Showing posts with label networks. Show all posts
Showing posts with label networks. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

You can have 'diversity.' I'll take variety.

The CBS network lineup: Sunday, Nov. 10, 1968

Diversity. All we hear about these days is "diversity."

What is "diversity"? We certainly don't have ideological diversity among those most committed to the D-word today in the United States.

Racial and ethnic diversity seems more about building either an ideological monolith of rainbow hues or, alternatively, segregated racial and ethnic enclaves uneasily inhabiting common organizations, institutions or physical spaces.

Me, I think we ought to strive for variety, then go from there. If you're under 45, you probably have little memory of variety, which is what more or less -- sometimes more, sometimes less -- took place when shared common spaces were the norm and opportunities for, say, media self-segregation weren't. Of course, we all had our opportunities and mechanisms for self-segregation (and forced segregation) but we likewise had more spaces where interaction and cross-pollination was unavoidable. Like television.

THE BABY BOOM is the last generation to be forced in its youth, through prehistoric technology that had become just pervasive enough, to open itself a little bit to a lot of things.

And people.

And cultures.

We may not have had "diversity" (again, whatever the hell that might be) but we did on occasion achieve variety. That's not nothing, and in today's blasted moonscape of a political and cultural battlefield where warring monocultures try to cleanse America of the diverse Other, that long-ago variety begins to look like a lot.

And I really would have liked to hear the backstage conversation between Jefferson Airplane and Kate Smith.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Colorfully killed by irony

Remember the old sitcom, Norby?

No, me neither.

Norby, from the creator of the somewhat better-remembered show Mister Peepers,  ran on NBC for exactly four months in 1955. It's notable for being the first sitcom to have every episode filmed in color.

All 13 of them.

David Wayne starred in the show, one of the first regular series in the then-new "compatible color" format on network TV. It was sponsored by Eastman Kodak -- which wanted to sell color movie film just as much as NBC wanted to sell color TV sets for parent company RCA -- and was "Photographed on Eastman Color Film."

Color sitcom on a network that wanted to showcase the newest big thing -- color -- and a photography behemoth that wanted to move Kodacolor . . . what's not to love?

WELL, this is where the irony comes in.

What wasn't to love? The cost. Kodak hated how much it cost to sponsor and film Norby on Eastman Color Film a lot more than it loved trying to sell color film to the 99.9 percent of TV viewers who, alas, could only see the show in lifeless monochrome instead of living color. Remember, in early 1955, an RCA console color TV would set you back $898 in non-devalued American currency.

That would be, not to put too fine a point on it, $7,955.03 in 2016 cash money.

And, friends, there we have it. The first all-color sitcom in TV history was killed by irony -- it just cost too bloody much.

All because it was in color.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

You may be a radio geek if . . .

. . . your ringtone is the late-'60s/early-'70s sounder for ABC radio's American Contemporary Network. If you are of a certain age, you'll remember it. 

Yeah, I'm a radio geek, all right.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Experience it. Feel it. Enjoy it.

I bought an old record album Monday evening.

"The Sound of Jazz," on Columbia Records, was the companion LP to one of the greatest moments in TV history. That came Dec. 8, 1957, when the program of the same name aired as part of CBS' short-lived The Seven Lively Arts anthology.

A few days before, all the jazz greats featured on the television program gathered in a Columbia Records studio to commit music set for the TV program to magical grooves in round slabs of vinyl. The LP hit stores the next year -- '58 -- and now one of them sits next to me in the Revolution 21 studio.

I am a happy man. I own the TV show on DVD. I own the 54-year-old record now, too.

As I revisit The Sound of Jazz -- the TV show . . . the LP will be savored later today -- I am struck by a remark from the show's host, New York Herald Tribune media critic John Crosby. Hell, nearly literally.

"There's not gonna be a lot of talk on this program today," Crosby said at the program's start. "I'm not gonna interpret jazz, analyze it, bring you its history. The important thing about jazz is to experience it -- feel it. Enjoy it. "

That's it. That's 3 Chords & the Truth, the podcast arm of this august (cough) media empire (snort). I'm not going to go all public radio on you and analyze jazz -- or any other music -- to death. It's not an endless list of everyone playing on a session . . . for every bloody song.

