Archive for the ‘AARP The Magazine’ Category

My Year On The TV Beat: The Same, Only More So

December 31, 2015
Photo by Adam Buckman

Photo by Adam Buckman


NEW YORK, Dec. 31, 2015 — What was your personal year in review?

It’s easy to compile lists at year’s end — the best this, the worst that: TV shows, books, movies. But it’s all so impersonal, isn’t it? Think about it: What do you care what someone else thinks was the best and worst in the past year?

The only year that really had any value was yours. What did you do? Speaking for myself, 2015 was a good year for journalism — mine, that is.

I wrote 275 columns for Television News Daily/, 38 news stories and features for, four stories for AARP The Magazine — all on the subject of television — and one story for a neighborhood paper in Philadelphia, The Chestnut Hill Local, that was the most meaningful of all the stories I wrote this year.

It was the story of Cooperman’s Pharmacy, my grandfather’s drugstore, a fixture of its neighborhood for more than 90 years until it closed for good last spring more than 35 years after he died. Farewell.

Jessie J at the MTV upfront, April 22, 2015

Jessie J at the MTV upfront, April 22

The 275 MediaPost bylines included 27 stories from the New York “upfronts” (the TV and on-line programming presentations) stretching from February to May and ranging from Nickelodeon and MTV to Yahoo and Buzzfeed. Among the highlights: Performances by Jessie J at the MTV presentation at the Beacon — electrifying — and Ricky Martin at the Univision event at the Lyric — awesome.

Vast wasteland: TV convention, Las Vegas, April 13, 2015

Vast wasteland: TV convention, Las Vegas, April 13. Photo by Adam Buckman

The 38 TVNewsCheck stories included nine stories written in three days at all hours, including the wee-est hours of the morning, during the National Association of Broadcasters annual convention in Las Vegas in April — attendance: 100,000-plus (the two photos at the top of this blogpost and left are from that trip).

I got little sleep, ate few actual meals and walked many miles — through the vast exhibition space at the Las Vegas Convention Center in search of drone displays (which I found, and the sheer number of them was mind-boggling), down endless hotel corridors searching for meeting rooms, and on the sidewalks of Las Vegas between venues (when a cab was not convenient).

One day, as I walked from the Wynn to the Convention Center, somewhere in the vicinity of the Indoor Skydiving place, the city was hit by a rare weather phenomenon — a dust storm that kicked up the desert sand and sent it flying through the air, a glorious thing to behold (although not to ingest).

The entire experience of covering the NAB this year felt like … journalism. Unless you’ve done it, or you’re a journalist yourself, you cannot know how great it feels. I think gonzo is the word I’m looking for here …

I did six radio interviews this year — two with Geraldo Rivera on WABC, New York; one with Mark Simone and one with Len Berman and Todd Schnitt on WOR, New York; one with the great Larry Rifkin on WATR, Waterbury, Conn., and one with Brian Kilmeade on Fox News Radio.

I did three TV interviews — one on the WPIX/Ch. 11 morning show last February assessing the Super Bowl commercials (actually, we did two different segments); one on Al Jazeera America (about the Brian Williams mess at NBC) — my first time on this particular channel; and one for WNET/Ch. 13’s “MetroFocus” show about my book “JERK: How I Wasted My Life Watching Television.” This interview has been posted on the Ch. 13 Web site since last spring, but it has yet to air on the actual show. Perhaps soon …

I made two public appearances this year, both courtesy of the National Geographic Channel, which enlisted me to host and moderate the two panel discussion events the network staged at the Paley Center for Media in New York.  The panels varied widely, to say the least.

The first one was the world premiere screening last July of a portion of the four-hour NatGeo documentary called “The 2000s: A New Reality,” about the first decade of the 21st century.

You can watch the whole thing here:

It was a great privilege (and the world’s biggest hoot) to conduct live, on-stage interviews with this diverse group of newsmakers from that decade: Donato Dalrymple, the south Florida resident who gained fame as the man who plucked the young Cuban refugee, 6 year-old Elian Gonzalez, from the waters near Miami in 2000; Andy Grignon, part of the development team at Apple who created the iPhone; John Keller, ex-U.S. marine who saved lives during hurricane Katrina in New Orleans; Richard Hatch, famed winner of the first season of “Survivor” on CBS in summer 2000; Sherron Watkins, brave whistleblower who told the world about the Enron mess; and Jane Root, executive producer of “The 2000s.”

Nat Geo 10-29-15 aThe second one was the New York premiere screening on Oct. 29 of the NatGeo science series called “Breakthrough,” which aired over eight weeks this past fall. The panelists that night were Trish Aelker of Lockheed Martin, who directs the company’s efforts in the development of exoskeleton technology; Dr. John Dye, who fights pandemics such as ebola as the chief of the immunology branch of the U.S. Army’s Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases; Dr. John Schenk, one of the original innovators of MRI technology at GE; Laura Deming, an investor who puts her money in companies involved in lengthening human life spans; Eric Fitch, an entrepreneur and pioneer in alternative energy sources; Cindy Wallis-Lage, an expert in new water-conservation technologies; and “Breakthrough” executive producer Kurt Sayenga. An amazing night.

