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. What About the show
    Page View.
    Who hosted that?
    It was the show about tech books if memory serves.

  2. Did Solodad O’Brien ever actually do TechTV or was she only on ZDTV?
    Apparently TechTV is like the “Home Shopping Network” of on-air talent for MSNBC!
    Hang in there Leo – if the Caller ID says MSNBC – DON’T ANSWER THE PHONE!!

  3. I came across ZDTV on it’s initial days on 98 over by my C-Band satellite. I have to say that those were the true days of the rise of technology and information – nowadays it’s just games and more games which makes you stop and think for a moment where is our society standing and how much do they actually care about innovation. There are a lot of us still looking foward to new innovation and technology – yet others just stick around playing games all day and actually not producing much with it. I only wish that people realize the full potential of technology (as they did on 98 – I’m guessing that THAT was the main reason for ZDTV) and that the new generation return to make productive things over technology.
    I am worried though about this website (www.leoville.com) where in the WHOIS it states the TechTV address and mailing, if Leo decides to leave (and we would perfectly understand) and change jobs, would this website be closed or would Leo move it to it’s next job or personal address? If he leaves and let’s say go to radio (which I’ve seen is another shot at technology) would this website close or would we still hear from Leo?

  4. I have been watching ever since we got a satellite dish in 99. I think I began watching back when ZDTV had only been on the air for 3 or 4 months before I stumbled upon it. Now it is like my bible.
    I have enjoyed some of the changes and been upset over some of the changes as well.

  5. Well, I have not been watching that long. And I’m sure the ZDTV was great. Wish I’d seen it.
    I will miss Sumi, too. It is sad when people move on, especially as a viewer. As a co-worker, you still have the chance to hook up, but the workplace is not the same.. I hope you don’t go Leo, but I agree with the other posting people. As to understanding completely. Wow, 10 years…
    Congratulations, Leo!!
    May your life continue to have success, peace and happiness.
    I’ll still buy your books, no matter what you do. 🙂

  6. Leo you are the only thing that is still holding TTV together. If you jumped ship, which I am shocked you haven’t yet, and moved onto bigger and better things I bet they wouldn’t last a month. From the actions and programming decisions by the PTB, it is clear that no one is in control or has an idea what to do with TTV.

  7. I don’t think Pam was on The Money Machine at the beginning, was she?
    I left out the hosts of the advertorial – they were not really a part of the channel.
    Never heard of gaminclick. I’m am often imitated… but never equalled.

  8. LOL i remember in the old ZDTV avatar chat, when Leo entered the room, people always went on top of his avatar lol. …::sigh:: good times.

  9. I know who is in control chahn. The same unimaginative suits who controls the rest of the entertainment industry. You can’t take a chance on anything new, just the same old formulas. For a few years the channel was fresh, now it’s just Milton Berle in drag and T&A. Allen’s pockets wouldn’t need to be as deep if the network had kept to it’s vision. Maybe we should have a contest as to what TTV should be changed to, you know like TNN. If I offended anyone that determines programming for TechTV I’m extremely happy.

  10. Ten years — that’s almost an eternity in broadcasting. I hope congratulations are in order. I guess the question for you, Leo, is whether you have somewhere better to go at the moment. I’ve been at my job for eleven years this week, and sometimes I wonder if I’ve overstayed my welcome and missed out on other opportunities because I’m “comfortable”. I’ve always thought that you should start your own production company. I think you have great vision and hope that someday you can bring it to fruition.

  11. Congratulation for the 10 years in ZDTV/Tech TV broadcasting business. You help launch the one of the greatest network on television. You really prove to TPTB that there is an audience out there for Intelligent programming for us geeks of the world.
    Unfortunately as Tech TV TPTB continues to chip away quality tech shows, in favor of Entertainment Fluff filler. At this rate TTV will like another network on the vube tube that lost it orginality, and be like TNN, TLC, USA Network, Discovery Network.
    Leo hang in there, Once the Next Tech boom comes around in 2005. Tech TV is still around, will be in the position will the Premier Network for Technology and Tech News! not fluff.

  12. You forgot Pam Krueger(sp?) from “The Money Machine”. What about the guy from “Computer Shopper”? (I’ve forgotten his name.)
    I’ve been watching the channel since it was a month old. I certainly miss those good ol’ days!

  13. On a high note I subscribe to Adelphia digital cable. They have the channel logos at the bottom left of the screen and for TTV they still have the ZDTV logo. Sometimes I dream it was four years ago.

