In this day and age, cross-media opportunities are rampant. Sean Hannity does both radio and TV. Frank & Wanda on V-103 air a 30-minute highlight show on CW 69 every evening. Atlanta’s Steve Harvey, who has a studio in Buckhead, takes highlights of his radio show and turns it into a TV show on Centric.
Now, a production company is experimenting by taking four different radio shows commenting on bits of pop culture news nuggets and merging them into something called “Dish Nation.”
Atlanta-based Rickey Smiley, heard locally on Hot 107.9 and in 55 markets nationwide, is part of the experiment.
Smiley, in an interview, said he is excited about the opportunity. “A lot of funny stuff we do in the studio doesn’t come off on the air,” he said. “The cameras will catch a lot of fun stuff in the studio.”
“Dish Nation” debuted last week in a handful of test markets, including Atlanta on Fox 5/WAGA-TV at midnight. So far, ratings have been decent in Atlanta, with “Dish Nation” finishing third last week behind Kimmel and the Tonight Show but ahead of Letterman and sitcoms in key demos and households. It’s set to air for six weeks before they decide whether to move forward with a full-season syndication deal.
The four morning shows also include Scott & Todd at WPLJ in New York, Blaine & Allyson at 96.3/WDVD-FM in Detroit, Felli Fel and Krystal Bee on Power 105.9 in Los Angeles. It’s a diverse group of radio hosts, providing a variety of viewpoints and jokes on specific topics. In a given 30-minute show, at least a dozen stories are touched upon and a celebrity interview from one of the shows is featured at the end.
“You get four comedic takes on the same story,” said executive producer Madeleine Smithberg, who co-created “The Daily Show.” “It’s fast-paced.”
Based on watching a few of the episodes, I have to say Todd is clearly a goofball and very funny. Blayne & Allyson have a natural rapport. Rickey Smiley and his team are always having a good time. In terms of humor, the weakest link in my mind is the crew out of Los Angeles of all places.
Smithberg said they send out topics the night before they want each team to talk about. They get shown clips. Then they just go. The show producers do a lot of editing, throwing in graphics and video based on what is said.
This format means Smiley has to talk about the Kardashians and “The Bachelorette” a bit more than he probably normally does. But he rolls with it. “We’re seasoned,” he said. “And we run a tight ship. We just take it and make it work. They’re not going to give us a topic we’re not familiar with.”
“He’s a force of nature,” Smithberg said.
On Tuesday’s show, for instance, they discuss Kim Kardashian: “Kim Kardashian: what is your obsession?” Smiley asks Gary with da T, one of his sidekicks.
“I’m sick of her,” Gary said.
“You would make love to her if you had a chance,” Smiley responded.
“Not in this lifetime!” Gary responded.
Smithberg said the breadth of personalities is what makes the show interesting. “This is America, man,” she said. “We are a hodgepodge. We’re all obsessed with the Kardashians – or not. This is a show that can poke a needle into the balloon and pop it and not have the reverence for entertainment some shows do.” (Then again, this isn’t nearly as cynical as, say, TMZ.)
“Dish Nation,” midnight, weekdays, WAGA-TV
By Rodney Ho, firstname.lastname@example.org, AJCRadioTV blog