Thursday 29 Sep 2016

2014 Year End Review
Matt Seinberg

So much happened in 2014 that it would be impossible to talk about it all, so I'll just recap my thoughts on certain subjects.

Television

This year we lost two wonderful shows on HBO, "Boardwalk Empire" and "The Newsroom." Although different as night and day, the production values, writing and acting on both were superb.

"Boardwalk Empire" lasted five seasons on HBO, with the last season having only eight episodes. The final eight episodes, of “Boardwalk Empire,” most expected, would tie off lose ends from previous seasons. Instead, flashbacks, sometimes surreal and mostly of key characters in his or her youth, dominated each episode.


The story wills out.

Only in the final scene does the series will out. Nucky had an associate, Jimmy Darmody. At the end of season two, Nucky executes Darmody, as untrustworthy and, maybe, as a traitor. In the last scenes of the series, Tommy Darmody, son of Jimmy, assassinates Nucky.

Stale, trite irony, perhaps, but as Nucky slumps down and back on to his beloved Boardwalk, dying and dead, the often-surreal last season becomes clear. Those eight episodes comprised the death-fever dream for Nucky. The flashbacks, in a sense, were his life passing before his eyes as he fell from standing alive to crumpled dead.

“Boardwalk Empire” finished as it lived, that is, classy. Nucky didn’t awaken to find the past five years a dream, as is too often done. The show didn’t fade to black under happy voices and a pop hit, as did “The Sopranos,” leaving fans to hope for more televisions seasons or a film. “Boardwalk Empire” had the good sense to end, finally and completely.


"The Newsroom" made viewers think.

"The Newsroom" was a typical Aaron Sorkin production. By that, I mean it really made you think and pay attention to what was going on, just like some of his other series, "Sportsnight" and "The West Wing." Sorkin writes intricate stories, blink one to many times and you missed something.

“The Newsroom” lasted the seasons, but the stories and issues it tackled were phenomenal. From Boston to Benghazi, they were on top of the news in their timeline, which was about a year behind actual time. Jeff Daniels as newscaster, Will McAvoy, truly showed his acting chops, going from a twisted martinet to a loving husband and friend.

That side really came through when his best friend, News Director, Charlie Skinner, played by Sam Waterston, died of heart attack. McAvoy ended up singing with his two grandsons and saying a few words about Charlie before heading back to the newsroom, business as usual.


This is the last season for "Two and a Half Men"

This is also the last season for "Two and Half Men," thank goodness. Although Ashton Kutcher ably stepped in for the fired Charlie Sheen, the twist this season of Walden and Alan (Jon Cryer) pretending to be gay just to adopt a child was ridiculous.

Here are the shows that were cancelled and I called most of them back in September. "Selfie", "Bad Judge," "A To Z", (I really liked that one!), "The Millers", (Marcy really liked that one.), and "Stalker," (second in row strikeout for Dylan McDermott)

Radio

Ugh, what can we say about radio that hasn't been said before? The most notable radio news was the passing of long time Boston radio personality, Dale Dorman or "Uncle Dale" as he was affectionately known to his listeners.


When ownership regulation vanished, radio died.

I was talking to Airchexx.com webmaster Steve West the other day; we agree the Telecom Act of 1996 is fully responsible for the state of radio, today. When ownership limits fell away, it allowed these huge corporations to amass hundreds of radio stations across the country and under their control. That led to huge layoffs, with less people doing more work, often for less money.

Steve and I agree that it's the bean counters, the accountants and finance geeks, which are fully responsible for radio, today. When a publicly owned company has huge debt and very few ways to make more money, what happens? More layoffs occur and the product suffers. That's sort of like taking three people off assembling a car that needs four. That one person is not going to a good job.

Most radio Programme Directors (PD), today, run two-to-four stations, simultaneously, if they're lucky. Some PDs run six station, they are also the Operations Manager. How many hours a week can they spend on any individual station, and give it the attention it deserves?

Steve and I are also of the opinion that radio, as we know it, today, will not be the same in five years. Many companies, such as iHeartradio, will collapse under the weight of their debt, declare bankruptcy and be forced to sell stations off for pennies on the dollar.


Who might buy a radio station, today?

Who will buy those stations? Smaller companies, with no debt and actually believe that radio should be live and local, with people in the studio from 6 am to at least 12 am. Let's face facts; there are no ratings for those overnight hours. Automation, voice tracking or syndicated programming, which only night owls care about, rules.

I used to do an overnight show and let me tell you it was tough. I sat alone in that studio from 11 pm to 6 am, and wondered if people were actually listening. I was thrilled when the phone rang and listener made a request. I was even more thrilled when someone called and was willing to bring me something to eat or drink and wouldn't take any money.

Will radio have value in five years? Will the connected home and car truly make it obsolete? With all the music-streaming services available, radio has to offer something that they don't and that's immediacy, intimacy and human contact.

Sure, the days of super star DJs, such as Dan Ingram, Ron Lundy, Larry Lujack, Dale Dorman, Robert W. Morgan, Rick Shaw, the Florida one, and Ron Chapman, are gone, but there have to be replacements to inspire the listeners and pick the pockets of the advertisers.

The only way that will happen is if radio implodes and starts all over again. It’s like going back to the future.


Matt Seinberg lives on Long Island, a few minutes east of New York City. He looks at everything around him and notices much. Somewhat less cynical than dyed in the wool New Yorkers, Seinberg believes those who don't see what he does like reading about what he sees and what it means to him. Seinberg columns revel in the silly little things of life and laughter as well as much well-directed anger at inept, foolish public officials. Mostly, Seinberg writes for those who laugh easily at their own foibles as well as those of others.

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