Music is not work. Music is joy.

"The important thing about jazz is to experience it -- feel it. Enjoy it." Ditto for rock. And punk. And country. And blues.

That's rather like life, don't you think?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Simply '70s: Because I'm a geek

Because I'm a geek, here's a look inside a radio station.

In Detroit.

In 1970.

Because I'm a geek, I miss stuff like radio in Detroit in 1970. And because I'm old, I remember radio in 1970 pretty well.

ALSO because I'm a geek, I liked it when television news featured, uh . . . news.

And because I'm a geek, I liked it when you could distinguish, back in 1970, the network news from the network soaps.

AND BECAUSE I'm a really big geek, I like to watch stuff like this on

Some people see a guy getting all worked up over an old cassette recorder, and their weirdo alarm goes off. Geek that I am, I'm thinking "Why does this guy have all the fun and not me?"

It's not an old, never-unboxed radio-cassette deck. It's a time capsule from 1970 -- and you get to play with it because it was built much better than anything you'll find in 2011.

Now, if it could pull in radio stations from 1970, you really might have something there.

Says the geek.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Simply '70s: Turning the world on with her smile

Fall 1970: I dunno . . . yeah, Mary Tyler Moore was great as Laura Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show a few years back, but is anybody really gonna buy a show about a "career woman"?

I give it half a season.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Simply '70s: The odd couple

No, not The Odd Couple, the odd couple -- Sally Quinn and Hughes Rudd on the CBS Morning News.

What were they thinking upon the debut of this . . . thing on Aug. 6, 1973? "They" being the people in charge of CBS News.

Was this a backdoor attempt at a precursor of the
Jerry Springer Show? Were the network producers thinking they could slip one by William Paley, taking on the mantle of plausible deniability and feigning total surprise when Rudd inevitably snapped and began to stub out Lucky Strikes on Quinn's forehead as she affected her way through the day's headlines?

Would she have name-dropped her way through the aftermath, saying she once had provoked the Great Man himself, Edward R. Murrow, to do the very same thing during a junior-high field trip?

Sadly, none of the nefarious plans for prematurely lowering the television IQ
(assuming there were any nefarious plans, as opposed to a plain-old screw up) came to fruition, and neither did the ratings that would have generated. The Quinn-Rudd era of the CBS Morning News ended -- mercifully -- in February 1974.

Notable appearances this day: Jay Silverheels' anti-litter PSA and a young Pat Buchanan, flacking for "Tricky Dick" Nixon.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Your Daily '80s: Ain't dere no more

March 17, 1980. Broadcasting magazine. The Mutual Broadcasting System -- "The World's Largest Network" -- heralds its affiliation with 1050 WHN, New York City's only country station.

July 1, 1987. WHN drops country music, as well as its vintage call letters, to become sports-talk WFAN. In 1988, WFAN would move to 660 on the New York dial, ending the historic tenure of WNBC.

Aug. 31, 1998. Mutual's now-owners, Westwood One, shuts down the Mutual newsroom in Arlington, Va., merging its operations into that of its affiliated CBS Radio.

April 18, 1999. The last newscast under the Mutual name is aired.

May 7, 2002. New York's last country-music radio station, Y-107, changes format. New York has been without a country station since.

Sic transit gloria radio. Bee doop.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Your Daily '80s: The day the music died

May 10, 1982. Noon.

WABC -- Musicradio 77 in New York and one of the biggest Top-40 radio stations ever -- became Talkradio 77. Decades on, radio fans refer to that day as "The day the music died."

At 12:01 p.m., May 10, 1982, there was only one Top-40 AM station standing in New York, 66 WNBC. Top-40 held on there for a time, but then WNBC evolved into more of a talk station with bits of music here and there.

And then, in 1988. . . .

After 66 years on the air,
WNBC was no more.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Your Daily '80s: Good night, David

John Chancellor and NBC Nightly News say goodnight -- and goodbye -- to David Brinkley as he departs for, eventually, ABC.

