Thoughts on things from the news, TV, radio, and daily life that hit home with me.
|This blog will chronicle my thoughts, feelings and ideas about various items in the news, on TV or radio, or real experiences that cross my path from day to day, touching me deeply in some way. Some will be funny, some sad, some serious. Please note: since this is my second active blog, the system won't allow comments to be sent to me in the usual way. Please send me your comments as an email and I will include them here.|
| Jericho's first show back on the air was the pilot episode. I think that was a good way to go. Those of us who love the series didn't mind a refresher on key cast members' full character names, and it was a perfect way to introduce new viewers to those same characters. Nice thinking on the part of the network.
And today, a promo for the series said that this coming Friday's episode will be a TWO HOUR one. And I LOVE THAT IDEA TOO. Can you tell I'm enthusiastic here? This will be a great way to give the viewers, old AND new, a good look at the situation and the characters. To get to know them, and what's going on.
THey made a mistake in cancelling the show, but it sure looks to me like they've got the right idea for starting it up again. Hopefully we can develop an audience that will support this quality show.
For those that hadn't heard, it's on Friday nights at 9:00 on CBS, right before Numb3rs. If you haven't watched it before, please give it a chance, and for more than one episode. If you like well written, well acted, high quality drama, with a touch of humor, and definitely believable characters and situations, this show should be on your "must see" list.
OK, I'll get down off my soapbox for a while. But I won't apologize for my enthusiasm for such a high quality, enjoyable show. '
| Friday, July 6th, it's back. But that's just a start. The network is saying flat out that they will need a larger audience to keep it on the air. So, for my first time here at Writing, I'm doing a different version of the "Shameless Plug".
If you haven't watched it before, please give it a try, and for more than one episode. If you want some background, CBS' website has past episodes that you can watch in their entirety to become familiar with the storylines and the characters.
The BASIC premise - very basic - is what could happen in the aftermath if the U.S. appears to be hit with a nuclear attack. And trust me - there's a lot more here than that description conveys. It's well written, well acted, and most definitely believable. Yet is is NOT your typical 'nuclear holocaust'. Not by a long shot. The survivors are real, and everything they face is very plausible. It holds your attention with its attention to detail in every aspect of the situation. Where do they get food? Gasoline? Electricity? Can they trust strangers who show up in the town? And those are just a few of the situations they face.
For those old enough to remember when M*A*S*H was just starting its run, it was a 'sleeper', too. Its ratings didn't really take off until at least its second or third year. And it ultimately ran for 11 years, longer than the (Korean) war that it portrayed. Problem is, things have changed since then. The networks all say they can't wait that long to know if a show is going to be a hit. Help us prove to them that this one's worth keeping. There aren't many high quality shows on the networks these days. Let's show them that viewers ARE intelligent, and DO appreciate quality entertainment. They need to learn that lesson, regardless of what show we point out to them. Let's show them that we want more than just "reality" TV. Jericho is a great place to start proving that to them.
| Yep, the viewers of the recently cancelled Jericho, on CBS aren't taking the cancellation of their favorite show lying down. Not by a long shot. And it very well may pay off - the show might be making a comeback. And for me, that comeback can't be soon enough.
The quoted passages in the remainder of this entry are taken from a print of an article from CNN.com on this very subject that I came across at work today. I have no idea who printed it out or when, but I've been very glad they did. They made my day, and Kenzie 's as well with this news. I'm including the quotes because I want all readers to fully appreciate the impact the viewers' reaction is having on the network, and enjoy that fact with us. I'll start with the headline:
" 'Jericho' fans assail CBS with 25 tons of peanuts"
Two more quotes: "CBS, deluged with calls, messages, and shipments of nuts signifying viewer displeasure, is reconsidering its decision" and the following one is my favorite quote of the article: " ' We are tired of the networks (not just CBS) tossing aside quality programming,' was the message carried by jericholives.com, one of several websites protesting the cancellation."
That quote is GREAT. Because it says what I've felt for at least 20-30 years. Most of my favorite shows over the years were cancelled early, without regard for the viewers. It's about time we fight back.
