Media Grab Bag: WMNF and Why Cavemen Is Still Drawing Breath
In case you missed it, my colleague Brendan Watson did an interesting story last week about community radio station WMNF, noting that its latest fund drive marks the second time this year the station has failed to meet its fundraising goals.
The shortfalls are relatively small -- $50,000 in the spring and $22,000 this fall. But the trend is alarming, because the station joins public radio station WUSF-FM as Tampa's largest alternatives to the soul-deadening stuff clogging most commercial radio stations.
Brendan's piece cites a bunch of possibilities for the problem, including too-ambitious fundraising goals or the Columbus Day holiday. But I've always wondered about the way WMNF's fundraising works, which can make it difficult for new listeners to grow attached to the station.
When programming is supported by direct pledges, you can wind up with a schedule filled with programming which appeals to a small audience willing to pay for it. So WMNF winds up airing lectures by deceased Buddhist Alan Watts because a dedicated cadre of listeners ponies up pledges. But that doesn't help the station develop new listeners at lunchtime, and if the old supporters falter for any reason, you're really in trouble.
I have no idea whether that's a factor here. But I often wonder how a station like WMNF can feature more inclusive programming at key hours, if it gets too closely tethered to contributors whose tastes are more eclectic.
Today Show Goes to Earth's End for Story
The email we TV writers all got was enigmatic, telling us to call in at midday Tuesday for an conference call with all the marquee names on the Today show, along with it's executive producer Jim Bell. Industry blogs theorized that Bell was losing his job -- though I doubted that, because the networks never hold big, glitzy press conference to fire somebody. Turns out, Today's anchors will simultaneously broadcast from the top and bottom the world in early November as part of a green initiative by NBC parent NBC Universal.
It seems nobody has even done such a broadcast before. I'm wondering if that's because its actually kind of a boring idea....
Borderline TV Shows May Thank Writers Strike for Continued Life
Wayne Friedman at Mediapost's TV Watch theorizes that one reason why we haven't seen many new show cancellations in the new season's fourth week -- only Fox's Nashville has been yanked; only CW's Gossip Girl has been picked up for a full season -- is because of the looming possibility of writer's strike in Hollywood.
Friedman notes marginal new shows have been given orders for additional scripts -- allowing networks to stockpile material for a while. The by product of that for series, is that nets may resist canceling shows at such an uncertain time, giving some borderline shows a bit more time to find an audience than they would normally get.
Usually, that would be a development I'd champion as a TV critic. But that also means we may have to suffer through Cavemen for a few more weeks -- which is a bit more sacrifice than I had planned.