Assembly Line Radio, or Why I'm Glad This Week's Just About Over
This Week's 'The Letter' From All Access News-Talk-Sports by Perry Michael Simon
February 4, 2011 at 10:32 AM (PT)
Once again, we're posting the weekly "The Letter from All Access News-Talk-Sports" column at Net News for your convenience. At least, that's the story I'm being told....:
This is a big week for Ssports radio, because the nation's fans are focused like lasers on the most important event of the year, the game everybody waits all year to see.
Unfortunately, the Rider-Fairfield basketball game isn't on TV. But some other game a few hours later is.
Practically every Sports Talk show I've heard this week was some variant on the Radio Row show. You know the Radio Row thing: dozens of stations in a hotel ballroom, interviewing a circulating parade of celebrities, semi-celebrities, non-celebrities and each other, all week long. They do it every year. But for every guest you want, you get a few you don't, and plenty who fall into the category of "who is this and what is he/she doing at the Super Bowl?" And as I heard the interviews and the endless vamping between the interviews while waiting for the next retired tight end to come on to promote some miracle bracelet or charity golf tournament, it reminded me: Radio Row can be really, really boring.
I'm not going to suggest here that stations not send anyone to the Super Bowl; It IS the big event, after all. And far be it from me to deny anyone a week of Super Bowl parties; There's a good argument that it's a key networking location. But, for purposes of what goes over the air, it seems as if everyone is doing the same thing there. Same guests, same questions, same everything. There's practically no differentiation between stations and shows, because everyone's in that hotel in Dallas asking a series of former and current NFL players and the occasional actor promoting a movie who they think will win the game. Why I need the Super Bowl prediction of someone from the Atlanta Falcons ("Well, the Packers beat us up pretty good, so I guess I'll go with them"), I don't know.
(To be honest with you, the most interesting "Who do you think is gonna win?" I heard this week was in the checkout line at Trader Joe's, when the guy behind the register asked the elderly woman buying groceries in front of me who she was rooting for. Her pick, without hesitation: Green Bay. Go ahead, scoff, but that's as relevant a prediction as anything I heard on sports radio this week.)
It comes down to something that I fear gets lost in the annual stampede to the Super Bowl: Wherever you are, you still have to put on a good show. Listeners don't care that your producer's having a hard time corralling the next guest because another station's running long with him. They don't care that you had to take Joe Shlabotnik Jr. in order to get a Hall of Famer later. All they know is what they're hearing on the radio. You have to make that as good as it can be. I don't think it's impossible to make that happen at a Radio Row or any other kind of remote, but it isn't easy. And once you get that Hall of Famer, or actor, or anyone else, please, do a little homework and ask some interesting, relevant questions. If all you have is "How's it looking for next season" and "Who's your pick to win the game" and "You're here to promote ... what?," maybe you're better off passing on that guest. You shouldn't take just anyone for the sake of filling time.
And that's advice for beyond Super Bowl week, too. If interviews aren't relevant and entertaining, don't do 'em. You can fill the time with better stuff. And in a few days, once the Super Bowl post-mortem's done, you'll have plenty of time to fill.
In case you missed it, this column is now appearing in more locations than ever. It's still coming to thousands of readers via weekly e-mail, but it'll also be posted in Net News and on its own page accessible through the Columns and News-Talk-Sports menus up at the top of AllAccess.com. We're trying to put it in as many places as possible, so it's wherever readers want it to be. Oh, okay, "a trash can," very funny. You're a riot. Ha ha. Um ... which trash can?
This is the part of the column that's devoted to promoting Talk Topics, the show prep column at All Access News-Talk-Sports. I could have gone down to Radio Row to tell people about the wealth of material you'll find in Talk Topics, but I'd rather save the trip and tell you about it right here, because that's the kind of guy I am, meaning I'm way too cheap to spend the money to go to the Super Bowl. What's in Talk Topics this week? A guy smokin' crack on a train, what kind of workout you get from shoveling snow, a rude message on a candy Valentine heart, the continuing battle against Ronald McDonald, a guy who says a Parkinson's medication turned him into a gambling and gay sex addict, the 40th birthday of the food processor, Facebook's breast-feeding aversion, the Mona Lisa-was-a-man controversy, the Great Panty-Throwing Protest in Italy, and much "real news," from Egypt to the snowstorms to the latest WikiLeaks revelations to Malawi's proposed ban on farting. If you can talk about it on the radio, you'll find it here. (Actually, if you find it here, you can talk about it on the radio. Works either way) And don't miss the rest of All Access with complete industry coverage updated all day, plus columns, charts, job listings, and more.
Social media, too: All Access' Twitter feeds include Talk Topics at twitter.com/talktopics and Net News at twitter.com/allaccess. And you can get the All Access app for iPhone here or for Android here, both developed by jacAPPS. Unrelated to All Access, I have a few other outlets for non-radio writing, including pmsimon.com, twitter.com/pmsimon, and the latest addition, nerdist.com, where I'm writing about pop culture, tech stuff, and other geek-worthy topics.
What? Who do I think is gonna win? Look, I'm an Eagles fan. The season ended for me in the first round of the playoffs. I'll leave the prognosticating to the people in the Trader Joe's checkout line. They're more into it than I am, anyway.