KCPT to revamp ‘Ruckus,’ ‘Local Show’

05/09/2014 12:49 PM

05/09/2014 12:49 PM

KCPT is taking two of its shows, including the long-running “Ruckus,” off the air this summer for retooling.

The public TV station announced that “Ruckus,” a political discussion roundtable, and “The Local Show,” which spotlights artists, entrepreneurs and other newsmakers, will air next Thursday and May 22, then go on hiatus until August.

The changes will affect both content and cosmetics. Both shows, for instance, will get new sets.

In the case of “Ruckus,” it will also add new panelists — leading to speculation on Twitter that the goal is simply to attract younger viewers. But Angee Simmons, KCPT vice president of production, said “Ruckus” will not be turned into “The View” — with one seat designated for a 30-something panelist, for instance.

The current “Ruckettes” — four appear weekly, but not always the same four — will be invited back and will likely be very visible, Simmons said.

Still, “you’re probably not going to see them 12 consecutive weeks in a row,” she added.

“Ruckus,” which is wrapping up its 17th season, might also add an interview or tweak the show-ending “Roasts and Toasts” segment.

“I’m just glad the program’s continuing, and I think the basic character of it is going to stay the same,” said Mike Shanin, who will stay on as moderator. “Most of the time, as I understand it, the panelists will be engaged in discussion and debate about topics, just like now.”

Shanin was told that two of the four panelists each week will be new faces, which might provide more diversity of opinion. Now, for instance, when the subject of the proposed new KCI airport comes up, Shanin already knows where the four main regulars stand: “They all hate it.”

Beyond the participants, “the plans for ‘Ruckus’ include expanding its reach into places where more people can see it and engage with it,” not just Thursday night television viewers, Simmons said. Such a spirited political discussion is “ripe for social media.”

Meanwhile, “The Local Show,” a weekly half-hour magazine that celebrates its fifth anniversary in July, is getting a second look because KCPT will add a new arts program this fall. Some stories that would have been naturals for “Local” will be funneled to the arts show.

No changes are planned for “Kansas City Week in Review.”

Simmons, who’s been with KCPT 18 years, said summer breaks for its local shows used to be routine.

The last several months have been busy ones at KCPT. It bought a radio station, The Bridge 90.9 FM , and got a grant to launch a “digital newsroom,” the Hale Center for Journalism.

“We needed to take some time to put on the brakes for a second and say, ‘OK, here’s what we want to deliver to the community,’ ” Simmons said.

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