UPDATE: So many questions!! Let me get something to eat and I'll come back in a few hours to answer more. Thanks SO much everyone. I really appreciate the interest and the very very kind words. xoxox

UPDATE UPDATE: OK I think I've answered everything with enough karma to be visible. I'll check back tomorrow morning to see if there's anything else. Thank you all so much. That was a blast!!

You may remember me from such TV shows as The Screen Savers and Call for Help on the late-lamented TechTV. Shortly after leaving TechTV I started TWiT, a podcast network now with 25 shows aimed at the hardcore tech enthusiast. I also host a weekly syndicated radio show called The Tech Guy, so you can ask me about the dirty underbelly of talk radio, too.

Verify this account via my (verified) Twitter account @leolaporte or on Facebook.

So. What would you like to know?

Comments: 2289 • Responses: 68  • Date: 

galloog1393 karma

Leo Laporte, I have been waiting for this day for a while. Questions first; praise later.

  1. If you could promote one thing that you are doing right now what would it be?

  2. If you could promote one thing that someone else completely unaffiliated with you is doing right now what would it be?

  3. How have you monetised TWIT.TV? What earns you the most money to keep operations running?

  4. What are your top costs that caused the recent forced downsizing of some of your minor shows like This Week in Science? Should you regain footing would you consider bringing them back?

  5. All preferences and ideal situations aside, what devices and programs do you use on a daily basis?

  6. All hypotheticals aside, what devices do you recommend on a daily basis more than others and for what reasons?

  7. What went through your head when your mother was your first caller on Call for Help?

I understand some of these are pretty invasive so I understand if you would want to skip some of them.

The Praise: I have been watching your media since 2003. You helped sculpt how I deal with tech support in my profession now. I am currently an Officer in the US Army Reserve Signal Corps and I get to deal with angry non-tech people on a daily basis when on the job dealing with extremely complex networking concepts. As an entrepreneur myself, you have motivated me with your leadership and willingness to take the risks in your market. You are the future of media. I still have not forgiven G4 for what they did to your show. I halved my watching of that network when it happened. Thank you for everything you do and keep it up!

chieftwit435 karma

Wow. One at a time!!

  1. I am really excited about our new show Know How with Iyaz Akhtar (he did an IAmA recently in fact). It reminds me a bunch of The Screen Savers, which is a direction I'd like to head in with TWiT.

  2. I am blown away by Waze - this is what crowd sourcing could be. iOS and Android.

  3. TWiT has been profitable since day one. First with donations from listeners, more recently with advertising. We grossed $3.75 million last year, should break $4 million this year. Currently I'm putting most of that back into the network. (EDIT: I checked with Lisa today and it's more like $4.25 million last year. She's aiming at $6 mill this year. We grossed $447K this month, up 47% over last July, so maybe she'll do it!)

  4. Like any network we will cancel shows that don't interest the audience and replace them with shows that (we hope) do. I hate canceling shows (I am talent after all) but it's the only way we can be profitable. I don't want to do shows people don't want to watch.

  5. I am using a Macbook Retina right now. Love the Nexus 7 and Samsung Galaxy SIII. That's not my Swedish penis pump.

  6. See #5.

  7. I was mortified!

Thanks for the kind words.

adattude353 karma

Leo, PLEASE read this!

I had a lot of problems growing up, health issues and not many friends. When I found Tech TV it gave me something to put my mind on other than my problems. I was around 13 and my interest in the channel got my mom to buy me my first computer, before that there was just the family computer with Windows 3.1. I opened it up and started messing around with it while watching The Screen Savers and Call for Help and nothings been the same since. Now as an adult with a Bachelors in IT and my own tech support business I can look back and think how it all started with a gift from my mom and guidance from you, Patrick, and the rest of the Tech TV crew. Thank you very much.

chieftwit291 karma

Thank you so much for sharing your story with me. This, kids, is why we do it.