  14. I knew that Kate was Tilde (after some thought), but who played Dash??
    I think I started watching back in June or July of 98 on summer vacation from high school. I sure do miss the good ol’ days in the basement. Anyhow…thanks for 5 years of great information and fun!!

  15. I’ll tell you who is in control. Uncle Paul. Unfortunately it’s all business. I’m here in Seattle. I’ve been watching the news. He’s laid off 300+ over @ Vulcan…I am/was a Charter customer. He sold the Charter system I was on to some no name provider. I am sure he lost $BB in VC and stock with the post 9/11 tech bubble burst. His main focus seems to be a new real estate deal in Seattle and trying to save his sport holdings (Seahawks and Trail Blazers) and the EMP. I have no inside knowledge of TTV but with all the departures, lay offs, and wacky/STUPID new shows I am guessing the following is happening. It’s a climate of fear and uncertainty there. Better to seek out steady employment than wait for the axe to fall, or the company to go belly up.

  16. I have been a loyal ZDTV and TechTV viewer since the very beginning. I remember the early days of The ScreenSavers with the lovely young lady from Austrailia. I received a ScreenSavers toolkit, autographed pictures, a Silicon Spin mug with an autograph card from Mr. Dvorak, and a few other items. The programming has always been informative and I have grown attached to the hosts who have graced the different programs. Without this connection to TechTV, I would have never bought half of the computer equipment I now have.
    BTW – Las Vegas was the first city Leo and Kate came to when they first decided to visit the different cities that aired ZDTV and TechTV.
    Leo, I am raising my champagne glass to you and your cohorts. Stay as long as you have fun doing what you are doing…. I hope that’s a long time. If not, it’s been one helluva ride!!!!
    Ken
    Las Vegas, Nevada

  17. I sure do miss those days, and i finally wondered where good old jim from fresh gear went. I sure miss what those guys added to the network befor that techtv overall. Sumi will be missed lets hope they replace her with someone really good

  18. I sure do miss those days, and i finally wondered where good old jim from fresh gear went. I sure miss what those guys added to the network befor that techtv overall. Sumi will be missed lets hope they replace her with someone really good

  19. Leo,
    Your the best that ZDTV and Tech TV ever had.When you leave we will probally only have Adam left and i don’t suppose that he will be there much longer.Leo,i’m just letting u know that you have thousands of poeple who support you and were backing u all the way.
    P.S. Tell Mogan that she is really preety.

  20. “nowadays it’s just games and more games which makes you stop and think for a moment where is our society standing and how much do they actually care about innovation”- unfortunately, that’s because the dot.com boom is over, and most people have lost interest in technology.
    Corporations are hiring cheap tech. labor outside the country in place of hiring tech. pro’s here in the States, as well.

  21. I have been a big fan of ZDTV/TechTv for many years now. I started watching in 98 as well. I really miss the old days. I’m not sure but wasn’t there a show called PageVeiw. I believe it was a show about Computer books. I don’t remember the name of the host.
    Thanks for all the great Computer help and memories over the years.
    Keep The Faith, Leo

  22. Congrats on 10 yrs! That is certainly something to be happy about even if you don’t care for the status of TechTV. I’m still sticking around, but if they don’t the edgy non tech shows I won’t be around for much longer. And I’d also like to toast to all the stars of ZDTV! Here here!

  23. I can’t imagine a reason to stick with ZDTV if you were to leave. I know it’s called TTV now, but it still sounds too cliche’ for me… and that’s the direction they’ve apparently chosen to take. Without your presence there, I can’t see a lot of positive things going on there.
    Hang in there though – until you get the chance to find a better gig!

  24. Another down and two more to go as far as “name talent” at TTV. That leaves you and Patrick as the last adults with a name that has earned respect on this pathetic attempt of a network. Whereever you go make sure to take Patrick along. Kind of a trailing spouse deal.
    I stopped wathing even Screen Savers because they’ve so diluted the network.
    I don’t even have the desire to make fun of them on my sire anymore. Kinda like kicking a dead dog.
    Funny thing is that my site is a top entry on google for a bunch of their shows and “Sumi Das Naked”
    Go figure.

  25. Dont give up leo i just started watching techtv about ohh 1 year ago and i have learned so much from you if you know who will be replacing sumi? I know my grammar sucks. But stay with techtv at least till i am your age 🙂 i learn a lot from you and pat ihn a way even though i am 17 you made me think he i could go into computers, or politics so you hold a very important step in my life leo whenever you go i know i will be sad but you pat Tss and cfh has got me very computer smart and i say thank you for teaching me that stuff i think we all learn from you and hey if i go into politics you may get a call from me i might be the nerdiest prez. But Leo if you read it honestly i have learned a lot and will continue to do so. Keep TTV strong as long as ya can though thank you leo

  26. We have been with you Leo from the beginning via our C-Band satellite. Just got DSL!! Wouldn’t have gotten a computer, let alone broadband if it hadn’t been for you. Thanks for trip down memory lane. Glad you are back CFH and are answering questions without cutting off the caller. That part has made a huge difference. Thanks
    FYI: Soledad is now on CNN as Co-Host on “American Morning”!

