The Stars of ZDTV

Sumi Das’s last day was Thursday. She’s heading to a reporting job at MSNBC. That leaves Adam Sessler and me as the last original show hosts from the very first days of ZDTV. (Michaela joined the channel after only a month or so due to visa difficulties.) I’m beginning to feel like Kurt Loder. Hey it could be worse, I could be Mark Goodman. (How many of the original MTV VJs can you name?).
The good news is that everyone who has left the channel has moved on to bigger and better things. Here are the original, and now dearly departed, hosts of ZDTV on May 11, 1998 as best as I can remember.

  • Jim Louderback and Sumi Das, Fresh Gear
  • Lauren Fielder, Gamespot TV
  • Scott Herriott, Ed Marques (The Surf Guru) and SuChin Pak, Internet Tonight
  • Carmine Gallo, Money Machine
  • Kate Botello, The Screen Savers and Tilde
  • John C. Dvorak, Silicon Spin
  • Victoria Recaño, ZDTV News

Am I missing anybody?

There were hundreds of other people behind the scenes, of course, many of whom have also left. About a dozen or so of us old timers are still around, although no one has been around as long as I have.

Today begins my 10th year with ZDTV/TechTV. That’s the longest I’ve ever worked for anybody. I helped hire many of the people who started the channel. All of them are gone but I’m still standing. I can’t figure out if I’m a survivor or just too lazy to move on. I guess Adam and I will just have to head out and raise a glass to the original stars of ZDTV.

172 Replies to “The Stars of ZDTV”

  1. I started watching zdtv in 99. The good old days.
    I never knew that kate was Tilda.
    So whats kate up to now.

  2. I know Jazy and I completely agree with you. ZDTV was da bomb! Wish ZD would buy it out and revamp it. If I had the cash i know I would. I hope you stay but if you leave I would completely understand. Know that we are behind you in everything you do and if we can do anything to help just let us know.

  3. Man, I remember back in the day when TechLive was on during the day, they had the ticker at the bottom and the stock quotes on the sidebar. Alas, I only back far enough to when Jessica was “”, and Leo rallied (?) to get her “”. I think I can even remember the original TSS set, the current one being the 3rd design (2nd re-design).

  4. I love Tech TV, i miss Chris from CFH. There has been a “lot” of new screensavers coming in since the start of summer…always liked fresh gear and the Sessler (still miss extended play..but X-play suffices…but could it please do without the announcer guy…)
    Keep up the good work thanks for showing us practical ways opposed to difficult more traditional ones.

  5. I have been watching zdtv since day one and ever single day after that. I remember when everything that aired on the network was done in house. Now you look at most things and you see the bravo and BBC logos. I think Steve Jobs should buy Techtv and take it backs to it’s roots everthing in house the way it should be.

  6. I guess we are all worried about Tech TV after hearing a few news stories and the gossip going on here and other places. Hopefully we are all unjustly worried??? I guess we’ve seen to many good shows go away while the useless trash seems to survive. Leo, you guys have always done a good job and continue to do so. I do wonder about a few of the other shows on Tech TV but if we have to put up with them to keep you around so be it!
    Keep up the good work, it’s very much appreciated!

  7. I remember about a year ago, Chris Leary was actually on WWE programming, then he left. Amazing he left a company thats going nowhere. (No competition, so no pressure to better the product,they bought out WCW) To a Tech channel thats going in the same direction.
    Someone out there with the money and the, pardon my french “BALLS” should create a tech channel to compete with Techtv, give people the shows that they want to see. A little healthy competition doesn’t hurt anybody!! Anyways congrats on the 10 years, and good luck to you whichever road you decide to take.
    HINT, HINT: Regis is getting pretty old, 😉

  8. Leo,
    I’m glad you lasted this long. I do miss Kate, one of my fondest memories is you and her dancing at the end of the show. I can’t complain about your new group of babes. It might be fun to have a reunion show. Say hi to…Pat, Cat, Sarah, Kevin, Jessica, Megan, Morgan, Yoshi, Brett and the rest.

  9. Hi Leo
    Thanks for the updates here. Sad to see Sumi leave. There certainly is a lot of talent that has moved on. I too think that a reunion show – or how about this — why not air the original pilots (or an early successful show), and advertise it in advance. That would be really cool.
    Thankfully, it looks like someone cut the strings on the Thunderbirds…. (hahaha)

  10. Leo,
    Nice sentiments. I feel that TSS has not been as good since Megan hasn’t been there. I understand that TechTV decided not to allow her to come back on a relaxed schedule. IMO, big mistake! I also understand that she will be joining Call For Help in August. TSS used to be the coolest program on Tech TV. Now, I’d put my money on Xplay and CFH beginning in August.