MGaje262 karma

Hey, Leo! What are your thoughts on Google Fiber? Just in general, but what do you think about their Free Internet option? Crazy?

chieftwit481 karma


Seriously Google is changing the game. Just as they should.

cplater206 karma

When did you know that TechTV wasn't going to survive?

chieftwit532 karma

About a year before it folded.

I remember trying to tell the TechTV executives that we should target the 14 million computer programmers in the US with really smart programming. They told me that sponsors hate a smart audience and there was no future in smart programming. That's when I started polishing up my resume.

unscanable210 karma

They told me that sponsors hate a smart audience and there was no future in smart programming.

I don't want to live on this planet anymore.

chieftwit335 karma

Oh, by the way, they were wrong. TWiT is smart, and more successful than TechTV ever was.

JoshTheDerp82 karma

It was a sad day to see techTV go under. I slowly watched TSS die. I haven't watched AoTS sense Kevin rose left. Also, just here to say I'm a huge fan.

Do you still have contact with Kevin Rose, Sarah Lane, Dan Huard, or the rest of the old TSS crew?

chieftwit118 karma

Kevin is going to be on TWiT a week from Sunday.

Sarah works for me and hosts Tech News Today every day on TWiT, iPad Today on Thursdays, and The Social Hour and iFive for the iPhone on Mondays.

Who is Dan Huard?

IndyDude1156 karma

Smart audiences don't rely on the commercials they see to make their decisions. Hence why they are they are not liked much by advertisers. :)

chieftwit123 karma

That's what they think but seriously, don't smart people buy brands? Why Tide not Cheer? Crest not Colgate? Advertising works for everyone. really.

jaimev193 karma

A while back, there was news stories about your relationship with Lisa, your office manager. But recently on a TWIT podcast, I've heard you recount a story about your wife, Jennifer. What is the current relationship status between you and your wife, and you and Lisa?

chieftwit473 karma

Jennifer and I are amicably divorced. We separated over a year ago. She is my ex-wife - but I still have a lot of stories about her. We have dinner at least weekly and talk more often than that.

Lisa and I have been in a relationship for almost that long. We fell in love while building TWiT and even though we fight like cats and dogs about business we purr like kittens when we're off duty.

pile_alcaline77 karma

Wow, I watch tons of TWIT shows and a lot of behind the scenes stuff on the live stream and had no idea any of this had happened.

chieftwit111 karma

As much of a blabbermouth as I am I try to limit myself to talking about my life, not others'. It's not easy.

By the way, Ryan Tate at Gawker was just as surprised when it turned out his big "scoop" was old news. I hope I never meet that guy in person. (I think he works at Wired now, actually.)

logicatch168 karma

Leo, I crack up whenever you bust out one of your great foreign accents on your shows. How/when did you discover this uncanny gift of yours? Do you work on your accents or is it something that just comes naturally?

chieftwit239 karma

The accents came first. Before radio, before TV, before puberty, even. In fact, I got into radio because I used to do the voices while serving dinner at the college dining hall (my job as a student). One annoyed student, clearly hoping to get a serving of mashed potatoes not overdone ham, suggested I "save it for the radio." A light bulb went on and I went to the campus radio station and auditioned. The rest is history.

yarnage75 karma

Can you put up a poll in which us listeners can vote which voice you must use during an entire podcast episode?


chieftwit115 karma

Sure. But I bet the Boris Badenov voice will win.

cluracan158 karma

What does Dvorak smell like?

chieftwit142 karma

Pert shampoo and disappointment.

pondage144 karma

Who is your fav guest of all time?

chieftwit284 karma

Walter Cronkite. My last radio interview.

classiclantern51 karma

Did he say it? Did he say the line???

chieftwit72 karma

He did!!!!

tf2hipster47 karma

Is this available anywhere? I'd love to hear it.

chieftwit97 karma

Alas no. It was in 1987 and we didn't have compact flash back then.

kihragod138 karma

Leo, Im reading all of your answers in your voice.

chieftwit183 karma

That's a serious side effect of too much TWiT consumption. I'd see a medical professional.

[deleted]21 karma

Brought to you by Ford!

chieftwit10 karma

Yeah when you start inserting the ads on your own you're really in trouble.

