“Between the Lines:” An Outdated Show Determined to Progress

On Tuesday, May 16, Barry Kibrick, host and producer of long-running PBS show “Between The Lines,” gave a lecture on his background in communications and media to a small crowd of people assembled in lecture hall HSS 165.

Barry Kibrick hosts “Between The Lines,” which has been on air since 1997. In the show, he interviews prominent figures such as writers, directors, and CEOs.

The lecture began with a brief introduction from Marilyn Landau, Administrative Assistant of SMC Associates, in which she gave a short history of Kibrick’s work in television. After her introduction, they showed a promo video for the 21st season of “Between The Lines” in which Kibrick interviewed public figures such as Ron Howard, Erin Brockovich, and Jerry Bruckheimer. Kibrick then spoke for about 45 minutes about his experience working in television.

Kibrick covered a wide range of topics but mostly touched on his history and how he “broke into” the industry. He went to school in New York, but then found work at a small television company in Alaska. After moving up the Anchorage Times, he moved to Los Angeles and eventually found work there. He worked with various TV companies in LA, and eventually decided to start “Between The Lines,” mostly funding it himself.

Throughout the lecture, Kibrick kept coming back to the idea of “pivoting.” He explained this as keeping one foot in the field that he is mainly involved in, such as the communications and media industries, while always having a foot in a new direction. In Kibrick’s case, this involved experimenting with social media platforms like Youtube. He also explained that his style of interviewing doesn’t focus on questioning the guest. Instead, he makes comments on their work and their statements. The guest can then respond in a way that flows more while also saying more information during the interview.

While “Between The Lines” feels somewhat dated and out of touch, with most of the guests Kibrick showed us being older white men, he seems dedicated to moving his work into a platform more relevant with younger viewers. He mentioned that he recently hired a 20-year-old social media intern and told the audience that he was looking to hire a fresh PR representative. Kibrick also voiced that he plans to move “Between The Lines” partly online to avenues such as Youtube and Google Play. Because the show is self-funded, Kibrick is searching for alternatives to make profit from his work.

Kibrick’s overall message to the audience was that those involved in communications and media should always be ready to adapt to the industry’s changing climate. Because SMC has such a strong communications department, this message should resonate with students greatly.