In the Loop

A shout-out from the right...and, are we as big as we look?

Posted at 11:55 AM on April 27, 2007 by Jeff Horwich

Mitch Berg, a Twin Cities-based blogger and fellow radio guy, evidently felt well-treated when he joined us for our last episode. Sanden spotted his reaction to being on the show, titled "In The Belly of a Very Hospitable Beast," on Mitch's Shot In The Dark blog the other day.

Mitch offers some very nice praise for us, which I won't quote here -- the most valued, perhaps, is that he felt the show was fair and he felt respected. We're very glad to read that. Kudos to Mitch for throwing himself into an environment -- and a topic -- in which many conservatives might have presumed things would be overwhelmingly stacked against them.

He also gives these observations, which certainly caught my attention:

The culture shock continued when I saw the way the show ran. Where commercial talk show involves a host or two, a board operator, and maybe a call screener (and on major-league talk shows like Limbaugh they might add a person or two to do on-the-fly research), a National/Minnesota Public Radio show involves a crew that, to my commercial-radio tastes, looks more like the crew for a good-sized TV production...The show’s closing credits ran on a long time, listing close to a dozen people. Plus the band. To produce a one-hour, monthly show. Not criticizing. Just saying - to my frugal, commercial-radio-raised tastes, it was like being in a foreign country.

I can understand the impression, and it's valid to a certain extent. True, on the night of the show we put on an impressive display. We are fortunate to draw on the engineering staff of MPR once a month to make the show happen, and of course a beautiful and effective space for what we do. We can plug into some remarkable resources here.

It's worth pointing out, though, that there's more (or less) here than meets the eye. Many of the names in the credits -- including people who run the lights, hold the microphones, run the slideshow, and print up scripts -- are volunteers. We couldn't do it without them. Many other names in the credits are people from inside and outside MPR who offered their free advice or assistance in putting the show together. Our band and stage manager are compensated but...let's just say they wouldn't be there if they weren't in it for the experience. And our full-time paid staff count is...(drumroll)...two. Including myself.

As I write, the two of us sit quietly in our cubicles across from each other, plugging toward that one night next month when we suddenly morph into a mega-production. It's a weird existence.

April 2007
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