I have been very flattered by the comments on Facebook, and elsewhere, suggesting that many of you would like to see me on return to WLS or have a show on another Chicago terrestrial outlet, WIND. I am delighted that you appreciate my work on the air, but I disagree that either of those, or any other, 20th century over-the-air venues are the correct place for me, or for anyone who wants to create an innovate, intelligent listener experience in this exciting new media world that we are fortunate enough to live in. I have creative differences with the folks who run Jurassic media outlets, as in, I want to be creative, and they want something different.
Think of it this way. If you watch the Food Network, or like to cook, you probably have a favorite chef. Even if you don’t, you’ve no doubt heard of some of these terrific food artists, or perhaps seen one of those cooking competition shows. These people are passionate about what they do, creative and absolutely dedicated to serving something innovative and amazing. It’s not about just phoning it in, warming over the same insipid hash, throwing it out there, and hoping that the adage “hunger is the best sauce” will make it palatable. In short, if it’s not insanely great, at least as they see it, it’s not worth doing.
Now, imagine suggesting that one of these chefs should get a job at McDonald’s, frying up the fries and assembling the burgers. Please don’t misunderstand. I love McDonald’s, and I respect what they do: produce an inexpensive, consistent, filling meal. You can rest assured that what you find at Mickey D’s will be same in Omaha, Ossining, and Oxnard. It’s not special, but it is reliable, and that’s a good thing when that’s what you’re looking for. It’s a great place for a quick, convenient, cheap bite to eat. But how do you suppose our hypothetical talented creative chef would view McDonald’s as a work environment. It would be the definition of hell on earth! The opportunities-for-creativity factor? Zero. A Big Mac is a Big Mac is a Big Mac. Messing with the formula is not only not appreciated. It’s not acceptable. The need for culinary talent to do the job? Granted, even though I’ve never done it, I’m sure that doing the job of a McDonald’s cook requires a degree of time management and focus, and can be challenging. What I suspect it does not require is imagination, artistry or individuality. The menu is dictated from above. Ditto the presentation, and every other aspect of the dining experience; that is, if you can call talking into a speaker, and hoping that the garbled noise out of that speaker when the employee repeats your order is what you get in the bag that they hand you at Window 2 a “dining experience.”
Over-the-air radio is a lot like McDonald’s. It’s always there. It’s always the same, and most of the people who work there are meet a baseline level of competence. Some are probably even outstanding at what they do, and could possibly even end up doing fabulous creative work in their own world-class restaurants. I concede that for every million buffoonish ex-DJ’s and silly bimbos on terrestrial radio presented by their equally buffoonish bosses as clever, yet funny, public policy experts and brilliant analysts, there’s a Rush Limbaugh.
So, if you want the tasty, interesting, creative, delightful dishes that many of us in the new media are cooking up, you’ve got to come over to our boutique restaurants, as in podcasts. You can’t go to the counter at McDonald’s and order Boeuf A La Catalane and cold cucumber soup, and, with limited exceptions, you can’t flip on most over the air radio stations and hear the truly original, creative, and, slogans notwithstanding, “intelligent” programs you can hear in today’s podcasts. Think about how formulaic over-the-air radio is, and think about all the alternatives we have now. You can listen to what you want, when you want, where you want. You don’t ride around in a horse and buggy. Why in the world would you want to be consuming audio the way our great-grandparents did? Why listen to yet another two wacky guys who know very little about anything talking about everything show when you don’t have to?
There’s nothing I love more than creating an outstanding, uniquely entertaining, informative, truly intelligent, genuine funny substantive show of unparalleled quality, and the place where that’s happening today isn’t on over-the-air radio, Kids.
What say you?
Politics, Pop Culture, the Hottest Issues of the Day, and Your calls. The Teri O’Brien Show, featuring America’s Original Conservative Warrior Princess, Live and in color, Sundays 4-6 pm Central time at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/Teri-OBrien. Daring to Commit Common Sense, Fearlessly, and More Important, Cheerfully, in the Age of Obama.
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