The sad fact: There just isn’t much locally produced television programming covering local entertainment. Plenty of news and politics, sure, but when was the last time you saw your favorite hometown band/artist/comedian/whatever on the tube?
Probably after bedtime, because the best (and pretty much only) Salt Lake City TV shows made by locals for locals about locals these days are actually running these nights: Fluid Television (KUTV 2, late Saturdays/early Sundays, 3 a.m.) and MeTV (KUWB 30, late Fridays/early Saturdays, 1:30 a.m.).
Nyk Fry’s Fluid Television has been plugged in this paper before, and the show, to everyone’s pleasant dismay, has built a loyal night-owl following in the wee Sunday-morning hours. Wayne Madison’s MeTV, now that it’s been moved from its tough weeknight slot to the weekends, could follow suit—what else are you gonna watch/tape at that hour? Suzanne Somers’ Torso Track infomercial again? OK, I’ve seen it 36 times, too, but Fluid Television and MeTV are just as good—no, really!
Since moving to KUTV in January, Fry’s show has evolved into a network-quality program that really lives up to its mission statement “to find anything interesting.” Madison’s show covers a lot of local ground, as well, but with more of a lean-budget, hey-let’s-put-on-a-show edge. What makes these guys do what they do? And how do they do it? Since they’re both mucho busy auteurs, I had to convene a cyber-conference (otherwise known as an e-mail interview) to get the skinny from Fry and Madison on their respective shows:
City Weekly: Since your shows are on so late, who exactly is your audience?
Fry: I wasn’t sure at first, but the website [www.fluidtelevision.com] kept getting hits right after the shows, and e-mails and voicemails. I’ve received communications from musicians, medical professionals, stoners, you name it. Seems it appeals 4-70, or at least such mental ages! All jokes aside, I do know and respect that the audience is loyal. I’ve actually met some of my audience, and they seem normal enough!
Madison: My viewers are usually the partiers who’ve been out dancing at the clubs. They watch my show as they’re unwinding for the night.
CW: How much time does it take to put a 30-minute show together? What does each show cost, approximately?
Fry: At least an entire, full-time week, if you take coordination, shooting and editing into account. Due to it being a one-man operation where I don many hats—cameraman, script, graphic, etc.—and use a small camera, I make less of a loss than if I had a huge crew.
Madison: It takes me about 90 hours total to produce my show. Usually having to work through many hours of my editing computer locking up. It costs about $500 a week to produce MeTV. We’re just now starting to make money—only a little, though.
CW: How hard is it to find interesting things going on in Utah every week?
Fry: Actually, one of the hardest things is to decide what goes in of all the things I could shoot. Sometimes, though, I need to coax someone into believing in themselves enough to let me interview them. Bands are very difficult to connect with, not because they don’t want to, but because they usually wait until the evening of the gig to tell me they’re playing. I’d like to take this opportunity to invite anyone, not just bands, but artists and anyone who is just plain interesting, to send me their info. Make it enticing. I’m far more interested in “who” and “why” than “what,” really.
Madison: I started doing MeTV because I heard so many people saying, “There’s nothing to do in Utah.” Utah has some of the best entertainment in the country. I could shoot several great shows every day if I had more cameras and people to run them.
CW: Are you recognized on the street now?
Fry: Yep, it seems that a “critical mass” was reached at about six months. Driving the Isuzu “FluidMobile” has been a great way to publicize the show. It’s nice to turn up at a shoot and have people come up to me and say they’ve seen the show. Occasionally, people will just shout out encouragement at stoplights—at least that’s what I like to believe they’re saying. Sometimes, I get asked if I’m MeTV. I usually say no. If she’s attractive, I say I’m Wayne.
Madison: Oh yeah, it’s great! Every day I go out, people stop me to let me know they’ve seen the show. I don’t make a high-dollar show—I keep waiting for someone to say, “I saw your show and it sucks.” My viewers are very good to me, and they excuse my imperfections.
CW: Where did the show originate? How was it pitched to the station it’s currently running on?
Madison: I started for Park City TV. We didn’t get the viewership we wanted, so we started looking at stations in the valley. I must have hit the stations at the right time.
Fry: Approaching KUTV was intimidating, and took the encouragement of a friend, but the timing was right. They appreciated the “low-maintenance” aspect of the show, in that the concept, logos and promo stuff were already taken care of. Fluid Television is an independent production, of which the station buys the rights to broadcast. What’s been so great at KUTV has been how they’ve let me do what I want. I can make the show, ad spots, flyers, anything, with total creative freedom. When Fluid moves to Saturday-night prime [Sept. 23, 11:35 p.m.] they’ll be far more aggressive with their internal promos.
CW: Are people wary of being on-camera? Or just a little too eager?
Madison: I am so wowed at people. Almost every night I go out shooting, I have some lady or group of girls who yell, “Hey! It’s MeTV! I want to flash your camera!” That I don’t understand. I get every type of person wanting to be on my show—no matter how cool, pretty, ugly, old, big or small. Everybody wants to be on TV.