(photo: Luke Burbank, The New York Times)
We've been blabbing for months about NPR's experimental Bryant Park Project, a new NPR morning news attempting to bring a lighter 'tude, and reflecting a target 28-40 demo that wants news in different ways in the digital age.
It launches today on six stations nationwide (some on digital signals, but none in New York) and on Sirius Satellite radio. But most important, it'll be streamed on the interweb and podcasted.
KUOW's Arvid Hokansen says BPP will appear on their Olympia station, KXOT from 4 to 6 ayem. That's as close to our terrestrial market that it will get. (We're hearing BPP is pushing KXOT to run it in the more civilized (and listened to) hours from 7-9a).
According to a New York Times piece last week, the median age listeners of NPR’s newsmagazine programs is 53- not that different than other radio news formats.
(As the boomers start tipping over, the future of radio may be hanging in the balance).
NPR and BPP think that they can change that with new news formats, and a different (lite-er?) touch plus give the Next Gens the video, blog posts, podcasts, and listener commentary and community they require on its website.
The show takes its title from new studios overlooking the Manhattan park across the street, and has a first-year budget of $2 million.
Burbank, 31, who used to work in Seattle for KVI, Metro Traffic, KUOW, and was known around local comedy clubs has now really made it- at least in our small town eyes, particularly after The Times called him: "... a former NPR correspondent with a quirky streak." He says the show will be seeking the people who watch Jon Stewart, and read The New Yorker and Us Weekly.
Always ready with a sound bite, he says BPP's aimed at, “... people who take the news seriously but not themselves.”
But it's not easy to compete against Morning Edition which, at 13 million listeners, is the most popular show on public radio.
Brian Maloney, the conservative The Radio Equalizer says he helped Burbank get out of traffic and onto the air in 1998 on when Maloney was a talk host on KVI. But, he says, "The key will be getting NPR affiliates to carry it. That seems like a tall order."
It is. But NPR suits are expecting more stations will quickly sign up after it's launched. And Burbank told Blatherwatch, "Our future doesn’t lie in being on hundreds of stations (although we like terrestrial radio, and will happily jump on any frequency that wants us). Our viability is going to rely on lots of downloads on iTunes, and Sirius, and people streaming the show from our site and lots of member station sites."
Jay Kernis, the network’s senior vice president for programming, said die-hard NPR fans, sensitive to changes, should not worry that their favorites would adopt a similar style. “I think their fear is this is the direction we’re going to take public radio in, and that isn’t the point,” he said. “We’re not doing this for core listeners; we’re doing it to reach new listeners.” ...
The Bryant Park Project comes with extensive news credentials. The executive producer, Sharon Hoffman, arrived from a stretch at NBC News; the supervising senior producer, Matt Martinez, logged years at NPR newsmagazines. Ms. Stewart comes from MSNBC, where she led a show also called “The Most”; she still contributes there and at NBC News.
We highly recommend giving it a listen. Let us know if you think this is the future or the downfall of radio.