Ask Me Anything–If You Woke And Were 18

Mikey P. asks, “If you woke up and were 18 again, which career path would you pursue?

I’m currently answering all your questions. Read more about it here.

Mikey P. asks, “If you woke up and were 18 again, which career path would you pursue?”

Wow. Good question. Two answers.

If I woke up and was 18 again and it was 1968 (when I hit 18 the first time) I’d probably do what I did!

I wanted to be on the radio from the time I was a little kid. I pursued it. It was nearly everything I wanted and expected. I wish my radio career would have gone farther. I left before the era of the high concept/big deal morning show. No regrets.

In fact I have few career regrets except for signing with and depending on an agent to advance my career. In my opinion he, a very well known agent, did nothing for me. Not that he didn’t get me a better job–he just did nothing while taking a significant slice of my gross! Someone I work with has the same experience with the same guy. I pissed away years waiting.

Time seems infinite when you’re 18. It is not.

If I woke up 18 and it was today I’d actually finish college and try to vertically develop for the web. I understand how both the computer side and content side work which still seems to be rare (Leo Laporte and Kevin Rose being two notable exceptions). I am not against wearing many hats. Creative work is satisfying work to me.

The future of ad supported web content is narrowcasting–sort of the opposite of what I currently do. I’d probably still be in front of a camera, but on the web, not TV and well known to a small subset of society who had some affinity to each other.

Coco Goes Cable

I’m just surprised because never considered TBS a player with enough heft to compete against Fox, the rumored leader in the Conan quest.

It was a shock to hear Conan O’Brien is going to TBS. The fact that I seldom watch TBS, cable’s original Superstation, probably stands in Conan’s favor. They’re not going after me. TBS with its mix of comedies gets a significantly younger audience than over-the-air network affiliates.

The whole economic workup is different on cable. Even with a smaller audience more money can be made–especially if it’s a harder to reach young audience. Cable makes money from advertising and subscription fees. TBS feels they can afford a budget for Conan similar to NBC’s. That’s got to scare the people who run the legacy networks.

Jon Stewart graces magazine covers and hosts big-time award programs, all for hosting a program that airs half an hour four nights a week to an average audience of 1.7 million — or about what Conan O’Brien was averaging in 1994 when NBC was thisclose to firing his ass. – Aaron Barnhardt, Kansas City Star

TV advertising is ageist. Younger demos sell for more because younger viewers are tougher to reach. It seems anti-intuitive because people my age tend to have more money than we did 20-30 years ago, but that’s how it is.

While Mr. Leno now has a median age of 56, with Mr. Letterman at 54, “Nightline” at 55, Mr. Ferguson and Mr. Kimmel both at 52, and even NBC’s younger act, Jimmy Fallon, at 50, Mr. Stewart comes in with a median age of 40 and Mr. Colbert younger still at 37.

(Youngest of all late-night hosts? George Lopez on his “Lopez Tonight” show on TBS. He has a smaller audience, but a very young one, with a median age of just 33.) – Bill Carter in the New York Times

I’m just surprised because I’ve never considered TBS a player with enough audience heft to compete against Fox, the rumored leader in the Conan quest. All I can think about is how TBS baseball telecasts compared to Fox’s games. TBS does not compare favorably.

I’m still waiting for the first high profile mainstream talent to make the jump to ‘direct Internet.’ A successful Internet show (audience successful, not just revenue successful as Leo Laporte’s TWIT TV is) would turn the industry on its ear and change everything we know about broadcasting.

The Future Of Media

I think all-the-time of what I can do next. I’m under contract so it’s not a next week thing. I’ve got some interesting ideas. I have no idea if any of them would be a living.

The state of my industry is not good. This surprises a lot of people. It’s true. This is not a good time to own a broadcast property.

Revenues are down. Some stations may still have a positive cash flow, but not after debt service is figured in. It’s like being upside-down in a mortgage.

We are, by virtue of the technology allotted to us set-up to produce high cost newscasts. These shows are meant to be consumed en mass in a serial fashion, beginning-to-end at a scheduled time. The Internet provides virtually the opposite experience and the audience increasingly likes that.

I think all-the-time of what I can do next. I’m under contract so it’s not a next week thing. I’ve got some interesting ideas. I have no idea if any of them would be a living.

twit-live.jpgI have watched Leo LaPorte. He is on 24/7–live and re-runs. In his studio, he runs the cameras and switcher and audio and everything else. It’s a one-man-band operation. That doesn’t scare me.

What he does is not mass market broadcasting. Leo’s programming is tech oriented. I’m not sure there’s anyone watching other than early adopters. Can this type of programming be successful with a less computer savvy audience?

Meanwhile, Leo is performing the jobs a dozen or more people used to do.

Society has become too efficient for its own good. We need fewer people–certainly fewer expensive people to perform most jobs. Maybe the Luddites were right?

So many jobs are dead end. So many jobs are low wage and low benefit. We are currently undergoing the largest economic shift of my lifetime.

Drama In The Air

My flight to Chicago was relatively easy. I had the iPod for the first time and listened to a long interview with Bill Murray and This Week in Technology with Leo Laporte.

I love Leo. He’s been a trailblazer in tech. The show was rudderless. I still listened all the way through. I just wanted more meat and more structure.

About twenty minutes out of Chicago a flight attendant came on the PA. “Is there a doctor, nurse or medical person on the flight?”

That only happens in the movies, right?

About ten rows behind me a woman had suffered a seizure. As I’d later find out, she had medication with her. This must not have been a total surprise.

You would guess this sort of thing puts you to the head of the line for landing. We hit the ground, hit the brakes, did a 250 degree turn and pulled right to the terminal.

The door popped open and in rushed three Chicago Fire Department EMTs.

I can’t tell you how the woman is. She looked unconscious as they moved her off in a wheelchair.

Before we landed, the crew asked everyone to stay seated and not go to the overhead bins. The instructions were followed.

The Chicago-LAX passengers are starting to get on. It will be a full flight. I’ve moved back a row and taken a window seat. Maybe I’ll see some snowcapped mountains.

Next stop Los Angeles.

Without The Web

I came home from work last night, turned on the computer, got my mail then went to change. By the time I returned to the PC, the Internet had disappeared. On the cable modem, bot the PC and power lights were on – the cable light was not.

It was nearly 1:00 AM, so I decided not to call Comcast. Who would have been around at that time to fix it? Surely it would be working by morning.

When Helaine got up, no Internet!

As it turns out, sometime around 10:00 AM service returned. But that’s not the point. Without the Internet, I was lost.

I wanted to blog. There was a weather display program I had discovered that I wanted to test on my Linux machine. I wanted to trade emails and read about the World Series of Poker on Usenet. I wanted to play poker.

There is a backup. I’m not even sure if it’s currently connected, but my router has the facility to connect to an external modem I have and (shudder) dial-in for my connection. I have become so spoiled that I put that option off.

I went downstairs and watched two episode of “The Screen Savers” I had recorded from G4TechTV. It’s only during the past week that TechTV shows have been available on my cable system. The shows were enjoyable, though a bit under produced and choppy. Some of the anchors were less than comfortable on-the-air.

Most of all, I missed Leo Laporte. When I had last seen this program, he had been hosting. He is, by far, the best tech host on television – a total natural.

It’s funny how much my late night enjoyment depends on having the Internet. It is a weakness. It is not necessarily wrong.