I'll use my second favorite quote from that article to close out this update. "The network apparently has been impressed by the display of viewers' passion, which included the delivery of 50,000 pounds of peanuts to its New York offices. In the season finale, a character replies 'Nuts' to a demand that the beleaguered town of Jericho surrender. That's the same response that a U.S. general in World War II made to a German demand to surrender at the Battle of the Bulge. There's already been one positive outcome: CBS is donating the protest peanuts to chariies, including one that sends care packages to troops overseas."
Hopefully, all the major networks will start paying more attention to viewers' intelligence, and opinions. If they do, it'll make a win-win situation. We viewers will get the quality shows we want to see, and the networks will keep their viewership. If they don't, the desertion of their viewer base to cable and satelite TV is likely to continue, simply because the networks will not have done anything to earn back the trust of those same viewers.
Needless to say, I will let you know the networks' decision here when I find out what it is. Yes, you may find out before I do, but I should close this subject out appropriately, and that's the best way to do it. Besides - there may actually be some of you who will not have heard the final decision by the time I post it here.
| You read me right. The “Big 4” broadcast networks’ lack of good judgment will cost them big time, and, to a point, already has. More than once. And they can't seem to catch on the reason.
Every few months, we read, see, or hear one or more of them complaining about the loss of viewership they are experiencing. How so many people are turning more to cable and satellite TV and away from them. But as far as I’m concerned, one of the biggest reasons for the trend is something that those same networks have been doing for years, which means that they are bringing much of this viewer loss on themselves.
What am I referring to? The way they handle many of their shows now, and have for quite some time. Here are two outstanding, recent examples.
About three years ago, they brought us a wonderful new series, called Commander In Chief, starring Geena Davis. As far as my wife and I were concerned, it was one of the best shows any network had found in recent years, and we looked forward to it every week. It was well cast, especially with award winning actor Donald Sutherland as Ms. Davis’ main adversary. Every major cast member seemed to be ready made for the role they filled. The show was well written, well acted, and more. It was one of the highlights of our week.
Then, a little into the second season of the show, they pulled it for a few weeks to highlight another new show or something. When it returned a few weeks later, we heard it could be cancelled. We went to the ABC’s website, to post our thoughts along with those of countless other viewers, that they should keep the show. When we got there, we found the forum for those comments had been changed to read only. You could read every previous viewer’s statement and thoughts for keeping the show, but not add your own. I knew then it would be gone. And it was. What really hurt? It was likely not on the air long enough to be considered for sale on a DVD like many hit shows are. But I for one would buy every episode if they will put it out.
More recently, just within the past ten days or so, the same thing happened to another new show that had become a new staple of our viewing week. Jericho. We were caught up in it every week, and definitely were disappointed when it took a few weeks off. We were also eagerly watching when it came back. Then just a few days ago, we find out it’s been cancelled too. And with a talented actor like Gerald McRaney leading that fully-talented group, I never thought this would happen either.
See a pattern here? I see two of them, and it brings a question for them as well..
One. If they take one of your favorite shows off for a few weeks, don’t count on it coming back, and if it does, don’t expect it to last long. These two shows aren’t the first time one of the big shot networks has done this to us, and it won’t be the last.People's time is valuable these days, and often short. The networks wonder why ratings are down on a show they took off for a few weeks and just brought back. it's because people find other ways to use their precious time. But now the networks claim they're cancelling the show because of the ratings drop. DUH! If they had left those shows on, straight through the season, even with reruns, the viewership would still be there. It would never have left. My wife and I watch the various "Law and Order" variations on cable when there's nothing good on the networks. (We love those 3 series, too. And they're smart enough to keep them on the broadcast networks, too, even with reruns. Only rarely have they been pulled, and only for a one-week special most of the time. Like some awards show, then they're right back in place). Remember how I said this when you get to the end of this dissertation.
