Category Archives: Television

Cable news audience old and white

How old is the cable news audience? According to a piece by Frank Rich in New York Magazine, real old. And real white.

With a median viewer age now at 68 according to Nielsen data through mid-January (compared with 60 for MSNBC and CNN, and 62 to 64 for the broadcast networks), Fox is in essence a retirement community.

Two percent of Mitt Romney’s voters were black. According to new Nielsen data, only 1.1 percent of Fox News’s prime-time viewership is (as opposed to 25 percent for MSNBC, 14 percent for CNN, and an average of roughly 12 percent for the three broadcast networks’ evening news programs)

True Detective

“Think of the hubris it must take to yank a soul out of non-existence into this meat. To force a life into this thresher. My daughter spared me the sin of being a father.”

Whew. I mean… Just watched the second episode of True Detective (HBO). It’s too early to compare it to other series, we’ll have to see if it can sustain this level of intensity. I hope so?

I found myself think of other movie detective partners. Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman in Se7en. Gene Hackman and Roy Scheider in The French Connection. McNulty and Bunk in The Wire.

But Matthew McConaughey brings something I haven’t seen in a while. (Never?) Maybe it’s what Curtis said… the business with the cigarettes? I almost passed out a couple of times, holding my breath, waiting for him to exhale.

I also heard echoes of Martin Sheen’s voice-overs from Apocalypse Now.

By means of portable camera

Time for Talk was (is?) a public access program on the local cable system in Kennett, MO. As I recall, it started about the same time I began working at the local radio station, KBOA.

Time for Talk was a labor of love for Dr. Russ Burcham (a local dentist) and his wife, Rosemary. Rosemary did the interviews and Russ worked the camera. Sort of Wayne’s World with Aunt Bea and Sheriff Taylor replacing Wayne and Garth.

Time for Talk was 15 minutes long, as I recall. And it was kind of big deal in our little town because it was about the only way you’d ever see your self on television without getting arrested or dying in bus crash.

Because I was “on the radio,” Russ and Rosemary had me on several times over the years. Before YouTube, the only way you’d see one of these treasures was to go to Kennett.

This one was recorded in 1998, fourteen years after I left Kennett. Rosemary asked me to talk about the website I created for the local station (my first effort at a website). Enjoy.


No new television viewers being born

I’m a child of the TV era. Some of my earliest memories are from and about television. I’m the fish and TV is the water. Which makes recent comments by BuzzFeed President Jon Steinberg all the more… I can’t think of the word that finishes this sentence. At a recent conference Steinberg predicted content will be “completely decoupled” in the next five years.

“The average television viewer right now, for right now, for network television, late 40s, early 50s. When you look at certain cable news networks it goes even higher. So you have one of two possibilities: Either at 47 years old, everybody starts watching television. Unlikely. Or there’s no new newspaper subscribers being born, for print. And there’s no new television viewers being born. I think that’s probably the likely choice.”

And this factoid (?) from Pew Research: “by 2015, almost half of all television viewing will be done by folks over the age of 50.”

As much as I loved TV growing up, I don’t care much for what it has become. Neither broadcast or cable/satellite. I’m ready for media evolution/revolution.

Why local TV is alive (if not well)


I avoid local TV like dog poop on the sidewalk but it seems to be alive and well, perhaps for the same reasons millions of people still use AOL. Here’s a couple of pulls from a commentary by Terry Heaton, a guy who seems to know a lot about TV

“The concept of network content distribution through local affiliates is what’s being challenged by the Web. Local broadcasters are middlemen in the delivery of network content to the masses, and that was fine in a world absent horizontal connectivity. My version of Gilmore’s Law is that “the net regards middlemen as a failures and routes around them,” and I’m not alone in this thinking. The networks simply can do their thing far more efficiently — and thereby, profitably — by going directly to consumers.”

Oh, now I remember why I stopped watching local TV.

“Local television is still atop the heap in terms of delivering the goods for certain advertisers, most notably political candidates. Saturating the airwaves — especially in key states — with ads for those running, delivers incredible profits for local broadcasters. This is not going to change, and absent some major innovation that pushes campaign managers elsewhere — perhaps mobile? — the money is going to continue to support local broadcast companies.”

“Zero TV” households

tv-staticThat’s what Nielson calls folks who “fall outside the traditional definition of a TV home. There are 5 million of these residences in the U.S., up from 2 million in 2007. […] The number of people signing up for traditional TV service has slowed to a standstill in the U.S.”

And then there are the “cord-nevers.” Young people who move out on their own and never set up a landline phone connection or a TV subscription.

The 700 Club

“We had unwritten policies in place at The 700 Club, for example, that denied access to overweight people. We required people who wrote to us to report a “miracle” to include a photograph, so that we could filter people out based on how they looked. We wanted youngish, intelligent, attractive and articulate people to counter the view that Christians are all stupid Bible-thumpers. We very rarely, if ever, invited guests on the show that were overweight or fit the stereotypes discovered in the Gallup study. When crowd shots were taken in the studio, the camera operators were advised to zoom in on the most attractive people in the audience. None of this was written down, of course; it was just understood.”

Terry Heaton was a producer for the 700 Club in 1981