Monday, August 24, 2009

The Future of Radio...Really?

I just had a little dustup in the Twittersphere about the future of radio.

Aw, let me backtrack a little bit. Anyone who knows me and listens to my podcasts knows how much I love radio. I love radio passionately. I still fall asleep with my iPhone next to my ear, playing my favorite Internet radio station, much as I did with my little red transistor listening to CKLW back eons ago.

And anyone who knows me knows that I was laid off from my beloved newspaper job recently. I am, and have been all my life, a media maven. Gobbling up as voraciously as I could all forms of media: TV, radio, newspapers, magazines. Constantly they filled my little life. They were what I cared most about.

So it is with great sadness that I say again here, as I've said many times in my blog, my podcast, on my Facebook page, and on Twitter, that I think media, at least old school media that we used to know, is DEAD.

Newspapers are dead. Magazines are dead. Radio is dead. TV is on its last legs, and is trying to rejigger itself to the new medium which lives and has swallowed all of them whole: the Internet.

That is my stance, and my belief. Further, I believe that any of us who used to be in media should get our relative acts together and reappropriate them to the Internet or face our own destruction. There is no retooling of the old stuff to make it work. It's broken, it's gone. Let's all move on, shall we?

So, I came across this post from someone in media whom I did respect. Someone on Twitter who always posts enlightening, interesting posts (whom I will not name here). He was directing us to another guy, an old-school radio guy, who was proclaiming "The Future of Radio." In the dustup that ensued, the respected guy offered, "No, really. Just so you know, he's a new media evangelist."


And that means that he gets paid big bucks for offering his opinion on where we are at and where we are going? Really? Really now?

I checked out the man's blurb for this "Future of Radio" webinar. Here is the statement which stopped me dead in my tracks, openly mocking everything else that came after: "designing the format clock to maximum advantage." Really? That's what the future of radio involves? Continuing to perpetuate the scourge of radio foisted upon us in the 70s, the "format"? The one where you pick from A, and B, and C, to come up with a repetitive mix that is pleasurable to listeners? Really?

Does this man, this "new media evangelist" (oh, excuse me, "RAB Certified Digital Marketing Consultant" (choke, cough)) even own an iPod? And is the format-churning radio really relevant for anyone anymore? Are my facts wrong, or has radio been bleeding listeners like newspapers have been bleeding readers? Even the current format-oriented radio stations? Much less ones out there in the "future."

Boys and girls, the horse has left the barn. It's moved on to other things. And if I didn't have friends I care about programming radio stations, I wouldn't even be listening to the Internet radio I listen to now, I'd be surfing on and Pandora and any number of alternate music sources. To say nothing of the vast horizon of music-oriented podcasts out there.

The new media evangelist goes further to talk about "brand loyalty." Really? There is brand loyalty to old-school prepackaged radio stations? Hm. Not in my world. I cannot imagine any way you could "redesign the format clock" to make it work in my world.

The last terrestrial radio station I listened to, and loved, was LA's Indie 103.1 (and now listen to in its Internet format). One thing not having it around has made me really realize is that the whole premise that radio today is based upon: repetition to create "hits" is annoying as hell. I really don't wanna hear a song six times in one day. No matter the song, no matter how much I like it. For that matter, I don't want to hear it three times in one day. Once a day is just fine. Once a week is even better.

That's my preferred listening mode these days. I would venture to bet that most people follow along these lines. Having CDs in their car to listen to, walking around with their iPods or Zunes. Maybe radio plays in the background at a party.

It just kills me that someone gets big bucks for telling people how to put a finger in a dyke that's already burst. And furthermore, the man's picture on the promo piece is SKEWED. Sheesh. Some evangelist. Can't even get his Photoshop right.

What do you think?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Julie and Julia Sings

The Julia Child that I remember was the stumbling over, too drunk version of herself that was almost a caricature. So it is good to remember, instead, her early days. The days that made her what she is/was: a star in the cooking pantheon.

"Julie and Julia" is really the story of the writer, Julie Powell (who wrote the book on which this movie was based). But it is Julia Child who is the fascinating one, and played by Meryl Streep (arguably our best living actress), those moments are riveting.

Meryl Streep is just (again) astonishing. Child had a very peculiar cadence to her voice, and Streep's vaunted facility for accents captures every nuance. But it's more than that. It's the way she holds her head, the way she walks. The way she seems like such a huge presence on screen (Child was larger and taller). And deep, deep in her characterization, there is a passion, a love that perhaps didn't appear so much in the Child of late that we knew.

This Julia Child loves Paris. Loves France. Loves French cooking. Loves her husband. It was a wondrous time in her life, and every single second of it was riveting to me.

Ann Roth's costumes are simply superb. Nora Ephron's direction really serves the story.

I didn't think it possible, but you are truly drawn into both women's stories. Amy Adams is more engaging and fetching than she has been in awhile. Supporting characters like the always amazing Jane Lynch, and Mary Lynn Rajskub from 24, make this a very fun movie to watch.

You probably will want to go out to eat afterwards, though, so have a good French restaurant lined up.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Funny People Not Funny

You hear the name Judd Apatow, most likely you're recalling at least one of the funny movies he's responsible for. I mean, sure Knocked Up, while being funny, was also a treatise on the vast disparity between men and women sometimes. But by and large, it was funny. That's what one comes to expect from him.

Funny People was distinctly not funny.

That said, it was one of the most real and poignant commentaries on the state of Hollywood of any movie out there. It really left me thinking deeply afterwards (as Knocked Up did as well). This is the sign of a great movie. I just wish it wasn't so disturbing.

Adam Sandler, who shows he can really touch those dramatic heartstrings, and that he's maybe lived a few of these moments himself, stars as the super famous comedian lead. You see him walk through his day: signing autographs, taking pictures with fans. Then, finding out he's dying.

You see him chewing on this information as he walks through his humongous gilt laden castle of a home. It is the soul of the artist laid bare, and it's painful to watch, frankly. We wanna see our comedians make us laugh. We don't wanna see their angst-ridden crisis of conscience as he looks around and finds no friends or family around him.

What evolves is that he takes a struggling comedian under his wing and we have a sometimes funny buddy picture with the two of them. But what remains and runs like a scathing current throughout is the real fact that while his comedy is top-notch, his people skills are not. His whole life has been in service of the funny, and along the way he kinda neglected the whole wife-family-kids thing.

It ends, as you'd expect it to, on a note of hope. But along the way, you are walking through this man's sad, sad life. It's very real, very inside Hollywood. Just probably not a place many want to stay for very long.