Soul & Salsa?

I was having breakfast with a dear friend and colleague this week when the topic turned to television (go figure!). Now understand the characters in this play -- myself (you all know) and this gentleman, who is in the 55-65 demo, white, extremely educated, and comes from a television background. His words to me were as follows: "The only scripted show I watch is 'Lost ... there is nothing on television for me." An interesting statement that was then followed by some smart remark about him entering the Andy Rooney phase of life.

Anyway, the conversation then turned to his child, who is a grown-up, and also works in television. Let's call her Annie. Annie is a news producer. She works for an affiliate. She has now been tasked with a show called "Soul & Salsa" in the morning slot, because the affiliate is in what is generally referred to as an emerging Hispanic market and sees the opportunity in "speaking" to that group. The rub: the audience of this particular affiliate is predominantly white, female and older.

What is wrong with this picture? Why do we insist on leaving valuable audiences behind and hunting for new ones that, in some realities, do not exist? What is the mania that the industry has created for itself about rebranding, retargeting and reprogramming itself for the ever-elusive "new" audience?

Here are two things I know to be true: 1), the old adage "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" is usually sound advice; and 2), something a professor in some business class utters to a bunch of over-caffeinated students: instead of trying to be Coke, why not be the best Pepsi that you can be? Get it? And don't even get me started about the Sundance Channel.

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