Podcast Plan B is a blog series about four Montreal radio personalities that have begun independent podcasts over the past few months. It’s an expansion of a Gazette article I wrote on the topic, explained here.
- Name: Mitch Melnick
- Radio job: Afternoon host on The Team 990
- Podcast: Melnick Underground
- Podcast URL: http://mitchmelnick.com/webshow/
Podcast feed URL: N/A
- Length: About half an hour
- Format: Flash video (hosted on Vimeo)
- Frequency: Weekly (recorded Saturday afternoons and uploaded Saturday night or Sunday morning)
- Subject: Chats with regulars and guests about sports (particularly the Canadiens), music and Montreal
“This is something I’m doing because nobody else is doing it.”
That was the basic message from Mitch Melnick as I interviewed him earlier this month. He had just finished taping his final show of the fall season at Hurley’s Irish Pub on Crescent St., and took some time to chat while he waited for his daughter to show up.
Melnick was discouraged by the decision of CFCF 12 last fall to expand the weekend newscasts and cancel SportsNight 360, the only anglophone sports television talk show in the city. Well, maybe “discouraged” is too soft a word. “It really pissed me off,” he said.
“What they seem to be saying is there’s no room on local television for something that’s been here for 25-30 years, 30 minutes of sports discussion.”
When you consider the massive anglophone fan base of the Canadiens (Habs Inside/Out‘s stats are rising by the week, and there are dozens of amateur Canadiens blogs out there), it seemed ludicrous to him that none of the three television stations based here could keep a simple weekly sports talk show on the air.
The termination of Ron Reusch didn’t help matters either.
Of course, because The Team 990 is owned by CTVglobemedia, it places Melnick in an odd situation. He doesn’t want to shit all over his employer. Instead, his criticisms are directed at the television media in general. CBC and Global are no more or less guilty than CTV in his mind, whether it’s the lack of local programming or the Local TV Matters campaign he says he doesn’t understand because he doesn’t know what they’re trying to protect.
Why can’t we do that?
“During Wimbledon, I was checking Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,” Melnick said.
He was impressed that rather than a simple written wrapup of what was going on, Cox would file short videos (you can see an example here).
“I’m looking at that and going ‘Jeez, if he can do that, why can’t we do what I do in the afternoon (on the radio) but a shorter version on camera? That was my additional thought, to just stare into a camera for 20 minutes.”
Upon further reflection, Melnick decided he needed some people to talk to, and a location to do it.
“If Ron Reusch was still doing his show, I probably wouldn’t be doing this,” Melnick said. “Maybe it would be in a different form, maybe I’d be doing a podcast.”
But because there wasn’t anything out there on video, Melnick decided his show had to be on camera. “I don’t see that everywhere. Everybody does a podcast,” he said, but nobody is doing it on a screen.
A television studio was out of the question, even if he could afford it. “I have no interest in doing this in a TV studio,” he said. It’s unfriendly, it’s dry, it’s unconnected to the city.
In comes Hurley’s Irish Pub, a bar Melnick has frequented for as long as it’s been here. He’s friends with the owner, and getting to use it as a set wasn’t a problem – provided they wrapped up their shooting before the crowds started pouring in for the Saturday night hockey game. Which is why they tape the show in the afternoon. The bar even kicks in some money as an official sponsor, figuring that the set is an advertisement in itself.
After considering some locations upstairs or outside, Melnick settled on a spot facing the bar. “It’s just a very warm feeling when you look at it,” he explained.
“This is like my old basement when I was a teenager. I had a room like this, except there was white stucco on the ceiling. It was ’70s Chomedey, I had a big fireplace, and I watched sports and played sports games and listened to music. I was always underground. I’m very at home here. … Except there’s a little more booze involved.”
On Oct. 3, Episode 1 of Melnick Underground hit the Internet and his website. The peanut gallery was quick to respond.