On Friday, the Talk stops

Nashville is TalkingOne of the pioneering efforts in new ways to deliver news and connect with audiences in Tennessee (and the country) is “going dark”

WKRN-TV’s “Nashville is Talking” Web site, termed a  “quaint reminder” of days gone by shuts down on Friday.

On the Web site WKRN general manager Gwen Kinsey writes:

NIT in its infancy introduced individual blogging to our mass media vehicle. The site generated buzz, a fair amount of regular readers and a provocative discussion about what role new media might play in the future of mainstream media. It was fun and it was messy. Our community’s level of sophistication with social media has taken off. NIT is a quaint reminder of how we all got started. Now, we find ourselves using Twitter, Facebook and live streaming to enhance our connections with our viewers in ways that blogs do less and less. It’s time to move on.

As of this Friday, NIT will go dark.

Its host, Christian Grantham said he has turned in his two-week notice. What’s next he didn’t say.

The first host of “Nashville is Talking,” Brittney Gilbert, wasn’t mourning the news. In a Q&A with the Nashville Scene’s Pith in the Wind blog, she said:

I think Nashville is Talking, no offense to Christian, died long ago. It may be “going dark” now, but when the blog became a multi-media site that required log-ins to comment, it took a big hit. And while Grantham has a great nose for news, I am not sure he was as versed in community engagement. Nashville is Talking moved away from promoting local bloggers, and that is where I think it suffered most.

Frankly, if I were to move back to Nashville, I might start up something similar to what Nashville Is Talking once was. I miss the community that was cultivated and grown to something amazing. Because I do think there is a need for an aggregator of all the online talent in Middle Tennessee, and not just the political one at Post Politics.

I wonder if the Tennessee bloggers will miss NiT.

In June 2007, Brittney Gilbert, the first host of “Nashville is Talking,” abruptly quit her job and later landed in a larger market, at KPIX in San Francisco doing its “Eye on Blogs.”

Less than a year later in March 2008, the station dropped its “VolunteerVoters” site and author A.C. Kleinheider,, who moved on to the Nashville Post, where he has one of the most influential  political blogs in Tennessee (arguably, the most influential).

While “Nashville is Talking” as Gilbert knew it may have died with her departure, the spirit of innovation at the site continued to burn. During Grantham’s turn at the desk, it expanded into social media, live streaming and mobile video, again generally well ahead of local competitors and even broadcast outlets and newspaper Web sites in general.

The station also was the first in the nation to launch a platform for accepting user generated photos and videos (knoxnews.com, all of E.W. Scripps’ newspapers and many TV stations use the same vendor, Cell Journalist, that worked to develop the WKRN system).

On his personal blog, Grantham wrote:

Our experimentation with blogs is likely the most widely noted. At a time when the industry as a whole scoffed at empowering any other voice but the reporter or anchor, WKRN embraced it. Now, virtually every TV station across the country has one or staff who author them.

Twitter and Facebook has helped place WKRN in a dominant and trusted position within our local community as viewers seek the latest information that directly affects their lives. WKRN was the first station in Nashville to bring you regular on-air commentary on top news stories directly from our viewers via Twitter. Since then, use of Twitter on cable news and elsewhere has become a new tool in instant viewer interaction.

One of the sure bets of the digital age is nothing stays the same so, like Gilbert, I don’t mourn the change. The efforts that were ignited by broadcasting consultant Terry Heaton and Mike  Sechrist, then general manager of the Nashville station, however, were truly innovative and have continued to be.

Heaton,  Sechrist, Gilbert, Kleinheider, Grantham demonstrated that the future of media was as likely to be built or discovered in Nashville or Tennessee as in Silicon Valley or Silicon Alley. I’ve certainly studied what they were doing and borrowed unabashedly from their innovations.

I hope that spirit of innovation is not what is “going dark” at WKRN. It’s quite a legacy, quaint as it may seem to some. As with Heaton, Sechrist, Gilbert and Kleinheider, I’m sure Grantham will move to do even better things and I wish him well.