TV Writers Taking Cheap Shots at Radio
Maybe I’m too thin-skinned, after all I grew up watching TV turn the name Larry into a punch line (Larry, Darryl and Darryl — Larry the neighbor on Three’s Company — Larry Fine of the Three Stooges — Cousin Larry on Perfect Strangers – Larry David – and “Larry” the goofy guy in seemingly every TV spot in the 80s.) – but I have noticed a trend on TV lately and it has me wondering how radio has wronged so many TV writers.
Cartoons, sit-coms and dramas are all taking cheap shots at radio. DJ’s, talk hosts, producers — everyone is being bullied! (It’s a hot topic of discussion on this week’s Radio Stuff Podcast – click here and FF to 26:00 to listen)
I first became aware of the anti-radio trend in January when Rich Eisen guest starred on NBC’s GO ON! with Matthew Perry. Eisen congratulates Perry’s radio host character for…”being the number one host in a local market of a dying medium.”
I cringed, laughed and tweeted about it. And forgot it, until I was watching Curious George with my son. George is locked in a radio studio and somehow figured out how DJ. I instantly recalled the snarky remark by Eisen and thought, “hmmm.”
A monkey as a DJ? A little “on the nose” for me as it comes to commentary about the industry, but it was the closing line of narration that slammed it home, “George was very proud of himself. He had run an entire radio station. Maybe someday he could even learn how to tie his shoes.” Listen: Curious George – Runs the radio station
Then (gasp!) Bob the Builder started taking jabs and mocking radio. Here’s DJ Mike Turntable (a nice reference for parents) who teaches a scarecrow how to be a DJ in two steps, “Just push this button right here and remember, when telling stories on the radio…BIGGER is WAAAAY better!” Listen: Bob The Builder – Easy Peasy
But, Bob the builder didn’t stop at mocking DJs. At one point a producer — who knows “lots and lots” about radio — is asked for an idea and responds by saying, “I’m the producer, I don’t actually have any ideas myself.” Listen: Bob The Builder – Im the producer – no ideas myself
But, wait there’s more.
ENGINEER: I lost the signal and trying to get it back. It’s not as easy as queuing up the next Van Halen track.
DJ: Now, why is it that engineers always act superior to DJs?
ENGINEER: Because we’re smarter, Phil.
And then there’s another scene (Listen: Under The Dome – not a news station) where the TV reporter confronts the folks at the radio station why they hadn’t reported the news that that they are all under a dome. The engineer responded, “we’re not a news station.” And so the TV reporter took control of the radio station. Sure, she did.
Yes, I know, mocking radio has been a favorite hobby of TV for a while now. But, WKRP and Newsradio always seemed to be kind, good-natured, eye-winking, send-ups of radio. Laughing WITH radio at its absurdities as opposed to laughing or mocking AT it. (LISTEN: WKRP in Cincinnati)
Radio – we’re not so bad, are we?
Maybe it’s time for the industry to hire a PR firm.