WBUR contest casts ‘wide net’ for new public radio comedy show

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A contest staged by Boston’s WBUR seeks ideas for a weekend comedy radio show that can follow in the footsteps of Car Talk.

The “Next Great Show” contest will give three finalists the opportunity to develop ideas with Car Talk producers David Greene and Catherine Fenollosa. The winner will produce a pilot episode, which the station will consider for a longer run and national distribution.

“We think the inclusion of programs that are irreverent, that are humorous, are an important part of a media diet, particularly in these times when there’s so much going on in the world that is difficult and challenging and negative,” said Iris Adler, WBUR’s executive director for programming, podcasts and special projects.

In the press release, the station said it’s looking for “a creative, funny, and engaging person or group” to submit an idea for a show that “no one has heard before, especially on public radio.”

But “funny alone is not enough,” Adler said. “They have to be very engaging, and people have to want to spend time with them. And they have to be sophisticated and smart so that audiences will really gravitate towards them.”

”It can’t be, ‘I’m a stand-up comedian, I’m funny,” she added. “ We’re looking for someone who also takes their talent and skills and has a concept for a program.”

Public broadcasting has previously held contests to find new talent. The CPB-backed Public Radio Talent Quest, held in 2007, helped launch Snap Judgment and State of the Re:Union.

WBUR decided to pursue a contest to cast a “wide net,” Adler said. “It is really difficult and challenging to find talent that is really funny, really irreverent, really has a great voice, a great tone and great idea. It’s not something you can put an ad out for.”

Participants must submit ideas by April 20 through WBUR’s website. Finalists will present to a panel of judges, including comedian Alonzo Bodden, in June in Boston.

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