NEW YORK -- The Fuse television network has turned to news veteran Rick Kaplan, who has run CNN and MSNBC and produced programs like Nightline, to develop a music news program aimed largely at people some 40 years younger than him.
Fuse News is set to debut at 7 p.m. Feb. 6 with pre-Grammy Awards coverage. The half-hour show, originating from Fuse's studios across from Madison Square Garden in Manhattan, will be repeated at 11 p.m..
"A lot of people are covering music in different ways," said Mike Bair, president of MSG Media, Fuse's corporate ownership. "But not a lot of people are covering it deeper and in a respectful way. We thought there was a real opportunity for us."
Fuse, available in some 70 million homes, is overshadowed by MTV, but unlike its competitor has kept its focus on music and is looking for a signature show.
Kaplan, 65, walked through a busy newsroom with TVs tuned to a Fuse countdown of rap videos one recent afternoon. The 47-time Emmy winner had most recently produced Katie Couric's CBS Evening News and Christiane Amanpour's stint on ABC's Sunday morning and has formed his own consulting company.
Bair reached out to Kaplan through a mutual friend to gauge interest, and the idea intrigued Kaplan.
"While he's not in the target audience for Fuse [the network's median age is around 27], I think he also saw the opportunity," Bair said.
A whiteboard in Fuse's office already lists story plans for the first month. The collapse of the traditional music industry has made for many changes ripe for examining.
Kaplan's tastes run to the Eagles, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Now he's learning about electronic dance music, and even liking some of it.
Liz Walaszczyk, a 28-year-old producer and contributing correspondent on Fuse News, is gently introducing her boss to bands like the Xx.
And he's introducing her to the news.
Walaszczyk, who booked bands for Carson Daly's NBC show before joining Fuse, said that she finds blogs like Pitchfork and Stereogum helpful but that there's a void in serious music journalism. Kaplan is teaching her the importance of detail in every question asked and picture selected for her stories.