Radio's Reality On TV, A Subculture Captured For Sore Eyes (Or Not)
April 8, 2015
The year was 2012 when Gillette started beefing up the CBS Top 40 in NYC with a cast of characters fit for reality TV. I wasn't stupid. I saw the future, but I knew if we could get the green light on this reality show, that no matter what the outcome was, there would be winners. This show was the greatest guarantee of that.
Gillette said he was all in.
In fact, when he canned me, he said, "I'm good with you moving forward on doing the reality show here."
If I have one fault, it is this. I take EVERYONE at his or her word. In the end, it is all we really have. I met with Mic'd Up Productions President Joshua Baggett. Google him, and you'll see that he knows a thing or two about this genre. Josh, his partner in crime Rosie Noesi and I met at a Chinese spot in Hoboken and quickly we had a handshake deal… and I had a great team to produce this thing with,,, top notch, already proven with success… quality.
With Gillette's word and the deal with Mic'd Up Productions, I was ready to take this project on fulltime.
But with several attempts to show that I had all the backing I needed to complete this task, Gillette failed to return any of my calls, and I was left only with the treatment that got me the deal.
Trust me, I am not bitter about this outcome, because, as you will see in next week's piece, there was an unsuspecting big winner in all of this; Rosie Noesi.
Rosie Noesi, female, front row, black dress
You can get ahead of me and Google her, if you haven't seen her incredibly good news from this past week, or if you wait, you can read the reality show idea that was never meant to be, but could have been…and should have been.
A Treatment for Doing It With Frequency (WGA 1623166)
Author: Rob Wagman
Genre: Docu-Style Reality Series
Title: "Doing It With Frequency". NYC's David and Goliath Battle of Top 40 Radio Dominance.
Logline (short pitch): "The Office" meets "The Jersey Shore" with the competitive intensity of "Dance Moms" or "Deadliest Catch." The lives of radio personalities in New York City are showcased; on-air, off air, in the hallways, in their daily lives, at work, at home, at concerts, in bars and in their relationships.
See these creative 20-somethings, some sexy actor/model types, some charismatic with a face for radio, but a personality for the world stage; strategize together and separately with the common goal to gain the most audience in NYC.
Synopsis: "Doing It With Frequency" is classic competition, a la Coke vs. Pepsi, McDonald's vs. BK, Yankees vs. Red Sox, fulfilling a desire to root for the underdog, hoping for the outcome of "Rocky" or "8 Mile," but without the fantasy, because, this battle, while heroic in its attempt, is raw, real, fun, funny, vicious, heartbreaking, stressful, entertaining, but with no promise of a happy ending, only of hope.
Get inside the lives of the men and women who make New York City's Top 40 Radio battle come to life, from the managers of programming, marketing and sales to the energetic core of the on air personalities. Discover the motivations that inspire them, the heartache that drives them and the root of why they chose the life of entertaining an audience behind a microphone. See the pressures of weekly and monthly ratings, team strategies to increase them, and the juggling of a life inside and outside of the studio in friendships, relationships, nightlife and personal lives.
"Doing It With Frequency" follows the difference makers, full time on air personalities, mixshow DJ's, managers and fringe players at 92-3 Now radio, providing a fascinating social matrix that draws the viewer to identify with the cast as they do their collective parts to change the status of their plight from underdog to dominator.
Each episode will have portions devoted to different segments of the casts' lives.
"Work Life" -- Work life will be the base of the show and will get multiple portions devoted to it, mostly beginning, middle and end portions; showing on-air personalities meeting with the station Program Director for critiques, criticism, direction and strategies, to the follow through and actions created from those conversations, to the way the staff interacts with each other, and how each person works personally to solidify their place in the ultimate goal of being deemed necessary, effective and ultimately successful.
"Listener Lives" -- Station listeners will be cast to give feedback on how content on-air affected them positively, negatively, not at all, whether it was life changing, made them laugh, or had no effect. These quick insights will bridge real people commentary to actual on-air content, to ratings results. Listeners will be filmed in environments that are common for listening like home, office and in their cars.
"Celebrity Interaction" -- Artists, actors, comedians and other celebrities are constantly in and out of the hallways being interviewed, hanging out, playing Twister, etc… These moments will be captured, showing how the staff interacts with celebrities and vice versa. Celebrity performances will be captured as well, with in-studio guests and sometimes just solo performances in front of five staff members.
