Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Bill McMahon's RIGHT And You Know It

(click to read his entire post) "On-Air with Ryan Seacrest" exists for two primary reasons neither of which has anything to do with what comes out of a radio’s speakers or making radio listeners’ lives better. First, Ryan Seacrest is famous -- not for extraordinary talent, not for producing amazing radio content, not for producing stellar Arbitron numbers. Ryan Seacrest is famous for being the host of American Idol. Ryan Seacrest is famous for his boyish good looks. Ryan Seacrest is famous for hanging out with Simon Cowell. Second, "On-Air with Ryan Seacrest" is cheap programming -- a money-saving alternative to paying local personalities in 140 markets. So radio station operators blinded by fame and celebrity and driven by the need to reduce expenses are programming this drivel. Yikes!

Radio is in deep doo doo right now. Radio needs to create relevant and original content to survive. Radio needs rebels, mavericks, characters, passionate artists and innovators. Radio needs people to challenge the status quo not perpetuate it. "On-Air with Ryan Seacrest" is the status quo -- a very ordinary and average version of it. Exactly what radio doesn't need right now. -- Bill McMahon

"On-Air with Ryan Seacrest" is a microcosm of what's wrong with radio right now. The problem has nothing to do with the show being created in Hollywood and syndicated to local radio stations across the country. The trouble is the show's content. It's ordinary, average, and forgettable. Mindless, soulless, lowest common denominator stuff the media, including most cookie cutter morning radio shows, are saturated with -- vacuous interviews with celebrities hyping their latest projects, a steady stream of superficial celebrity news and Hollywood gossip clipped from the pages of People, Us, and The National Enquirer and read breathlessly with much manufactured enthusiasm and amazement by Ryan and his cohorts. This is sad stuff.

Someone had to say it, and I'm happy to send you to Bill's blog to amplify it. He also has the prescription for everything that ails us and I could not agree more. Thank you, Bill.

LA Radio rumor: Ryan's so busy with all his commitments that he has instructed his staff that he will never do a second take on anything. Let's be charitable and say that, if true, this is his attempt at authenticity, not just a desire to "get it done fast over doing it well."


Anonymous said...

Second takes? Holy crap, I don't ever "over-perfect" a break to the point where it sounds fake, but the first-takes I end up with are few. I'll do a break 25 times if I have to, not to get everything perfect, but to make it a focused, relatable, real break. If I just can't get it done, for me, it means the concept of the break is flawed, there's too much information I'm trying to cram in, or I don't believe it. So, I'll do something different.

The great thing about tracking? Gone are the days when I finish up a show and don't say "that's exactly what I wanted to do today." There's no excuse, no flubbed line, no distraction while the mic is on, no dropped copy that screws up a break. I don't have frustrating regrets when I finish my show. But, it's more work. By the time I'm done with my show, my voice is feeling it, and I'm usually tired.

Jocks who use tracking to get out of the studio earlier are missing a real opportunity. It's a wonderful performance tool. So, what worries me most about the LA rumor is (if it's true) Ryan limiting himself to one take. That's using technology not to create a better product, but an easier, cheaper one.

Adam Mayfield said...

Subject: In Defense Of Ryan

(Hi Jaye...this started out as a comment to your status update about the Bill McMahon piece and quickly turned into a rant. At some point it didn't seem appropriate to post it as a comment and didn't seem timely to comment on Bill's original post several days later...but I thought I'd share it with you anyway. Hope you are well!)

I watched "Hairspray" tonight (last year's musical adaptation starring John Travolta) and, for the last few hours, have entertained sweet sugarplum dreams of an era in broadcast history that had largely drawn to a close before I was even born. The era that, in Baltimore, birthed the 'The Buddy Deane Show' (the real-life inspiration for Hairspray's 'The Corny Collins Show'): LOCALLY originated, large-scale entertainment programming produced at not-insignificant expense...underwritten (and then some) by local advertisers. Today, station owners (in radio as well as TV) sit back and wait for "the network" to deliver compelling programming -- and lose their *sses if/when they don't come through. It doesn't usually dawn on them that there could be suitable (if not superior) alternatives sitting right under their noses.

That being said, I'd like to offer a gentle reminder -- in response to Bill McMahon's piece -- that Ryan Seacrest is not the enemy here. Ryan is/was one of us: an eager college-town night jock who (long story short) moved to Hollywood and made a name for himself. He paid his dues and has, in my mind, earned the right to walk in to the studio five minutes before showtime and read his breaks off of notecards. ESPECIALLY IF SOMEONE IS GOING TO LET HIM.

I've not heard the show...but if it is as uninspired as what everyone says then SHAME on his producer(s), his PD, his syndicator(s)...on the decision-makers across the country who have rubber-stamped this thing onto the airwaves in 150+ markets without demanding better content...and on our industry as a whole for coming to rely on "the network" to deliver great programming instead of going out and finding some Corny Collinses.

RadioSyndication Talk said...

Whoa Anonymous! Jaye's comment was tongue in cheek (right Jaye?)If the rumor is true Ryan is absolutely out of there on his way to the next check, not making a statement on his quest for authenticity or on the wonders of voice tracking.