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Tag Archives: NBC

STILL CRAZY AFTER ALL THESE YEARS

SNL-40

The performers at SNL’s 40 Reunion Show said it was like a high school reunion.

So much talent in one place. Dozens of stars covering several generations of performers. Tina Fay described performers as hanging out in clicks just like a high school 40th.

Social media buzzed all night. The ratings were huge.

Some fans commented on Facebook how much they loved everything. But others wondered what the producers were thinking at times.

The Californian’s bit was long and lost.

Miley Cyrus sang ’50 Ways To Leave Your Lover’ without Paul Simon who was in the house.

Kanye West had more airtime than most SNL legends. But why they wondered? The SNL greats were who they wanted to see. .

Personally I would have liked more classic bits. It would have been so easy for Chris Rock to introduce Eddie Murphy and lead into classic Murphy clips. Or,  Chevy Chase intro his best. Instead Murphy just chatted for a minute and Chase stumbled down the stairs to the stage. Both were lost opportunities.

Many asked on Facebook why Dan Ackroyd’s classic ‘French Chef’ bit was missing?  It’s on Hulu with many of the very best from SNL

It is one of the very best.

Still funny after all these years.

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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The Future Of Local TV

Where does local television go from here?

NBC changed direction by cutting programming costs and adding Jay Leno’s less expensive show to their schedule at 10 PM. This is the hour traditionally used for big drama series and as lead in to late local news.

The critics seem to hate it. The audience is someone mixed. Leno has good nights and bad nights in Nielsen.

But how bad can it really be? NBC knows that network TV viewers tend to be older. So producing a show that attracts them might actually work, even if the audience numbers are a little lower.

Certainly they can’t beat the cost for producing Leno versus a major drama production. Leno wins that one hands down. The accounting department loves it and the margins are pretty good.

Local television operators must wonder what the future holds for them. They produce very little of their own content outside of local news.

Once all markets had locally produced kid’s shows and other programming, but that era is long gone. Shows like Sally Starr in Philly , Chuck McCann and Johnny Seven in New York. Locally produced Romper Rooms and Bozos were in almost every market.

The networks really don’t need local television stations anymore. Over air TV was the only way to reach an audience before cable and Direct TV. Today, fewer and fewer viewers actually pick up the station signal out of the air.

The internet further shifts the paradigm.

Now programs once only seen on over air TV are available on Hulu or other sites whenever the viewer wants them. My shows, on my time, my way.

So why do the networks continue to operate under the old model? Probably because Madison Avenue is still locked into buying advertising the old way.How do they quantify the on-line audience to an advertiser’s satisfaction?

One day some network executive is going to suggest doing an NBC Entertainment Channel, or CBS Programming Network and the old network with local affiliates will be toast.

Local TV will be too.

 
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Posted by on October 13, 2009 in Uncategorized

 

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Making It Right

Almost every Hall Of Fame is somewhat controversial.

There are always lists of people who some think should be enshrined, but somehow never make it.

The baseball veteran’s committee wrestles with this question every year.

Take Ron Santo former third baseman for the Cubs.  He put up great numbers, and had great years but is still waiting for the call.

The knock on Santo is likely to be more about the bad Cub teams he played on on, than about his own statistics as a player.

The Baseball Hall Of Fame selects a broadcaster for the Frick Award each year.  Tony Kubek former Yankee, Blue Jays and NBC announcer was selected this year.

Kubek certainly deserves the honor.  He was the premier color man of his era.  In some ways you can say he was the model for the role of today’s color commentators.

He is also the first broadcaster to enter the Hall whose broadcasting career was spent entirely in television.

The writers who vote know Kubek’s work first hand.   They saw the games he covered on television.   They heard his observations.

Baseball has  overlooked perhaps the most important broadcasting pioneer of all for the Frick Award.

Graham McNamee was the first real baseball play by play announcer.

McNamee’s career started by accident when as a whim he stopped into New York’s WEAF and auditioned  for an announcing job.   He was hired on the spot.

This was 1923  there were no rules for announcers and no one to copy.  All who performed on radio were originals.

McNamee broadcast everything from opera, to boxing and baseball.

Dick Enberg called McNamee “the father of us all” referring to his importance in broadcasting sports.

He covered the national political conventions and announced for entertainment shows.

McNamee was the all around utility man and the biggest name announcer of the era.

He was a star.

McNamee broadcast 12 World Series beginning in 1926.

It was McNamee who set the example for broadcasting baseball and other sports.  He was ‘the guy’ during radio’s formative years.

Graham McNamee should be in the Baseball Hall of Fame.  But he missed again this year.

Perhaps it’s because his success occurred long before most who vote for the Frick Award were born.  None heard his work first hand.

My guess is that compared with today’s baseball broadcasting his work might not sound so slick.  How could a guy without the polish of a modern announcer be any good?

Graham McNamee lead the way so all the others could make their own mark on radio broadcasting.

There are others also deserving of a spot in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Dizzy Dean and Joe Nuxhall come to mind.

Graham McNamee should have been the first to be awarded the honor.

It’s never too late to right a wrong.

Hopefully someone on the Veteran’s Committee will take a long hard look at who’s missing from the Hall.

Just a suggestion…

Perhaps all of  the Frick Award winners should be showcasted in “The Graham McNamee Room” just across from the giftshop on the second floor in Cooperstown.

