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TD Mischke becomes a Good Neighbor

Posted by: Neal Justin under Local TV and radio Updated: May 4, 2010 - 12:04 PM

TD Mischke/Photo by Bruce Bisping

TD Mischke is a man of his word. Last week, when I peppered him with questions about whether or not he'd be joining WCCO, he promised he'd call me when the ink was about to be signed. Well, Mischke left me a message early this morning, shortly before he went on the Dave Lee show and announced that he'd be joining the family on May 10. He'll be at the helm from 10 p.m. to midnight Mondays through Thursdays, plus a Friday-night program of “greatest hits” selected by listeners.

The Mischke hire comes after a flurry of departures at WCCO radio that include Dark Star, Jeff McKinney and Tim Russell.

“Having a storyteller the caliber of Tommy Mischke on WCCO is just what our listeners have been asking for,” program director Wendy Paulson said Tuesday morning.

Mischke, who will continue writing a weekly column for City Pages, briefly experimented with an online-only program for CP after his 16-year run at KSTP (1500 AM) ended with his dismissal in December 2008.

Here's a Q&A we had with Mischke a couple hours after the on-air announcement:

Q: So, why WCCO?

A: That answer is easy. It's the last radio station capable of carrying my stuff. When you think about it, this is it. It's hard to believe, but that's the case. I don't do ideological, political radio and I don't do sports.

Q: Why has radio gotten away from that?

A: I don't understand it. Clearly, they've found that political radio works. You can generate ratings, make some money there. We've certainly found that sports works. I think the problem with a general-topic, personality-driven program is finding out what works and what peopel want. Maybe program directors and general managers grow frustrated, because it's too hard to figure out what's going to be a hit. Maybe they're just surrendering to the easy route.

Q: Your hire comes after a flurry of buyouts. Should listeners be worried that WCCO is changing?

A: 'CCO is clearly in the middle of a surge in a certain direction. I'm clearly coming in on some wave of change here. I'll only know in later years what this wave is all about, but it doesn't appear that the wave is getting away from what WCCO does: Present personalities with general interests, the kind of radio I fell in love with years ago.

Q: How similar will it be the show you did for years at KSTP?

A: I think it'll sound a lot like that nighttime show. My view is that you take chances to get ratings. In this world, the nails in the coffin are predictability. Some people may also say that's my downfall, but I don't know why people would tune in if they know exactly what they're going to get.

Q: One frustation with 'CCO is the high volume of commercials. How do you deal with that?

A: I'm not going to lie to you. It was a frustration at KSTP and it didn't have the same load. The commercial can be a lifesaver or a curse. It can help you set up the next segment or it can destroy it. But you have to accept the moneymaking aspect. You have to put up with it.

Q: What did you learn from the City Pages' online-only show (it ended in early February).

A: How much I missed interacting with callers. 95 percent of the audience listened by podcast, so that live aspect was missing. It was just not a call-in show. I'm sitting there with no producer and no engineer to banter with. It felt like I was a guy in 1944 who really loved the idea of doing television and it was still radio's time. I think we were five years ahead of the curve. It's not the thing yet. I never thought I'd be able to go back to old-fashioned radio.

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