Monday, April 28, 2008

First Take on "The Takeaway"

Debut of The Anti-Morning Edition Sounds Like It's Still A Work In Progress

I didn't think I needed another public-radio news show to listen to when I woke up. And after hearing the debut of "The Takeaway" this morning, I'm pretty sure I still don't.

But that doesn't mean I won't listen again.

In case you didn't get to hear it -- and that would be in most of the country -- "The Takeaway" is meant to serve as a counterweight to "Morning Edition," ostensibly aimed at a younger demographic. It's a news show for folks who ordinarily listen to news on the radio. Or so the show's creators want you to believe.

WNYC in New York is producing the program in conjunction with Public Radio International. The BBC, The New York Times and WGBH in Boston will also be contributing to "The Takeaway."
"There are many people who are curious and intelligent and looking for a news show, but many of them are turned off by the style of public radio," WNYC president and CEO Laura Walker told The Wall Street Journal.
What Walker doesn't say is exactly what void "Morning Edition" has left those curious and intelligent types in. Are they turned off by in-depth reporting from around the world? Cogent, informed interviews? The heart-rending tales heard every Friday from Story Corps?
Can see how all of that would be a real turn-off.

"The Takeaway" offers up journalistic bona fides with broadcasting vets John Hockenberry and Adaora Udoji (above), and attempts a more-conversational style to reflect on the news of the day rather than rely on reports in the field.
All well and good, except when the conversation goes on for a bit too long, as it did with oil expert Lisa Margonelli. And the interview with Zimbabwe's U.N. ambassador was a waste of time even before it started. No one associated with "The Takeaway" should have presumed this clown was going do anything less than lip-sync Robert Mugabe's warped perspective. And he didn't disappoint.
While we're at it, WNYC could also do away with the electronica it beds underneath the local news update at the bottom of the hour. Anyone who tries too hard to be hip just isn't.
Still, "The Takeaway" deserves a chance to succeed, even if it means you must chase after the second live hour of "Morning Edition" on the AM dial from 6-7, when "The Takeaway" is on WNYC-FM (the uninterrupted "Morning Edition feed is heard on FM from 7-9).
For one, Hockenberry has built up a strong reservoir of goodwill from public radio listeners over the years, none of which he squandered during his TV stints. He's capable of righting this ship if it's ever in danger of listing.
Second, given the organizations behind "The Takeaway," there is ample talent behind the scenes to put a little more polish on the finished product. At times what went on the air felt a little raw. One of the show's conceits is it'll let listeners email and comment on what stories they want to hear next or have talked about in greater depth.
Maybe they should hold off on that for now. News on the fly doesn't work when you're still learning how to walk. For now, "The Takeaway" can aspire to be bold, but take baby steps. Slow but steady now means you won't crash and burn later.


Anonymous said...

check out wnyc's takeaway message board. it's nearly unanimous - the takeaway sucks. big time.

Anonymous said...

The new show The Takeaway is downright awful.

Poops Magee said...

This show does suck. I wrote WNYC a bitchy old man email, and a week later they sent me a lengthly response. My guess is they're getting a lot of these. They called my girlfriend to ask for more money (we gave in January) and she said not until you get rid of the takeaway.

Seriously? This is the substantive news analysis that was lacking in Morning Edition?

Anonymous said...

I want my morning edition! After a week of amusement at the birth pangs of "hip" morning news. I now awake and am annoyed at the conscious attempts market to me. I've turned down the radio to the point that I only hear the intonation of their voices. This is enough, given that their news insights are like listening to a gaggle of college freshmen trying to sound relevant and informed.

Kai Ryssdal manages to be hip on Marketplace--proving that this isn't impossible. But I get the feeling that during any morning show, there's a group of producers sitting outside the booth shaking their heads wondering how long this could possibly last.

Bill in E. Village said...

I must agree with the cacophony; The Takeaway is kind of lame.

My main annoyance is there's too much theme music and sponsorship information (commercials), and not enough serious news.

My friend Claire and I both thought about complaining to WNYC (but I'm not a current supporter) - it's interesting to see others have complained.

Claire thought it was just a total dumbing down of the news. I think it just sucks. I'm not so awake at that hour, and have more more less bore the show, but I'm slowly building presence of mind in the AM to switch to FM!

Bill in E. Village

Anonymous said...

I have started a petition to improve or remove this show.

Anonymous said...

Start a petition to Remove the show. Please. Anyone?

Anonymous said...

Do they mention the name of the show enough times? At one point, I counted five times in about one minute. It's painfully gimmicky.

Anonymous said...

Pleeeez give me back my Morning Edition. The Takeaway is EXACTLY what I listen to NPR to get away from. It feels like they should rename it News for 6th Graders.

Next time the local station calls me asking for money, I'm going to tell them I'll donate again when they get rid of The Takeaway.

Anonymous said...

This show attempts to mimic the "hipness" of the drive-time commercial radio soundbite water-cooler trivia motor mouth screamer format. To make it more NPR ready the screaming has been toned down to blathering by, legends in the making in their own minds, "radio personalities" strutting -my, aren't I clever and God's gift to journalism- attitudes.

Flabbergasting that the BBC ,who they claim to be "working in association with" agreed to work in association with The Takeaway. Perhaps only secure in the knowledge that it won't be aired back home.

Take it away.

bonsainick said...

In my market, Minneapolis we still have Morning Edition but, they replaced Talk of the Nation with this crap. First of all I don’t know of a single Public Radio listener who was saying, “Talk of the Nation… that’s got to go.” Anyway is damn insulting to replace it with this juvenile drivel put together by the B team.