Monday, November 17, 2014

Being Frank About Media

Have you seen "The Flash," the new TV show from Marvel comics? It's on the CW network and it's about a man who becomes a super fast superhero following a laboratory accident.
I wonder where I will see "The Flash" in January when WTTV becomes the CBS affiliate. My local cable company doesn't carry WISH-TV so, unless something changes we will have two CBS affiliates on our cable and no CW and no Flash. 
This is hardly worth mentioning except it illustrates what has happened to the media in recent years. 
Media is so fractured with Internet services like iTunes that traditional media such as newspapers, TV stations and radio stations have more competition for advertising revenue. It was this situation that undoubtedly led to CBS and Indianapolis' WISH-TV to part ways. According to information released a few months ago, WISH-TV and CBS could not come to a financial agreement and after 40-some years, WISH-TV will not be a CBS affiliate come Jan. 1. Instead, WTTV will become the CBS affiliate in Indianapolis and my buddy, "The Flash" will have to run somewhere else for a Central Indiana audience. Andy maybe run faster than ever. 
Media is business. Larger audiences allow media outlets to charge more money for ads. It is that simple. So, the challenge for each media outlet is to attract larger audiences. 
The first radio station broadcast was coverage of a live event.  Live events are expensive unless someone picks up the bill. Stations soon learned it was much cheaper to pay someone to play records than to broadcast live events.. Soon, licensing organizations were formed that charged radio stations to play the records and the money was distributed to the talent and record producers. 
WLS, Chciago, and other ABC-owned radio stations learned to combine records and personality to attract larger, younger audiences with spendable income. WLS replaced live broadcasts of groups like The Maple City Boys with popular records.
WGN, Chicago managed to produce the personality format without paying licensing organizations to play records. So, Wally Phillips and Bob Collins became household names in the Midwest.
What will media do in the future to attract larger audiences?  
Some local newspapers are running fewer wire stories in favor of more local coverage. "If it  happens today its in the paper tomorrow."
But that works only if most readers care about what happens today. So local stories have to be presented in a way that's appealing to readers.
It's all about the reader/viewer/listener. Just because it happens in your hometown doesn't mean a lot of people will want to know about it. 
So will I get to watch "The Flash" in January? It might be on at the same time but not the same station.

Frank Phillips is a reporter for The Brazil Times. He can be contacted at