For every naysayer who forecasts the demise of live entertainment due to the 24/7 presence of social media and other convenient distractions, Peter Sagal, NPR host and keynote speaker at the Performing Arts Managers Conference, says to tap the brakes on all the negativity.
“Guess where a lot of the content comes from for all who are on social media?” he asked a full ballroom of PAMC attendees in Chicago. “It comes from live events.”
The message was just one nugget that Sagal entertained and educated the audience with.
Sagal does 615 Wait, Wait .., Don’t Tell Me shows, a number that started at nine when the radio show premiered in 1998.
“Crowds want to be part of something real,” Sagal said. “For a radio audience, audio is dependent on intimacy. Television is a screen, a window, a barrier. Radio is somebody talking to you, often in the most private places like your kitchen, your car, or on your headphones while you exercise.”
Sagal goes back to how technology has impacted the live experience. He cites all our phones can do as an example.
“Really, they create a greater need for what I do,” he said. “We are all connected and yet all isolated. We participate in other moments at other times. Thus, the need for live performance and connection is even more profound. That bodes well for your business and mine.”
While Sagal said he could not predict the future, he still finds himself flummoxed by the present.
“People actually come to our show to sit and listen to me,” he joked. “I mean, this is all they get.”
It has obviously been enough for generations of loyal followers who also believe in the live experience.