Just before leaving regular TV duties for good in 1996, Brinkley would -- unaware that the camera was still on during Election Night coverage -- speak great truth about the Clinton Administration after a colleague asked him what he thought of the president's re-election:

"The next four years will be filled with pretty words, and pretty music, and a lot of goddamn nonsense!"

Those are what you call timeless words, able to be applied broadly to presidencies, no matter of which political stripe.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Taking America back!

Are you suffering from a Jimmy Carteresque "malaise"?

Are you experiencing discomfort of the lower gastrointestinal tract brought on by excessive exposure to conservative talk radio?
Did watching Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin at the Lincoln Memorial have the same effect on your system as Colon Blow -- the tasty cereal with all the prunes and twice the fiber?

Is John Boehner's tan making you a little queasy, Bunkie?

Have you had it with "socialists" . . . and "patriots"? And wasn't it you who swore she saw Keith Olbermann's head do a complete 360 during a "special comment"?

Is that what's getting you down,
ma cher 'tit fille?

WELL, BUBBELA . . . you're looking at the answer. Right here. Right now.

It's simple. We can cure what ails us -- and "take America back," too -- by convincing the networks to adopt a simple format change for various talking-head programs, which tend to attract a high proportion of policy wonks and policymakers.

And I have reason to believe it would lead to an exponential increase in viewing audiences for broadcasters and cable networks, which itself would prove attractive to them in a Diana Christensen kind of way.

Three words, Sweetums: the
Farm Film Report. (Don't count the "the.")

Just adopt the
Farm Film Report format for Meet the Press, This Week, Face the Nation . . . and every program on the Fox News Channel.

CNN, Larry King Live would become a deliciously ironic title. And -- at long last -- we'd get to see MSNBC's Keith Olbermann really blow his top.

Think about it. Write a letter to the network. Start a petition.

I'll get back to you.
Don't call me . . . I'll call you.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Missing Johnny

Tonight -- well, I guess last night now -- I was watching the first disc of a two-DVD set, the Best of the Johnny Cash Show.

And I found myself desperately missing Johnny Cash. I found myself desperately missing an age when The Johnny Cash Show was possible on network television -- this, remember, in an age when you only had NBC, CBS and ABC (and, if you were fortunate, NET . . . the forerunner to PBS).

THE JOHNNY CASH SHOW wasn't about country music, though Cash was a country giant . . . and featured plenty of his contemporaries. The real star of the show was music itself -- all kinds of it, categories and neat little formatic boxes be damned.

OK, SEEING Eric Clapton, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash all on stage at the same time may have made me cry a little.

Bridges. Between past and present. Between whole genres of music. That was the essence of Cash. Here's another bridge . . . a big one, an important one:

MY GOD. Making history . . . by paying tribute to musical history.

Now, let's close it out with this gem. This is the
ABC Television Network, the time is . . . June 7, 1969.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

On a note of wistfulness

What you are about to hear is a voice -- a voice lost. A voice faded into the haze of the memories of old men and old women, a world lost in the fog of history.

The voice speaks in an unfamiliar dialect. It speaks of strange things in a strange manner.

This voice -- this lost voice -- calls to us from a nation that is no more. A people who are no more.

The voice is strident. It is confident. It is imperfect, and its sins are as manifest as its hope for the future and its determination to do better tomorrow.

This alien voice sounds like Shakespeare, performed in a tavern. By Broderick Crawford.

who hear this voice are strangers to its cadences. The future that plucks this voice from the ether -- from the past -- belongs to an alien people, a weary people, a frightened people. They, I think, are a beaten people, though I am not sure they would recognize this.

They would not recognize this voice
on a note of triumph. Nor would they any longer recognize the name Broderick Crawford.

Certainly they will not recognize the name Norman Corwin.

This program,
On a Note of Triumph, was regarded as his masterpiece -- a masterpiece among many Corwin masterpieces -- aired on every radio network on the occasion of the end of the European War, May 8, 1945.

