Thursday, May 22, 2008

Maron, Sparks tapped for "Afternoon"

For those keeping track at home, the American Afternoon host wheel keeps spinning, as Air America has tapped former morning host Marc Maron and actor, comedian, musician and television personality Hal Sparks to hold down the fort for the next couple weeks.

Maron, no stranger to Air America listeners, will host the 3-6P ET afternoon shift next week. Sparks will hold down the fort the following week.

Sparks is best known as a pundit for various VH1 shows, as well as former host of Talk Soup on the E! network. Acting roles include "Dude, Where's My Car?" and the Showtime series Queer As Folk. He also plays guitar for rock band Zero1. He will host the week of June 2.


Melina said...

The AAR guys haven't made up their collective mind YET? Come on already!! Maron and Seder both are clearly the best voices out there, and they each should have a slot!!
If Maron and/or Seder don't get this, I know many people who will cancel their premium memberships and call it a day...if Ron Reagan or Roseanne Barr are who this management thinks is representative of us, well, I don't know what to say....

Jill said...

Why are they dicking around with these people who have no radio background, suck royally on radio, or aren't going to be interested in a 5 day a week gig? The answer is simple: Maron AND Seder. They are proven quantities on radio, they get along well(despite AAR so obviously playing them against each other for the job), and each has an existing and ferociously loyal listener base.

Idiots. Why can't they make the choice that's both correct AND obvious?

progutopian said...

First of all - Yeah, More Maron On The Radio - that always gets me high. We desparately need a new Marc Maron Show. Also, I totally agree that AAR needs real radio guys like Maron and Seder in the slot BUT I'm not sure if teaming them up will work. I think that they work better separately. I've heard them together many times where Sam seems to cramp Marc's free-wheeling style and other times where Marc sounds bored with Sam's concise, factual political rants. I think that they work better separately and both deserve shows of their own.

unsolved said...

Geezus Moron, why would you go against your own friends Seder and Rhodes?

Casey Buck said...

No matter who they get to host, American Afternoon won't have a chance against Randi.

She has nearly 30 affiliates, while American Afternoon only has about 3 affiliates (WWRL in New York, WVKO in Columbus, and WXXM in Madison); even the "Air America" XM channel has switched over to Randi.

Jim said...

I agree with giving Maron and Seder. But it's all about the ecosystem now. More and more people podcatch; live shows on actual radio stations are now just part of the audio media mix. If you can listen to last night's Rachel Maddow for your AM commute, why tune into a second-rate show? What will 3G and 4G bring to this ecosystem, if not more audio consumption diversity?

So AAR, Jones, Nova-M, and others should wake up to this reality and align their real-time lineups with their podcast offerings: more hosts, looser scheduling, more interactive production (call-in is the best we can do?). Radio can be more like audio blogging, with hundreds of hosts in short format, good interaction, and easy discoverability.

This approach would even help with the business realities, allowing for a more flexible mix of subscribed and ad-supported content.

I wish I were more confident that the suits are thinking about the future at all....

FSL said...

Real radio guys? No way. They are comedy club guys who hadn't worked a day in radio before Air America.

They are like career AAA ball players. They get called up when the team needs them and then go back to AAA when somebody better is available. The different managements of AA have made it clear they agree on one thing: They don't see these two as big league material but are acceptable as subs. Time was most radio stations of any size had one or two people like this: A fill-in guy who maybe had a weekend shift or two. Pay wasn't great but they often had more job security than the better known people they filled in for.

ltr said...

Radio experience isn't all that it's cracked up to be.

I worked with and knew people in the industry who had been at it for years and were terrible.

Meanwhile, there have been many cases of people with potential that were plucked from outside the industry and went on to do well.

If you were a program director looking long-term to create a marquee talent, would you hire the person with the long resume that sucks or the greener talent that, with some work, actually has some potential?

To put it in baseball terms, the guy that usually gets the attention in the farm leagues is not the mediocre geezer stuck for eternity in the AAA circuit, but rather the erratic young kid with the rocket launcher for an arm who, with a little nurturing, could be a stud. See "Bull Durham" (the best baseball movie ever made, IMHO) for more on this analogy.

Moral of the story: Talent and potential triumph.

Keep in mind that when AAR started up, there wasn't much of a farm league out there like there is in conservative talk. Meaning that they had to go out and develop and nurture talents they felt had some potential to make it in talk radio. Of course, not everyone is going to succeed (see Jerry Springer), but, as the saying goes, ya gotta start somewhere.