Also in the past year, I contrived the usual boatload of ideas for stories and books that I have not yet started to write, and possibly never will.  I added many songs to my personal playlist too, including these four: “Bang Your Drum” (Dead Man Fall), “Here Comes That Rainy Day Feeling Again” (The Fortunes), the theme from “Up The Down Staircase” (Fred Karlin) and “Come Softly To Me” (The Fleetwoods).  Don’t ask me why.

Ever since Letterman said good-bye last May, I haven’t been able to get Everlong by Foo Fighters out of my head either.

adam-buckman-and-friend, New York, 12-14-15Of all the events of the past year, none could equal the reunion I had earlier this month (on Dec. 14) with this guy (the one in the photo at right) — a get-together that took 38 years to arrange, proof that miracles do happen.

Maybe I’ll run into some of you in 2016, on our way up the down staircase, always.

Contact Adam Buckman:

Read Adam Buckman’s book: “JERK: How I Wasted My Life Watching Television” … Read a sample on his Amazon book page HERE … Then order it today!

Miniature cover


My year in review: Up and out of the demo at 55

December 26, 2014
Nam June Paik, "Li Tai Po" (1987) -- Robot sculpture made of television sets. Asia Society, New York, fall 2014.

Nam June Paik, “Li Tai Po” (1987) — Robot sculpture made of television sets. Asia Society, New York, fall 2014.


NEW YORK, Dec. 26, 2014 — And now, the annual tradition that has become a yearly custom: My own personal year-in-review, 2014.

It was a year of living differently.  With no regular location for three-quarters of the year (other than this sporadic personal blog site) for the publication of my TV reportage and commentaries due to the dissolution in December 2013 of the now-sorely missed Xfinity TV Blog, I turned to free-lance writing and wound up published in a number of new places. took a column previewing the new half-season of “Mad Men” last spring.  Newsmax magazine published a feature story I wrote about the new wave in nostalgic TV networks (MeTV, Antenna TV and Cozi).

I did 12 stories for, and it felt good to be back writing for the new on-line version of the old television trade press where I got my start 30 years ago.  When writing these TVNewsCheck stories, on arcane TV-industry topics such as network-affiliate relations and audience measurement (better known as the Nielsen ratings), I was reminded of how much more difficult these stories are, compared to writing reviews of TV shows.

I had three stories accepted for publication in the largest-circulating magazine in the United States, AARP The Magazine (circ.: 22,274,096) — one story about the TV networks specializing in vintage TV shows (see Newsmax, above), one about TV spinoffs, and one about the generational shift in late-night TV stemming from Jay Leno leaving “The Tonight Show” last February and David Letterman preparing to retire next year.

AARP.  Can you believe it?  Well, we do get older every year.  And this year, I reached a particular milestone, and so did everybody else born in 1959 — we became 55, which moved us up and out of the demo.  I am referring to the 25-54 age group — one of the two most important demographic segments targeted by television networks and their advertisers (the other is 18-49s).

It’s not that the networks no longer count us (to them, eyeballs are eyeballs, whether they’re 25 or 85), but we don’t count for much where their bread and butter is concerned.

For me personally, aging out of the demo made me pause, however briefly, to wonder how I can continue covering an industry whose efforts (such as in the producing of programs) are so resolutely focused on younger people.  It quickly dawned on me that becoming 55 does not render me ineligible or unqualified to have an opinion on TV shows, no matter who they’re aimed at.

And so, I go on.  Shortly after turning 55 last September, I was offered an opportunity to once again write a daily TV column.  This morning (Dec. 26), I filed my 72nd column for the good people at

The year was not a fruitful one for celebrity interviews, though I was interviewed a handful of times — twice on TV, on Fox News Channel (“Cavuto,” Oct. 20, and “MediaBuzz,” Feb. 9 — thank you, Neil Cavuto and Howard Kurtz); 15 times on the radio, on WABC, WOR and WBBR in New York, WATR in Waterbury, Conn., KGO in San Francisco, Sirius XM in New York (thank you, Michael Smerconish); and on three podcasts — with the legendary Simon Applebaum of Brooklyn, N.Y. (“Tomorrow Will Be Televised”), the great Rick Morris of Cleveland (“The FDH Lounge”), and Kim Ward (“Chattin’ In Manhattan”).  My thanks to all of you.

Last winter, I finished writing my book titled “JERK: How I Wasted My Life Watching Television,” about what it’s been like to cover the TV business for 30 years.   After failing for several years to interest publishers and literary agents in this book, I self-published it on Amazon this year, thanks in part to an offer from Jon Weiman to design a cover for it.  Jon is a designer of book covers who grew up next door to me.

He designed a great cover and I believe I wrote a great book. However, I sold so few of them that I have cause to wonder why on earth I wrote the damn thing in the first place.

Perhaps some sort of answer to that question will come to me in 2015.

Contact Adam Buckman:

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