Adolf Hitler was dead. The Third Reich was vanquished. Americans remembered, and took stock, and gave thanks.
On a Note of Triumph.
Lord God of trajectory and blast,
Whose terrible sword has laid open the serpent
So it withers in the sun for the just to see,
Sheathe now the swift avenging blade with the names of nations writ on it,
And assist in the preparation of the plowshare.
Lord God of fresh bread and tranquil mornings,
Who walks in the circuit of heaven among the worthy,
Deliver notice to the fallen young men
That tokens of orange juice and a whole egg appear now before the hungry children;
That night again falls cooling on the earth as quietly as when it leaves Your hand;
That freedom has withstood the tyrant like a Malta in a hostile sea,
And that the soul of man is surely a Sevastopol
Which goes down hard and leaps from ruin quickly.
Lord God of the topcoat and the living wage
Who has furred the fox against the time of winter
And stored provender of bees in summer's brightest places,
Do bring sweet influences to bear upon the assembly line:
Accept the smoke of the milltown among the accredited clouds of the sky:
Fend from the wind with a house and a hedge
Him who You made in Your image,
And permit him to pick of the tree and the flock,
That he may eat today without fear of tomorrow,
And clothe himself with dignity in December.
Lord God of test-tube and blueprint,
Who jointed molecules of dust and shook them till their name was Adam,
Who taught worms and stars how they could live together,
Appear now among the parliaments of conquerors
and give instruction to their schemes;
Measure out new liberties so none shall suffer for his father's color
or the credo of his choice:
Post proofs that brotherhood is not so wild a dream
as those who profit by postponing it pretend:
Sit at the treaty table and convoy the hopes of little peoples through
expected straits,
And press into the final seal a sign that peace will come
for longer than posterities can see ahead,
That man unto his fellow man shall be a friend forever.
LORD GOD of history and culture . . . we do not understand. This world is lost to us.

Lord God of reality TV and bling, what is the past trying to tell us?

Lord God Almighty, are we all the better or all the worse for all the "progress" we, Thy unfaithful creation, hath wrought?

We laugh at the strange cadences. We laugh at the naiveté. We laugh at the world-weary optimism. We laugh at the reverence.

We, the sophisticates of monosyllabic mindlessness, have no time for these earnest ghosts.

Norman Corwin, the genius of glowing vacuum tubes and the "Golden Age of Radio," turned 100 on Monday.
Unfortunately, this is no country for old men.

Or their genius. Or their poetic prose. Glorious words lovingly set so gently, so precisely onto the airwaves of a lost civilization.

I can't unders. . . .

Gone. The signal --
I lost it.

Friday, April 09, 2010

When they get pissy in the salon

A high-school classmate made my day Thursday by passing this along on Facebook, and I just couldn't resist sharing it with you.

This highbrow shoot 'em up on The Dick Cavett Show back in the day is a bittersweet reminder of a time before America's EEG flatlined, and that of network television along with it.

ENJOY as a pissing match gets served up in the electronic salon along with the tray of canopés as Cavett and writers Gore Vidal, Norman Mailer and Janet Flanner go at it. In a most erudite manner, of course.

Make sure you watch the clip all the way through. Just do it.

In the end, the moral of this 1971 television gem probably is this:
Don't mess with the boy from Lincoln, Neb. And I don't mean Vidal or Mailer.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Sound of Jazz

In the creative arts, greatness does not lie in the impressiveness of one's tool box. Greatness, instead, is an affair of the heart -- and the soul.

Today, our materialistic and technology obsessed culture too often thinks greatness can be purchased . . . or, at least, manufactured if enough technological and computer wizardry is applied to the matter at hand.

A remarkable program that aired on CBS television 52 years ago this week belies that foolishness. The Sound of Jazz was broadcast in fuzzy black and white, using bulky equipment much less sophisticated than your kid's Flip video camera. Yet, more than a half century on, it is still regarded as one of the greatest musical programs ever -- a defining achievement of a very young medium that very much (still) was making stuff up as it went.

The program, part of CBS' Seven Lively Arts series of programs, featured probably the greatest collection of jazz and blues artists ever gotten into a TV studio. It saw the last ever collaboration of two old friends -- Billie Holiday and saxophonist Lester Young -- who had grown far apart and, as a matter of fact, would both be dead inside of two years.

