There was a time when I couldn't bring myself to do anything else at night but listen to Coast to Coast AM. Now four years later I can't help but feel that I've lost that loving feeling for America's #1 all-night radio talk show.
For this there are many reasons. On a personal basis, my nights between 10pm and 4am are when I partake in the bulk of my entertainment activities. When I would have been usually listening to Coast to Coast, I know find myself torn between fall season TV programming saved on my DVR and the constant allure of a few Halo 3 matchmaking games on my Xbox 360. I tend to keep Coast on in the background during this, but I find I don't listen anywhere near as intently as I would before.
But I think the folks that run the show have a share in the blame in this new-found lack of interest. In even the short span of four years in which I've been closely following C2C, the usual guests and topics have grown rather stale.
All is not lost, however. I've wracked my brain this past weekend and have developed a five step plan to improve Coast to Coast AM. In a slump, lately? Tell me these wouldn't be cool...
Step 1 - Less George Noory
Weekday host George Noory has been getting quite a bit of flak on the Internet lately about the direction he's taking the show. Let me start out by saying that I have no intention to add to that scene. But nonetheless, I think scaling back Noory's hosting duties would be a good move.
First of all, fewer shows a week would give George more time to properly prepare for each interview. One of the main criticisms against George is that he often shows a lack of understanding or grasp of a guest's topic or published works, thus causing him to ask questions with little relevance or to fall back on pre-made questions that are about as interesting as reading a phonebook. George Noory is a capable interviewer, but I think the current Coast to Coast setup is hampering his natural abilities.
Secondly, there are plenty of able newcomers that could help George pull in the slack. Ian Punnett on only one night a week, although now in the prime time slot on Saturday, is a shame. Likewise, people like John B. Wells, Rollye James, George Knapp and Ross Mitchell have all proven to do good work with the esoteric topics covered on Coast, and each add their own unique flair to the show. If Noory were to drop his schedule down to three or four nights a week, it would give these up and comers an opportunity to shine as well as bring some much needed variety to the show.
George has a sense of friendly humility to him that appeals to older audiences, but if the show is to remain popular, it's going to need a witty edge that we just don't get on the weekday episodes.
Step 2 - Expand to related topics
Coast to Coast AM is all about UFO's, ghosts, conspiracies and all manner of paranormal subjects that I and millions of listeners find compelling. That said, I believe there is a strong correlation between fans of Coast to Coast AM and fans of other entertainment medias. Of the Coast listeners I know in my personal life, the vast majority are also interested in one or more of the following topics: video games, sci-fi, movies, television, music, and comic books.
In the past, George Noory and (more prevalently) Ian Punnett have started to mix these topics into the fabric of the show. George's Twilight Zone-themed episodes--although a bit out of touch with younger listeners--is a good start. Likewise, bringing in a genre legend like comic book guru Stan Lee for a first-hour interview was a great example of capitalizing on the shared interests of the audience.
Though I think the show can still take this a step forward and begin to cover entertainment medias to a greater extent. I don't propose they turn Coast into a quasi-tabloid trafficking in celebrity gossip, but I think well-timed cast and crew interviews and reviews for newly released movies and genre television shows would be a win-win mix of advertising and relevant substance.
Step 3 - Back to basics
When I suggest expanding the coverage of the show to include related medias, let me be clear that this doesn't in any way mean expanding into those medias.
The initial thought for many to grow brand and host awareness may be to take the show into new realms, but this strategy has thus far been met with mediocre if not dismal results. George Noory's Worker in the Light authorial effort and the "Into The Unknown" television pilot are first to come to mind.
Part of Coast to Coast AM's success is its uniqueness. Turn on the radio at night and I dare you to find anything even remotely as interesting as C2C. When you move into television, however, the quality paranormal programming to be found on The History Channel is a tough competitor. And as far as books go, the paranormal genre and its many niches have already been so well covered that originality is a difficult task. Coast needs to stick to what it does best--late night radio.
Step 4 - Revise Steamlink pricing
For the first time in my three year membership to the Coast to Coast AM website's Streamlink service, I'm starting to reconsider just how useful it is. Not having downloaded an episode in over a year, I'm really not getting much for my $50 yearly fee. And considering the website's forum was demolished a couple months back, I have little reason to re-subscribe.
Here is what I propose: Keep the premium pricing plan as is, including the ability to download episodes in MP3 for archiving as well as access to George's special monthly chats. However, I think an ad-supported, free online listening program would be ideal. I have no idea how possible such a plan would be regarding legal issues, but I will say that it seems silly that I need to pay a fee in order to listen to Coast live through their website when I can go to any number of terrestrial radio station's sites and listen for free.
Also, on many occasions, it has been difficult for me to recommend the show to friends when there's no easy way to listen to it. Believe it or not, a lot of people don't have AM radios outside of their cars anymore. With this plan, new listeners can catch the show in static-free clarity without charge, but the show could still continue to gain revenue from advertisements.
Step 5 - Embrace the community
Let's face it, the Internet is everything these days. More specifically, Web 2.0 social networking and user-generated-content sites are at the forefront of what is nothing short of a cultural revolution.
Art Bell was ahead of his time then with the listener emails and attached images he would post on ArtBell.com. Lately, however, these listener-submitted images have degraded into an amateur Photoshop contest and a showcase for film processing errors. I can't say the content would be any better with a new system, but a focus on users not only uploading but also commenting on material could be a shot in the arm the Coast website needs. And content doesn't just need to be confined to images, flash-embedded video the likes seen on YouTube and the utilization of such web tools as Digg and Del.icio.us could bring untold web-traffic and undoubtedly new potential listeners.
Closing down the Coast Rider message board was definitely not a step in the right direction. If you want Internet word of mouth to remain positive, you must embrace your dedicated fanbase--not stifle it.
Well, there you have it. With these five steps, I believe strongly that Coast to Coast AM could continue to stay fresh for years to come and be able to compete against other rapidly evolving mediums. Producers, feel free to give me a call...
:: Dead End ::
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Keep your eyes peeled for the next K-Files, arriving sometime next
week. Later. ~Khyron, 2007.
For the latest updates on the world of Khyron, bookmark http://www.khyron.net/. With content updated regularly, you're sure to find your fix for all things entertaining and paranormal. As always, feel free to send any questions/comments/suggestions to KFiles@khyron.net.
Keep your eyes peeled for the next K-Files, arriving sometime next week. Later.
Check out Khyron.net
Discuss The K-Files @ the USofE HERE
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Discuss The K-Files @ the USofE HERE