By JIMMY LAWTON
CANTON -- These days, talk radio often brings to mind political blowhards and shock-jock style commentary, but Wil Hansen, host of a new Canton-based internet radio show, says the industry wasn’t always so mean.
From a small studio located behind Bob’s Barber Shop in an office building on Gouverneur Street, “The Wil Hansen Show” debuted Oct. 8 at www.wilhansenshow.com.
Hansen said his goal is to revive the “Talknet” style radio show format, which was popular in the 1980s and 1990s.
Hansen said he has been a media junky since his youth and has worked in a wide range of outlets including Watertown-based television and radio stations. In 1989 Hansen worked at a station that played Talknet at night. He said that is when he decided to create his own radio show that would pay homage to Bruce Williams, whose popular talk show was nationally-syndicated.
“I decided then that I knew everything I needed to know and that I would be the next Bruce Williams, but people kind of looked at me laughed and told me to grow up, live a little and come back in a few decades,” he said. “The Bruce Williams Show” aired throughout the U.S. for 29 years until ending in March 2010.
Now more than 20 years later, Hansen said he has gained the experience, education, and life lessons needed to give his dream a shot.
Hansen said one of the biggest hurtles to starting the show was financing it, but said the endeavor was recently made possible with help from a close friend who invested in the company. He said it was not supported by grants.
“After that it was like there was no more excuses,” he said.
Now just a few weeks into his show, Hansen said he is dedicated to bringing people a product that can inform and engage with the public without shocking or insulting the audience.
“Radio wasn’t always so mean. We could probably get people who hate each other in here arguing and make some money, but I think people deserve better than that,” he said.
Hansen said his show focuses on community staples, cultural discussions and headline news at times, but without the politics.
“We want no politics, zero, none,” he said. “I want people to listen and I want to talk to people. I’m not here to focus on the negative. I want to be positive, not annoying and positive, but practical and positive,” he said.
While the show is Hansen’s idea and dream, he credits many of its features and technical aspects to his consulting producer John Stanford. Hansen said Stanford was onboard with the show’s idea from the beginning and has been instrumental in moving things forward.
Stanford said the production is primarily a radio show, but in the age of technology and instant gratification people often left wanting when the segment ends. He said related content such as links, blog posts and pictures will accompany the show via the website.
“We want people to be able to interact and that is the great thing about this type of media,” Stanford said. “If people want to casually listen they can do that, but if people are engaged and they want more we can provide it.”
Stanford and Hansen agree that a major goal of the show is to get listeners involved in the conversation.
“We want feedback. We want a show that people can affect, a show that is for the people that doesn’t focus on adversities,” Stanford said.
Hansen said the program currently targets a local audience, but hopes listeners across the nation will tune in over time, which he says is another benefit of internet radio.
While the show is jut a few weeks old, the topics include a semi-autobiographical introduction, a feature on the Edwards Opera House and an interview with a nutritionist, inspired by recent headlines about school lunch changes.
“We want to talk about issues, but not in a political way. Everything is so politicized these days. School lunches are politicized,” he said. “We can talk about nutrition without getting into that end of it,” he said.
Hansen said the shows biggest obstacle will be getting listeners to tune in, but said he already has about 500 people viewing his site. This early in the production, he said those numbers are just fine. As for anyone who hasn’t seen the show, Hansen offered a few words.
“Listeners are going to get a break from what they’ve been getting on the radio. It’s a different flavor for their media diet. We aren’t asking people to change their diet just add us in,” he said.
Hansen said show’s theme song, which is brief segment of a Bing Crosby bit, sums it up best.
“I wanted to find out what the noise was all about,” Crosby sings in the melody.
“That’s what we do, we talk about all the noise people are hearing and discuss it. Not all noise is bad, a lot of it is good.”
To listen to “The Wil Hansen Show” scroll down the main page and click on the audio player icons located on daily blog posts.