It’s always a good argument as to whether society as we know it needs another dose of pontificating white guys. The glut of that particular showbiz niche has lingered long past its freshness date.
But it’s more tolerable when the characters involved both have something to say, on matters other than showbiz and sports trivia, foodie fuss and fashion … and know what they’re talking about. Which is to say that KMSP-TV’s Friday night face-off, “Enough Said,” with attorney Ron Rosenbaum and KFAN talk jock Dan Barreiro, is much better than your average local TV.
Officially, the show is in the middle of a six-week pilot run, during which KMSP (aka “Fox9”) is assessing its appeal to both audience and advertisers. To date the station likes what it’s seeing. (You can check out YouTube for the first three episodes.)
Marian “Mim” Davey, the FOX9’s news director, says all indicators are good: “We have no problem selling the show,” and she expects to make the renewal decision soon. “We fully expect to know in the next week or so. We are not going to make them wait until week six.”
The operative shtick of the show is essentially “Pardon the Interruption” with Minnesotans, who reserve the right to also talk about anything beyond the state line that merits indignation. Topics to date have included: The little girl whose birthday party no one RSVP’d to; Adrian Peterson and his buffoonish agent; the Baltimore mother whacking her 16 year-old kid upside the head; the Wild; the iWatch; why we feel we have to apologize for everything; and so on.
Each show careens through eight to ten topics with an edge of declarative conclusiveness most other local shows avoid out of fear of bruising someone’s precious feelings.
Rosenbaum, of course, hosted his own radio shows on WCCO-AM and KSTP-AM for years and is currently a regular guest of Barreiro’s at the latter’s day-job — hosting the afternoon drivetime show on KFAN — and host of a weekly podcast of his own on KQRS-FM main man Tom Barnard’s nascent streaming network. To make things even more incestuous, Rosenbaum has played or is playing agent for both gentlemen, which is a way of saying that he is versed in the folkways and gossip of local showbiz.
FOX9’s Lori Fisher plays producer and foil to the two old bulls, cutting them off when they’ve said enough and introducing the next topic. (She’s good and might be better used in a larger role.)
In fairness, neither Rosenbaum or Barreiro have ever been your cliched shouting head. While both have a knack for theatrics, no small part of their appeal is that they’ve clearly read something other than the sports pages and are interested in culture beyond the next NFL draft or restaurant opening.
Barreiro’s very popular afternoon show on KFAN, for the gigantic iHeartRadio empire (please don’t laugh, that’s Clear Channel’s new legal name), has relevance because of his informed interest (and opinions) on an eclectic range of topics, which pretty much describes Rosenbaum as well, with the kicker that the latter also has a long legal background. Point being: You don’t feel more stupid after spending a half hour with the two of them. (Full disclosure: I’ve appeared on Rosenbaum’s shows a number of times … because it isn’t a waste of my time.)
On the business end, given the interaction between two corporations not exactly renowned for their farsightedness and flexibility, 21st Century Fox (the broadcast end of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire) and … iHeartRadio, one of Bain Capital’s media investments, it seems reasonable to ask about cross-promotion for this little endeavor.
At iHeartRadio’s St. Louis Park office, Barreiro’s boss, Senior Vice President Gregg Swedberg says, “Yeah sure, we’re cool with it. The way it’s going so far, it’s not a problem. If it was a problem, we’d say, ‘Don’t do it.’” He adds, a bit cryptically, “As far as I know, this is not a long term thing.” But cross-promotion, with Barreiro regularly hyping the FOX9 show on iHeartRadio’s airtime? “I’m not aware there’s any cross-promotion either way.”
Back at Fox9, Davey says they obviously identify Barreiro as a KFAN personality, but some crossmega-corporate-PR back-scratching, “is a discussion I would love to have.”
Because gender and ethnic representation is by now a standard question of every new media production, I asked Davey for her thinking on the matter. “Well,” she says, ‘this isn’t a show we went out searching for. It came to us and obviously this show is all about these two personalities, who happen to be men.”
“What we like, and what we think makes it good TV, even though it is essentially two radio guys on TV, is that Ron and Dan aren’t afraid of ‘going there.’ They will take positions and have opinions you won’t see anywhere else. We like that.”
She also says the Friday 9:30 p.m. time slot, when (perhaps) a large chunk of the show’s target demographic is frantically swiping through Tinder or out sampling artisanal liquors, is not necessarily a forever thing. Make of that what you will.
As for Swedberg, who has a sense of humor that his required corporate mien doesn’t always allow him to display, he says he’s watched and liked what he’s seen. “My only problem is that it’s over just as it’s getting started. Maybe they should do an hour.”