Mr_Bootstrap133 karma

My soul cries out, Leo! You must help me. Please, PLEASE reveal the name of goddess behind the voice behind "...from people you trust" (as is "Netcasts you love...from people you trust") for I have fallen in love and I must know the name of the fair maid for whom my heart yearns.

chieftwit161 karma

Not my mom. Not Amber. It's a local vo artist and friend named Laura Sunday. Her only appearance on TWiT. And a trivia question down the road.

Fester113113 karma

Leo, first off thanks for doing this. Do you feel that with Lisa running the "business" part of TWIT, that what you may or may not have envisioned for TWIT may be different than her goals?

Also, can you comment on the rift between you and Jason Calicanis?

chieftwit232 karma

Lisa and I are excellent business partners. There's no way I could do the shows I do and run the business. She understands and fully supports what we're trying to do with TWiT. I think TWiT is much better for our partnership.

Very few startups can work with a single founder. There's almost always a vision/product person and a business person. I tried to do TWiT without Lisa but it really didn't take off until she arrived about four years ago.

As for me and Jason. I really like the guy, but I felt that he used TWiT to promote himself and then launched a copy-cat network. He's done the same thing before (Propellor was a direct copy of Digg.) After he launched his network I didn't see any benefit to allow him to continue promoting it on my network.

patheticdreams111 karma

I miss TWiF. Do you think you can ever get Martin Sargent back in?

chieftwit137 karma

Martin is pretty busy - but I've told him that I want him to do a game show for us. Waiting for his treatment.

WellWhatNow110 karma

Hi Leo, remember when you said Digg 4 was your idea? Do you still wish to stake that claim?

captainkeytar60 karma

He still does, even when talking about Digg's downfall. Integrity.

chieftwit130 karma

Yeah I told Kevin for a long time that he should have a way to weigh the diggs. In particular, I wanted to see Diggs from people I know, not strangers, at least sometimes.

Now lots of sites do that. I don't think that was what killed Digg.

Aragatz110 karma

How much is your Premiere Radio Networks salary? And do you ever see a point of not doing "The Tech Guy" show?

chieftwit257 karma

I make around $350k on The Tech Guy. In the last contract negotiations we worked out a deal that allows us to sell adverts on the Tech Guy Podcast. That will at least double, if not triple that number. So I guess I'll keep doing the show!

ScottCarmichael39 karma

That's awesome Leo - I had no idea you made so much from that. That's a lot of work though (what, 2-3 hours every weekend?). And even though they are just "everyday people" you help on the show, it's actually one of the most enjoyable shows you're involved with.

chieftwit55 karma

I was ready to quit at the last contract re-up. I miss having my weekends. A lot. But I'm glad Lisa talked me into sticking with it. It's really a fun show to do and I believe it helps TWiT by bringing in new audiences.

Tom_Z90 karma

Hey Leo! I'm a huge fan of TWiT and even watched a bit of TechTV when I was younger!

Some of your newer shows are really looking great! (have you checked out /r/knowhow or /r/byb?! :D )

  • Do you think you've created some thing with the TWiT Network that recreates the atmosphere of TechTV? Is there anything that hasn't carried over to TWiT?

  • You're very open about the interworkings of TWiT and your personal life. Does that ever come back to bite you?

  • As a younger viewer I sometimes feel like I'm not in your target demographic. What is TWiT doing to draw in or cater to a younger audience?

Thanks for doing this!

chieftwit166 karma


Yeah we're working on subreddits for all our shows. I think there's a natural synergy between this site and TWiT.

And, yes, I am consciously trying to recreate the best parts of TechTV (sorry no Thunderbirds). Having the new studio means we can do more help and how-to instead of more talking heads. I'm thrilled at the response to Know How... it means we're on the right track.

The things I say don't come back to bite me, but the people I say them about often do. I have to learn to shut up about other people. I don't mind talking about myself. I think being open is very rewarding.

We don't aim TWiT at any demographic - just tech enthusiasts. I hope what we do is identifiable to people of all ages, races, and nationalities.

