Posts Tagged ‘television’

It’s not my mother’s fault that I’m addicted to television

September 13th, 2008 No comments

When you ask most anyone if they watch tv, you’ll either hear, “a little” (followed by a list of programs they like) or a little more rarely, “no” (also, oddly enough, followed by a short list of programs that they like). While not many are admitting to being viewers, if you talk about a show, you’re likely to get an opinion (good or bad).

While you might not be able to tell today, since I don’t get to watch much (any?) tv outside of Sprout, I’ve always been a super-fan. Okay.. An addict, even.  And you’d never know it by my recollections of commercials, programming, jingles, and theme songs from my youth, but it was actually a challenge to watch tv in our house when I was growing up. 

Being better parents than I am, mine tried their best to restrict my and my sister’s viewing habits. They went to great lengths to try to keep me in check, but I’ve always had a knack at getting around obstacles. As any normal kid, that included finding ways of getting around my parents’ disapproval of my first vice.

Before the days of parental controls built into televisions (and equipment), my mother watched closely as we selected programs and monitored how much time we spent with the box. When she went back to work in my youth, my parents actually put timers on the two TV’s in the house to keep them off before they returned from work. A good idea in theory, except that they were external timers, so my sister and I just unplugged them. (Note to parents: even the short, young kids with sweet, innocent faces aren’t dumb.. or innocent.)

Before I started school, the only shows I remember watching are Sesame Street, Romper Room, Mr. Rogers or Pinwheel (ok, I only remember the theme song) in the morning. Of course, we also watched M.A.S.H. after dinner. In elementary school, my parents became relatively early adaptors of cable. We got the equipment once lines were secured underground in our neighborhood (maybe, to my skeptical and conservative-spending father, finally making it not a fad and worth a look-see). But at basic entry in the early 80’s, it really added nothing memorable for a kid to watch for a few years (lots of cartoons and infomercials, but nothing unique or original..). Nickelodeon changed that when it brought “You Can’t Do That on Television” south from Canada, but I was in the 4th grade when that happened (which maybe says a lot about my “nothing unique or original” memory).

I remember when that program started in particular, only partially because of my life-long addiction. Having unplugged the timer so many times and seen a thousand promotional commercials, I was excited to see the first episode but knew that the timing of the first-air (during homework-time) was something that my mother would never allow. So, I told her it was homework: to watch this ground-breaking new series! (Maybe I was foreseeing my future?) But even though she had to have known I was lying, for some unfathomably uncharacteristic reason, she let me watch it.* (Maybe she was foreseeing my future, too?)

I wasn’t as lucky when a few other favorite programs launched. While my parents watched “Family Ties” with my sister and I, I was also sneaking off to watch a few extra shows on the TV in their room. There I was, crouching by the tv, the volume turned down nearly to mute, watching “Cheers” or “Bosom Buddies.” They were both forbidden in our house, of course. Why? Because my parents didn’t want us to think anyone spends that much time in a bar (we had a wet-bar in our living room), nor wanted me to think that men dress up as women (we lived just outside of San Francisco.. and, again, I was allowed to watch M.A.S.H., so Jamie Farr/Clinger had already gotten me over any oddity of that).

So, yes, kids.. It can happen! A little vice turned into a passion that actually became a career. (Media and television, not cross-dressing and drinking.)

*Thanks, mom.

Marie’s spotlight

September 13th, 2008 No comments

I’ll admit it: “Marie Claire” fell off my radar for a while. After they had some circulation woes that put them under a microscope a few years ago, we (media folk) kind of talked them to death. We love drama, but it was almost too much negative. After a while, I lost interest. 

Today, their circulation headlines aren’t looking much better. Looking at first-half 2008 numbers, they’re down significantly in newsstand sales (-12.1%!) which is almost 30% of their circulation. Although their % of paid subscriptions is climbing through initiatives they’ve invested in (a gift with purchase program with a major beauty brand and online subscriber notices, beyond transition from newsstand to subscriber growth with inbook cards). It could be more organic, but still, not a bad tactic on their part. They only missed their 950M rate base once in the last six months according to their most recent ABC statement; again, not bad, considering the “less down is the new flat” theory floating around magazine circulations these days.

So when they came to KC for a visit a few weeks ago, I was interested to hear an update.

I got the general overview of the book and the vast changes that have happened since I’d picked it up last. It looked good. But it wasn’t the page layout or the section headers that caught my attention. There was something hanging out there that struck me: the magazine’s pick for a new fashion director, Project Runway’s and ex-“Elle” Fashion Director/Editor-at-Large, Nina Garcia.

Celebrities sell; it’s an obvious truth demonstrated by the number of not only celebs on covers, but directly in titles (Oprah, Martha Stewart, Rachael Ray). Garcia’s no Paula Abdul (just in size of fame.. in other ways, Abdul’s no Garcia!), but she’s still known for her judging skills on “Project Runway.” (That’s what I’ve heard, anyway. I’m, admittedly, not a viewer of the show.)

Garcia only started after Labor Day, and already, “Marie Claire” has put on the gloves. While “Elle” has the CW Network working on “Stylista” for an October debut, “Marie” now has “Running in Heels” set to premier in March 2009. It’s a weekly reality show that will follow 15 fashion editors and staff of the magazine and air on The Style Network. It’ll be interesting (for us media geeks) to see how they compare in ratings once they both have had a few weeks of air time (with “Stylista” having a slight Broadcast advantage over “Running”).

Being more of a magazine consumer (personally) these days than a television junkie (a sad side-effect of having kids; I no longer watch much programming that I’m interested in. ..No offense to SproutTV), I’m more interested to see if there is a halo effect that helps “Marie Claire”‘s circulation. I wonder if it will help rebound newsstand sales or if this does anything to help their subscriber base increase more organically. While not many publications have released editorial calendars for 2009, I suspect that their editorial plans will include some sort of self-promotions.

This’ll be my kind of “March madness.” Can’t wait!