Two. Even if a show is kept on, they often move it around. Different day of the week, different time of the day or evening. The inconsistency is a pain to people whose lives are often on a schedule, especially in regards to their free time. Kid’s sports events and the related practices, church groups and events, you name it. Most of those are on set schedules if they’re repeat events. Same day of the week, starting at the same time each session. When people find TV shows they like, in the time they have left to themselves, they look forward to them, but they also need, and look forward to them being on the same time, same day, for each episode. Because they end up missing some episodes if a show is moved to a time slot that conflicts with one of the kids’ sporting events, or a church group meeting, or whatever. People count on the TV shows they like being in the same time and place so they can make sure they’ll be able to watch them.
In a nutshell, the networks are driving their own viewers away because they don’t give decent shows like Commander In Chief and Jericho a long enough chance to succeed. If a show isn’t an instant hit, they yank it from the air. And I think both of these were hits, and certainly would have taken off ratings wise on their own if given the time. Look at what we would have missed out on if M*A*S*H had been yanked after its first year or two, which weren’t exactly stellar in ratings.
The networks don’t give even the best shows a decent chance anymore, and they wonder why the viewers are deserting them (the networks) in droves? It’s because we viewers can no longer count on anything from them except disappointment. We don’t want to let ourselves get too comfy with any of their new shows because we know that they’ll do it to us all over again, and pull them too soon to give them that chance that many of them richly deserve.
A final thought. Years ago, a series called “The Paper Chase”, based on the wonderful movie of the same name, started on one of the networks. If memory serves, it barely lasted one year, maybe part of a second. It was intelligent, well written, well acted. Thankfully for those of us who liked that series, cable TV was smart enough, recognized the potential of the series, and picked it up. It went to the old CBN network for a year, then on to Showtime. That was heaven for those of us, like my father and I, who loved every episode. It literally ran for 3 or 4 more years. And when it left, it had a chance to film a very believable finale. Law School graduation. A logical, fitting close to a wonderful series. Cable seems to know a quality show more often than the broadcast networks seem to. Two more recent examples of that? The Mystery Woman movie series on Hallmark Channel, and the Supranos on HBO. I rest my case. Both developed by the cable channels. They know their viewers are intelligent people who enjoy real quality in the programming they give up their precious free time to watch. The broadcast networks don't seem to have caught onto the fact that we viewers are intelligent, educated people. And they're paying for that short sightedness.
I just wish the cable and satellite channels would keep a closer eye on the broadcast networks and pick up the best of those shows like they did “The Paper Chase”, before those shows are pulled without even having a fighting chance. It’s not only unfair to the actors, writers, directors and other participants in a show, it’s also unfair to the thousands of viewers out here who are tired of being repeatedly disappointed when a quality, favorite show is cancelled. Commander In Chief and Jericho would be a good place to start that trend.
We can only take it so much, for so long. There’s an old saying that “The third time is the charm”. They’ve pulled Commander In Chief on us, now they’ve pulled Jericho. That’s two. One more, and for me the broadcast networks will lose another viewer or two. And it won’t be for just a few weeks’ “hiatus”.
| Many of us have run into times in our lives, professional and/or personal, where we feel some executive at some company (and not always the one where we work) has made a decision without thinking things through, looking at the complete picture, and worst of all, without consulting any of us ordinary people - those of us directly affected by that decision - to find out what WE think about their particular idea.
Many radio listeners in the Greater Cincinnati area got hit with the result of one such decision yesterday, Friday, March 30, 2007.
As I left work about 4:45 P.M. to pick up my daughter for her regular weekend with us, I turned on our Oldies station, WGRR (103.5 FM), as always. As I drove the roughly 1/2 hour trip from Fairfield to New Richmond, I heard many listeners calling in and expressing their deep feelings for and appreciation of the station's afternoon drive time (2-7 PM) DJ, Jim LaBarbara, aka The Music Professor. I started having a thought or two run through my mind that I didn't like: "It sounds like he's leaving." Then it was, "Is that true, and if so, was it his idea, or not?" I wasn't in the dark for long. But I sure didn't like what I heard, and later confirmed via the newspaper. That afternoon was Jim LaBarbara's last show on WGRR, and the gist of the wording he was using as he finally stated that fact for those of us that might have tuned in after he'd originally mentioned it made it sound like it wasn't his choice to leave.
