Thursday, January 01, 2009

A book promotion new year.

The new year has begun with some unexpected news. WBZ-AM, Boston's 50,000-watt news/talk station, has just laid off three of its talk show hosts and a sportscaster. I read the rumor on the Web site, and found confirmation in today's Boston Herald. The demise of the "Steve LeVeille Broadcast" leaves the midnight to five o'clock hours at WBZ-AM unfilled; the departure of Lovell Dyett and Pat Desmarais mean that the evening weekend hours have new gaps in them. And sports anchor Tom Cuddy? Just another familiar WBZ name that won't be around until another slot opens up for him somewhere, in the Boston area or beyond. Who does that leave for talk show hosts at WBZ-AM? Well, Dan Rea, who hosts the weekday show, "Nightside," during the evening' Jordan Rich, who has a long-running late-night show bearing his name on weekends, and Morgan White, Jr., who fills in for the regular talk show hosts when they're sick or on vacation.

I'm a WBZ-AM listener (and have been since WHDH-AM devolved into an all-sports radio station), and I'll miss the hosts to which I've grown both fond and accustomed (not to mention one of my favorite radio producers of all time, assuming she's now out of work). But my concern, as a book publicist, is: what's happening to those time slots? Will they be filled by syndicated programs or by infomercials? (I can't see myself listening to either; WRKO-AM, down the radio dial, is sounding better and better all the time to me.)

From a book promotion perspective, I'm currently on yellow alert. Last year found several top daily newspapers filing for bankruptcy protection, ceasing their home delivery services, or (in the case of the Christian Science Monitor) moving from a daily print publication to a mostly Web-based entity. Just hours into the new year, a virtual carnage of talk show programming has taken place at a major market radio station. What's next? That's what everyone involved in promoting a book ought to be asking. Which other media outlets are in trouble and, therefore, are reducing their book promotion opportunities for authors and publishers and book publicists?

And, more importantly, which new book promotion opportunities will open up in 2009? Stay tuned. This is going to be an interesting ride. It's put people out of work; it's indicative that the economic crisis is as serious as we'd fears; it's horrible for those of us who can't stand the thought of switching our radio listening time allegiances; and yet -- it's also curiously fascinating to those of us who know book promotion opportunities are still to be had. They've already morphed into new arenas, such as blogs and Web sites and podcasts. And, in the months -- and perhaps years -- to come, they'll change in new and interesting ways that we can't even imagine right now.

I, for one, am looking forward to the ride.