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Summer Workshop Day 1

Monday, June 04, 2012 - 10:12 AM

Well, here we are. Day 1 of our summer workshop. I gotta say, Friday afternoon, ending Soundcheck's 10 year run at 2pm, felt weird. But my initial, uncertain reaction to this move has been replaced by a certainty that, for our next 10 years, we will need to follow the old saying and "fish where the fish are." And the realization is now settling in to the radio world that the fish, increasingly, are online.

I remember silently congratulating myself a couple of years ago for my brilliant, forward-looking suggestion that within 10 years our digital audience needed to be bigger than our radio audience, or we'd be in trouble.  Now I feel like grandpa congratulating himself for getting the VHS player to stop winking "12:00" at him all the time. Ten years?  Try five, max. Hell, our office neighbors at Radiolab have an online audience that completely dwarfs anything their actual radio shows can draw - and that happened FAST.

There's an obvious analogy here to what's happened with the music industry that we've covered for so long. It used to be that the album was everything. It was how you established who you are, and what your place in the musical ecology, and economy, was. You toured to promote the album, to boost the sales that enabled you to continue. Then the digital thing happened.  Now the album is your calling card: it's what gets you in the door with club owners, concert producers, and of course the film and tv coordinators who choose the songs for the various ads and shows and movies that have replaced, ahem, radio as the new hit-makers.  If you're just a band with a record, you're in trouble. Unless you're also a band that goes out to where its audience is.  

For us, the on-air shows are no longer the be-all-and-end-all.  They will be our calling cards.  And we’ll need to back them up by going out to where our audience is – in this case, online.  I can’t tell you how many times we wrapped up a segment on Soundcheck and said to ourselves,  we needed more time.  Well, now when that happens – when something piques your interest – we’ll use an expanded digital home to satisfy that curiosity. 

We're actually off to a good start: Patti Smith is coming in today.  You'll hear that interview as Thursday's podcast. Meaning that you can hear it anytime on or after Thursday, instead of missing it if you happen not to be near a radio at 2pm.  Today's podcast, meanwhile, is a fun look back at this date in Soundcheck history. Check it out, and check back in often during our summer workshop.


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Comments [7]

James Iannone from East Williston, New York

Thank you John! I love Soundcheck! I listen to your show every opportunity I get. If I hear part of an interesting show at 2 pm, I will listen to again at 10 pm. I have never heard a radio host be able to discuss such a wide range of music. You have covered everything, classical, rap, rock, pop, blues, etc. You have covered everything from controversies at the Cleveland Orchestra to the sports stars trying to be rap artists. You have had wonderful artists like Susan Vega play live and a host of artists I have never heard previously. But most of all, you have exposed me to a wide spectrum of amazing music that I wouldnever of heard and could not heard anywhere else.

It was truly awful to turn on WNYC at 2:05 pm and not hear Soundcheck.

Please, someone at WNYC come to your senses and bring this amazing show back to the radio where it belongs!

Until then, thank you for making my days better and brighter. I will truly miss hearing your voice and your wonderful show.

Best Wishes,
James Iannone

Jun. 04 2012 09:17 PM
ted in atlanta from the internets

I hope today went well for all of you SoundCheckers... When my phone alarm went off as it always does at 1:50 to let me know it's almost time to listen, I felt really... lost a little bit. As Jean, Kevin, etc. sortof said, the RadioLab CONTENT is ALWAYS fascinating, but though the extremely edit-complex flow of the show is signature, it is not my favorite part of the show and it did take some "tolerating" in the early listens to become accustomed. I appreciate that they tried something different and quickly aurally unmistakeable, of course... BTW, It baffles me how they could research, interview, write, edit, and deliver a very complex prepared show like that in daily volume... or maybe it's switching to a different format now? Anyway. It's a great show, but we already get it here; when they get one in the can, it seems to play locally in the ATL.

I was already an NPR listener locally, but got to WNYC by searching a number of stations in large markets for a great music show, and you guys provided a fun show with top interviews and diverse performances I have often loved, but always really appreciated. I sortof stumbled on the notes from the board meeting where it sounds like the changes were announced in the lineup, and it seemed while music was a lesser important subject than issue oriented newsy talk, there was less consideration of a mix in that all day long drier programming. And yes we might not download "special issue" segments like other audiences but that did not mean we are not listening! Maybe just not contributing$$$? Your core audience are perhaps artistes though, after all...

Looking forward to hearing the Patti Smith interview, and trying to keep up the dialogue, in addition to my fun summer project. Thanks again John and co.

Jun. 04 2012 05:57 PM

I listen to Soundcheck nearly every day, but I had no idea this was happening. I am SO disappointed. I try, I really really try to like Radio Lab, and every once in awhile I do, but I just turned the radio off completely--not down--and I feel both a tremendous sense of relief at not having to listen to that disruptive chatter, and loss at having WNYC not on. I ALWAYS have had it on from the moment I wake up to evening when I am usually out listening to live music in this glorious city. This feels very very weird.

The thing that I really love about listening to the radio is the variety and the conversation. It introduces me to much more than I ever would have found by searching the web. Even with your podcasts, I will probably either not listen at all, or just download ones that I know something about in advance. If the radio is on in the background while I'm working, an artist, or band, or whole genre, or whatever that I haven't heard of might just catch my ear and make me stop and pay attention. If I have to go to a site on the web, well, I won't.

Jun. 04 2012 02:40 PM
Kevin from Manhattan

Good luck with the transition. I just tried to give Radiolab another shot to fill the 2 PM void and STILL can't stand that show. Please limit your emulation of that program to only its online reach! I greatly enjoy(ed) the flow of your show with intelligent and humorous conversation instead of overwrought cutesy jump-cuts and editing. Have a good summer!

Jun. 04 2012 02:29 PM
Suzie from Bronx

Good luck w/ the new time slot. I, for one, only listen intermittently to the radio in the evening, and do not have access to a computer at that time. Looks like I won't be making any more comments. Guess you'll find a new crew.

Just a thought. I think the show could have been a little more upfront about the schedule change and what caused it to happen. This blog post reads like a lot of rationalization.

Jun. 04 2012 01:15 PM
Platypus Daron from Astoria, Queens

John and crew. Good luck with the quantum shift from on-air to "fully on-line." Just curious - is there a larger listening audience expected in evenings (meaning people can more easily have the radio on at home after work as opposed to during the day, when they are limited to surreptiously listening from their cubicles?)

-Pleasantly yours,


Jun. 04 2012 12:18 PM
Wendy Sacks

A lot of us fish still listen to the radio, as well as listening online... Just checked the FM schedule and I see that Radio Lab (which I also love) is currently on in your old spot as well as in the evening.

This is my second plea that the radio gods will allow you to air Soundcheck in the afternoon as well as the evening as well as online. How am I going to do my work in the afternoon without Soundcheck for relief?

Jun. 04 2012 11:53 AM

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