In Saturday's New York Times (free registration required), there's a story about a couple of brothers who have started a different kind of sports/pop culture talk show called “Cheap Seats.” The angle is that the show repurposes ESPN archive footage, and allows the hosts to add commentary. The noteworthy part is that it airs on “ESPN Classic” – a channel where experimentation is welcome. As one of the brothers notes about ESPN Classic, “It's half the number of viewers as ESPN, but I still think it has been great for us because we've been able to hone it.”
That's a problem in radio because there are no longer developmental slots. If you polled 100 successful DJs, I'd bet that at least 90 would say they got their starts in the overnight hours or by jocking weekend shifts – times that aren't ratings-critical. But radio today has all but eliminated these “farm team” shifts, opting to save money by voicetracking. Like so many things in radio these days, it's a smart short-run move, with disastrous long-term implications.
Where will radio's new voices be honed in an industry where Howard Stern's departure opens up some big-time opportunities? It's worth noting that when Jay Leno exits “Tonight,” NBC will step right up with Conan, who has been groomed in the wee hours. When is radio going to figure this out? Is this part of the HD Radio potential?
Read the NYTimes.com Article (free registration required):
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