  27. Hey Leo,
    U miss spelled Carmine Gallo on ur list of “original stars”. I know he was just a animated character but what about Tilde’s friend; Dash. Well even though the good old days of ZDTV is gone but will never be forgotten, The NEWer TechTV is excellent too even though most people can’t see it because they want the original ZDTV back. The world is always changing and TechTV shows that very well: New Things…Turn Us On! oh something I miss and I bet many others do also is the Avatar based ZDTV chatroom, it should be brought back one day in some form! Leo u are doing a great job, if it wasn’t for u and Jim Louderback and John C Dvorak ZDTV/TechTV wouldnt be here today, u should remember that!!!

  28. Leo 10 years? I thought ZDTV was on the air May of 1998. What did you do for the 5 years prior to 1998?

  29. Leo,
    You are certainly the only real reason to watch TechTV. It’s not that the other shows are not good (although robot wars is awful and almost an experiment in nostalgia), it’s just you anchor the network. The other programming changes have been horrible and the single nightly run of Screensavers is foolish.
    No surprise Sumi is leaving, although she will be missed.
    As for being too lazy to move on…sometimes freedom is of far greater value than more money/fame. It appears, and I hope I’m right, that you have pretty flexible arrangement which allows for outside stuff and plenty of time with your family.
    Often, that more than makes up for the nonsense that goes with any job.
    Congrats on 10 years. Hope whatever the next decade holds for you is equally rewarding and exciting.
    G

  30. I have been watching since kate was still on extended play. She was only on for about 4 months (from when i started watching) before she left. I never saw her on TSS so Patrick and Leo together are completely natural. I don’t mind chris leary either but sumi was a sexy vixen goddess. I hope they replace her with someone just as talented as she was.

  31. I was a big fan of ZDTv in the early days then i moved and couldnt get it until this past may which is now techtv. god it has been so long i really miss all those eposides that i missed i wish i could see them all again

  32. I was also to shock to see sumi leave TechTv
    but we can still catch her on MSNBC its funny
    though on my DirecTV Tech TV and MSNBC our side
    by side.But in all its sitll good too see that
    Leo and Adam Sessler has not left the network
    them two our the only reasons why I have enjoyed
    TechTV for the pass four years…….

  33. I’ve been visiting this site for quite a while, and I’ve never seen a poster that was happy with the direction TTV was heading. You would think just one person would be happy. Maybe the happy ones don’t post or complain. Or, maybe no one’s happy. Years ago it had a family feel. No offense Leo, but today it’s almost embarrassing.

  34. Congratulations, Leo! I just started watching TechTV about a year and a half ago, and from what I’ve read, I wish I could’ve watched you guys in the early days. You are really the only reason I watch TechTV. Stay as long as you can.

  35. I didn’t start watching in the early /ZDTV /days… don’t think it was offered on my cable service… Sumi is talented – that is a loss. I really liked Erica Hill too; a really big gain for CNN.

  36. Just about the only show on TechTV I watch these days is The Screen Savers and I enjoy it MUCH more when you are there, Leo! You are interesting, a good interviewer, and unbiased whether it’s concerning an individual, an operating system, or a company.
    They should rename TechTV to GamerTV since that seems to be the number one priority these days at TechTV. I love technology but could care less about gaming. I want to hear about new technology and the technology-related market. I miss The Money Machine and other shows that dealt with these topics. One-by-one, the few shows that I’ve really enjoyed have been replaced by useless entertainment or entertainment-related junk.
    If you ever move on, Leo, I’ll be a “switcher”.

  37. That stinks. I didn’t even know that Sumi was leaving. You’d think TechTV would get the hint by now and start doing stuff that the VIEWERS like. I really miss the old TSS and I miss Internet Tonight…loved it.

  38. I have been a viewer of ZDTV since 98′. Leo was the original Call for Help guru and The Screen Savers was only a 30 minute show. I have seen the show transform over the past few years and some changes were good, others I didn’t like but I always watch. ZDTV, TechTV…same to me. But I do miss the old days!
    Leo, if you ever do leave TechTV it will NEVER be the same!!! But you have so many fans, and you always will!
    “AMAZING” ; )

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