"Prof", or "Professor", as most listeners and coworkers called him, is a walking Encyclopedia of the music world, and especially where true oldies, the music of the baby-boom generation (the 50's, 60's and 70's) is concerned. And it was obvious every time he spoke, how much he loves that music, and the artists (composers and performers alike) that created it. He personally knows many of those wonderful artists and spends time with them when they aren't performing as well as when they are. He became close friends with many of them. One of his favorite examples of that is his friendship with the late Gene Hughes, lead singer of the Casinos. (For those that don't quite place the name, one of their biggest hits was, "Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye".) Hughes' death from cancer really saddened the Professor, and he's talked since of the benefit concerts Gene and the Casinos had organized and performed in to help other artists of the time when they so badly needed it.
In his career he's spent time with the Crickets, the Beatles, the Monkees, and others. Another of his close friends is Peter Noone, the lead singer of Herman's Hermits. Peter would stop by the studio when he was in the area and chat with the Prof on the air, and even recorded an introduction for the Professor, that Jim periodically used to welcome listeners back after a commercial break, usually following it with a Hermits' song.
The Professor has been in radio for 48 years, 38 of it here in Cincinnati, and the last 15 on WGRR. [Ed. note: those statistic were part of an article in The Cincinnati Enquirer, on Friday, March 30, 2007]. The man knows our (baby boomers') music like no one else could hope to except those that were also there, living it as he has. His stories of those years, those people, and those songs were welcome staples of our afternoon drive home. He'd often give the history of a song, or the origin of it, as an introduction to playing it. And just as often, those explanations were given by the artist, in an interview with the Professor that had been recorded some time before. So we heard those historical facts straight from the source. And that just added to the appeal of Jim's show.
Then on Wednesday, March 28th, 2007, he was simply told that his contract would not be renewed. In an article in The Cincinnati Enquirer yesterday (Friday, March 30,, 2007), Jim was quoted as saying, "They said it had nothing to do with me, or my ratings, or my age. They said corporate wanted to make a change." The parent company, Cumulus, is located in Atlanta. What the heck do they know about our market, and our listeners?
To me, this is a classic example of a couple things. One, the old adage "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!". The other, the theme of this blog entry: the seeming disregard of beaurocrats and executives for those of us that help support them. By buying the products their stations advertise, for example.
When I told Kenzie about this, after she got over the initial surprise of the thing she phrased our mutual feelings better than my shock over it would let me at that moment. She said, "We don't want some young, 20-year-old, fresh-out-of-broadcasting-school person trying to tell us about our music." Thank you, sweetie. I couldn't have put it better myself.
And even many who don’t live in the area but frequently pass through here know the Professor and enjoy his show. For example, Budroe , when he was a truck driver, passed through here quite often. When I told him about this taking place, he said, “I too am familiar with 'The Prof'. His was the only reason I never minded driving through the seven hills during rush hour. Let me know where he lands. Maybe I can pull it in. Maybe he'll find Live365.com and give us all an online alternative.” Bud also hopes, as you can tell here, that the Prof is able to sign on locally and continue the work that he loves.
In that Enquirer article, the Professor says he's not ready to retire (he's 65), and he's hoping his off-air time is only temporary. We couldn't agree more. And one of the countless listeners that phoned into the show yesterday expressed another sentiment that I believe is reflected by many more of us listeners. He said that when LaBarbara finds another slot locally, that he (the caller) is going to change stations with him. I probably will, too. At least for the drive home if the Professor has that shift. And if not, I'll still be listening every chance I get. Especially if the station he goes to is one of Cumulus' competitors. Corporate went too far this time, and they're going to feel it. I wouldn't want to be their mailman, phone operator, or public relations person right now. May God bless you, Professor, for all the wonderful comments, stories, historical notes, honest feelings and songs you've shared with us for all these years. We'll hear you soon!