What if there’s no local news, the future of Car Talk considered, it’s not the heat it’s the fire, shock value in a Minneapolis killing, and what Nora Ephron misses and doesn’t miss.
1) WHAT IF THERE WERE NO LOCAL NEWS?
Even the eyebrows of the most cynical journalists were raised a couple of weeks ago when the New Orleans Times Picayune announced it would only print a newspaper a few days a week. It was a big shoe dropping in the decline of the news business.
Another shoe dropped in Alexandria yesterday when KSAX TV dropped its local news programming. Now comes the big question: Will the people in the Alexandria market care?
The station is the sister of the Hubbard Broadcasting flagship KSTP in the Twin Cities.
“It came down to economics,” the station’s GM said.
This morning, even the station’s local website has been eliminated. It now directs to the Twin Cities’ station’s website. But the KSAX Facebook page is still up:
2) THE FUTURE OF CAR TALK CONSIDERED
There’s a pretty fair debate going on in public radio circles in the wake of Tom and Ray Magliozzi’s decision to retire their Car Talk show (I blogged about it here). It centers on NPR’s decision to trot out old Car Talk programs for rebroadcast once “Click and Clack” hang it up this fall.
In one corner, is Ira Glass of This American Life. He loves Car Talk, but he thinks rebroadcasting a deceased show doesn’t fit with the mission of public radio.
For all of public radio’s successes, the part of our mission we’ve always neglected the most is innovation. Our biggest shows — All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Marketplace, Fresh Air, A Prairie Home Companion — are decades old. The average age of our listeners keeps creeping upward. At 53, I am one of the younger public radio stars. My show has been on the air 17 years.
We need to make space for new shows, new talent, new ideas. That’s our mission, and ultimately, it’ll be good business, too, to have exciting new shows bring in new audiences.
And we don’t need Car Talk to shore up audience numbers on Saturday mornings. Thanks to Doug Berman, there’s another public radio blockbuster that’s building audience and loyalty on Saturday mornings right now — Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!
And in the other corner is Eric Nuzum, NPR’s VP of programming, who argues that Car Talks makes innovation possible, he says in a column aimed at the people who will make the decision — local public radio program directors.
We’ve learned from lots of experience that you can’t make a show a hit simply by putting it in a good time slot, or by placing it adjacent to Car Talk or Wait Wait. The last few decades are littered with programs that were placed after these two shows, only to fail. A show has to have intrinsic appeal to succeed, and it can demonstrate that in any time slot.
So there’s good reason not to move Car Talk. There’s also no compelling reason TO move it. All Things Considered and Morning Edition didn’t have to move for Car Talk to emerge. Car Talk didn’t have to move for Wait Wait to emerge, and Wait Wait won’t have to move so the next blockbuster can step up. Programs earn their place in prime time because they do a superior job of serving our audience. And program directors have the tools to recognize that potential anywhere on their schedules.
MPR’s program director, Steve Nelson, says MPR has not yet made a decision on Car Talk’s post-October life:
We haven’t made any final decisions about Car Talk. We’ll probably do that closer to October, when the guys stop producing new shows. What we do know is our listeners love the show, and because of that I’m interested to hear what they think. I’ll read the comments to this post if you’d like to share here, or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
3) IT’S NOT THE HEAT, IT’S THE FIRE
Sure, it’s hot today in Minnesota, but at least you’re not looking out the window wondering if the wildfire heading your way is going to reach your house.
Former Minnesota resident Mike Lynn isn’t so lucky and neither are thousands of other homeowners near the Flagstaff wildfire in Boulder, Colorado. He sent along video of Happy Hour on the deck last evening…
“We’re seeing flames now,” he said in an email last night. He has more pictures here (sign in as guest).
Wildfires seem to be breaking out all over Colorado. The smoke from them is expected to hit Minnesota today.
Former MPR colleague, Stacie Moncrief, who recently moved back to Colorado, went to the ballgame last night. But nobody can concentrate on just the ballgame…
Down around Colorado Springs, 32,000 people have been displaced by the biggest wildfire.
A wildfire is racing your way, you have minutes to pack two suitcases full of the most valuable items you own. What’s in your suitcase?
4) SHOCK VALUE
You don’t often hear the word pissed on MPR. An exception was made last night for the killing of a five-year-old boy in Minneapolis, shot to death while sleeping on a couch.
“It’s an outrage. And yeah, I’m pissed off. I’m plenty pissed off,” Minneapolis R.T. Rybak said in Brandt Williams’ story about the killing. “But I’m not the parent of a child who’s dead. And I think every person in this community needs to feel that pain that a family member feels when their kids die to be able to take the extreme action that it takes. Do not protect a person who is using a gun to kill a kid.”
Implying that someone is.
There’s a problem when the words a mayor uses on a radio station are initially more shocking than another killing of an innocent kid in north Minneapolis.
5) THE THINGS WE’LL MISS
Nora Ephron invited us to consider our mortality when she closed her 2010 book, I Remember Nothing with two lists considering the day she dies. That day was yesterday.
What I Will Miss
My kids · Nick · Spring · Fall · Waffles · The concept of waffles · Bacon · A walk in the park · The idea of a walk in the park · The park · Shakespeare in the Park · The bed · Reading in bed · Fireworks · Laughs · The view out the window · Twinkle lights · Butter · Dinner at home just the two of us · Dinner with friends · Dinner with friends in cities where none of us lives · Paris · Next year in Istanbul · Pride and Prejudice · The Christmas tree · Thanksgiving dinner · One for the table · The dogwood · Taking a bath · Coming over the bridge to Manhattan · Pie
What I Won’t Miss
Dry skin · Bad dinners like the one we went to last night · E-mail · Technology in general · My closet · Washing my hair · Bras · Funerals · Illness everywhere · Polls that show that 32 percent of the American people believe in creationism · Polls · Fox · The collapse of the dollar · Joe Lieberman · Clarence Thomas · Bar mitzvahs · Mammograms · Dead flowers · The sound of the vacuum cleaner · Bills · E-mail. I know I already said it, but I want to emphasize it. · Small print · Panels on Women in Film · Taking off makeup every night
(h/t: Open Culture)
Our turn. Go.
Here’s Kerri Miller’s November 2010 interview with Ms. Ephron…
Bonus I: The treasures outside the back door: Grey Cloud Island.
Bonus II: Russian Roulette. With eggs…
For the second time in six months, a child inside a house in north Minneapolis has been killed by stray gunfire. Nizeal Banks, 5, was killed less than three miles from the house where Terrell Mayes Jr., 3, was shot last December. Today’s Question: What can we do to protect children better?
WHAT WE’RE DOING
Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: Jonah Lehrer, author of “How We Decide.” Lehrer edits the “Mind Matters” blog for Scientific American and writes his own blog, “The Frontal Cortex.” His latest book is “Imagine: How Creativity Works.”(Rebroadcast)
Second hour: How companies learn your secrets. (Rebroadcast)
Third hour: Pamela Druckerman details her observations on why French kids seem to behave better and throw less tantrums. She also looks at how French mothers are able to maintain their pre-children life after having children. (Rebroadcast)
MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): Scott Simon/John Biewen special, “Groundwork: Democracy Close to Home.”
Talk of the Nation (1-2 p.m.) – The Political Junkie.
All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – In the race for president, elections can be won or lost in Florida. And victory in that battleground state can be centered around Orlando. The political terrain there has changed radically in recent years. So how might that play into Romney versus Obama? Robert Siegel traveled to Orlando to find out.