Monday, September 17, 2007

What do you want to hear on public radio?

The final round of the Public Radio Talent Quest is underway. There are five candidates left, and they've all uploaded snippets of the radio shows they would like to produce.

All five are high on concept, and almost all are equally skilled in their execution. By this point each contestant has demonstrated an ability to talk into a microphone and conduct interviews. Now we hear if they can put everything together into a cohesive and compelling package.

I have to say, I would listen to 4 out of 5 of these radio shows on a regular basis. I'll let you figure out which one is not like the others, because I don't really want to spend any time disparaging anyone. But while each 5 minute sample includes excellent writing, one potential radio host demonstrated in this round that s/he doesn't get radio the way the others do.

On the other hand, there were some pleasant surprises here. While I was a bit skeptical of Glynn Washington's idea for a program called Snap Judgment about the on-the-spot decisions people make that change their lives, for the second time we've heard him dig up a remarkable interview subject. I wanted to hear more than five minutes.

And while I suspect that Al Letson is going to need a bit more of a research staff (and a large travel budget) once he starts producing shows that aren't about Jacksonville, his demo was also great. He did an excellent job of packing multiple segments into a 5 minute demo while giving you a flavor of what a longer show would sound like.

It's too bad some of the earlier contestants didn't make it to the final round. I would love to have heard what some of them would have produced as demos for radio programs. But that's how these contests go. I only wish you could make enough money by producing independent podcasts that some of those folks would find it worth continuing to create original content.

1 comment:

finalrune said...

Nice overview of the candidates for the final round, and best of luck to all of them. My one criticism about the whole thing, is that even though these are fresh and unique voices, they still all sound, well... very "NPR." There are definitely some good show ideas, and needed areas to address, but nothing radically different from the kind of stuff that NPR airs already... Which, if you were to ask me where NPR could be improved, it would be by adding more diversity not more interview or clever documentary stories.

Oh well. Golden age of audio theater is long past!

Host, Radio Drama Revival!
Producer/Writer, FinalRune Productions

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