The ‘G’ may be silent, but the duo behind the Gnooze has a lot to say.
Marta Costello and Brian Bartelt worked together at 6 News Lawrence, a really local cable news channel in Lawrence, Kansas when they realized that they were meant for something bigger than coverage of headlines like “Local has bat-infested attic” (which,btw, is a story that Marta actually covered).
“I became jaded,” says Marta, the Gnooze‘s spunky blonde anchor with a signature mole and a stereotypical newsy tone. “I decided that all of my high hopes and dreams of going into journalism to make a difference in people’s lives was not to be found in local TV news reporting.”
In August of 2007, Marta and Brian discovered how they were going to satisfy their need to make an impact. Armed with a blue screen and a camcorder, the two shot the first episode of the Gnooze, a daily three-minute satirical look at current affairs.
But don’t call them another news–oriented comedy show on the web. In fact, don’t call them a comedy show at all. Creator/Producer Brian says they’re here to inform.
###”Jon Stewart will occasionally say, ‘we don’t have to worry about the information because we’re on Comedy Central. We’re a comedy show at our core.’ And while we try to keep Gnooze comedic and entertaining, we try to keep it informational at its core.”
This is a commitment Marta takes most seriously as well, especially when she learned of viewers who rely on her as their sole source of news.
“I haven’t reported on Jeremiah Wright at all because my sense is that it’s all just a lot of ‘he said, she said’… Americans are sitting on the edge of their seats asking about what Revered Wright said today instead of how many soldiers died in Iraq… it’s my job to deliver what the audience needs to hear about, not necessarily what they want to hear about.”
And the audience likes it. Nearing their 150th episode, the Gnooze has increased from an audience of nobody to (what Brian and Marta say is) roughly 10,000 viewers a day – and its growing. The respectable numbers and a passionate fan base have led to a few dollars from ad revenue but the creators still describe their show as a “hobby”, relying on day jobs to cover the bills.
Even if they’re soon able to take on the Gnooze full-time, it’s likely the future of the program will look a lot like the present, save for more people watching. And that’s OK. The show’s found a good balance of pro-am production quality, topical information, acerbic commentary, and cheery delivery that creators clearly enjoy producing and is easy to like.
Marta’s also in the running for Project Breakout’s Breakout Broadcaster (say that 3 times fast) competition. If she wins, the Gnooze will be able to attend the Democratic and Republican conventions as press. Tell me that wouldn’t be fun to watch! You can vote for her here.