Friday, February 8, 2008

Cleveland’s Local Mid-Morning Talk Shows: A Waste of an Hour

Remember the 1950s-1960s “glory days” of Cleveland’s locally produced television shows? There was The Gene Carroll Show, Polka Varieties, Mike Douglas, Captain Penny, Barnaby, The One O’clock Club, etc. Of course, we only had three to four channels to choose from (if antenna reception was good) so we took whatever we could get and learned to love it. And even though they called it the “glory days”, it didn’t mean that the programming was very good (I was young, I hated most of it).

In the 1970’s, there was the Morning Exchange on WEWS, which provided quality local interest programming. And then…NBC’s Today show kept expanding its time slot, and cable happened, with almost endless channels choices. Local programming seemingly dropped off the face of the earth. It should have stayed there.

Both WKYC Channel 3 and WJW Fox 8 have two mid-morning talk shows, Good Company (WKYC) and That’s Life (WJW). Both really are nothing but time-fillers, although one of the two programs is marginally better.

I’ve watched both shows a few times over the last few months. I have to admit that I had to force myself to do it because these types of shows don’t interest me to begin with. But after hearing so many negative comments about them, I had to see them for myself.

Let me get this out of the way right away: Good Company is probably THE most boring hour of television I have ever seen. The primary hosts, Andrea Vecchio and Michael Cardamone, are stiff and bland. When I looked at the bios for both hosts on the WKYC website, I didn’t see a lot on on-camera experience, and I think it shows. It is hard to explain, but I almost felt uncomfortable while they were interviewing people. They didn’t seem relaxed themselves and everything seemed forced. The set itself is dull, lifeless, and visually uninteresting. Yes, I know we’re talking a local show, but it always looks like this show is “local done cheap.” And the hour.just.drags.

That’s Life, on the other hand, is a little better, but not by much. Robin Swoboda has a lot of on camera and on-air experience, so she seems much more relaxed, in fact, she’s sometimes a little too loose. She is better at improvising, and seems to be a little quicker with the wit, but at times seems almost too happy to the point of phoniness. A plus for That’s Life is that they seem to get out on the road and out with viewers. It could be that I picked the wrong days to watch Good Company, but for the several times I watched, they never left that awful studio. On the flip side, it seems that every cooking segment I watched on That’s Life seemed poorly planned and sloppily done. Good Company’s are much better; part of it may be the set, and part of it may be more qualified people doing the cooking segments.

Generally, both shows had uninteresting subject matter. There have got to be more exiciting things happening in Cleveland and in the surrounding area. I find myself wondering to what demographic they are trying to attract? It's hard to tell by the subject matter and guests. It would be interesting to know what demographic they ARE getting.

If I had to watch one of these shows again – if, for example, my TV would only tune to one channel at 10:00 AM on a weekday and I was tied to a chair in front of it – I suppose I could suffer through That’s Life. I wonder, though, if local programming like these shows are even relevant any more. Most channels have morning news on from 5:00 AM to 7:00 AM at minimum, and they seem to work in a lot of non-news segments.

I would think that both WJW and WKYC could put the money spent towards "talent" and producing these shows to better syndicated programming. It may be time for these two local programs to drop off the face of the earth. If they do, “that’s life,” but they will be in “good company” with those other old local shows.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ah, the old shows of the 50s and 60s. Those were the days when kids ran home to watch Captain Penny - especially when Jungle Larry had some crazy animal on. They're collecting some of those memories at