If you don't know where you've been, can you really tell where you're going?
Obviously, that's a question some fans of the NPR-canceled Bryant Park Project never have thought to ask as they continue to pile on the network's new editorial director of digital media, Dick Meyer.
To synopsize the objection to Meyer among the "new media" fans, it seems to be centered on his appreciation of some of the charms of traditional community. And, it would seem, his love of a properly made sandwich.
I won't belabor what I've already covered . . . but it is kind of funny, once you think about it.
ANYWAY, a few of the folks at The BPP Diner seem to be all about "community," so long as it's a "restricted" community. The past is unwelcome. No "backward thinkers" or "old media farts" allowed.
That means you, Dick Meyer.
Vee haff veys of makink you tink forvart!
Also, it's all about the interaction, baby. (Just so long as it's not in any kind of a traditional, physical community with people you've known forever.) And it's all about the glorious mosaic that is diversity. (Just so long as there is enough uniformity of opinion.)
One anti-Meyer commenter -- and all but one (me) were anti-Meyer commenters -- went on about how unique the Bryant Park Project community is:
I THINK everyone on The BPP Diner would agree The Bryant Park Project's style and its melding of "old" and "new" media represented a leap forward for public broadcasting. (Until NPR canceled it and leaped backward.)
Yes, I can appreciate some traditions because they can give one comfort. (RC hangover)
Sure Mr. Meyer is a bright man but I will not buy his book to fund his narrow mindedness. Additionally my life is too busy to read a book that seems to based on what Mr. Meyer hates about the world as it is NOW, because I am living my life NOW.
BPP brought together a non physical community that enjoyed something that they can never have again. (Like Mr. Meyer's lunch place that is now boarded up.) Consider carefully if it was announced that Day to Day was being cancelled would there be the same outpouring? BPP was unique not just because of the talented people we heard over the media of our choice, but the interaction it encouraged and made available to any one that wanted to participate. Yes at NPR you can, "click on contact us at the top of the page...and be sure to tell us how to pronounce your name." But you might as well be sending a letter using a stamp, envelope and drop box. Which sounds an awful like what possibly could be described as Mr. Meyer's prefered way of communication.
BPP created a community by using many forms communication. BPP encouraged and seemed to delight in people communicating with each other. (Even when we sometimes agreed to disagree.)
[Unless you're Dick Meyer, who must be demonized and belittled -- R21]
What seems to be disquieting about Mr. Meyer is that if he yearning for how it USED to be how can he use his digital/media to ever reach what the BPP created in its short life? Does he want to? Will NPR ever move forward? Will it just dwindle away because eventually no one who has ever experienced a "BPP" will settle for something as mundane.
Has any of those "forward thinkers" considered that the BPP just might have been a rediscovery of broadcasting's past? Probably not -- realizing that would involve "backward thinking" if not outright worship of the past.
To my ears, as good as the BPP was, it was just a younger-skewing, less ambitious version of NBC Radio's old Monitor program.
The Bryant Park Project revolved around a witty, genial studio host. Monitor revolved around a witty, genial studio host.
The Bryant Park Project featured the hourly network news, branded to that particular program. Monitor featured the hourly NBC Radio news, branded to that particular program.
The Bryant Park Project had regular features, as well as segments for feature stories, sports discussion, music and interviews. Monitor had regular features, as well as segments for feature stories, sports discussion, music and interviews.
The two programs had their differences as well.
The Bryant Park Project featured an extensive Internet presence, via its web site and social networking. In Monitor's day -- it ran from 1955 to 1975 -- there was no such thing as an Internet. Then, social networking was accomplished at the Elks Club, over coffee and doughnuts after church and across the backyard fence.
OVERALL, especially considering the technology of the day, Monitor was by far the more ambitious program. For one thing, it ran all weekend, not a couple of hours Monday through Friday mornings.
In its early years, Monitor -- which also was part disc-jockey show and featured live band remotes -- ran 40 straight hours each weekend, from 8 a.m. Saturday to midnight Sunday. For most of 1959, Monitor also aired for two hours Monday through Friday nights.
Then there were the comedy bits. From the history section of the Monitor tribute website:
Classic comedians showed up every weekend, including Bob and Ray, Nichols and May, Jonathan Winters, Phyllis Diller, Ernie Kovacs, Bob Hope, Bob Newhart, Stiller and Meara, Selma Diamond, Bill Cosby, Woody Allen and, later, Pomerantz and Finkelman. In the early years, Bob and Ray stayed at Radio Central for many hours each weekend, ready to ad-lib skits if remotes weren't ready or technical problems blew up a scheduled segment. In 1957, they won a Peabody Award for their outrageously creative routines on "Monitor."WHO'D HAVE THUNK IT. Monitor even had its own "Emergency Krulwich." Monitor truly was -- in the words of its creator, legendary NBC president and programmer Sylvester "Pat" Weaver -- a "kaleidoscopic phantasmagoria."
But we troglodytes are in on a secret. Come close . . . listen carefully, and I will share the secret of the universe. It is this:
Everything old is new again.