  11. It’s been 10 years? Man, sure doesn’t seem that long.
    Out of all those names, I easily miss Dvorak the most. Dvorak just had a clever, snide presence. Always had comments with an edge of sarcasm. I know some people didn’t like it, but I sure did. I was just thinking a few days ago about when he took heat for saying the colored iBooks looked like “purses”. He wasn’t disrespectful, but he was unapologetic. Very refreshing. 🙂 I read his print columns on occasion but it’s never the same as TV.
    Anyway, I hope TechTV continues to be a fulfilling part of your career. Many of us enjoy and appreciate your work.

  12. Things has been very quiet the last week. The TechTV deal makers must have really put the gags on. What I really dread is that after the purchase. They always send in the hatchet person to clean up the old mess. They have a meeting, give you the old pep talk and, “how valuable of asset” you are speech. The whole time they’re preparing someone up to replace you. The only way you can buy a company today is to promise the bank you can reduce salaries by 20%.

  13. Ahhhh, I think back to when I first discovered ZDTV. I had just had surgery and was laid up for a few days and wasn’t supposed to move around. Flipping around I find this incredible network and was immediately hooked. I was in love with Victoria (dark hair, dark eyes – oh my!). They had viewers on their netcams during commercial breaks. Leo was on CFH but dressed a little more wildly for TSS. Scott Herriott was on Internet Tonight – I remembered him from Walt Disney World Inside Out (hated the couch)! Meghan Marks did love stuff (again Oh My!)
    Many have taken this chance to TTV bash, but I think Leo was just looking back at the past and remembering the good ol’ days. Have you noticed that no matter what it is – it’s always better ‘back then’.
    Oh well, best of luck in your next 10 years no matter what you’re doing but know this. There is no TTV without you.

  14. To everyone saying Leo bumped off Pirillo, Leo was the original, the one, and the only REAL host Call for Help will ever see.
    Adelphia originally gave us the channel as a share channel w/ the local stuff in 98 or so (then after it got its own Comcast killed it in all of NJ but that’s another story for another time), and I loved it even though I couldn’t see CFH and TSS live (the local stuff ran from 5 to 11).
    I enjoyed the days of the CFH players, Leo first using 802.11b on the original iBook on CFH (ironically I’m on wifi right now), installing Linux on the air on TSS, and the total geek out stuff. Internet Tonight had some awesome stuff on it, I loved the surf guru.
    When did TTV jump the shark? When TechLive arrived. That started the transition to nothing but business related stuff. I wanted technology, not a screen 1/2 filled with stock quotes (that side ticker was the most annoying thing ever).
    I guess I’m not missing too much w/ the channel gone from my lineup.

  15. Sorry all. Bad night. Guess Leo’s blog caught the worst of it. Sorry again. Your a great guy Leo. Keep it good. Sorry again.
    B 🙂

  16. ZDTV and TechTV have been my favorite Satellite/cable channel since finding it on channel 191 on the Dish Network. I have been with the Dish since Dec 1996 and started watching “Call for Help” with you and Kate shortly thereafter. When did you first broadcast on the DishNetwork and where was the first cable transmission from? Keep up the good work

  17. Leo, I’ve only been watching you for a few months, but I’ve gotta say I kick myself that I missed the first 10 years. You’re one computerizing, demystifying, calmifying, no-balogna-fyzin’ machine! Thanks for all the good info in such a short period of time…please don’t go away too soon!
    HP (no relation…sadly)

  18. yep those were the good old ZDTV day !!! I started watching on 1999, Call for help really helped me out back then when I was a sophomore comp sci student and a first time pc user, after a couple of months I graduated to The Screen Savers… I hope they bring back the old hard core tech show format… Congratulations on your 10th year a TTV, I really haven’t seen any shows from TTV since last year, our cable subscriber took TTV out of our channel listings, but I still visit the web site, that’s why I haven’t seen the new guys (morgan et all.) on TV yet, but I hope the bring back the gub old days if you know what is mean. Thanks !!!

  19. Hey Leo,
    I started watching you on The Site with Soldad O’Brian, and back then, CNet Central, The Site, and Computer Chronicals (which I’ve watched since the eighties) were about the only tech shows on TV. Of course that was before being a nerd was cool 🙂
    And you know what they say… every OS needs it’s killer app, and you’re Tech TV’s killer app. If you left, I don’t see how they’d survive.
    Take care.

    Leo you would be a cool starship captain but only if Patrick plays engineer and Chris Perillo plays the vulcan science officer or ship’s psychiatrist.

  21. Sumi is Babe-ilicous, I didn’t mind watching if the product looked stupid,
    He was a nice enough guy, whatever that guys name was who co hosted with her, but Sumi was obviously the brains of the show….always got the vibe the dude didn’t know what he was saying and just reading from cue cards…just pointing that out so the geek girls out there don’t think I’m a total git thinking Sumi is a cutie!
    Good Luck Sumi!

  22. Leo, if you ever leave it will be the end of ZDTV/TechTV. You are why we watch. You are the coolest! You have a huge fan base and we all appreciate you more than you could imagine. Stick with it man!! Make them give you a huge raise, but stick with it!

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