Tom_Z38 karma

Also I gotta say, I love watching live. You guys look like you have so much fun in the brickhouse.

Where else can I see anything like this?!: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VOacbfWJdOA

chieftwit51 karma

I agree. Live doesn't make us any money - but it's so much more fun to do it live.

ehkaplan81 karma

Leo, Is there some background on why Triangulation has become a solo host show? What is happening with Tom?

chieftwit84 karma

Tom wanted more time to devote to other projects. So we said ok. He won't be filling in for me as much, either.

TheToeTag79 karma

You turned me into a nerd. I hope you're happy!

chieftwit87 karma


Chanpinko75 karma

Can you offer more insight on the departure of Erik Lanigan?. If I was to take this at face value, it seems pretty unjust to remove him if it really was as a result of him being ignored by you, despite you claiming to have groomed him. Perhaps there is a side to the story you would like to share in response to this?

chieftwit138 karma

Apologies - my legal department has told me to limit my response here to:

Erik Lanigan no longer works at TWiT.

Sorry for the lack of candor. It's a legal thang.

CoffeeNerd72 karma

I love John C. Dvorak and Jolie O'Dell and really enjoy TWIT when they are on. Any chance you could get them to do a show together to discuss the week's news?

Also I loved Windows Weekly before Mary Jo joined but she really makes the show better.

Thanks, your doing a great service.

chieftwit58 karma

I think we get quite enough of those two. ;-) Seriously, I love them together, too, but they both have "real" jobs, alas.

Yakra66 karma

My introduction to you was a video clip where you deal with a woman who was stealing wifi from her neighbor, and wanted to know how to get it back.

My question is: What did you really want to say to her?

chieftwit77 karma

It was hard not to laugh during that call. I think she was sincere. All I could do it try to explain what was going on. Believe it or not those calls are what makes the radio show so very fun!!

dereckc160 karma

Leo, what is the one show from TWiT which you wish had been able to continue which is now canceled?

chieftwit117 karma

All of them. I hate canceling shows. But I've learned it's better to be lean than fat. I do miss TWiT Photo a lot. But I also miss This Week In Fun. And Maxwell's House. Damn. You've made me cry.

kingcheeto60 karma

Game On! :'(

chieftwit79 karma

Oh yeah. That's a special case. If I could have afforded that I would have kept it going because I do believe it would have been successful eventually. Unfortunately we just didn't have the runway to keep it alive. Lost $100K in just three months.

dereckc120 karma

Not to go against Brian and Justin, but I really miss MunchCast.

chieftwit10 karma

Yes! Me too!!

peu400057 karma

  1. How often do you watch the video of you saying screw you to Mike Arrington? It makes me feel good every time I see it.

  2. How awesome is John C Dvorak off camera.

Love the network, and hope to make it to the studio sometime.

chieftwit62 karma

Haven't watched it in some time - it's quite embarrassing. I don't lose it like that very often.

I adore John - he gave me my start in tech journalism and I consider him one of the most interesting and talented people in the business.

GnRH_Balla57 karma


chieftwit80 karma

The Brick House is the best clubhouse a kid could wish for. It's really fun and flexible. More importantly, it makes it possible to do the kind of shows we could only dream about in the cottage.

When you visit you will see. It's even better in person!!

icebug56 karma

When is the next time that you will be a guest on NSFW show?

chieftwit110 karma

Never again. Those guys are crazy.

Tom_Z26 karma

What do you think of their social experiment with the Diamond Club Book?

chieftwit45 karma

I love it - that's why I plugged it on Macbreak Weekly and The Giz Wiz today. What an amazing story! (Mighty good readin' too!)

I_Lase_You55 karma

Major thanks for proving our generation can grok tech as well as anyone.

Here's a thank you lase. Link

Also, I often lase a picture of the guest. But in your case, there are better choices.

