The Next Chapter

I promised you last time I’d talk about what’s next for me, so here’s what I’ve been thinking lately.
The end of The Lab did two things (besides killing a pretty heft chunk of my income): it gave me one week a month with nothing to do, and it eliminated my only regular television exposure.

Thanks to Amber, and some work she’s passing my way, I think I’ll be able to mostly replace the income – phew – and I’m sure I can find something to do with the extra time (like make sure all the TWiT shows come out weekly from now on). But what about TV?

Our minor experiments in doing video versions of TWiT have convinced me that audio is the more popular medium. TWiT audio gets many times more downloads than video. That makes sense to me, since people have more time to listen to audio than they do to sit down and watch video. But there’s something about video that captures people’s attention. I’ll go one step further, there’s something about live video that’s very compelling for both viewers and hosts. I’ve missed live TV ever since TechTV went under four years ago, and I’ve been looking for some way to get that excitement back.

If you’ve been watching the impromptu live streams of the Tech Guy radio show, you know they’re very popular and I have a lot of fun doing them. (Tune in TWiT Live Saturday and Sunday from 2-5p Eastern.) So much fun that I’ve expanded the live broadcasts to include some of the netcast tapings including TWiT. We run an IRC chat room at #techguy during the video and the interactivity adds so much on both sides.

I’ve also been watching what Chris Pirillo has been doing on Ustream and Robert Scoble on Qik, and I have come to believe there’s significant interest in live streaming video.

Towards the end of last year I learned that the downstairs offices in our building would soon be vacant. I’ve always coveted this space. We’re in a quaint old cottage built by a lumber baron at the turn of the century. He paneled the entire downstairs in redwood and it’s gorgeous. We don’t really need the space – right now TWiT is just Dane and me – but I leased it anyway, three days before Rogers cancelled the show. I wasn’t sure what I’d do with the extra space at the time, but my plan now is to turn it into a streaming video studio.

Here’s a quick video tour of the new TWiT Offices. (Yes that’s my Emmy on the mantle – I’m not a complete TV newbie!)

To begin with we’re going to stream everything we do at TWiT, including the production of all our shows, live and interactive. To that end we’re adding considerable bandwidth: a T1 line and a cable modem to our existing DSL connectivity. We’ll Skype over one, stream over another, and reserve the third for surfing, uploads, etc. I’ve also started furnishing the office with antiques – I don’t want this to look like any TV show you’ve ever seen before – and we’re adding lights, cameras, microphones, and computers for video production. We hope everything will be in place and we can begin streaming daily by the end of April.

Don’t worry – the existing TWiT shows will still be available as audio downloads, but soon you’ll be able to watch them being made and interact with them live. Some of the shows may begin to offer video versions, in addition to the existing audio versions. I expect we’ll be sending two to four hours of live video out Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday – with five or six hours on the weekends, including the Tech Guy behind the scenes.

And in a month or so I plan to expand the Saturday programming to include a live show, tentatively called TWiT Live, which will be our first official video podcast. We’re still working out how this will be done, but I’m modeling it on the Tom Green show. I think what he’s doing is ground-breaking. Of course it will be entirely tech focused and feature many of the TWiT regulars you already know along with any tech celebrities we can lure to Petaluma with promises of food and wine.

I’m not interested in duplicating existing television models – I want to deconstruct TV and get to something more direct, more intimate, and much more two-way. I haven’t really looked at the business model for this, but fortunately, between my day jobs, existing TWiT advertising (thank you Audible, Astaro, and FIT!), and your generous donations through we have the money to get this thing off the ground and, I believe, keep it going indefinitely. As Dvorak has always said, and I believe, a business model will emerge. My goal has never been to build an empire, or even a business. I just want to be able to make a living doing what I love: talking about technology with a community of engaged and intelligent people, and perhaps, along the way, to help people understand how to better use technology in their own lives.

So I hope you’ll join me in this grand experiment. It’s only possible because of the large and active TWiT community. Your feedback and participation is all it takes to keep us going. I’m excited about where TWiT is going and I thank you for your support through all these changes. Here’s to the next chapter – I think it’s the most exciting yet.

182 Replies to “The Next Chapter”

  1. Is it 2-5pm Eastern or pacific on Saturday and Sunday you do the live radio show?
    I wish you the best of luck. I watched regularly on techtv. and briefly with Amber. I’m sorry your tv show never made it back to the US but now with TWIT we’ll get to see more of you again. You and Amber make a great team on net at nite. I hope you can do more with her.

