Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Building the Better Product

LISTENING to the first 30 minutes of the Colin Cowherd ESPN radio show this morning, I was given an example of why sports radio is a much better product, as radio, than NPR.

Cowherd does a segment, "Spanning the Globe," in which he does very quick interviews with a selecion of sports reporters around the country. Today two of the reporters weren't ready to go (they'll not be put on again!) which led to awkward silences. I was made aware of how well the segment works by hearing the one time it didn't. Fast, punchy, informative-- bang, bang, bang-- the kind of thing that would never be tried on NPR, because NPR doesn't need to try it. They're a static outfit. Cowherd's a serious guy who knows all endeavors need to be dynamic in a dynamic world.

Btw, Cowherd gave his spot-on take on the Favre text messages to an employee of the rival New York Jets, who Brett Favre's team played last night. The Jets were sitting on this story for a year and a half, then brought it out before a crucial game. A classic case of sports gamesmanship. It's also an example of the panoply of strategies and tactics layered over the mere athleticism of football, beginning with the coaching staffs. (See Bill Belichek.) No, football isn't just running with and catching a leather oblong ball. It's an entire industry which extends to those who promote it, like a Colin Cowherd.

Writers need to realize that literature works the same way, and that layers and varieties of strategies and tactics can be used in presenting literary products. Those who master that notion can be hugely successful. Writers who wish to "just write" have the mentality of five year-olds. It's the mentality of Jonathan Franzen. Unlike most writers, he has a system doing everything for him-- they may even replace lost eyeglasses!-- he can afford to be a total stooge.

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