But on Dec. 8, 1957, magic happened one last time, bygones were bygones for just a moment, and the power of that moment -- a moment that went out live coast to coast on a Sunday afternoon -- brought a control room full of jazz mavens and TV engineers to tears. And the power of that moment, captured on a fuzzy, grainy kinescope, can take one's breath away over the span of decades and societal transformations.

Watch closely. Greatness isn't as common as people would have you believe.

NAT HENTOFF, the great jazz critic and one of the advisers who assembled the program, remembered it this way for National Public Radio:

Billie Holiday didn't actually write songs. She thought of a melody, and she hummed it, and then her piano player or somebody else would orchestrate it — or arrange it, rather. And as for lyrics, she would write those, but then she'd consult with somebody like Arthur Herzog, who was the co-writer on "Strange Fruit," and he would sort of shape it into a more singable form.

So the theme of the lyrics of "Fine and Mellow" was infidelity, and Billie knew a lot about that. I don't know how you put this. She had a poor choice of men, and that was one of the reasons, I think, that she could sing this song and a lot of other songs that had to do with dreams and aspirations and fantasies and romance when they turned bad. She was an expert at that.

What made this the climax of the show was this: She and Lester Young — she had given him his nickname, Prez, and he was the guy who called her Lady Day, which other people came to call her. They had been very close for a long time, but then they stopped being close. They paid very little attention to each other while we were rehearsing the show.

Lester was not feeling well. He was supposed to be in the big-band sequence, but he couldn't make it. I told him, "Look, in the Billie section," which was a small group. She was sitting on a stool surrounded by just a few musicians. I said, "You know, you don't have to just sit down and play."

When it came to his solo, in the middle of "Fine and Mellow," Lester stood up and he blew the purest blues I have ever heard.

Watching Billie and Lester interact, she was watching him with her eyes with a slight smile, and it looked as if she and Lester were remembering other times, better times. And this is true — it sounds corny — in the control room, Herridge, the producer, had tears in his eyes. So did the engineer. So did I. It was just extraordinarily moving. I think for all the times she sang this song, on records and in night clubs, this was the performance that I think meant the most to her, and it came through on "The Sound of Jazz."

CONSIDER that today, one might see the "art" of television as the world translated through the lens of a sports broadcast. The Sound of Jazz, and much of television back then, was the world as cinema.

It is an important distinction, and it's one that actually might say a lot about who we are . . . and who we used to be.

And if one is tempted toward the position that the free market -- commercial interests -- in every case is the best way of fostering cultural and societal excellence . . . think again. And think on this, from the Dec. 23, 1957 edition of Time:
"The blues to me," said hard-luck Singer Billie Holiday sipping a cup of coffee, "are like being very sad, very sick—and again, like going to church and being very happy. We've got to do right by the blues on TV, because the blues deserve the best." At air time, Billie sat on top of a bare stool and cuddled up to an old jazz-cult favorite, Fine and Mellow ("My man don't love me, he shakes me awful mean"), and did just dandy by the blues. And, for the balance of CBS's one-hour The Sound of Jazz, the art got what it has so long deserved: a TV showcase uncluttered by the fuss and furbelows that burden most musical telecasts. In the murky, smoke-choked studio, more than two dozen of the best jazz vocalists and sidemen worked through eight of the best jazz numbers with the kind of love, wonder, almost mystical absorption they usually summon up in the most free-wheeling jam sessions.

Soon after the show, however. Seven Lively Arts's producers heard a long, sad note from CBS. In spite of some artistic successes after a faulty start, Arts had wooed no sponsors in five weeks. So CBS decreed that on Feb. 16—after only ten of its projected 22 shows, and a loss of $1,250,000—Arts will close shop. Executive Producer John Houseman blamed the lack of sponsors partly on the critics, added: "But if you fail when you're doing something that's fun and good, it doesn't matter."
GREATNESS IS NOT a popularity contest. It is what it is, and profit is wholly unconcerned with quality, but instead with whatever folks will buy . . . for whatever reason.