"Home Life" -- Home life will key in on social aspects of the cast, from friends, romantic interests, outside interests and hobbies, from sports to art to theater, etc. Radio personalities are often big on air, but passive and reserved off air. In these cases, we will dive into the world of insecurities and attempt to find its base and follow that through. Other personalities are always "on," no matter where they are or when it is. We will zone into these differences, dissect and find the root that created these opposing personality types.
"Back Story" -- Nick Cannon was the morning talent of 92-3 Now, but stepped down due to complications of the kidney, opening up the morning host role which former Chicago and LA talent, Ty Bentli was hired to fill. We will visit with Nick Cannon and the employees of radio station past, and have their stories of what they did in NYC, and where they are now. This will help sell the gypsy lifestyle that radio offers its employees and also set up a future end result for any employees terminated in real time. A wall of those who worked within the halls can be kept somewhere, and referred to as someone enters that Wall of the not so fame.
Sample episode arc-
Intro -- Aerial view of NYC skyline, with quick sound bites of actual banter from jocks from many stations in the Big Apple separated by the sound of someone changing the radio dial, ultimately focusing in on banter from Ty and the Twins, from WNOW, 92-3 Now. As the banter begins, the aerial view goes from the top of the building at 345 Hudson and enters in an 11th floor window, live into the studio with Ty and the Twins having this discussion NOW, in front of our faces. In this case, one of the twins, Lulu and Lala, make the statement that they never read the book, The Grapes of Wrath, even though it was part of the curriculum at North Bergen High School.
Work Life #1 - As the phone calls come in from listeners, both the ones who read it and the ones who also avoided it, we go to an after show meeting in the office of Program Director, Gillette, who reveals ratings in comparison to Z100's Elvis Duran show, which dominates market and discusses the importance of following through on morning show content, such as actually reading the Grapes of Wrath. Gillette, a 50-something, long-haired, rock music looking character, has black crackle nail polish on one hand only. After meeting, we follow Ty and the Twins to Barnes and Noble for on-air purchases, where each of them buys the book.
Hallway Focus #1 -- Midday host, Eutopia and Late Night host, DJ Toro have not been given contracts yet for the positions they presently hold, which either means they are about to or that they are place holders until the real shift holders are hired. Montage clips of them in studio followed by them sitting in front of the camera explaining their feelings of being in this holding pattern and then we begin to follow their tracks to making their positions solidified or not.
Backstory #1 -- Nick Cannon expresses his love for the medium, discusses the reasons why he took the plunge into the daily experience, and why his health forced him to call it quits. We follow him in the hallways of 92-3 Now, still the base of his weekly national Urban and Top 40 countdowns.
Listener Lives #1 -- Listeners who miss Nick Cannon on the air discuss that passion, raising the bar for Ty's need to cut through and eventually equal Nick's radio success, then surpassing it. We will follow that through many episodes.
Home Life #1 -- Ty is out to dinner with a woman, very quickly revealed to be his girlfriend, Corey, a Britney Spears looking girl, who followed him from Los Angeles to support his efforts in New York City, and also to continue working on her career in acting and comedy. Waiter comes by to offer wine to Corey, she accepts. Ty declines, revealing he is not much of a drinker. They get caught up in conversation.
Work Life #2 -- Ty on air, same conversation sparked at the restaurant is now fodder for the audience, as he engages the twins and the listeners into his world. We hear and see the conversation from the other night become content and follow the reactions.
After radio show, we meet in Ty's office but his office has been ransacked and booby trapped. His pictures are hung upside down. His desk phone is doused in petroleum jelly and his chair is set to fall to the lowest position upon impact. As he reacts to the inconvenience, he makes calls to I.T. and engineering to see if they can pull security tape to see who was in his office between last night and this morning.
As Ty is distracted by the incident, one of the twins sits and waits, while the other pulls up The Grapes of Wrath, removes book mark and continues reading. I.T. begins searching the computers for a suspect.
End Segment -- Sun goes down over NYC skyline as we follow a sloth like character, from belly down, open toed shoes and feet not well kempt, entering into 345 Hudson. With each step taken, we see subtle things happen like pretzels or M&M's falling to the ground, a garbage can accidentally or purposely knocked over, then the reveal of Zann, the night talent on 92-3 Now, who, with sunglasses on, takes a sip of her coffee or soda beverage, enters the on-air studio, running into afternoon talent, Micki Gamez and producer, La Chica Bomba, as they are about to make a transition. With only one sentence, Zann owns the energy of the room, referencing her lady parts, she says, "Check out these grapes of wrath." As we see darkness dissolve over NYC, we hear Zann on the radio, revealing her command of the airwaves.