Radio Talent: Do What Cable Is Doing

| November 11, 2015

By Holland Cooke
Radio Consultant

 

cookewriterNEW YORK — I should clarify.  I don’t mean do what cable news channels are doing — contrived political arguments.  That’s being done to death there, and has become an unfortunate “Talk Radio” caricature.  When there’s a-war-on…the-war-on…The War on Christmas – and there’s feigned outrage about under-decorated cardboard coffee cups — you know they’re running out of things to talk about.

I’m saying do what you see on basic cable channels and so-called “Over The Top” (OTT) TV such as Netflix.  And as I listened to Sony Pictures Television chairman Steve Mosko, the little voice in my kept whispering “podcasting.”

Mosko calls himself “a studio guy” whose independent shop has 35 shows on 18 different networks, “the largest programming provider to OTT services.” He was interviewed by author and veteran journalist Bill Carter (SiriusXM’s “The Bill Carter Interview”) at NAB Show/New York* this week.

“When we were doing shows for basic cable, people would ask ‘There’s already too much television, why do more?’”

With the explosion of AM/FM radio’s new-tech competitors, it’s a relatable question, eh?

Observing the obvious, Mosko figures, “The way we consume stuff is changing.  People are still discovering ‘Bloodline’ [a series released months ago on Netflix].”  “Breaking Bad” is only ‘over’ in that the story ended.  Yet you can start from the beginning.  This is a sea change from network TV business-as-usual.

Imagine Thursday night at 10:00 ET?  Mosko calls it “the toughest slot on TV, you’re up against hit shows on ABC, NFL Football,” etc.  So you’re judged quickly based on what he and speakers I’ve heard at podcasting/streaming conferences call “linear” performance (the real-time broadcast schedule).  “Episode one has to absolutely kill it.  It’s like the opening of a movie.”

But when there’s less attention to that opening night, it gives characters a chance to develop.  Mosko says “What I love about [what’s considered] ‘television’ today is the ability to develop a character over 60 to 90 shows.”

“Great story-telling and great writing trumps everything.”

Seen “Comedians in Cars, Getting Coffee?”  If not, hit www.Crackle.com/Seinfeld.

Mosko – whose company distributes “Seinfeld” re-runs – recalls: “We sat in Jerry’s apartment and I told him, ‘You’re going into uncharted waters.  If we do this, we’ll stay out of your way’” creatively.

And he showed us clips of coming attractions:

  • Riveting “The Art of More” stars big names and exposes the seamy side of high-end auctions.
  • “Super Mansion” is a hilarious animated show about washed-up super heroes living together. Look for those two “only on Crackle.”
  • He described AMC’s forthcoming “Preacher” as “Walking Dead meets Breaking Bad.”

“Is being independent an advantage or disadvantage?”

When Carter asked, Mosko admitted that “a big hit network show” is still the gravy train.  Yet he still thinks being-indie is an advantage, because “there are more places to sell to.  In an unbundled world not-having-a-network isn’t the worst thing.  Every deal we do is different.”

Just this week, Mel Karmazin – who hired Howard Stern at Sirius way back when – opined that, when his satellite radio deal comes up, Howard could jump to Netflix, or put up his own paywall.  Another deal soon-to-expire: Rush Limbaugh.  Stay tuned. 

“Make it easy, free, great programming, and mobile.”

Mosko says that’s how consumers consume darn-near everything now, and PodcastOne founder Norm Pattiz has told us the same here in TALKERS and at various conferences.  Seen what Pattiz has assembled, and Hubbard — among radio’s more-respected owners — has invested in, heavily?  That’s how radio talent can grow.

Remember iPod?  Suddenly everyone had one.  Then suddenly they didn’t, when the more-fully-featured iPhone came along.  Podcasting has been around so long that the term itself is antique.  A dozen years ago, I reported here from podcasting conferences that were already drawing bigger crowds than a couple radio conventions that have since been discontinued.  But this year, “Serial” mainstreamed what had been a shadow medium.  People were talking about a podcast; and we’re told that more people heard that particular one than saw “Mad Men.”

So tell a story.  Your name is a brand, your transmitter is promotion, and most of the digital tools podcasters use are free.

* NOT a typo: NAB Show/New York

This conference had been the National Association of Broadcasters’ Content and Communications World,” a successful event that NAB president & CEO Gordon Smith told us “we bought.”  And this week, he announced that the show is being re-named NAB Show/New York, and will continue each November at The Javits Center.

Calling broadcasting “the ultimate survivor,” Smith welcomed attendees with remarks titled, “The Future of Broadcasting: Always Local.”  Citing station smartphone apps and sleeper FM chips that wireless carriers are (finally) lighting-up, Smith reckons that “the world of tomorrow is not a broadband world, it’s a broadcast-broadband world.”

When then United States Senator Smith (R-OR) was in campaign mode, “I’d put money on broadcast radio and broadcast television,” which he said “moved public opinion faster than” cable or Internet.

Dylan was right.

The times, they ARE a-changing, as this week’s New York conference two-fer demonstrates.  At the annual “CES Unveiled” press event, we got a download on annual research about tech trends generally and specific predictions about what’ll be in Santa’s sleigh.  Read that tomorrow here.  Oh, and the Consumer Electronics Association announced that it was changing its name, to “Consumer Technology Association.”

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Holland Cooke (www.HollandCooke.com) is a media consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet; and he covers industry conferences for TALKERS and RadioInfo. Follow him on Twitter @HollandCooke.

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Category: Advice, Analysis