Thursday, April 26, 2012

Not Much News Right Now

A few things that pop into my head: 
  • ·      The Discovery Channel has canceled Cash Cab. That’s a pretty big surprise in my book; perhaps I was deluding myself, but I was sort of thinking Cash Cab would be one of those shows that’s on five days a week until the end of time. The syndicated rerun package will continue, and I’m frankly guessing this show will find a backer for new episodes eventually.
  • ·      Game Show Network has apparently green-lit its pilot for American Bible Challenge. Yeah. At least they found a host I like – Jeff Foxworthy off Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?
  • ·      NBC is planning a new game show called White Elephant, which apparently consists of little more than a Yankee Swap. I’ll probably end up checking it out though, as they found what is likely the best possible host for that idea: Howie Mandel.
  • ·      NPR’s new game show Ask Me Another premieres on May 5. Well, it premieres on May 5 in my area, anyway…as with most public radio shows, the best answer is probably “check your local listings.” It will also be available as a podcast at some point. The host is Ophira Eisenberg.
  • ·      Finally, I should let you know that I have put my name in (via a $15 donation) as a potential contestant for the 24 Hour Game Show Marathon on April 27. I’m not entirely sure if I’m actually going to be on the air, and as the event begins less than sixteen hours from when I type this, I certainly hope I find out soon. Either way, tune in to WSIN (the radio station at Southern Connecticut State University) at 3PM on April 27 for twenty-four game shows for a good cause.

That’s about it for now. I’ll be back next week.


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Oh My

Man, you spend six weeks writing about radio and look what happens…

I’ll take the deaths in the order they were announced:
  • ·      Ian Turpie died in March at age 68. An icon of game shows in Australia, he is most famous for that country’s 1980s version of The Price Is Right, and also hosted versions of Press Your Luck and Supermarket Sweep. His death came soon after the announcement that a new Australian version of The Price Is Right will premiere on Network Seven at some point in 2012, with 1990s host Larry Emdur returning to his old role. Let’s hope Ian is given a proper tribute.
  • ·      TV news legend Mike Wallace died a few weeks ago at age 93. He did host a few game shows in the early days of television – The Big Surprise is the one that comes to mind, and he also hosted a non-broadcast pilot called Nothing But The Truth that eventually made it to TV as To Tell The Truth (originally hosted by Bud Collyer). Of course, Mike eventually became much more famous as a correspondent and interviewer for 60 Minutes from the show’s premiere in 1968 until his retirement in 2006 (and he still appeared occasionally for two more years).
  • ·      Veteran game show announcer Rich Jeffries died in March at age 73. I can’t say I’m an expert on Rich’s life, but I’ve probably heard his voice countless times without fully realizing it.
  • ·      Finally, the big one: one of the biggest TV icons ever, Dick Clark, died the day before I am typing this at age 82. In terms of game shows, he of course is best known for Pyramid, but that was far from his only game show – I first encountered him on the short-lived Winning Lines in 2000, and The Challengers and The Krypton Factor also come to mind. I still maintain that if you want real game show suspense, forget Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and go watch one of the $100,000 tournaments on 1980s Pyramid. Of course, he will probably always be best remembered for American Bandstand. On American Idol last night, Ryan Seacrest put this better than I ever will – “Without Dick, a show like this would not be broadcast on television.
  • Moving to happier (or at least less morbid) news, a late-night revival of Hollywood Squares with the unlikely title of Hip Hop Squares will premiere on May 22 on MTV2. The host is Peter Rosenberg. I can’t say I have high expectations of this one, but I’ll of course have my review on May 24.

RIP to all four.


Thursday, April 12, 2012

One More Week Of Radio Madness...

Well, here’s the big news in my life right now – I just got back from a taping of NPR’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me at the Wang Theater in Boston.

It was pretty far from my first time doing so – Peter Sagal said while warming up the audience that they had been to this theater three times before, and indeed I had seen them at this theater in both 2008 and 2009. Still, I happily bought tickets to go a third time. For those of you who need to know these things, the panelists were Alonzo Bodden, Jessi Klein, and Mo Rocca (who got something like three times the applause Alonzo and Jessi got upon being introduced). The celebrity guest was Jim Bouton, former professional baseball player and author of the famous (infamous?) book Ball Four.

Here’s the first thing you should know about going to see a taping of Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me – the show is about as far from live as you can possibly get. Most public radio stations broadcast it on Saturday mornings, but it’s taped on Thursday nights, and a good half of the material taped is not used. The second thing you should know – they don’t stop the show to do retakes, but at the end they rerecord some sections that didn’t come through right, with the audience expected to clap and laugh as if it were the first time. The third thing you should know – if you ever get the chance to go see a taping of Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, do so. It’s a lot more fun than I could possibly describe in a blog post.

There you go – after five weeks, I can finally stop writing about radio. I’ll be back to actual news next week.

I realize this is a minimal post, but I need some sleep.


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Aren't Cultural Differences Weird?

Apparently colleges in India have Just A Minute clubs the way a college in America might have a chess club. Well, that’s the thesis of Just A Minute’s Indian Adventure on BBC Radio 4 anyway.

In the half-hour radio documentary, your friend and mine Nicholas Parsons reports from Bangalore, where he examines the phenomenon (for want of a better word) of JAM, a parlor game that appears to be…loosely inspired…by Just A Minute. When I say loosely inspired, I mean it. Most of the JAM sessions we hear are just barely recognizable as what someone outside India would think of as Just A Minute, and many bear much more resemblance to I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue’s Mornington Crescent. It says a lot that, at one point in the documentary, Nicholas leads the Bangalore JAM Club in a straightforward game of Just A Minute as played on British radio – and the players appear not to have a very clear idea of what they’re supposed to do.

The documentary culminates with the final of a large JAM tournament, of which the winner will receive 20,000 rupees, and which begins with the moderator (“host” somehow seems like the wrong word here) reading out a set of rules that pretty much sounds like it came out of Mornington Crescent (“rule X is in play, rule Y is not, rounds last # seconds, you may not do ______ before someone _______...”). Subjects used include bizarre word strings such as “My parents are in the iron and steel industry – my mother irons and my father steals” (and that’s one of the ones that wasn’t a terrible sexual double entendre). In short, I can’t say Just A Minute as played in India would make a great weekly radio show - but as a one-off the documentary was great, and all the players seem to be having a lot of fun, which of course is what really matters. To quote one of Nicholas’s trademark phrases on Just A Minute, I will give them the benefit of the doubt.

Well there you go – I can finally stop writing about Just A Minute for a while. This doesn’t mean I can go back to news, however – I’m going to a live taping of Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me on Thursday, April 12 at the Wang Theater in Boston. I’ll type up my report when I get back that night.