Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Media Notes

Les Crystal died last month.  85.  He ran NBC News, and later NewsHour on PBS.  He was the guy in charge when the broadcast went to 60 minutes.  ABC, CBS and NBC have been talking about going to an hour for years, although the project is now on the back burner.  It makes so much sense.  Unfortunately, the local stations around the country are hesitant to give 30 minutes back to the network.  They all should revisit the idea.  The time is ripe.

FOX is getting out of the golf business, turning over its USGA contract to NBC.  Mixed feelings on this one.  NBC does a nice job, but it's nothing I would call outstanding.  FOX tried to innovate.  Some things worked.  Others flopped.  With only a couple of tournaments a year, FOX was never really able to find its footing.

Many all news and news/talk radio stations saw a nice bump in listenership when the pandemic hit.  Recent surveys show things have returned to normal.  It's nice to know people know where to turn when they need to learn something.  It's sad the bump didn't last longer.  Some radio stations really rose to the occasion.

It's sad to say, but some of the best stuff on radio, you have to pay for.  I hate saying that because I grew up in and am a believer in live and local.

Carl Reiner died last week.  98.  He is perhaps best known for creating "The Dick van Dyke Show."  He also had a role as Dick's boss, Alan Brady.  I can't say I was a fan of the show.  I was too young to get its humor during its original run.  Reruns never really worked for me.  Dick's wife and son whined a bit too much.  Morey Amsterday made the same bald jokes to Richard Deacon every week.  It just wasn't my thing.  That doesn't dimish Reiner's contribution to comedy.  The movies and TV shows, including dramas are too long to list here, but here is why I loved Carl Reiner.  He was the ultimate talk show guest.  He was warm and charming, and he had the best old showbiz stories to share.  I could listen to him for hours.  The word "legend" is overused.  Not here.

Hugh Downs also died last week.  He had that rare gift of a combination of incredible gravitas and spectacular warmth.  99.  "Today," "Tonight" "Concentration" "20/20."  He loved science and contributed to ABC's coverage of the early shuttle missions.  A broadcaster's broadcaster.  Another legend.

American Top 40 turned 50 on Independence Day.  It started with all of nine stations and grew into a major hit.  I caught a little of that first show's replay this past weekend on satellite radio.  Host with great pipes, the top music in the country, big hit.  As I've said here before, it might have been the best produced show in radio.

The Howard Stern movie, "Private Parts" was on television recently.  Of course, I watch it on two levels-- for the story and for the radio stuff.  I'm happy to say the movie gets most, but not all,  of the radio things right.  Plus, it's just an interesting story.

ESPN Radio announced yesterday it's blowing up its line-up.  I found it unappealing before and the changes do nothing for me.