Inside D.C. entertainment

ShowBizRadio is expanding to St. Louis

October 11, 2011 - 08:30 AM
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(Photo: National Park Service)

ShowBizRadio, a community-theater-oriented website, started in 2005 as a resource for Washington-area theatergoers. This past May, it expanded to Baltimore. And now it's going a little further out of town, to St. Louis.

Wait — St. Louis?

Mike Clark, who with his wife, Laura, runs ShowBizRadio, hasn't been to St. Louis in 10 years (he has some family there), making the choice all the more puzzling at first blush.

Simple, says Mike Clark: Four the past three years, ShowBizRadio has partnered with the Cappies, an awards program for high school theater and high school theater critics. During Cappies season, ShowBizRadio runs reviews of Washington-area high school productions written by high school students and publicizes the awards and an accompanying gala.

Laura Clark had suggested they bring the ShowBiz derring-do to another Cappies territory. Of the 13, St. Louis seemed the most receptive. "The guy who runs Cappies in St. Louis said, 'Yeah, we’d love it,'" Mike Clark says. 

Out of the gate, the St. Louis site won't be hooked up to a fire hose of reviews and commentary like the Washington site; it'll mostly show what's playing via a clever bit of programming from Mike Clark, who's trained his computer to crawl the homepages of theater companies for changes and built a fantastic show/theater database that shows every local production of a given title, e.g. this one. (Recently he surveyed every theater company in the region, pro, semi-pro, and amateur, for their social-media usage.)

Something else St. Louis won't see for a while: ads. "For D.C., the first year we were sort of proving ourselves," says Mike Clark. ShowBizRadio isn't selling ads yet on its Baltimore site, and it doesn't pay the contributors to the Washington flagship. "We’re looking at how we can start paying," says Mike Clark."We used to pay a few years ago, and when the economy got crooked we got super tight."

Mike Clark won't say whether we'll start seeing Ty Unglebower in St. Lou, but he does allow that this expansion has slowed down the herculean theater-reviewing schedule he and Laura Clark have maintained since SBR's launch. "We're only seeing two shows a weekend at the most," he says.

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