HOT NEWS FOR YOU. ISSUE #78!
OVERSEEN & OVERHEARD
TALK RADIO...Thought you had your fill of Al Sharpton? Well, his radio talk show, " Keeping It Real," a Syndication One News/Talk Radio Network production, will now air on XM Satellite Radio as will two other Radio One shows--"The 2 Live Stews," a sports show, and "The Warren Ballentine Show" beginning Aug. 13. But many aren't too happy about these developments. In order to make room for the Radio One lineup, XM had to cancel a talk show many considered important in the Black community hosted by outspoken Black activist Mark Thompson (aka The Social Justice Gatekeeper). Some critics say Lee Michaels, the new Program Director for XM The Power, has been dismantling the only national African-American Talk Channel. And loyal Thompson listeners have started a campaign to boycott the replacement shows. We'll keep you updated as the story progresses. But it always seems Sharpton just knows the magic formula to get what he wants no matter what the expense. But the question is, just when did Sharpton get elected a spokesperson for all Blacks and how did he amass such sway? Please tell us when this voting day took place because obviously we missed it.
FAMILY MATTERS...Getting your grown man--or woman--takes on a new meaning when people check out a new segment producer Matt Laumb is working on for MTV's "True Life." It is about young people (ages 16-22) who are the primary caregivers for their siblings and/or provide the main source of income for their families. Says Laumb, "Although this is not an uncommon situation for young people to be in, it's not very frequently represented in the media; we want to see how they attempt to balance the demands of school and social life with the often hidden struggle to make ends meet and maintain stable families." Wouldn't it be nice to see serious-minded programming like "True Life" on BET instead tired shows like "S.O.B."?
HIP HOP HOLLYWOOD
GIVING BACK...Actor Chris Tucker and rapper/actor Ludacris are putting their money where their mouth is. The pair are sponsoring an event benefiting children with special needs, says De Borah Pryor, who just came on board the Special Needs Network (http://www.specialneedsnetwork.net/) as Executive Director. The event, The Second Annual Back-To-School Community Connections, happens Aug. 26 at the Harry A. Meirs center, Inglewood, CA. For details, call 323-295-8358.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Science and Technology Council have entered a three-year partnership with the Library of Congress (LOC) to preserve digital content, including movies. The Academy joins seven other private organizations in the LOC's "Preserving Creative America" initiative. Digital content, especially raw footage shot on digital cameras, has been in danger of being lost forever.
THE NEXT PHONE FRONTIER, Pt. 1
Like most cell phone companies, Sprint aims for that certain market to put them ahead and on top of the game. The UpStage phone (see review below) has a certain cache associated with it that will make it more interesting for a younger demographic than a standard candy bar phone.
One of the things that Sprint does that's a little different than the other companies is that TV takes up a lot of their network bandwidth. "You get five TV channels and in addition of that, you get NFL Mobile because of the sponsorship we have there," says Luther. "Users also get something we call 'Sprint Power View.' It's made-for-mobile content--entertainment news, concerts, or whatever. Most of it's short, 3-5 minutes long."
As for the content that is already available, Luther says that Sprint's task is two-fold. "We have a dual path," he explains. "We have one path which I'll call the traditional television route, which is to deal with the ABCs, the CBSs and NBCs, etc. Property that are very well known to the customer. For instance, with ABC we have full-length episodes of 'Lost,' 'Ugly Betty,' and 'Grey's Anatomy.' But then we also have what I call 'Lesser Known Networks' such as Logo."
One of the biggest challenges for mobile providers is to make access to content easier. "There are a couple of things that Sprint is doing," says Luther. "We have an upgrade to our TV service. Before we had a category list, now we have the visual aspect of the service which is an electronic program guide. What we're trying to do is mirror what the customer is already use to seeing on their TV at home."
With this new venue available to cell phone users, one can only think about the amount of content that is being created and offered to the Urban Market. In some aspects, it's like the Wild West, an untamed limitless arena waiting to be conquered. Currently, Isaac Mizahi is the director of Multicultural Marketing, and Alana Muller will soon be heading the music and music video content at Sprint. But Luther believes that it's such a large task that no one person can oversee Urban content. "We have a multicultural group that looks at Urban specifically, but they are the group that keeps us on track on what content is of interest to consumers," says Luther. They also have recently created a separate programing group that will look at programming in and of itself, helping to specialize the content offered to customers.
Right now in the market, consumption of user-generated content on mobile phones is exponentially higher than the creation of material. But that will change soon, especially as companies such as Sprint have created camcorder capability on their devices. "The ecosystem around the devices we create is still being formed. There are some services out there that help link this gap, and Sprint is a player in that market. We just haven't commercialized any of those services to the general public as of yet," offers Luther.
The way companies look at cell phones have changed drastically for sure. And because of this, companies such as Sprint are positioning themselves to boldly go where no other company has gone before in the maturing of the cellular business. Sprint has a lot of products out there for users, not all of them receiving exposure. "This is one of the challenges," says Jeff. "We have so many cool things out there and the vast majority of people are still asking 'can I make a phone call?' "--Anthony Davis
SHOUT OUT TO CONTRIBUTOR ANTHONY DAVIS FOR NEVER MISSING A BEAT.