We are called -- by a Savior, no less, who was murdered by popular demand -- to better than that. Enjoy the rest of the show.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

'You can make it less brutal. . . .'

An item on the web site of the Columbia Journalism Review got noticed by Jim Romenesko at the Poynter Institute, but didn't get nearly the attention it should have.

That's probably because -- apart from all the folks who used to be network-TV journalists but aren't anymore -- CJR's online columnist Michael Massing might be the only media figure who gives a flying furlough. Sigh.

NEVERTHELESS, read this (and go read the whole thing, too) and try to decide what's more hopelessly screwed -- journalism or capitalism:

While doing some recent research on the news business, I came upon this remarkable fact: Katie Couric’s annual salary is more than the entire annual budgets of NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered combined. Couric’s salary comes to an estimated $15 million a year; NPR spends $6 million a year on its morning show and $5 million on its afternoon one. NPR has seventeen foreign bureaus (which costs it another $9.4 million a year); CBS has twelve. Few figures, I think, better capture the absurd financial structure of the network news.

This is not a new development, of course. It’s been unfolding since 1986, when billionaire Laurence Tisch bought CBS and eviscerated its news division in order to boost profits. (For a sharp, first-hand account of this process, see Bad News: The Decline of Reporting, The Business of News, and the Danger to Us All, by former CBS correspondent Tom Fenton.) But the issue seems worth revisiting in light of the recent naming of Diane Sawyer to replace Charlie Gibson as the anchor of ABC’s World News. We don’t yet know how much Sawyer is going to be paid, but it will no doubt surpass Gibson’s current estimated salary of $8 million. Sawyer will thus be perpetuating the corrosive, top-heavy system of the network news.

What’s striking is how little notice this received in the flood of coverage of Sawyer’s appointment. With the notable exception of Jack Shafer in Slate, who cheekily urged Sawyer to turn down the job “and persuade ABC News to divert the millions it ordinarily pays its anchor and spend it on 50 or 80 additional reporters to break stories,” the press treated her ascension as a dramatic milestone.
I DON'T THINK any further commentary is necessary. Except, perhaps, the above clip from Broadcast News.

Monday, April 14, 2008

The news from 1951 Wistful Vista

If you were a broadcasting student at the University of Omaha during the winter of 1951, the future before you seemed limitless.

RADIO WAS STARTING to feel the heat from this upstart called television, but it was still kicking -- with disc-jockey shows, public-affairs programs, comedy, drama, cooking shows and news, news, news. And that was just the local stations.

Nationally, four national radio networks still provided all those same kinds of programs -- and soap operas, too -- to their affiliates from coast to coast. In coming years, NBC, CBS, ABC and Mutual would change -- refocusing on news and program syndication -- but they still would remain in need of talented men and women to produce high-quality programming.

Programming like, for example, NBC's Monitor, which would debut in 1955 and provide an all-weekend "kaleidoscopic phantasmagoria" (as NBC President Sylvester "Pat" Weaver coined it) of news, features, interviews, comedy, live remotes and music.

And then there was television.

Back in 1951, local TV stations were signing on in city after city, looking to fill the broadcast day with local shows featuring local talent. And Omaha U. students were itching to get in on the action.

NOW IT'S 57 years later. The University of Omaha long has been the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Local TV shows are few and far between, excepting the "If it bleeds, it leads" newscasts.

Two of the old radio networks still stand, sort of. ABC- and CBS-branded newscasts still air on affiliate stations.

And local radio isn't so local anymore, with studio computers too often playing -- between the same few hundred overresearched tunes -- canned patter from assembly-line disc jockeys behind microphones in far-off places.

That was not the future anyone had in mind in the winter of 1951, when this article ran in Omaha University's alumni publication. The Injun:

FM at OU?

While most of Omaha and vicinity beheld their newborn television industry with passive awe last year, the university was pulling on a pair of seven-league boots, ready to match the lusty infant stride for stride.

One of the boots was a new Speech Department head, 27-year-old Bruce Linton, who spent a year as a radio announcer at WHIZ, (Zanesville, Ohio), then picked up a speech MA at North­western University.