Sarah and Amber, for example. Link

chieftwit42 karma

Right on. Very cool. I've tweeted them.

kingcheeto55 karma

Hey Leo! I love TWiT, great job! What was one of your favorite moments that happened back in the old TechTV days? Either on air or off...

chieftwit110 karma

There were literally hundreds of unforgettable moments on TechTV but one of my favorites wasn't on air. It was before the channel launched when Kate Botello and I roamed around the streets of SF with a camera crew recording bits for the opening sequence of the original Screen Savers. As you might remember it was a parody of a 70s cop show.

It was special because it was before we launched and we had no idea how it would be taken. We were naifs walking innocently into the future and it will never be the same. So much fun!

A similar moment was when we did our first personal appearance in Las Vegas. The Screen Savers was only a few months old and we didn't expect much. In fact, we had to beg TechTV to send us. Kate and I pulled up in our rental car and I remember her nails digging into my hand as she said, "there are people here!" We were so surprised. We signed autographs for a couple of hours and that was the beginning of an amazing run of personal appearances all over the country, each bigger than the last.

On one, Patrick and I stayed so long that the rental company came and took down the tent and platform, but we kept on signing!

8bitsince8651 karma

Hey Leo, big fan of your network.

I was just curious as to how much longer you see yourself hosting shows on your network, and if it's something you still plan on maintaining for the foreseeable future.

chieftwit87 karma

As long as I can. Paul Harvey worked into his 90s. I guess I'll stop when my voice goes.

I love what I do and I can't imagine getting up in the morning and not having a show to do. On my days off I sometimes don't get out of bed at all.

Nickface47 karma

Hey Leo, I enjoyed watching you on ZDTV, TechTV, and now on your various shows on TWIT--so thank you for all you've done.

Do you see what you're doing with the TWiT network becoming the norm for media consumption in the coming years and pushing aside cable companies and broadcasters? Is Roku the first step to the TWiT living room invasion?

chieftwit86 karma

I call the kind of shows I do, hand-made media, or artesianal broadcasting. We create specialized products for a niche audience. Thanks to the Internet and inexpensive digital technologies, this kind of niche broadcasting is viable and I do believe it's going to transform media. It already has - more people watch YouTube than NBC.

Key to this is ease of access, so Roku is huge for us. As are SmartTVs, AppleTV, GoogleTV, BoxeeBox, etc.

peu400028 karma

He's been saying the last few weeks that he doesn't want to be on everyone's TV. He enjoy's the community he has, and wants to aviod (I think he called them) the bro-viewers.

chieftwit33 karma


netdorf45 karma

I would like to start of with I am a huge fan! I've been watching/listening to you since you were on TechTV. You were one of the reasons I had joined my college radio station to do a tech news show (didn't work out so well.)

How does it feel to be considered pretty much one of the most recognized names in tech news?

chieftwit88 karma

You know sometimes I get pretty swelled up and think things like that. Then Lisa, or my kids, or the kid behind the counter at McDonald's, reminds me that I'm not that special and I calm down.

The view from here is not that different. Mostly it's nice that I don't have to worry about where my next job, or meal, is coming from.

WikiHunt41 karma

Leo, are you still considering a morning show? I think you've replaced all aspects of my radio life with the exception of morning radio.

chieftwit55 karma

Yeah that's one of the things we really want to do, but we have to get the machine running smoothly before we do. It's a pretty gargantuan task.

zland40 karma

Back when you started This Week in Tech in 2005, did you ever think that it would evolve to a podcast network as it is today?

chieftwit82 karma

No way! I remember saying then that there was no way I was planning to recreate TechTV. Boy was I wrong.

Xhenwa39 karma

Why did Kate leave the show and go to Sessler's show? I've always wanted to know the story behind it! You two were so great together.

chieftwit95 karma

I think Kate was tired of me and probably thought it would be more fun to talk about gaming than answer tech questions and have me correct her. I'm pretty hard to work with. Seriously. Just ask Chad.

howardgrigg38 karma

How worried are you about 5by5? They are hosting some really good shows from people in your network and others. Are your hosts offering the shows to TWiT first and if they are why are you turning them down?

chieftwit52 karma

Not worried at all, else you would never hear me mention them.

