Daytime Experiment Looks to Be a ‘Blast’
On Monday, Sept. 18, Tegna is bringing a new sort of show to daytime syndication: Daily Blast Live will offer seven live feeds to its 36 Tegna affiliates, while going live on Facebook and YouTube throughout every weekday.
Daily Blast Live had been scheduled to premiere Monday, Sept. 11, but Hurricane Harvey had other ideas. With its Houston station KHOU flooded out, Daily Blast Live needed to lend its control room at KUSA Denver to help cover the situation in Texas. While the show’s team was more than happy to make the sacrifice, it pushed the premiere off a week.
No matter. The Daily Blast Live team has been in place since July, and they’ve been putting up live shows and tons of social media content for more than a month. When it’s time for them to go live for real, they’ll be ready, said senior executive producer Maureen FitzPatrick, who joined Daily Blast Live from CBS Television Distribution, where she was most recently executive producer of panel court show Hot Bench.
Daily Blast Live has eight hosts, with different teams of three or four working together at various times. The teams will tend to stay the same so that markets receiving those broadcasts can get comfortable with their set of hosts. Seven of them are located in Denver — with several relocating with their families — and one, Tracey Gold, best known for her role as Carol Seaver on the ’80s sitcom Growing Pains, will chime in from Los Angeles.
Besides Gold, hosts are Erica Cobb, who’s been based in Denver for years, hosting several drive-time radio programs; Al Jackson, a standup comic and TV writer; broadcast journalist Sam Schacher; reality veteran Jeff Schroeder; former Rickey Smiley Morning Show co-host Ebony Steele; standup comic Tory Shulman; and Biggest Loser fitness coach Jen Widerstrom.
“We got the cream of the crop,” said Lisa Kridos, executive producer of program development at Tegna, who has plenty of experience producing live TV after spending years overseeing KTTV’s Good Day LA. “I think it was because of the opportunity to do something that’s never been done before. I think that and the fact that we’re live was the allure.”
Each of the hosts brings their particular brand of expertise, but all can also jump in on any topic. And since the show takes on topics ranging from coverage of Harvey to the release of Taylor Swift’s latest song to the newest health craze or scare, the hosts have to be quick on their feet.
The show will air live for 3½ hours a day, starting every half-hour from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m., and then again at 5:30 p.m. MT. Most of Tegna’s 36 stations are taking two half-hours of the live feed, airing them back-to-back. Viewers who want to keep watching can head to Facebook or YouTube Live.
Stories will change rapidly, with the top five trending topics presented at the top of every new half-hour. Daily Blast Live is identifying those stories with the help of aggregators that chart how well stories are performing across the internet among various specific demographic groups, such as women 25-54 or adults 18-34. Producers also can look at trending stories in local markets as well as nationally. Using this intelligence, breaking news can interrupt the program at any time. In fact, that’s encouraged.
“To be able to interrupt the show with something that is happening at the moment and be able to cover that story, you just don’t generally get that in daytime syndication,” Kridos said.
Viewers also are invited to chime in via the Daily Blast Live app, available now on iTunes and Google Play. It allows viewers to participate in polls, such as whether they would like to hear more or move on to a different story.
“The viewer will be an additional host of the show,” FitzPatrick said.
They can also submit videos of themselves commenting on the topic at hand, which could end up on the show, executive producer of digital and social media Jason Nutile said.
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Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for nearly 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for entertainment marketing association Promax. She has written for such publications as TVNewsCheck, The New York Post, Variety, CBS Watch and more. Albiniak was B+C’s Los Angeles bureau chief from September 2002 to 2004, and an associate editor covering Congress and lobbying for the magazine in Washington, D.C., from January 1997-September 2002.
By Kent Gibbons