The other half of the long-distance footwear was a $5,000, acoustically treated studio and control room, stocked with the finest professional sound equip­ment — microphones, turn-tables, re­corders, amplifiers.

Thus newly shod, OU took its first step: the addition of three new radio courses, designed to prepare a student for a beginning in radio or TV.

The frenzy of preparation at Omaha U didn't go unnoticed by the local broadcasting industry. The ink was hardly dry on the first draft of plans when WOW-TV invited the rejuvenated Speech Department to produce a 15-minute show twice a month. Omaha area viewers watch the OU production every other Thursday at 5:15 p.m. KMTV has asked for film-produced shows and special studio productions as soon as they can be supplied.

On the AM side, OU's radio talent puts out a weekly on-the-spot interview over KOIL (9:30 Wednesday nights). Called
Let's Hear Them All
, the KOIL program presents interesting visitors to OU and Omaha. (Samples: Mrs. Pahk of Korea, the Ice Follies' lighting director.)

Sandwiched between the regular shows are one-shot productions over other Omaha stations, e.g. the pre-Christmas
A Dickens Christmas
, featuring OU actors and choir over KFAB.

KBON Day will have its fourth an­nual showing on March 7, when OU speech and journalism students will take over Omaha's Mutual outlet for exper­ience in all aspects of radio station operation.

Although the present courses dwell mainly on AM radio technique, Linton is bringing television in gradually ("we have to be careful of over expansion"), with TV lighting problems brought into Speech Department stage productions. Next summer, Linton plans to have a simulated monitor scope installed in the control room. Movies supplied by the Audio-Visual Department will be shown on a ground glass screen to give an­nouncers a chance to practice TV nar­ration.

With all his plans and dreams, OU's Linton is rocky-realistic. "We don't assume that everybody who leaves here with a speech degree is going into 50,-000-watt production," he points out. "There are lots of smaller stations in need of announcers who can spin their own records; in radio, it's best to start out small and work up big."

Even beyond that, the new courses have something for students who have no notion of going into radio work. They can get a better understanding of the radio industry and see how it fits into their own business.

But how about the real stuff? Is Omaha U planning to have a station all its own? Once again, Linton points up the problem of over expansion, but he adds that an OU FM station is "not at all improbable."

In the meantime, OU radio students get pressure experience from the present radio and TV shows, with an occasional fling at covering football and basketball games on the public address system. And as student interest increases, so will the list of radio shows. A forum TV pro­gram and musical AM performances will be regular productions, and there will be special productions for holidays.

OU's radio training has already paid off for one student. Undergrad Ralph Carey is a full time announcer at KOIL. Then why stay in school? "In the radio profession, you never stop learning," he answers. "Anybody in the business can pick up pointers out here."

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Every silver lining has a cloud

The Lord giveth, reporteth the Times of London:
American TV networks have lost almost a quarter of their audiences because of the Hollywood writers' strike, according to new figures, and executives fear that “orphaned” viewers may never return.

The Nielsen ratings organisation found that US viewership for last week's opening of the 2008 TV season was down 21 per cent compared with the same week last year, when new episodes of hit shows such as Desperate Housewives and Grey's Anatomy were aired.

Because the strike has shut down production of all scripted shows, the networks are now almost completely out of fresh material to broadcast, instead relying on reality TV franchises such as American Idol.

The channel CW - home of Gossip Girl and America's Next Top Model - lost 50 per cent of viewers in the 18 to 49-year-old bracket sampled by Nielsen. “It's hard to ignore the declines,” the Hollywood trade magazine Variety said. It said that last week's figures were the first real evidence of the damage from the strike because previous weeks had been skewed by sporting events and Christmas holiday programming.
AND THE LORD taketh away:
Not everyone lost out. Perhaps because of the controversy over her pregnancy, Jamie Lynn Spears, the 16-year-old sister of Britney Spears, saw her sitcom, Zoey 101, on the Nickelodeon children's channel attract a record six million viewers.

The show was filmed last summer - before the strike and before Spears revealed that she was pregnant.