TV/radio briefs: Conan in Cuba, Atlanta Press Club radio panel

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Conan O'Brien is airing his Cuba special Wednesday, March 4 at 11 p.m. on TBS. CREDIT: TBS
Conan O'Brien is airing his Cuba special Wednesday, March 4 at 11 p.m. on TBS. CREDIT: TBS

Conan O’Brien is airing his Cuba special Wednesday, March 4 at 11 p.m. on TBS. CREDIT: TBS

By RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com, originally filed Wednesday, March 4, 2015

TBS’s Conan O’Brien was inspired to be the first American talk-show host to do a show from Cuba soon after Pres. Obama was lifting restrictions to travel there. Jack Paar visited the country before the embargo in the early 1960s, which inspired O’Brien, who has a deep respect for late-night history.

He has been getting a lot of press for doing this, more press than he’s gotten in a good long time. So from that perspective, this is a good thing.

He also has said in interviews that he worked hard to ensure that the joke was on him, not on the Cuban people. He wanted them to laugh at his idiocy. They didn’t recognize him, he said, since they don’t get TBS. But Canadian tourists certainly did.

Tonight, his travels last month will be aired at 11 p.m. Here’s a quick teaser:

And here’s the opener from Wednesday night:

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I moderated a panel earlier this week at the Commerce Club for the Atlanta Press Club about the future of radio news with representatives from Georgia Public Broadcasting, WABE-FM, News 95.5 and AM 750 WSB and News Radio 106.7.

Mitch Leff, the public relations professional, posted an item about what happened at the event here if you want to read the details.

Afternoon host Chris Chandler represented WSB. Tonya Ott, vice president of radio, repped GPB. Denis O’Hayer, co-host of “A Closer Look,” was there for WABE. And reporter Ninette Sosa spoke for News Radio 106.7.

When I asked about Steve McCoy taking over the morning slot at 106.7, both Chandler and O’Hayer said they think Steve would do a great job because he’s a pro. Sosa didn’t know him at all but said she met him for the first time over the weekend and thought he was very nice.

I was also curious what WSB considered a long story. Chandler said 30 seconds. Research, he said, showed people like it fast. In comparison. O’Hayer’s show could conceivably have stories go on for 15 minutes.

During the Q&A, Chisom “Ziggy” Onwumere-Amadi, WRAS urban music director and a host of “The Message” hip-hop show, asked Ott why the 30-minute show GPB promised to air on the main network hasn’t happened yet. She said she’s had numerous discussions with the students but they just haven’t been able to finalize anything. She also said they have nine interns at GPB and invited WRAS students to apply. Ziggy said nobody at WRAS really wants to work at GPB.

He also was worried that people have come up to him and concluded that WRAS is “dead” when in fact it’s very much alive. He wanted to know if they could have more promotions for WRAS while GPB is on 88.5. She said she’d be happy to take them if WRAS students would make them. I get the impression relations between the students and GPB remain pretty icy.

As folks who have followed the situation know, GPB last summer took over about 100 hours a week of WRAS FM air time for NPR-related programming, much to the chagrin of WRAS fans, students and alumni. So far, the results have been modest (0.4 ratings). Ott said she has been happy to know that more minority listeners have been listening than expected and many have become quite loyal. But she acknowledged many people still don’t know about the GPB/WRAS partnership and the ones who do have been inundated with negative press.


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