  2. There is definitely a compelling aspect to “live” audio and video and the ability to interact in real time that it offers. The great thing about it is if you can’t catch the live version, devices such as Apple TV 2.0, iPod, Zune, etc. make time-shifting the content a snap, thus offering the best of both worlds.
    I’m convinced that material generated in a live, interactive environment is generally better and more compelling than something that’s been pre-recorded for later distribution.
    It’s always possible to connect a computer to a TV for live streaming video. If Apple TV also added live video/audio streams it would be closer to becoming a perfect multimedia-surfing device for the living room. Imagine the ability to tune into live interactive programs from around the globe, or simply catch them later in the podcast version.
    Leo, I believe you are about to pioneer something very compelling and I wish you the best of luck with it.

  3. Leo, I can’t wait to see what’s gonna come out of this studio. I would say that 90% of my media consumption comes from podcasts, and you’re mostly responsible for getting me hooked on them. This will be a good breath of fresh air in the podcasting/new media realm. Good luck, and we’ll be anxiously watching for your twit live launch!

  4. Sounds great! Looking forward to it… I need to get my mac mini to tv setup going soon so I can watch in the living room…

  5. Hi Leo,
    Your innovative ways to introduce a whole new experience will definitely be a worthwhile endeavor. Interactive is the key word these days. People are engaging in live online broadcasts like never before.
    That woody traditional style of your new studio will blend the past and present and bring a bright future.
    You will prosper with even more recognition as being the guardian angel of our computers.

  6. Can’t wait, Leo. Your podcasts keep me company at work already, so now I’ll just fire up the video and watch live!

  7. I’m very excited.. can’t wait. Seems like every end releases some positive energy.All the best!

  8. Can’t wait leo listening here in ireland for two years will contribute even more to you now

  9. This is what this whole medium has been moving towards. Its rare to see people get it, especially someone over the age of 30, but u and dvorak have something most don’t, taste.

  10. Wow, this is exciting! I made the decision a few years ago to get out of broadcast TV and try to build something different in New Media. My wife CAT and I have been doing our little knitting show (video podcast) Let’s Knit2gether for about two years now. Looks like you’re on the cutting edge here with live video. CAT and I both love TWiT. We can’t wait to SEE it live!

  11. The new space looks incredible! I love older buildings with character, especially the dark, aged, wide trim. I used to own a house like that.
    You should dress up the old radio and use it as a “mascot”!
    Love the “signs outside the window” idea — wish I lived closer, it sounds like that’d be a fun road trip!
    Good luck, we’ll keep watching and listening!

  12. Leo, I am really excited to hear about your new ideas. I think it will be great. Maybe you could call the new live show “Fireside Geek Chats” since there does appear to be a fireplace in the picture.

  13. So damn sorry to hear about the cancellation (and those problems you had with AT&T connection!) but I’m glad you’re putting such a positive spin on this. The new studio is looking great- i half expect you to be smoking a pipe, relaxing as Dvorak gives out yet another “meh” next to the fireplace. A touch of class!

  14. I don’t think it’s a bad thing that the lab was cancelled.
    It opened a door, an opportunity.
    Looks like you see it the same way, Leo.
    Go grab it!

  15. Greetings from bonnie Scotland! Love your new place.Please keep up the great work Leo.
    I Look forward to your podcasts every week,and hope you keep doing them for a long time to come.
    Good luck.

  16. I would love live, streaming video! Your new acquisition looks great with lots of potential. (Thank you for taking video for us.) I look forward to your new venture…

  17. Well, you have my listership/viewership no matter what you do. Count me in!

  18. Well done, Leo.
    You’re really pushing the tv industry, and believe me it needs it. And how much more satisfying karmically and environmentally than working from near home?
    Another guy wanting out of the tv “biz”.
    (Rogers. What do you expect?)

  19. Best of luck Leo, Tom Green has done something amazing, and still ended up on tv here in Canada with his non-tv shot on the net, best of luck to you, Rogers sucks anyway

  20. Leo,
    You should look at what they guys at Revision3 did. I know tons of people that I have turned on to Revision3 programming since it has become the TechTV replacement. Hell, you, pat and the TSS gang could reunite on Revision3 and then poof, you have a new version of TSS, and then maybe you could start a show like CHF on R3 as well… hehe.
    Oh I can dream can’t I?

  21. Wow! Great news! I always knew you’d find a way to continue what you love to do regardless of what TV execs and powers that be think and do.
    I’m glad to hear that you’re back and breaking new ground. This sounds very exciting! Keep us updated!

