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Broadcast TV Drama and Comedy Struggling to Stay Viable? Turn to Radio March 7, 2009

Posted by William Spear in >> News, >> Out Basket.
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In Tim Arango’s article “Broadcast TV Faces Struggle to Stay Viable” (New York Times; February 28, 2009), he chronicles the challenging crossroads for broadcast television: high production costs overlain with shrinking advertising revenues and mixed in with new and increased competition for audiences. Sounds suspiciously like the recipe for a bailout.

Arango extrapolates a future littered and strewn with more reality shows. That bit of crystal ball gazing is grim enough on its own merits as to not require commentary from this publication.

The cast and crew of Lit Between the Ears has plenty of thoughts for invigorating a new creative and dramatic energy which will be saved for another column.

However, we do offer one new business model which can diversify the networks’ risks, spread costs, and tilt the odds in their favor of finding new hits and viable shows: radio.

We’ve previously argued for a business and asset development role radio can execute for televsion. In our article, Why Radio Works: TV’s Off Broadway [ http://twoplusplus.wordpress.com/2007/06/18/why-radio-works-tvs-off-broadway/ ; June 18, 2007 ], we positioned radio as a viable means for extending franchises and building brands.

Consider the plight of a new show. We’ll use the Secret Agent Dad series created by Two Plus Plus Productions - our parent company – for radio. Produce a dozen episodes for radio. When audiences with critical masses are realized, expand into television. Or film. Or stage. Investment costs for three to six hours of audio are a lot less than three to six hours of video.

When franchises from other media are sagging, tap into radio for a while. Try new storylines or characters. Beats scrapping a series before all its business value is realized. Brands can live longer.

Audio streams more easily than video so the web is more accessible. Downloads can be realized by larger numbers.

Production values are equal to anything visual. Production costs are a fraction of television.

Plus, radio does daily what television only gears up for infrequently: live dramatic performances.

That’s “real” reality programming.

Radio works. Without a federal bailout.

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LA Theatre Works: Sight Unseen by Donald Margulies on Saturday March 7 March 7, 2009

Posted by William Spear in >> News, >> Radio Drama.
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The Play’s The Thing

This Saturday, March 7 from 10 pm – midnight on 89.3 KPCC, L.A. Theatre Works’ The Play’s the Thing will air Sight Unseen by Donald Margulies, starring Adam Arkin, Jordan Baker, Randy Ogelsby and Anna Gunn (Gunn currently stars in the world premiere of Margulies’s Time Stands Still at the Geffen Playhouse).  In Sight Unseen, Jonathan Waxman is a hugely successful artist who receives exorbitant prices for his works – sight unseen. But a rendezvous with his original muse and lover causes him to re-evaluate the success that now controls him. This Obie Award-winning drama explores the artist’s role in society, the commerce of art, and the complications of love and memory.  The broadcast includes an interview with Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Donald Margulies. 

Next Saturday, March 14 from 10 pm – midnight on 89.3 KPCC, L.A. Theatre Works’ The Play’s the Thing will air Halcyon Days by Steven Dietz, starring Anne Archer, Ed Begley, Jr., and Richard Masur. Senator Eddie Bowman cannot see the point of invading a miniscule Caribbean island to rescue a bunch of overly tanned medical students. But as the 1983 invasion of Grenada gets underway, the Senator finds himself at odds with a mysterious foreign-policy specialist who cultivates roses, the President’s sexy new speechwriter – and his own son. The broadcast includes an interview with playwright Steven Dietz.

L.A. Theatre Works’ radio theater series, The Play’s the Thing, airs locally every Saturday night from 10 pm to midnight on 89.3 FM KPCC Southern California Public Radio, and is streamed at www.kpcc.org for one week following each broadcast.

To get a full schedule,  go to the L.A. Theatre Works website at www.latw.org and follow the link through the “Radio Theatre Series” heading and then “Episode Guide” or go directly to www.scpr.org for KPCC.

The series can also be heard on 89.7 WGBH in Boston; 91.5 FM WBEZ in Chicago; 94.9 KUOW in Seattle; 93.5 FM KRTS “Marfa Public Radio” in Texas; 90.5 FM KUT in Austin; 88.9 FM KUNM in Albuquerque; 91.5 FM, Interlochen Public Radio in Northern Michigan; 94.1 KPFA in Northern California; 91.1 FM KRCB in Sonoma County; 89.1 KUOR in Redlands; as well as on many other public radio stations nationwide.  Selected programs from LATW are also heard internationally over BBC World Service, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Radio Telefis Eirann (Ireland), Radio Hong Kong, and Radio New Zealand.  The L.A. Theatre Works Audio Theatre Collection is available in bookstores, libraries, through their catalog, digitally on itunes, overdrive.com, audible.com, and on the L.A. Theatre Works website at www.latw.org.

Additional support for the series is provided by AudioFile Magazine.  Listeners can visit their website at www.audiofilemagazine.com to view 65 reviews of LATW plays and hear sound clips from them. 

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