We need more networks not fewer. It's not good for TWiT to be the only one in the space.

Andy asked me if I wanted Ihnatko's Almanac first, I told him we didn't and he should absolutely do it for Dan. Gina didn't ask, but she can do anything she damn well pleases as long as she never leaves TWiG.

ktur7 karma

What about Merlin Mann? Miss him on the network, esp. on Macbreak, although I'm not he's on the pulse of Apple stuff anymore. Added some funny banter.

chieftwit19 karma

Merlin really burned out on Macbreak Weekly. We ask him to be on all the time, but I think he's much happier doing what he's doing.

Nero18234 karma

Any chance of getting Kevin Rose as a guest on a future show? I would love to hear about the things that have happened to him recently.

chieftwit59 karma

Kevin is on TWiT August 12!

mpoko27 karma

Leo When can we expect to see Jerry Pournelle back on TWiT?

chieftwit28 karma

Soon. I have him on my list to invite. Knowing Jerry is such a thrill.

brikster41427 karma

Hey Leo! Thank you for doing an Ama. I have 2 questions. 1. What do you do in your free time? 2. Do you think Google Fiber will be a big game changer?

chieftwit87 karma

In my free time I watch TV, play chess, listen to audio books, cook, and clean my gun collection.

kcwalden23 karma

What kind of guns do you have?

chieftwit253 karma

Mostly Nerf.

bmurph8326 karma

Could you talk a little bit about your relationship with Michael Arrington both before and after the Palm Pre incident? Have you spoken much after that?

Loved watching you since the ZDTV days, keep up the great work creating great tech media.

chieftwit78 karma

Mike and I made up the same day. I apologized and explained my prickliness. Every time I see Mike (twice since then) he approaches me nervously, as if I'm going to bite him.

The first time, at FOO Camp, I shook his hand. Then realized he's a germophobe who is campaigning for the elbow bump to replace the handshake. Oops.

The second time, at Le Web, he was holding court reclining on top of a pile of mattresses. He beckoned me forward and said, "Make up your mind, do you love me or do you hate me?" I told him I liked him well enough but that I really didn't like what he was doing with Techcrunch (linkbaiting, investing in companies he covers, etc.). Then I passive-aggressively shook hands with him.

You can't make this stuff up.

charlieray26 karma

Have you noticed a decline in viewership (live) since the schedule shuffle? The regular shows that I did watch have all been cancelled (all except Hamnation). Bob Heil most likely bankrolls the support for this show but if it ever came about that it was going to be dumped I would be majorly bummed out. I wish there was a subscription based model for a particular show (that way you could tell where people want to put their money). Edit: I am also really loved to listen live to Tech news today during the after work drive. I havent listened to an episode since the change.

chieftwit10 karma

Too soon to know, but I expect it won't make much difference in the numbers. Less than 10% of our audience watches live.

Electronicwaffle25 karma

Do you think 3D printing will take off? Everything about 3D printing blows my mind.

What tech [That we currently have] is the most amazing for you?

What technology device purchase has been your biggest regret?

chieftwit28 karma

Yes, Makerbot and its ilk are really exciting. How about printing genomes? That's next and it's even more mind-boggingly world changing.

I think if people realized the changes coming in genetics and biology they'd be very excited, and a little scared. It will make the information revolution pale in comparison.

I am really sorry I bought the last three Nokia phones.

blueassassin25 karma

Hi Leo, just wanted to thank you for all the years of great tech news and content. Been watching since tech tv and I can honestly say you have assisted my career in ways you can't imagine. Through your shows and radio I've stayed on top of the tech curve and it's been so beneficial to my life in general, so thanks!

If I had a question it would be, would you ever consider returning to broadcast TV if offered or is that medium dead?

chieftwit58 karma

I can't imagine ever returning to broadcast TV. I've had too much freedom doing what I want for too long.

krizhek24 karma

Will their be a chance at having a modding/building show. Like what we see on Rev3 with Ben Heck? I really enjoy the show but it doesn't hit it up with enough things that I feel like I could do without owning 10k in tools.

chieftwit61 karma

Yes yes yes!!! That's the very next thing I want to do. We're planning on building a workshop/makerspace in the back of the building (next to the rollup door and alley). I hope we'll launch shows this fall.

