Some thoughts in tune with what Tom Fine suggests...tho I'm not in
'resonance' with the suggested distribution model.
There are probably three markets still semi-viable. One is the 'sampler'
market...those who want to know what all the 'Golden Age' fuss was about.
These folks are served by casual harvesting of shows that are available at
low or no price all over the Internet. The sampler tends to download one or
two of the shows, out of interest in the writing and performing of the day.
Another is the pure-entertainment market. OTR enthusiasts who keep one foot
in the present seek well-written shows whose delivery holds up today. There
are a few Suspense shows that can still grip you (Donovan's Brain, A
Shipment of Mute Fate, Three Skeleton Key come to mind) and the comedy
writing on some Fibber McGee and Molly shows can still make you laugh. On
the other hand, the Jack Benny/Fred Allen type of humor sounds pretty corny
and the 'sitcoms' (Archie Andrews/Our Miss Brooks etc) are dated. So that
market is also limited.
That leaves news and 'Public Affairs'. I've always been a news junkie and
the Murrow/CBS efforts are worth seeking. On the other hand, Norman Corwin
makes me yawn.
Wait...I DO have a bottom line. Taken together, these three markets, even
when collated with nostalgia, probably would not sustain an iTunes
model...even if the audio was well-mastered. And the minute you tried such
resale, the guys with the syndication rights would be all over you.
(In broadcasting since 1955)
From: "Tom Fine" <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Wednesday, December 07, 2011 8:58 AM
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Fwd: Old-time radio convention meets in Newark for
last time - NorthJersey.com
> I think the point you are making is that Radio Yesteryear and then Radio
> Spirits charge too much for sometimes poor audio quality and overly-large
> box sets. But what about outlets like OTRCat, which offer dirt-cheap,
> terrible-sounding CDR full of programs? I would say both are equally bad.
> OTR is SO prime for an iTunes model -- it's a niche market that's pretty
> commoditized (and, come on, how much did any of the people releasing OTR
> programs pay per program source?). So why not sell individual programs as
> decent-quality downloads (192kbps MP3 is just fine for almost all OTR
> content), for say a quarter (25 cents) per hour? My bet is, it's a very
> "long tail" model and there would be enough sales volume to make it viable
> if not wildly profitable (is Radio Spritis wildly profitable? I doubt it.
> What about OTRCat? It seems like it costs him as much to produce and mail
> a CDR as he's charging, if his time is worth anything). A friendly,
> accessible, super-easy-to-order and instant-download/instant-gratification
> website is what's needed to attract new listeners. No kid in his 20's is
> going to wait for a Radio Spirits catalog, order a 50-CD set for $100 when
> he only wants 1 or 2 programs, and then wait days for it to arrive, then
> rip it to his iPod. Talk about totally outmoded and last century! And then
> look at the CDR sellers' website, who can navigate those? Someone needs to
> team up with Amazon or iTunes, make the descriptions and listening samples
> standardized and easy like music is on those websites, and sell the
> content cheap enough that people will take a chance on something older
> than their grandparents.
> And here's another issue. For someone of my generation, and certainly for
> younger people, OTR is very remote like old black and white movies. Sure,
> some acting and some story-telling is so good and so compelling that it
> still resonates today, but most of it comes off as stilted, antique and
> irrelevant, because the culture has moved on. And yet, the OTR sellers
> concentrate most of their marketing on ancient radio dramas or radio
> re-enactments of movies that even Grandpa would admit were stilted and
> boring. What about old news events? Old ground-breaking news shows like
> came out of "Murrow's Boys" consistently in the 40's and 50's? Yes, Norman
> Corwin celebratory victory-casts get more than fair marketing, but I know
> of only one seller who's collected most of the ground-breaking "Hear It
> Now" weekly news magazine shows, and I've asked numerous times on this
> list (which includes some heavy-duty OTR collectors and accumulators)
> about various CBS news specials and year-end summaries, and no one seems
> to own a copy or know where one can buy one. I think there may be
> longer-term interest in actual real-world history than "The Shadow" or
> "Fibber McGee and Molly," or a Bing Crosby show, but maybe that's just me.
> I'm sure this will get some dander up in the OTR world! ;)
> -- Tom Fine