  22. Really looking forward to the whole TWiT Live thing. New studio looks excellent and its going to be kinda fun seeing all this modern technology in an old wood paneled building.
    Hopefully it will all be up soon 😉

  23. Just a practical matter, Leo. Don’t want to bring you down, but as beautiful as that place is as “meatspace,” I can already hear the lighting directors screaming about a) all those open windows and b) that dark and shiny panelling, and c) the sound guys not too happy about the echoes in there, either. Echoes are easy. Put furniture and drapes in. Absorbent panels for sound also hide the wood. Good. The windows should have, sigh, curtains most of the time. (It’s impossible to get skin tone against a window, without a ton of expensive, and hot and squinty lighting.)
    Now, the wood is gorgeous, but it’s hard as heck to light. You’ve got to get it well into the gray curve, clearly visible in the foot of the exposure, but not shiny. This will take a lot of light. Then you’ve got to elevate skin tones above that. (And the shiny windows are behind you, until you put in another guest against a window, in which case the cameraman can be heard screaming.) Okay, then you’ve got to limit the light from outside, a lot. Neutral density gels cost big bucks, but you’ll probably have to have some for those lovely windows.
    So. Hate to be the bearer of bad news. You have to spend MONEY to create the easy atmosphere you want.

  24. Hi leo, This new idea sounds great and I wish you all the best.
    I will be watching thats for sure.

  25. I am so there! I can’t wait!I think this is ‘just the right thing at just the right time’.
    And if there’s anything us fans can do to get your news shows on (or featured) Tivo and Joost, all you have to do is make the call. 🙂
    Viva TWiT 2.0!

  26. Long time follower, first time poster here, but I just had to tell you it’s a great idea, and I’d be totally hooked on whatever kinda show you come up with. Especially if you can get some of the MacBreak Weekly crew on, either in the new studio or via streaming video. I’d love to see the banter you have on that show, in a “live” video form – That right there would be “money” 🙂

  27. you go, Leo! redefine TV… we’re here with you, watching it and doing it with you. I just want to tour your finished (or in progress) studio and ooogle all of the gadgets…

  28. That place looks great. If I was ever near Petaluma I’d stand outside your window with a sign that said “ADAM CURRY IS NOT REALLY ALL THAT MUCH OF A PRIMA DONNA (”

  29. To boldly go where no TWiT has gone before…All right Leo! This sounds like fun. Is there a way to TiVO TWiT Live?
    Hmm. I’ll need to work on that. Speaking of wine, maybe a wine geek show would be of interest – I know quite a number of them here in Si Valley, not to mention Dvorak and I’m sure you know a bunch.
    BTW, you can also take pictures of the studio as it develops and make it into a short video.

  30. Sounds like fun, I also watched your video tour of the new place. The only thing is that when you’re live, it is night time in Australia.

  31. I can’t wait to see it Leo!!! I think podcast and video podcasts both have their place. I listen to twit, watch cranky geeks and tekzilla. I think for geeks at least we are turning to the web to find video that interests us since regular tv has basically over looked us.

  32. I’ve been a fan of yours (Leo) since The Screensaver days, and i must say that this is a huge undertaking on your part, but i’m behind you 100% and can’t wait to see the final results

  33. Live TV requires people tune in at a specific time, which goes against the whole TiVO/iTunes/Podcast model. One way to combat that would be to have the most recent show run on the live channel during off-hours. Howard Stern does something similar. That way, you can always tune in and see the latest.

  34. I have missed seeing you daily since the death of Tech TV.
    I have not been exposed to Twit TV but I will now that you are back on the “air”.

  35. Well Leo.. It has been a long time coming. Even on the Lab (which I loved), you did not seem as happy. It always seemed that there was something wrong with the shoot or some staff leaving.
    As Amber and you have said numerous times on Net@Night, network TV is losing ground slowly and internet videos without the extra advertising fluff is the future.
    I wish you the best of luck with all your shows and hope this new endeavor gets off the ground soon… Good Luck…

  36. As always . Thanks for all you do !I met you & Patrick Norton when you came to WhiteMarsh(Baltimore) Maryland and still have the picture my mom and I took with you.
    You and Patrick both were extremely nice and I felt like we knew you for years.
    Anyway, I have listened to your Twit shows via downloads tyo my Ipod and I like them very much.
    Do miss and will miss TV shows like in the old days. That was quite a family on Tech TV.
    Anyway Thanks for many years and will follow you throughy whatever you procedd to do.
    Thanks always. Nick

  37. Hi Leo,
    My wife is a self taught techie and is truly amazing. We enjoy technology very much and now that we have recently discovered “the lab” I happened to notice on the net that it has been cancelled. I’m very very sad about this. Your show was our new favorite to watch together. Will you have another show like the lab? Can we view your podcasts on our pc?
    You are one of the warmest, funniest, brilliant people I have ever seen on a tv show. Your show was informative, helpful and thoroughly entertaining. We have learned alot from you and your staff. Thank you Leo, and know that you will have our full support in any endeavor you persue.

  38. Thanks so much, Leo, for finally putting some pic’s and videos of the new studio. Looks beautiful and homey.
    Good idea to keep it homey atmosphere instead of high-tech.
    So glad you coming back to us in your version of IPTV!

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