And, yes, we'll do simple, inexpensive projects you (and your kids) can do.

mrlelele123424 karma

Hey leo. I'm 16 and I've pretty much been listening to your podcasts every night for the past couple of years.

I heard that you did some programming at one point. Do you still do much programming? What advice would you give to kids (like myself) who want to do will in the comp sci business (as opposed to broadcasting about tech).

Also I loved your interview with Eben Upton recently. Oh and Kevin Mitnick. Triangulation is my favorite show by far.

chieftwit50 karma

I adore programming - it's a wonderful hobby.

I recommend you work your way through SICP - a free book from MIT - and scheme: http://mitpress.mit.edu/sicp/ - but I'm sure the redditors will have something to say about that!

stevencole3122 karma

Hey Leo long time fan!! I have heard you talk that you have a monthly budget to spend on tech item for yourself. What is that budget?

chieftwit57 karma

It's not a fixed budget but I expect to spend $2-3K a month on products for use or review (that's for myself personally - TWiT spends a lot more for gear).

Orangegatoraaade21 karma

When the Screen Savers ended, was there a non-compete clause that led you to exploring options like creating the TWIT network or did you have the choice of returning to television if something new arose?

chieftwit56 karma

Non-competes are illegal in the state of California and I made sure my contracts never had them.

In fact, after they fired me, G4 told me that TechTV in Canada wanted to hire me, so they even helped me with job placement, in a way. I did Call for Help (and later The Lab) on TV in Canada for four more years.

Ultimately though, I far prefer what we're doing to broadcast television. I make more and it's much much more fun.

Danielrh920 karma

Leo! You've been a huge inspiration for me professionally. I've met you a few times in person, but I'd love the chance to ask you a few more things.

  1. Where do you see TWiT in ten years? Is your current business model sustainable, and how will your business have to evolve?
  2. I asked you this on a This Week in TWiT about a week ago, and you responded, but I'd love for you to elaborate. Right now TWiT has a "we speak, you listen" format. What are your goals to make all of your shows more inclusive and interactive?
  3. Can I come live in Petaluma and work for you? Like, seriously?

My wife and I came and visited you back when you were in the cottage around December of 2009, and I'll tell you the same thing I told you then. I've got a great job in tech, and I owe it to you for getting me so interested in this stuff when I was a kid watching ZDTV and TechTV. Thanks so much!

chieftwit26 karma

I hope that in 5 or 10 years TWiT will be essentially the CNN of Tech. A 24x7 network of tech news and help that's always on when you want it.

But minus that Jack Cafferty guy - he's really awful.

The real challenge, as you point out, is to make this truly interactive. That's one reason all our shows are live, but the technology for real two-way interaction isn't there yet. I'm looking for it all the time.

We're not hiring now, but come out anyway and say hi. You never know!

Krewell20 karma

Hi Leo!

Do you think you can scale the business further? I remember your original plans included a New York studio and moving the west coast studio to San Francisco.

Great to see a fellow "old guy" do well!

chieftwit46 karma

Lisa says she plans to increase revenue 50% next year. I think she can do it. We are all working very hard to build something permanent (and much bigger than LeoTV).

As the rodeo clown said to the cannonball salesman, I am not sure where it will go, but it's going to be one hell of a fun ride.

mulderc16 karma

What is the one show you want to do but know it would just never work?

chieftwit44 karma

There's a ton of them. I want to do a computer programming show, and I probably will, but there's zero chance of success.

I'd also like to do live radio drama. No money in that either, but damn that would be fun.

liar7814 karma

When did you realize, hey I'm pretty good at technology, and decide to start a tech radio show?