Seder and Maron's backgrounds have been mostly in the entertainment industry. Maron is basically a standup comedian, and Seder is mostly an actor, writer, director and producer in television (he currently moonlights on a few Adult Swim shows on Cartoon Network). Yet, AAR obviously saw potential building blocks for their network. If that's what it takes to create a sort of farm system, then so be it.

Considering that Maron and Seder currently have a pretty dedicated (if not large) following, I would think they're on the right path.

jenn said...

I've personally had it with AA. I really put my heart into the station only to have my heart broken over and over and over... I'm done. Well, actually, if Maron gets a morning show again, I might be back. But only then! (Damn, my liberal underbelly make me soft :o)

My other old AA fav, Rachel Maddow, looks like she's about to move on to greener pastures soon. Good for her. She's the best. Keep givin' them heck, Rachel!

Dermot said...

Rachel is moving on?

FSL said...

LT: What you are presenting is a false dichotomy (it's in college logic textbooks in the chapter on common fallacies). You seem to be saying that radio experience causes people to "suck."

Radio, like baseball, is a learned skill which also requires native ability or talent (and the ability to learn from experience). And "minor league" experience is the only way for a prospect to develop and demonstrate ability. All the great major league players spent time in the minors; not all minor league players reach the majors.

Giving the devil his due: Rush has succeeded and endured because of experience as a broadcaster before talk radio.

Al Franken would have been a disaster if he had not had an experienced broadcaster in the studio with him early on. And Franken did have an advantage over Maron and Seder: His background was not limited to solo-stand up. He worked with a partner (Tom Davis) and in an ensemble (The Not Ready for Prime-Time Players on SNL). If I had to consider talk radio prospects without radio experience, I'd go to Second City (rather than a comedy club), which gives performers the ability to work with others, interact and improvise.

Rachel Maddow started out with a little radio experience in Western Mass and was originally a weak entry. She has grown a lot as a broadcaster, thanks to experience. Ideally, she should have made a few more stops before the "big leagues."

Look at the big three of liberal talk: Miller, Hartmann and Schultz. What do they have in common? Previous radio experience - radio, not comedy clubs.

I'd agree that there might be other ways for a prospect to hone the skills needed for good talk radio. But I'd also assert stand-up comedy is not one of them. And I assert that nobody can come in cold, regardless of any native ability, and do good talk radio (or play major league baseball).

Maron and Seder have not learned from the opportunity for experience handed to them. They have not improved. If Air America keeps bringing them back when somebody else leaves, they could well become like the people you describe: At it for years and terrible.

It's unfortunate that liberal talk has discarded the one approach to developing liberal talk talent that worked: Democracy Radio.

chimpevil said...

fsl--your opinions on Maron and Seder are pure BS. Maron, along with Mark Riley, produced only one of the best radio shows ever in Morning Sedition. Now you'll say that Maron was helped greatly by Riley's radio experience and I wouldn't argue with that. So pair him with another radio vet and give him a morning show, it's that simple. MS was straight-up proof that Maron's comedic genius and penetrating wit more than make up for any shortcomings he may have as a broadcaster.

As for Seder, though he most certainly did not have the benefit of a proven radio vet to assist him when he started--on the contrary Janeane was quite often like a weight around his neck!--he has developed into one of the most passionate and informed broadcasters around. In my opinion, he has far outpaced the execrable bloviator Rhodes--when he would fill for her he was just so much better in terms of cogent analysis and meaningful interviews, just a much more entertaining and enlightening radio show. I would very much like to hear Sam in the 3-6 slot--though he might never be able to compete with Rhodes in terms of affiliates, I believe he would bring a large, loyal audience on the stream, as well as provide an important liberal voice in a time when it's critical to get the message out.

jenn said...

chimpevil, I totally agree with you. I loved Morning Sedition! There were times when that was the only thing getting me out of bed. We lefties tend to underestimate the importance of humor during times of trial. This is, of course, the essence of the Blues -- sing and make light of your troubles. I'm eternally grateful to "Marc and Mark" for the many mornings I found myself laughing in my kitchen during the worst days of this Administration. And for a laugh I still tune into the old stuff on
Sedition Radio

Dermot, as for Rachel, it's pretty clear that she's developing a TV career at this point. She's on MSNBC almost more than she's on the radio these days. Good for her. I think it will be awesome to have someone on the TV with her smarts for a change.

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