This may have little to do with music, but a Wall Street Journal article about the hunger to create long-term franchises on the air may serve as a reminder to those considering flipping on their FM dials to, well, not. CBS had some drama recently between “next Howard Stern?” Adam Carolla and his then-sidekick Danny Bonaduce. Seems Carolla’s mellow was so harshed by the former Partridge/’roid freak that the ostensible “talent” started calling in sick in protest, despite Bonaduce obviously helping his still meager numbers. CBS, deciding they’d invested too much in Carolla to let him stay aggrieved, gave Bonaduce his own show instead. Will radio see a return on their investment in DJs like Carolla? I can’t imagine who plans on helping.
Mr. Carolla was viewed as particularly promising by CBS. Often attired in track suits, with the air of an overgrown college student, the comedian had made his name partly by exploring material akin to Mr. Stern’s. Mr. Carolla worked for a decade on Loveline, a successful national radio show where he and Dr. Drew Pinsky parried questions on sex and relationships. From 1999 to 2003 he and close buddy Jimmy Kimmel co-hosted Comedy Central’s “The Man Show,” a televised male humor romp that regularly featured beer chugging and buxom women on trampolines.
But Mr. Carolla’s comedy isn’t all lowbrow. He also dissects the hypocrisies of everyday life, from deep-fried “healthy” fish tacos to the relentless enthusiasm of Oprah’s studio audiences.
Ah, yes. Finally, someone who tackles the highbrow material left unattended since the death of Richard Jeni.
Mr. Carolla was unhappy. Mr. Bonaduce’s wild energy didn’t fit the more mellow atmosphere Mr. Carolla favored. Mr. Bonaduce frequently interrupted Mr. Carolla and guests, often to tell a story he had told previously.
“Danny is not the kind of guy who’s just going to sit there quietly while you interview the guy from ‘Two and a Half Men,’” says Mr. Carolla, referring to the TV show. “Danny Bonaduce is a whirling dervish.” Mr. Bonaduce responds that Mr. Carolla’s rants went on too long and by cutting them off, he was preserving the “special quality” of Mr. Carolla’s speeches.
…One day, Mr. Bonaduce overheard Mr. Carolla complaining to Mr. Silver that the show had “two Eddie Van Halens,” a reference to the lead guitarist of rock band Van Halen.
“Who’s Eddie Van Halen? Oh, the guy from Van Halen!” But I digress…
In the end, Mr. Silver, along with CBS’s New York management, concluded they had too much invested in Mr. Carolla to throw in the towel. Plus, he decided the show had evolved to the point where it didn’t need Mr. Bonaduce as much. A few days after Mr. Carolla first called in sick, Mr. Oliviero, CBS’s head of talk programming, called Mr. Dixon to say Mr. Carolla could do his show without Mr. Bonaduce.
The gamble seems to be paying off. On April 28, Arbitron released its latest data showing that Mr. Carolla drew 3.5% among the target male audience, his highest ratings yet. Mr. Carolla likely got a big boost from “Dancing With the Stars,” the television show where he was a contestant for several rounds this season.
Good to see the music industry isn’t the only one desperately leeching off TV.
The Next Howard Stern? [WSJ]