Next month, Sean “Diddy” Combs will launch a new cable music channel, REVOLT TV, to Comcast and Time Warner subscribers. If all goes according to plan, the network will capture and hold the attention of millennials who’ve been drawn away from TV by the internet. To that end, REVOLT will be soliciting input and content from young viewers: Combs rallied troops in a May video diary, saying, “Whether you want to be an on-air personality, a director, a cameraman, in editing, a reporter, a writer…if you’ve got soul, if you’ve got something to say…REVOLT is here to empower you.” (REVOLT’s site later provided a form where would-be contributors could submit their work in return for exposure, if perhaps not payment.) Last week, Combs made a wide call for on-air talent with another video, above, asking “young fresh faces” to post 15-second audition videos to Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Facebook, Youtube and Vimeo, with the hashtag #IamREVOLT. (Email submissions will not be accepted.) The call will remain open through September 30th, and entries will be evaluated in October. “Top participants could be offered the chance… to join REVOLT as an on-air host,” a press release said. (Emphasis ours.)
Reached by phone last week, Combs explained why he went wide with the call, rather than recruiting industry professionals:
I think the industry is at a state of emergency. The industry is not authentic to what is really going on out there in the world of music. I’ve got a great change to change the faces of television and take chances on some younger fresher people that are unpolished. Kids between the ages of 14, 15 to mid 20s is really what I’m looking for. We are the opposite of MTV. We’re not Nickelodeon—we can make mistakes, we can stutter, we don’t have to look like models. We can be black, white, Indian, Muslim, Jewish. We can be fat, chubby, skinny, too skinny. We’re politically incorrect, as this answer is.
If there’s a “beauty about being unpolished,” as Combs suggests, he also intends for REVOLT’s on-air team to be skillful: “I’m a big fan of preparation. A REVOLT reporter may have to wake up at five in the morning to start preparing for a 3PM show, so they can have their own spin. When you see any of the on-air greats, they’re prepared to the point that there’s a freedom and a fluidity to the way they present. Hopefully the people will have the patience for us to learn that.”
When REVOLT launches in a couple weeks, after a few months of online video clips and team-building, its success won’t come easy; Al Gore politely called unconventional content production a “challenge” when he sold his eight-year-old channel Current to Al Jazeera earlier this year. “I’m scared to death,” Combs concedes. “When [REVOLT] comes on, we’re gonna be learning by trial and error. I don’t want the expectations to be high. I’m gonna try my best to make it not my channel, but our channel. We’re gonna be social by design, so you’re gonna be able to tell me what we’re doing right and what we’re doing wrong. Come day one, it’s gonna be exciting, but shit is gonna be kinda fucked up.” But ultimately, that’s what he’s banking on. “People love looking at shit that’s fucked up.”