 

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Lessons From A Cold Day At Old Main

The sign at the edge of town says “A Small School Of Distinction”.

We simply called it, a distinctly small school.

Bethany College is nestled into the the northern panhandle of West Virginia.

You don’t find it by accident.

The student body was about 1,000 strong and somewhat larger during Friday night fraternity keggers in the 70s.

We liked our beer. So did our neighbors at West Liberty State just down Route 88.

I went to Bethany because my uncle did and it was eight hours from the watchful eyes of my parental guidance.

Bethany had a radio station. The ten watt signal barely made it to that sign at the edge of town.

WVBC was my laboratory for four years.

It was there I learned the importance of programming for the local community.

WVBC had a talent line up that could rival most major market stations.

Ok, we weren’t ready for prime time, but most went on to great careers.

Here are a few.

Dave Sims does play by play for the Seattle Mariners and a show on XM.

Chris Moore hosts talk shows on Fox Sports Radio and has been with ESPN, the New Jersey Devils and Florida Panthers.

Blaise Howard is General Manager of WBEB Philadelphia.

Bob Orr is a Washington Correspondent for CBS Evening News.

Kurt Franck told me every morning how he would win the Pulitzer Prize. He did at the Toledo Blade.

Faith Daniels had a different last name then. Faith did news for WVBC and later was part of NBC’s Today Show.

Toriah Tolley, (Tory to us) anchored for several years on CNN.

Many others worked in television, radio, and newspapers and are names you know.

So it was with this band of merry makers we learned the ropes of radio.

Years later, after dealing with a local near disaster someone asked where I learned to handle such a thing.

The answer was easy, WVBC.

It was a cold rainy Saturday afternoon in November when the power went out.

Our General Manager, Jim Humes gathered as many of us as he could find and headed to the WVBC transmitter.

The transmitter was in the basement of Old Main. It was an unpleasant place, especially without lights and heat.

Somehow we managed to rig a small studio. We had a mike and a turntable and found a way to get the transmitter back on air.

We spent hours on-air reporting what we knew about the situation.

Over the years I’d flashback to that day whenever there was an emergency situation. Days like when I was at WLW and the Space Shuttle blew up or we had a major blizzard at WSYR Syracuse.

The afternoon at Old Main taught me the importance of an emergency plan for any station.

Today it is tougher than ever to handle local emergencies. Newsrooms are small or non-existent. Often available staff does not have proper training.

The time to think about the ‘what ifs’, is long before they occur.

I suggest you take time to think about how you would handle a serious situation.

9/11 was a good drill, but years have passed and people have forgotten much about it.

There will be another day when you are faced with split second decisions.

Think about who you’d call in to work. How you would get them to the station. What you would need to do to make sure you served the public and made sure your community is safe.

Involve your staff in the planning.

It is never too early to think about your emergency plan.

 
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Posted by on May 7, 2008 in Radio programming

 

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A New Day

Knock off the anger and get back to work!

Radio is never going to be like it was ten years ago.

The rules changed partly because the technology changed and oh yeah, the rules changed too. These things happened at virtually the same time.

Joel Barker would identify this as a ‘paradigm shift’.

It is every bit as big a shift as the quartz crystal brought to Swiss watch making. It killed the business and inexpensive Japanese watches dominated the market inside of six months.

Radio has been through this before.

One can only imagine how soap opera actors were none too happy when they lost their jobs to a bunch of screaming disk jockeys in 1954.

The NBC sound effects man either learned to operate a television camera or he was out of work.

Change brings opportunity and so it has this time.

Let the whiners complain on Allaccess and Radio-Info about how the business is over.

But don’t you do it.

Take a deep breath then look around for the next big opportunity. They are out there and probably not in a traditional job role.

No company can guarantee your employment. It is up to you to guarantee your own employability.

Have you learned a new skill lately? Have you taken the time not only to learn but master the software at your station?

It amazes me how many people say they can’t do some of the simplest things with software. Sorry, but if you were piloting an airplane you’ve be required to know the equipment.

Yes, it is possible, even probable that your station will endure layoffs. So, what have you done to make sure you offer a broad range of skills that will keep you there?

On that ‘Black Monday or Tuesday” somebody is going to be picked to stay and someone will leave. Why should they choose you to stay? What makes you the keeper?

Smaller staffs mean opportunity for somebody. Perhaps you are great at voice tracking, or fast with production. These are valued skills in today’s radio station.

The more you can do, the better your chances of staying around.

We can’t bring back the all-night show as a training ground. Hey, didn’t you hate doing over-nights anyway? I did.

The four-hour live jock shift is gone too. Be real. Do you really need a live, college educated person waiting around in a studio to do four ten second breaks an hour? Not with the technology that exists today.

Come to think of it, most of the people complaining about loss of live four hour shifts were always outside smoking.

The question to ponder is how you can take the tools available and use your talent to create interesting and different radio?

The person able to think differently about the technology and find new answers will thrive.

The person longing for cart machines and CD players is a dinosaur. Home Depot is hiring.

This column could have been written ten years ago. All of this stuff has been in place that long. Yet, blogs are filled with yesterday’s PDs and jocks talking about how great they were and how bad it is now.

They’re living in yesterday.

Today’s tools are better than ever. Multi-track editors offer endless options for great production where once only four-track existed.

Let the others complain. But not you.

There is magic in those Prophet Systems. You just have to make it happen.

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2008 in Radio programming

 

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