my opinion. One that really stands out to me is The Blacklist with James Spader. The storyline looks interesting to me and with a star like that, it could be something. Maybe. It’s all a crapshoot. People are fickle. Ying/Yang. Love/Hate. It’s the American public. I believe that NBC can be a healthy peacock again.
FOX. Oh, FOX. The 800 lbs gorilla, American Idol, isn’t doing what it once did. Personally, I was over American Idol in 2003, but I realize that I’m in the minority on that. The majority loved it for a long time. They do not anymore. I’d like to see it just go away. Changing judges, even all four, isn’t going to work…not like it once did. FOX has had some decent success with The Following with Kevin Bacon, but FOX needs some help. A lot. They have announced their tv pilot pickups. Fox dramas. FOX comedies.
The Worldwide Radio Summit was held recently. Many great, good and even some bad for radio kind of people, all came together to discuss radio and all things concerning it. The main thing is…radio folks want radio to succeed, as do I. We can just agree on a few things and disagree on many things.
Some of the quotes from the WWRS that I like (and believe):
“If people can’t ‘feel’ your station then you’re putting yourself at a disadvantage.” – Jimmy Steal/Emmis
“The key is to have empathy, a real understanding of the customer” – Alan Burns Assoc.
“Brands are like friends. The values and what it stands for builds the foundation for the relationship” – Andrew Jeffries/Clear Channel Media & Entertainment
Tom Leykis, the fun, big balled bastard, made some interesting points too. I’m a fan of his and the work he’s done with his own growing media empire is impressive. I respect Tom, for many reasons, but he’s always been honest about radio. Some radio people give him crap over the things he says, but guess what? #1…he is honest. This is a guy who loved radio and if he talks tough love, so be it. You might want to hear what he has to say. I think he points out some of the disasters in radio, because I think he finds it ridiculous, but he knows the real reasons why, as do you, but he has the guts to say it. Sometimes I think radio people say things they know are crap, just to make themselves feel better. Truth helps. Try it. Be sure to check Tom Leykis out, BlowMeUpTom.com.
I’m not going to get into the specifics of the things people said at the WWRS that I disagree with or those that said them, but sometimes people are in complete denial.
Now, I’d like to give a few of my random thoughts on radio in general.
Congrats to numerous CHR’s around the country doing really well with ratings. Top40 still has it. I like CHR, as I do many formats, but seriously why do so many of the talents sound EXACTLY THE SAME. What happened to the unique radio personality, who was different from the next, interesting and real and fun and honest. Now, they all sound exactly the same…station to station. Same everything. Same kind of break. Same kind of voice, inflection, tone, everything. WTF?! This isn’t some small town crap. These are big, major market, HERITAGE CHR stations (and you KNOW who they are). WHY???? Why is this happening? Not only are the formats cookie cutter musically, but the same, many times boring (yeah, I said it) “radio personalities,” that happen to be just like the next. Go ahead try it…. Get your iHeartRadio app and just surf from one major CHR to the next and listen to a few of them. SAME, SAME, SAME…everything. But, you know what? I guess it works…ratings is what it’s about. Congrats…but. When you condition the public to drab. They expect drab. That becomes the norm. Sad.
People since the beginning of radio have talked about being competitive because of the competition. It used to be radio worried about other radio stations, then tv, then video games, then fill in the blank. Now, everyone gets worried about everything else…the web, the iPod, Pandora, Spotify etc. If you’re a radio station that plays the hits, rock, country, whatever…the formula that is used today, was used yesterday and for freakin’ ever. I say take a sledgehammer to the clock rotations. I know some would gasp, how can we do that? You’re INSANE! Ha…well, relax. Seriously, if people are going elsewhere to get MUSIC and not the radio, shouldn’t the radio NOT do the same crap they have ALWAYS done. The stuff that worked when the competition was just other radio & tv worked. Is that working that great for you now? Yes? No? Maybe? What? If you’re a music station…#1, get some balls and change the rotations. I can hear you now…well, this is how it’s done…this is how we’ve always done it…etc. Record labels may not like PSY (or some other crappy record) not getting played every hour & a half, but kill that shit! But, we HAVE to play the HITS…what people know. I get that, but the same shit over & over & over…it works, but not like it once did. BE UNIQUE. Do something different. ANYTHING! Just try stuff. HAVE BALLS. If you BELIEVE in what you’re doing & showing passion for it, you might be surprised. Break down the walls, throw away the box.
Also, when it comes to music stations. This is #1 to my heart: PERSONALITY RADIO! Where is it? It’s not on those stations you think. YOU CAN’T BE SERIOUS. Have you LISTENED???? Real. Honest. Fun. True radio personalities that spark emotion: love, hate, happiness, sadness, horniess, anger, ANYTHING. It drives me INSANE. Where is it? WHERE?????? If you want your MUSIC station to have ANY advantage over any of the other stuff you worry about in a competitve world…why not have ENTERTAINING radio personalities. PEOPLE THAT DO A SHOW. It’s just a bunch of guys that sound happy that are BORING now. There are a FEW decent ones, but damn. Not very many. EVERY TIME they crack that mic they should light someone’s ass on fire. FUCK! Nothing is very exciting anymore. I’m not talking any kind of old crap or anything like that. New shit. GREAT shit, period. MAKE IT HAPPEN. I love all these people. ALL these stations. I CARE and that’s why I am saying this. Tough love. Sometimes I think everyone has become a pussy.
Now… Talk radio. Let’s see. I love talk radio. I like Howard Stern. There’s many who have done or do talk radio well. They make it REAL and ENTERTAINING. Tom Leykis, Steve Dahl, Johnny B, Garry Meier, Kevin Mattews, Danny Bonaduce, Mancow, Opie & Anthony, Ron & Fez etc. The greatest talk radio is just REAL talk. Sure, you can talk politics, news, sports etc., but just regular people talking about life…whatever is going on. If you go and check out some interesting talk radio history, you’ll find some masterful stuff, just in the way they did stuff…you HAD to listen. It’s just like how Howard is. Those people are Neil Rogers, Ron & Ron (which Ron does a great job with Fez now), Howard, Steve Dahl, Tom Leykis…all of these guys are the masters of the true entertaining, REAL, talk format.
Usually when people think talk radio…they immediately think political talk. Now, I have respect for all these people on the left and right. This used to work, but you know what? I truly believe that the right/left paradigm is just a distraction to everything. If you’re a Dem or Rep, be proud, it’s cool, BUT, the REAL problem is above all of that. Just seek the TRUTH, regardless of party. Truth matters. Have a passion for TRUTH. THAT is political talk the way it SHOULD be. Bitching to each party gets NOTHING done. They ALL suck, although there’s some good people in both parties and MANY bad in both. DC is ALL CORRUPT, which is probably part of the reason why radio and television are in the shape they are in. It all connects, but I’m not going to hold your hand through that. Boom!
I need a beer. I love ya!