- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 10, 2011

NEW YORK (AP) - Carson Daly admits he was worried about comparisons of his new singing competition show, “The Voice,” with “American Idol.”

“Everybody was a little bit worried about it,” he said. “I mean we all know about “American Idol” and it’s a great, great story in this country and television. It’s a juggernaut. It’s incredible. It’s a needle mover.

“But on “The Voice,” we wanted to be sort of a fresh take on the music competition series.”

And the show focuses on just that _ the sound of its contestant’s voices as they perform with celebrity coaches like Blake Shelton, Christina Aguilera and Adam Levine, who listen with their backs turned.

If the coaches like what they hear, they try to add the singer to a team of possible pop stars. If more than one coach is interested in a singer, the singer gets to decide whose team they want to join. Eventually, the teams are whittled down to one contestant, who wins a recording contract and $100,000.

So far, viewers are tuning in. “The Voice” premiered with a 5.1 rating for viewers between the ages of 18 and 49, and ratings jumped 12 percent for its second week.

“Idol” might have come before “The Voice,” but Daly was introduced to the masses before “Idol” host Ryan Seacrest. Daly, 37, was a VJ on “TRL” on MTV from 1998 to 2002, where he played music video and interviewed stars such Britney Spears, Eminem and his current “Voice” co-star Aguilera.

Recently, she tweeted a photo of the two of them together on set, and Daly said he heard back from many fans of the bygone “TRL.”

Daly has also assumed a role as a mentor to young musicians with his late night talk show, “Last Call with Carson Daly,” which is now in its 10th season on NBC.

“There’s all these traditional late night shows and they’re all fighting for Muse and The Beastie Boys,” he said. “I might get those guys if I’m lucky, but in the meantime there’s a hundred other bands that are really good and looking for a shot and I love to be the person to shine a spotlight.”

Daly says he loves to showcase artists who are on their way up even if it’s at an hour where most TV viewers are sleeping.

“My mom had a famous line in high school with me and my sister: ‘Be sure to be home at midnight because nothing good happens after midnight,’” he said. “Cut to: I have a television show at 1:30 in the morning!”

Daly also still works in radio, which is how he started in media. He hosts a weekday morning drive show on 97.1 FM in Los Angeles.

“The interviews are always much more casual in radio. Radio is grass-roots,” he said. “The DJs are soldiers. They wake up at 4:15 in the morning and play these records for these superstars who ride in these limos and make money.”

Daly said that as long as he is connected to music, he’s happy.

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