Nam June Paik, “Li Tai Po” (1987) — Robot sculpture made of television sets. Asia Society, New York, fall 2014.
By ADAM BUCKMAN
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.
Bio.com 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 TVNewsCheck.com, 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 MediaPost.com.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org