It's been a while since a Media Notes entry appeared, so here goes..
I was saddened to learn on Friday that Jim Perry had passed away. Cancer. 82.
There were two major game show claims to fame here in the United States-- the first Card Sharks on NBC and $ale of the Century. Perry was good at both-- seeming genuinely happy when contestants won, sad when they lost. He moved the games along quickly, and he never became bigger than the show. Jim Perry realized the game was the star, and he made them fun to watch-- moving them along at just the right pace.
Jim Perry did other games shows in Canada, plus the Miss Canada pageant. For years, I thought he was Canadian, but Jim Perry was born in New Jersey.
If you want a chuckle, go to YouTube.com and look up the pilot for a game show called "Twisters." It was interesting. There was potential. However, the pilot never came together and the show was never picked up by a network or a syndicator.
Maybe Kimball was asking for too much, but at first blush, I see this as a big mistake. Kimball was the heart and soul of those TV shows.
I'll level with you. the first time I saw ATK, I hated it. Kimball seemed like a miserable old sob. For some bizarre reason, I watched a little more, and realized the crankiness was part of the program. He was an effective conduit. Kimball knew how to ask the right questions, and get the best information out of his chefs and contributors. He was also smart enough to know the food was the star.
It's too bad they never got that concept at another public TV show, This Old House. It became hideously unwatchable the day Bob Vila was asked to leave. First, no one can afford those projects. Second, the producers made the contributors bigger than the projects. Mistake. Big one. It could work if the hosts are likable and interesting. The last two hosts were duds. The landscaping guy acts like he's the only one who knows how to plant a bush. The plumber thinks he's the first one who ever fluxed a fitting.
There can be exceptions. Big host. Successful show. Robert Irvine on Restaurant Impossible immediately comes to mind. He makes that show work.
Shifting gears, this FCC AM radio revitalization thing is getting a lot of interest. It's quite the topic in the trades, and I received a few e-mails when I wrote about it here a couple of weeks ago.
A big key is the FCC giving AM operators a crack at FM translators. All that does is spread bad programming over an additional frequency, and the concept fails in big cities, where there are few, if any, available FM frequencies left.
Plus, most AM operators also have full powered FM's in the same market. Why don't they put the AM programming on one of the big sticks?
The key is programming. Do something good, and listeners will flock to you.
Perfect example of the AM malaise, and I'd really like to mention names... One of the big radio groups had its vehicles in Scranton's Santa Parade Saturday morning. Its FM stations were represented by big, bright, shiny, colorful vans and SUV's. The AM station, and a well known one at that, wasn't represented. Nothing. Zero. Also, zero is about its share of the local listening audience.
If you don't promote and invest in your product, don't complain that people aren't listening. You shouldn't be running to the government for the gift of an additional frequency.