- COMING TO LR: StoryCorps.
If there’s one thing we know for certain, it’s that Arkansas is full of great yarns. Given that, the good folks with StoryCorps — an NPR-sponsored project seeking true American stories — should be swamped when they pull into Little Rock on Sept. 28 for a nearly month-long stop.
Created by radio documentary producer and MacArthur “Genius” grant recipient Dave Isay, the StoryCorps plot is simple: one person (with the help of a StoryCorps “facilitator”) interviews a family member, friend or acquaintance for 40 minutes about some aspect of their life. Participants are given a broadcast quality audio recording of their interview. With the participants’ permission, the collected interview will eventually be archived at the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress, and a select few will be played on National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition” program.
Since 2003, StoryCorps has operated a recording booth in New York City’s Grand Central Terminal. A second booth opened in Lower Manhattan in 2005. In addition, on May 19, 2005, two specially outfitted Airstream trailers started criss-crossing the country under the StoryCorps banner. Last year, the trailers visited 37 cities and collected over 3,000 interviews. The whole process takes one hour, and a $10 donation is suggested.
One of the StoryCorps trailers will be parked in Little Rock’s River Market Sept. 28 through Oct. 22; part of their ongoing, 26-city 2006 tour. Reservations for those wishing to interview or be interviewed are now being accepted. Space is limited, though more time slots will open the day after the StoryCorps trailer arrives and will be available for phone or online reservation then. Slots always fill up quickly and walk-in interviews will not be accepted, so please hurry if you want your story immortalized for the ages.
For more information, to hear examples of StoryCorps interviews, or to reserve an interview time during the Little Rock stop, go online to www.storycorps.net. Reservations are also being taken now at 1-800-850-4406.
Central Arkansas television viewers got a new network with some very familiar programming Sept. 18, with the launch of CW Arkansas on Channel 38. The product of a merger between the old UPN and WB networks (the CW name takes the “C” from former parent company CBS, and the “W” from WB network parent studio Warner Brothers), CW features the best programming from both of those networks, as well as a number of interactive and online features, designed to appeal directly to the 18-34 age demographic.
CW Arkansas General Manager Chuck Spohn said that getting the CW network up to speed was much easier than launching stations of a from-scratch network. In the 1980s and ’90s, Spohn helped launch affiliates of the Fox and UPN networks. “I can tell you that to gain traction as a network, it takes a lot of work,” Spohn said.
With CW, Spohn said, “you’re taking two networks that have decent market share for this audience and decent traction with 18-to-34 [year-olds]. They’re picking their best programs and creating a lineup. It’s an excellent strategy.”
Spohn adds that the focus on the younger demographic is smart, given that people make many of their first big-ticket purchases at that age.
“These 18- to 34-year-olds are going to be buying first cars, washers and dryers and all those consumer goods,” Spohn said. “They’re a prime audience that is being underserved by the national networks. So, along comes CW and niches in with the market.”
Spohn said that he has been “blown away” so far by the energy, creativity and content that CW has brought to the table. This includes everything from interactive online components designed to make the network and its shows more interactive, to innovative “content wrap” advertising — shows-within-shows that feature product placements in a storyline that evolves over subsequent installments.
The hardest part, Spohn said, will be helping viewers of programs from the old WB and UPN networks to find their shows once CW Arkansas takes off. “There is going to be some disruption factor,” he said. “If you watched ‘Smallville’ on WB 42, you’ve got to find your way to CW Arkansas, formerly UPN 38. Viewers are pretty smart. We know they can find programs, but there’s a little bit of a challenge there.”
For information about air times for some of the most popular CW shows — including “Smallville,” “7th Heaven,” “One Tree Hill” and “America’s Next Top Model,” go to www.cwarkansas.com.