The unfortunate reality of radio layoffs continue. Recently, some of CBS Radio's big signaled AM stations, WBZ Boston, WCCO Minneapolis, and KDKA Pittsburgh lost their overnight talents. As difficult as it is for those affected, I have to commend CBS for attempting to make lemonade out of lemons.
Instead of simply running a delayed or repeat broadcast of some daytime talk show they chose to launch a brand new live overnight show. For most stations today the idea of a live overnight show is pure fantasy, so the fact that these stations had local shows in the first place is almost unbelievable. And then to replace the departed talent with internally produced live content is nothing short of a pleasant surprise.
Jon Grayson, originating from KMOX in St. Louis, is the host of the new show, "Overnight America." I had a chance to sample the show on WCCO Monday night and on first listen I thought it was pretty good--a mix of pop culture, politics, and conversation. The producer did a good job ensuring that there were phone calls from all four of the cities in which the show was airing.
The point of this post is not to critique the new show, but instead to point out that simply making the necessary cuts is not enough. We can't forget we are in the entertainment business--even in these cruddy economic times. What's the plan? How will these cuts and changes effect our listeners? When things improve (and they will) will our programming lineup be strong enough to take advantage of the inevitable upturn? Or will our product be a watered-down repeat broadcast or worse yet a indistinguishable jukebox?
As hard as it is, now is the time to be at our creative best. Sure, it would be better if we weren't in this mess, but we are. Those who step up and figure out how to design radio programming 3.0 will be the ones who have the best opportunity to prosper during the next wave of prosperity.
First it was live orchestras, 15 minute programs and the Lone Ranger and then it was DJ's, records, and breakfast clubs.