Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Tale of Two Showgrams

The past two days we heard the best and worst of The Hardline.

The showgram's coverage of the Ranger's bankruptcy announcement was amazing.  They had Chuck Greenberg on within hours -- great work by someone there, a producer, station management.  Possibly Greenberg's public relations people.  Doesn't matter.  And although I missed some of the broadcast, I thought I caught a bankruptcy expert on a little bit later on the same show (it might have been the end of Greenberg's interview, but it sounded like whoever it was was talking technicalities).  Great job, the interviews were good.  The Ticket and The Hardline at their best.

Then  .  .  .  yesterday.  You can't even call this a failed bit.  You could sense the train wreck coming from the second that Mike tried to introduce it.  They were going to be interviewing a bankruptcy lawyer, but Mike couldn't seem to read his name, and in any event he couldn't pronounce it.  Pronounced it several different ways -- Defoe, Dafore, Dayfoe.  Danny didn't know, either.  The next time Mike teased it, he got the guy's first name wrong and had to come back and correct it a little later.  Show prep, hmm.

Let's stop here for a minute.  Even before the interview, I'm thinking:  OK, what's happening here?  This isn't one of those lawyer "friends of The Ticket" who come on from time to time to offer informed commentary on specialized issues.  This is someone new.  Now, Ticket guys and Ticket management know lawyers.  In the first place, you can't avoid the damned things, and in she second place, The Ticket is a multimillion dollar business even apart from Cumulus, and those businesses usually have very capable lawyers clustered around them, although one would not expect The Ticket to be needing any insolvency counsel.  Mike and Corby probably had legal counsel the last time they signed Ticket contracts.  Is this a guy that someone at The Ticket invited to come on the showgram?  Was he recommended by one of Cumulus's corporate lawyers?  If so, you would think that the show prep would have included somebody knowing the guy's name and how to pronounce it.  And -- more importantly -- might have done a very brief pre-interview to see if the guy was ready for drive time.

But I had another thought, which may excuse The Hardline.  This lawyer might have been a gigantic P1 who called a producer or someone and begged to come on the show, claiming bankruptcy expertise.  (A professional can't buy any better advertising in this radio market.)   And The Hardline, being a generous and soft-hearted and definitely a P1-friendly bunch, said sure, we'd like to learn more about this bankruptcy caper.  Good idea.  So they wrote the guy's name down, and no one was quite sure how to pronounce it, and they slotted him in for a segment.  Had no idea what they were getting.  Poor Mike, underinformed, struggles through the teases.

Then the guy comes on, and he is an utter buster.  He sounded nervous.  His voice was radio-adverse.  He was unspeakably dull and slow (although knowledgeable enough).  Mike conducted the interview, and soon sounded like he would have preferred to be surrounded by a pack of consultants wearing Cubs paraphernalia.  I tried to imagine he and Corby and Danny and Grubes looking at each other, rolling their eyes, grabbing their throats, searching desperately for a way out of this segment which was in the process of single-handedly raising the drive-time ratings for 103.3 KESN by five points.  The guy droned on.  Mike manfully attempted to maintain interest.

Finally -- a new voice.  Corby.  He spoke very slowly, in an unaccustomedly low register, his voice dripping with contempt and disgust.  Well, sir, he said, this is a very technical area -- or words to that effect -- and then:  "but you've made it fun for us."   

At that point I pictured Danny and Grubes unable to contain their mirth, blowing bits of their earlier Taco Bueno repast out their noses and severing their optic nerves.  A perfect ending to a Three-Mile Island segment -- Corby going from delightfully abrasive, falling all the way through annoying asshole, and skidding to a stop at ungracious prick.  A very funny prick, but a prick nonetheless, and I'm a big Corby fan and defender.  An amazing performance:  this esteemed BK counselor had managed to focus a spotlight on everything that Confessors criticize about The Hardline and to undo their really superb work of the day before.

No one was saved.

The Musers could retire the E-Brake award on that segment.

God, I'd love to know the inside baseball on that one.


Phil K. said...

Just had to say that GAC on 1033 had Greenburg on about a half-hour before Hardline had him. My guess is that maybe Greenburg initiated the media blitz.

The Plainsman said...

Thanks very much, Phil K. I was just thinking that I should post a note of thanks to guys like you who write in with additional information and corrections. I can't listen as often or as broadly or as closely as some of you guys, and I really appreciate the background and pointing out when I get stuff wrong. I'm at work pretty much all the time I'm listening, and I mishear stuff or don't always get all the context. I think you're right that there was probably a Greenberg media initiative. Thanks again.