Q:My wife and I have been loyal listeners of your show for years. Even when we moved to Southampton, NY for 8 years, we were able to find a station and time to hear your very interesting guests, topics and insightful questions and we've progressed with you through the program's name and musical enhancement. But today's show, about TV Monster Shows, seemed to be more like a digression into your personal TV viewing habits and your zeal to appeal to a much younger audience of couch potatoes. Why?
Good morning, Anonymous—
First and foremost, thank you for listening to our program for eight years. This means you’ve been listening since the beginning when we started broadcasting nationally on public radio stations in 2003. What a journey that has been!
As to your critiques about “Monsters We Love: TV’s Pop Culture Theodicy,” thank you for the feedback. It helps make us a better, more responsive program in the future and I’d be glad to address your two points. The assumption that we’re catering to a younger demographic isn’t correct. It never came up in any editorial planning meeting or scheduling discussion. Today’s television viewers come in all ages and races. This show came about in part because a fair number of our colleagues and friends over the age of 50 are talking about True Blood, Mad Men, and other shows in the office kitchen, the yoga studio, and at the local coffee shop. And so is Krista. We wanted to embrace this experience and insight, treating it as a production value in and of itself.
That said, we are trying to open up a bit more and taking some fresh approaches. For a few shows each year, we will be address popular culture more directly when we can. We’re trying to serve many types of sensibilities, and this is one area that’s been neglected in my opinion. It’s a stretch area for us and we’re continually trying to find our producing voice for these types of shows.
As to your point about Diane Winston and our host’s “personal TV viewing habits” being a digression, I don’t think of it that way. The intent is to be inclusive as possible, creating an inside-the-room atmosphere. As a producer, I encourage her to show more of her personality in these types of shows about entertainment and culture. Isn’t that part of the power (and the fun) of television: being able to talk about scenes intimately with other people, even acquaintances.
She gives herself over, openly and honestly, to the questions about the material and the conversation. This tone and style had her step out from behind the microphone a bit more than usual so that she wasn’t just an outside observer who feels disconnected from what’s being talked about. Her questions come by way of familiarity and research. She’s a fan and a journalist. This line is a tricky one, and it may move depending on the individual ear.
You are not alone in your criticisms. Some listeners objected to this type of subject matter being on at such an early hour on stations, i.e. the talk about zombies and vampires. Others objected in that we didn’t address particular programs they were watching. But, we also heard from a new group of listeners, via email or Facebook, who appreciated the show. This serves part of our mission too.
Thank you for sticking with us all these years and for adding to the discussion. Hopefully this brief note adds to your understanding of our decisions and we’ll do better next time. Please let us know if we don’t.
Trent Gilliss senior editor