Thursday, December 15, 2011

On Media

A couple of weeks ago, I went to a tribute to Roy Leonard. Roy is a very well known radio and tv personality but most of you probably haven’t heard of him because he went off the air back in the 90s. I didn’t move to Chicago until 2002 so I never got the pleasure of hearing his show, but man it seems like it was extremely popular. He loved theatre and talked a lot about it and even led theatre trips to London and New York. Roy was one of those folks who were instrumental in creating the extraordinary audiences we have for theatre today.

This morning I was at a meeting at a media outlet to essentially complain about the lack of coverage they are providing for theatre. I was joined by some folks who buy a lot of advertising for their theatres. The representatives of the media outlet genuinely care about theatre in this community, I see them regularly at shows. But they do not and simply cannot provide the kind of coverage and enthusiasm that Roy Leonard provided for the 31 years he was on WGN.

Then I read a lot about the dust up that Michael Kaiser created when he condemned the rise of the “citizen blogger,” as people who have no real knowledge and so are unqualified to give their opinion. Entitled, The Death of Criticism or Everyone Is a Critic. – kind of says it all.

So, this is not news, right? We don’t have one or two major newspapers or radio stations or tv stations with critics people listen to and trust, we have hundreds. So, in reality there is more coverage but it is a much more diverse group of people doing the talking and we can’t count on any one of them to say anything that will give us a boost in ticket sales and isn’t that what we all want?

We have done some surveys about where people go to get theatre information and some still get it from newspapers and more and more get it on line but when you ask them to define on line I think most people don’t actually know. A few years ago we did a survey and some people said they get their information from Ticketmaster. Ticketmaster provides only minimum information, they sell tickets.

As usual, I don’t have any solutions, but I’m thinking it can’t be that hard to point people who are looking for good information in the right direction, right? I wonder if the media outlets would do it – you know like they do for morning shows on the radio – but featuring the folks who are talking about theatre. Just an idea, I’m sure there are many more out there.


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