Montreal Radio Blog

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

2011 Radio Musings


2011 was an eventful year for Montreal radio. We saw plenty of big names change positions on the dial and lots of station re-brandings. The Habs also found a new radio home and play-by-play guy. I’m glad to report that at Radio Centre-Ville, the English programming sched remained pretty much unchanged from the year before. In other words, thankfully I’m still on the air!

I can’t help but think about Montreal’s radio past. We lost Ted Tevan in 2011. His influence over an entire generation of Montreal-born radio people cannot be understated. Tevan knew how to entertain and understood that when you make a living on the radio, it's important to differentiate yourself from your competition. Of course, those were the days when they actually allowed you that freedom. It’s rarely about personality anymore - it‘s primarily about the brand.

And speaking of personality and influences. I have a great fondness for overnight announcers of old. I remember listening to Dave Patrick in the 1980s put on a show between 12-4 AM that was better than most of what you will find in daylight hours on many talk stations nowadays. You could have made the same argument when it came to Peter Anthony Holder. His show was less geared toward the “what’s on your mind” crowd though.

I still think the best talk radio is heard after midnight. It’s less inhibited and allows for the more colourful personalities and “regulars”. They don’t count the ratings for overnights, so these kind of shows have become expendable. I was a night shift worker for many years and believe me, when it is gone, it leaves a huge void.

Another year is about to end. Before you soak up the usual predictions for 2012, remember that most of the big news stories of 2011 caught everyone totally off-guard. We’ve got too many talking heads and too many advice dispatchers. Either way there is a lot of money to be made in scaring people or attempting to tell them how to “repair” their lives. I don’t know what will happen next year, I just hope it involves good health, love, and economic stability for everyone.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Musings II

YouTube has allowed for a limitless amount of creativity to take form over the past few years. No doubt, you can spot some real talented filmmaking there, but those who have that gift are in the minority. When it comes to live broadcasting, and I use that term very loosely, it is even worse. 

I discovered Justin TV and Ustream about a month ago because “The Digital Life Show” was experimenting with live streaming. We had a few technical issues, but at least in that case, there was some actual content. That can’t be said of most of what you will find there.

What strikes me most about Justin TV in particular is how some people are streaming TV feeds or recorded shows and movies almost around the clock. The copyright issue definitely exists, but apparently the copyright holder has to make the first move in requesting the content be taken down.

Aside from the above, there is some interesting stuff available that is totally legit, like a live cam in Australia or a guy with a camera in his truck as he rolls down the highway. You can also follow “gamers” do their thing, which I suppose would interest some people.

There is however, an ugly side to the live streaming. The extreme narcissism, otherwise known as lifecasting, is breathtaking to behold. There are what seem to be endless pages of people - mostly attractive young females, who just sit in front of their web cams expecting to draw an audience for no other reason than that they are sitting in front of their cameras. It’s obvious who checks them out and why… Voyeurism has never been easier, especially when people seemingly invite you into their homes. These people have taken their cue from reality TV, and believe that fame does not come from accomplishment or talent, it comes from simply being seen and/or heard. That stands true even if you have nothing to say.

And speaking of reality TV… There are now more TV channels than we could ever have imagined possible. The problem is that content has not kept up with content providers. The audience is fragmented like never before, but what are they watching? When was the last time you checked  your TV sched? It’s a sad state of affairs. We live in the golden age of editing, because in essence that is the most important element for any so-called reality program. These editors must be geniuses to even attempt to make programs about cupcakes and hog hunters seem remotely interesting, never mind entertaining. Scripted programs are rarer than they have ever been and that is sad for many reasons. One of the biggest is that there is less work for those who create and star in them. Just look at the death of the American soap opera, which will likely be totally extinct by the mid-way point of this decade.