Note to music fans who want to get on TV: it pays to be seen at shows.
Or at least it did for the host of SoundDiego, the weekly half-hour music-and-interview show that is starting its fifth season on the air.
“Our strategy from day one has been that this can’t be a traditional TV-news show,” says executive producer Eric Page, who says he went outside the box when he tapped his host and interviewers.
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“We didn’t want traditional TV-news reporters doing the show. We wanted unconventional folks. This show was always a show by music fans for music fans.”
Before he was tapped to host SoundDiego, Daye Salani sold group tickets for the Chargers. He had no TV experience.
“Daye was just a huge music fan who was out and about and going to shows all the time,” Page tells the Reader. “We found him to be extremely amicable. He doesn’t look like a TV person, but I think the camera likes the guy. The first couple of shows were tough. But he overcame the awkwardness.”
Page says he is happy with the SoundDiego format, which usually includes seven segments per show: two featuring local bands, such as Earthless and the Donkeys, and the rest featuring touring artists, including the Rolling Stones, Madonna, and John Lydon.
Page says SoundDiego has a rotating crew of interviewers, including 91X DJs Robin Roth and Tim Pyles. “I just want folks to be themselves in their interactions with the artists. It’s a more genuine experience for the viewer.”
Unlike Fox Rox, the once-weekly music show (2001–2007) that was mostly shot at the Channel 6 TV studios, SoundDiego is taped on location. “We just broadcast our 160th show of all-original content,” says Page. He says its better to interview bands in the evening and where they feel at ease. “I heard a lot of morning-show segments are shot when a lot of bands are hung over or have never even been to bed yet. That’s probably not a great viewing experience.”
When things get raunchy, as they sometimes do with concerts, Page says they can be fixed to be made TV-clean. “We just shot a segment with [L.A. band] Cherry Glazerr at the Irenic. The lead singer had a naked woman on her shirt which we had to pixilate like hell.”
Bands aren’t told to be proper. But their interview f-bombs are muted before their segment hits the air.
Page says he doesn’t mind getting bugged by local bands who want to get on SoundDiego. “But we can’t say yes to everybody.” He admits having a sharp-looking, clever music video available helps their chances of getting on.
“A two-camera, HD, professionally shot video is good,” Page explains. “A lot of bands have animated videos now.”
Because Page is the only full-time SoundDiego staffer, he doesn’t need to have production meetings. He collaborates with his interview crew to select which artists they cover for the show.
“The only time I get to meet everybody is when we have one of our ‘SoundDiego Live’ shows.” Page says there are six to eight SoundDiego Live events a year, each at a different location with three or four local bands.
Each week’s show is put together Saturday afternoon, just hours before it airs, for two reasons: it keeps that night’s show fresh and the NBC/7 control rooms and production staff are busy putting TV news on the air during the week.
Some wondered about the future of SoundDiego last year when Jack Daniel’s decided not to re-up its sponsorship after three years. “But we picked up other folks,” says Page. “We never lost a step. The show pays for itself. It won its ratings period.”
SoundDiego follows Saturday Night Live at 1 a.m. on NBC/7. According to the Nielsen ratings, SoundDiego won its half hour for the November sweeps among the six local TV stations. SoundDiego had 0.3% of all available viewers aged 18–49 tuning in while three stations had 0.2% and two others had nothing at all.
For those who can’t stay up until 1:30 a.m., most of the show is available at sounddiego.com.
“There are a couple of labels who are happy to have their bands on broadcast TV, but they don’t allow them to be online. That’s why we can’t put the entire show online sometimes.”
Page says word of SoundDiego has spread to managers and major labels who have invited his crew to drop by to film their headliner clients.
But at least once, a SoundDiego crew wasted its time on a live concert shoot.
“Back in the day when Anthology was open [in Little Italy], the owner gave us permission to shoot their headliner. I’m not going to say who it was, but after we were all done we were told by the tour manager that if we aired one frame he’d make sure we got sued. I looked it up and this particular artist was very litigious. We didn’t air it.”
Page says he is not aware of another locally produced music show airing on a commercial station anywhere else in the U.S.
“I know there are a couple of shows in Austin, but they are on cable....
“Folks in San Diego have really backed us. I think that’s why we have a TV show and other markets have yet to put one on. Could you imagine the sheer logistics of doing it L.A.? For us it’s 30 minutes to go up to North County. Going 30 minutes from downtown L.A. doesn’t get you very far.”