Also, what introduced you to the tech world?

chieftwit25 karma

I did radio for 15 years before I did a tech show. I had lost my job on KNBR San Francisco to this up and coming talk host named Rush something, and they offered weekends to me. I was to do a car show, food show, home improvement show, etc. I agreed but on the condition they'd also let me do a computer show with John C. Dvorak. I'd been writing for computer magazines like Byte and Infoworld for 12 years at the time so it was a pretty serious hobby. I was very lucky to be able to make it my vocation, too!

For the story of my first computers read above.

slonkak12 karma

Have you ever read Russ Pitts' recount of TechTV, Eagle Semen: The Story of TechTV employee Number One? Do you agree with everything there / what is your version of what happened?

chieftwit14 karma

Russ is a hoot. I haven't read that, but I suspect it's all accurate. Except that there's no way he was employee #1. I think I probably pre-dated him by a bit. I had been working for Ziff-Davis television for six years when TechTV started.

abehammy11 karma

Do you still keep in touch with Adam Sessler and Morgan Webb? Have you lost contact with any former TechTV personalities?

Also, if TechTV hadn't been bought by a network, where do you think it would be now? I've read a couple of articles saying that TechTV was starting to become profitable at the time of its buyout.

One more question, what has been the situation with Abby? I heard that you talked about it live on the network one time. This may be a sensitive question so I understand if you do not want to answer it.

chieftwit17 karma

We all stay in touch to one degree or another. I convinced Morgan to vlog some time ago - remember WebbAlert? Haven't talked to Adam since the old days. He's probably lucky.

I think what happened to TechTV was inevitable. It was never going to be profitable. There's no way the economics of cable television could support something as niche as TechTV. On the other hand, Internet TV is much more forgiving.

As many students do, Abby struggled a little in her first year in college. She's been taking time off and working hard and is doing great. I think she'll probably go back to college in January. She's very motivated to change the world. I'm so proud of her.

elcarbonite9 karma

Hey Leo,

You've told many stories about TechTV and ZDTV, but not many about your time at MSNBC. Any interesting tidbits from your time there?


chieftwit28 karma

I was part of the Ziff-Davis team that created The Site for MSNBC. I'll never forget going to 30 Rock and pitching the show to the head of NBC News, Andrew Lack. He came in in a three-piece suit and put his big cowboy boots up on the table and said, "tell me what you've got."

When Bill Machrone, Gary Kaye, and I got done pitching the show he looked at the VPs in the room and said, "why don't you guys ever bring me something like this?" I remember lighting up a cigar after that meeting. That was one heck of a high.

But as I quickly learned, in network television, the lows come just as quickly. I had been promised the job of Chief Correspondent on the show, working side-by-side with the anchor, Soledad O'Brien. Shortly before launch, though, the NBC VP in charge of the productions, David Bohrmann (now CEO of Current) took me into a room and told me that the NBC executives said "eww" when asked about me.

David found me something to do that would appease the execs, I got to play a cartoon character, the comedy relief on the show, called Dev Null. Dev was a barista gossip columnist who reported daily on the doing in Silicon Valley. To perform the character I had to wear a special suit connected to a Silicon Graphics Onyx backstage. The suit captured my movements, but my hair and facial movements were controlled by two puppeteers. (One of them, Karsten Bondy, works as a producer at TWiT!) I really hated that suit, and playing a hipster geek on the show was humiliating, but it was a job. I got a stomach ache every time I came into the office during the 18 months of The Site. I think that's where I really learned to hate how the networks treat tech.

I got my revenge though - because Dev Null won The Site it's only Emmy which you can still see on the shelf behind me in my office.

EddyAyala8 karma

Hey Leo! Been a huge fan for years. I live in Santa Rosa, near Petuluma where Twit headquarters are for those who don't know, do fans stop by often at the studio and say hi? I'd love to visit the headquarters some time!

Keep up the awesome job!

chieftwit30 karma

We maintain an open studio policy - you're always welcome to stop by. It's best if you let us know ahead of time, though, by emailing my sister, [email protected] - that way you'll know what shows are on tap, which hosts are in house, and we'll know to put out a seat and a cupcake for you.