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There's lots of talk about taking conservative ideas to the culture in ways that haven't been tried.
Just a few short weeks ago, I was on a panel at BlogCon that chatted - or, rather, yelled a lot - about how things need to change in the conservative and libertarian marketing departments. From pushing more relevant messages to laying off of the anger when it comes to analyzing the vast wealth of entertainment available to Americans and, instead, partaking in it gleefully. Those of us on the front lines of politics and entertainment tried to suggest some ways that people could take on the world at large in positive, active ways.
There are barriers to really getting your hands dirty, obviously: time, training and even money are all at a premium, especially when you consider most grassroots activists spend their waking hours torn between the jobs that put food on their table and their life's mission to bring liberty and freedom to the masses. There are a lot of excuses to turn off the television, turn out the American public and pass the job of connecting with audiences that aren't already turning up to Tea Party rallies off to others. The problem is, of course, that there aren't that many "others" and the longer conservatives and libertarians wait to take on the fight, the more likely they are to miss their window of opportunity.
One activist and entertainer, Tony Katz, is tired of waiting around for other people to figure out how to change the world, and is, instead, embarking on a mission to change it himself. Tony, an accomplished radio host, speaker and comedian in his own right, has been using his talents to fire up grassroots conservative activists for years. Recently, he decided to bring his brand of old school sophistication and humor to the Internet airwaves in an effort to entertain the masses into understanding the side benefits of a life spent in pursuit of freedom.
His project is Tony Katz Tonight; a cross between a late-night gab fest, a variety hour, and a great conversation with some really fantastic members of the artistic and political community. Billed as a "show you actually want to watch," Tony challenges the "old guard" of late night and features guests like news man Andrew Malcom, actress and performer Miki Yamashita and political power-blogger Kira Davis. You can check out the first episode here and Tony knows you'll love it, perhaps so much, you'll become part of the show's interactive audience.
"It's cool because it's not the cookie cutter show that has been on the airwaves since the days of Jack Parr....and perfected by Johnny Carson," he told me in a recent chat. "Tony Katz Tonight is interactive. We take questions from the studio audience. We take questions and comments from Twitter. My desire is to have live callers, just like they do in radio."
He also plans to feature groundbreaking acts and address controversial topics in the style of early television hits, creating the feeling of a high-profile, exclusive event that viewers have been invited to attend.
"The entire show has that old-school Playboy After Dark feel," Katz notes, referencing Hugh Hefner's late-night show in the mid-sixties that broke barriers by having up-and-coming artists and current thinkers appear in Hefner's Chicago apartment, broadcast live to viewers across the country.
"The audience is a part of the show. I'm with friends as the host, and the viewing audience is a part of that."
Katz sees the show as a way to reach out to new, untapped markets who are hungry for a different sort of entertainment, in a format they feel comfortable with, but which largely lacks any sort of ideological diversity.
Late is a place where people get news. It's frightening! 21% of college kids get their news from Jon Stewart. David Letterman jokes about 15 year old Bristol Palin getting pregnant, Bill Maher calls Sarah Palin the sickest names. And people think its acceptable! It's not funny, it's not entertaining - it's an ideological assault.
Lots of grassroots outlets are now comfortable taking on the bias in entertainment, and conservative media has been instrumental in pointing out the constent, humorless attacks lobbied at them by mainstream comedians. But according to Katz, merely getting angry is not enough, and he wants people to join in his quest to make a difference in the cultural landscape.
He's started an Indiegogo campaign that will help him offset the production costs that come along with making an entertaining product that can compete in the mass media market. And he's giving back to his donors. For helping Katz pull the culture in the right direction, you can earn everything from a mention in the closing credits to a featured guest slot on an upcoming episode.
Katz wants people to know this is a way to really put your money where your mouth is, especially if you believe the masses are crying out for the conservative and libertarian message and want to do something about it.
If people are ok with just complaining about what these guys do, then let them complain away. I'm looking for the people who want to do something about it. Who want another voice in the mix - a voice that shows it's ok to mock and insult both sides of the political aisle, and doesn't need rape jokes.
If people want another voice, then they need to help get that voice louder and stronger, and that's a large part of what Tony Katz Tonight is all about. They need to donate, and they need to do it today.
You can check out more about Tony Katz, Tony Katz Tonight's upcoming episodes, and find out how you can support the show - even if you might not be able to contribute financially - at TonyKatzTonight.com.