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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014

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In Movies & TV Commentary

From Motown to Lady Gaga, "Glee" has crossed musical genres.

In Movies & TV Commentary

But some of the songs appearing on the show would never appear on radio stations targeting the same audience.

In Movies & TV Commentary

Radio, instead, uses narrow definitions for music, like "country legends" that skip the true country legends.

OnMedia: "Glee" and the radio biz


More than a year after Fox's "Glee" premiered, the first season finally ended Tuesday night.

The show destroyed a TV truism: a scripted musical series is doomed from the start. From "Cop Rock" to "Viva Laughlin," that's been the case until now.

Obviously, focusing on a high school glee club makes the music organic to "Glee." But the songs carry the plot lines effectively, as you'd expect in a good musical.

"Glee" also violates a basic rule -- especially as it exists on commercial radio -- that music consumers exist in niches, and those niches can never meet.

Just watching last night's finale, you heard versions of three Journey songs, Lulu's "To Sir with Love," Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's touching "Over the Rainbow" and Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody."

What radio station would play the originals of all these songs?

Within the past few days, Milwaukee's radio listeners have seen a new "top-40" station launch on the old "Brew" -- WQBW-FM (97.3). "Radio Now," as it's calling itself, targets a slightly older female audience than the existing "top-4o" station, WXSS-FM (103.5,) better known as Kiss-FM.

Walls within walls. Niches within niches.

The new "Big Buck Country" is offering country music of the 1970s, '80s and '90s, pushing "classic country" without ever playing country classics from Hank Williams or others from the days when country really was country.

When top-40 radio was an AM format, back in the 1960s and early 1970s, playlists could be everything from Nancy Sinatra to Motown to the Beatles and even a country-sounding song now and then.

That was before the industry built the concrete walls designed to herd listeners into neatly defined demos to sell them to advertisers. Radio programmers worry that an unexpected song could cause the listener to hit the button and go to another station.

So you have neat playlists that will never surprise the target audience.

Yet that same audience can turn on "Glee," -- or even "American Idol" -- and see (and hear) a mix of music that couldn't exist on the same radio station.

You can argue that this comparison is apples and oranges.

But it's all just music.

The "Glee" numbers: It's not the biggest show in TV, ending the season in 33rd place among all viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research numbers as compiled by Nellie Andreeva at Deadline Hollywood.

But it was in 15th place among viewers 18-49, a far more important measure, and it's strong among young, female viewers.

A final "Glee" note: If you watched the finale, that dentist boyfriend "Emma" talked about will show up on camera next season when John Stamos joins the cast.

On TV: The seventh season of HBO's "Entourage" launches June 29 and creator Mark Wahlberg is telling MTV's movie blog that next year's six-episode season will be the last on TV. Then comes a big-screen movie.

  • Speaking of MTV, a spokesman says the cable channel is so so so sorry for all the naughty words on Sunday night's "MTV Music Awards" telecast. Despite delay, not all the estimated 100 or so bad words got bleeped out.
  • Lovely Katy Perry, who sparkled as a guest judge in the "American Idol" auditions this year, has been picked to host Fox's "Teen Choice Awards" in August.
  • TBS has launched an ad campaign in Variety to get an Emmy for its new big star Conan O'Brien for his work on his old network's "Tonight Show." Imagine Conan accepting the award during the Aug. 29 broadcast -- on NBC.
  • Dave Ramsey is out at Fox Business Network, with Eric Bolling taking his 7 p.m. weeknight hour as of June 21.
No, it's not really him: Making fun of the "birthers," Stephen Colbert is demanding the president's "rap" sheet after the discovery of a Barack Obama-like character in the video of Tag Team's 1993 hit "Whoomp! (There It Is)"

www.colbertnation.com




Talkbacks

devidia | June 9, 2010 at 12:02 p.m. (report)

True, it may be "walls within walls" and "niches within niches", but it sure looks like same old, same old to me. Expanding the already vast wasteland of Milwaukee radio.

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