A TV Show The Viewers Direct

Posted on March 1, 2011

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I recenty posted a story about WTMX/Chicago turning its night show over the listeners using Listener Driven Radio, crowd-sourcing program, to let the audience pick the songs that hit the air. Now Current TV, Al Gore’s network,  has taken the concept further turning an entire television series over to the audience.

The show, Bar Karma, lets viewers participate in everything from suggesting plotlines for individual episodes to having a role in the show’s art direction, selecting music and even voting on potential product tie-ins.

Currently front and center on show’s Web site is a chance to play “Fate Maker” by suggesting a name for the brand of wine a character was drinking in the last episode.

The show is a sci-fi-ish series about a time traveling bar run by a mysterious organization called Karma Inc. where patrons come in during happy hour and end up facing life-changing and sometimes world-saving decisions.

The second episode concept about an author who goes into the future and discovers the global problems the political fall-out from his children’s book will cause was submitted by an interactive developer from Barberton, Oh. The third episode, rom a former architect in Austin, Texas, is about Lucy; an aging actress and mother who needs to re-examine her relationship with her son.

Plot submissions come through the Web site from registered members of the community. The producers review the submissions and select the best which are then voted on by fans. 

Perhaps the next step for radio is a crowd-sourced morning show. Listeners could have input on talk topics, guest interviews, programming features, games, maybe even what prizes to give away.  

Nothing would make the program director happier than to say to a sales rep, “sorry but the audience voted and they don’t have any interest in trying to win coupons for .50 cents off a burrito.”

As smart phones, tablet computers and wireless internet access make it possible for people to participate in content creation from anywhere at anytime, finding new ways to give them control of the media they consume will be one important plank in radio’s plans for survival and growth.

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