I've always looked at my job as a way to make connections with some very interesting, talented people...and use those connections to (hopefully) entertain and inform people who like to listen to the radio.
Some of these people work with me, like the incredibly hard working WNPR news team that keeps winning awards, or the producers of Where We Live - Catie Talarski and Libby Conn. Others are people we interview, who share their thoughts, ideas, emotions and stories with us.
The idea behind radio "programming" is that you make enough of these connections, and over time, people will pay attention...and listen enough to allow you to have a job.
So, I always want to take the chance to work with brilliant, funny, curious people. Which brings us to Monday August 31 at 1pm.
The Colin McEnroe Show has now made it's debut, and I'm pretty sure it's going to be great. For those who don't know, Colin hosted a successful talk show on WTIC in Hartford for 16 years, while continuing his career as a columnist, magazine writer and author. He was much beloved, much lampooned, much criticized and much respected (yes, Colin...respected). The cancellation of his show set off a listener mutiny, and a "Bring Back Colin" Facebook page.
As Jerry Franklin, our CEO, made clear in announcing this show to the press - our station's been in talks with Colin about bringing him here for years. And, I will say that none of this would have happened without the support of our former VP of Radio, Kim Grehn. This time around, everything (including the underwriters to help pay for it) all lined up.
In his Sunday column in the Hartford Courant, Colin writes about being "too uncool" for radio - as though that's what got anyone into public radio. (Has he seen our fundraisers in action? Has he carried our tote bags? Has he been to a Prairie Home Companion event? Cool, my friend, is not our strong suit.)
As part of a put-down of his own talents in that column, he admits to a thing that makes a great radio host: "a gift for verbal improvisation." It's something I hope I can get better at. Colin was born with it.
This show is going to be experimental. It's going to let us hear voices - especially those in our arts world - who we haven't covered enough. It's going to make us laugh. It may annoy the hell out of us. All of these things are not only okay...they're how you make interesting radio.
I don't know too many people who are more clued in to the way media works - and the ways to spread information - than Colin. He's no Howard Stern, but still...witness the massive (for Connecticut, mind you) media coverage his new show has gotten:
- A shout-out from daily newspaper writers, like The Day's Ted Mann and The New Britain Herald's Scott Whipple.
- Extensive coverage from the paper he still writes for, The Courant.
- Television coverage on Channel 3's Face the State.
- And more blog posts than I have time to link to. Blogs love Colin. Still pretty lukewarm on me.
While this is going to sound a bit like fodder for a press conference (which was very nice by the way. Seared tuna...yum) this new show is part of a plan to present local talk programming that makes important connections with our listeners.
Faith Middleton has already been doing this for nearly 30 years at 3pm. Where We Live (at a youthful three) has made it's mark at 9am. And now, we'll have a conversation in the middle of the day, too. A conversation that hopefully will enlighten you enough to listen every day.
Colin told his readers a story about riding in the car with his son, listening to NPR - and being unsure he could be as "calm and reasonable" as we are.
Seriously, Colin. If we were "calm and reasonable," do you think we'd be letting you start your own show?
Anyway, it's always fun to be around when something cool is going to happen. Tune in.