Category Archives: Telecom

‘The Bachelor’ Host Chris Harrison: No Fan of VH1′s ‘Blatant Ripoff,’ ‘Flavor of Love’

There’s scant love lost between The Bachelor host Chris Harrison and those producers who abandoned his hit reality series – only to create Flavor of Love at a competing network.

Interviewed on Buzzworthy Radio, Chris says the defections of certain staffers from ABC’s Bachelor, which debuted in 2002, over to VH1′s original Love show, which bowed in 2006, was the source of significant strife.

CAPTION: "There were so many rip-offs that the whole genre was watered down," Chris (above) tells us of VH1 and other net's foray into "Bachelor" territory.

"There were so many ripoffs that the whole genre was watered down," Chris (above) tells us of VH1 and other net's foray into "Bachelor" territory.

“VH1 has sort of copied [The Bachelor] format with Flavor of Love, Rock of Love, all the Loves,” says host Matthew Preston. “What do you think of all the other kind of copy shows out there?” Continue reading

Simon Curtis: Miley Cyrus Is No Diva. (I Should Know — I’m Her Blind Date)

When Simon Curtis walked onto the Hannah Montana set last month, the image of an uppity, demanding Miley Cyrus was lurking in his mind.

CAPTION: “She’s one of the biggest stars in the world. And you hear so many things about certain people, that you never really know what’s true,” Simon (above) tells us of Miley.

“You hear so many things about certain people that you never really know what’s true,” Simon (above) tells us of Miley.

After all, that was the image of the pop super- star he’d gathered from tabloid media reports during the months leading up his guest spot on the hit Disney Channel show.

But now Simon, who’s known to teen fans as bad-guy Royce from this year’s hit Nickelodeon movie Spectacular, knows Miley firsthand.

“Right before Season 3 started [in the fall of 2008], there were a lot of rumors about her being a diva on set and her trying to sabotage the show,” Simon tells WZAP Radio host Zachary Sang.

“It’s so clear that all of that is so fabricated and couldn’t be farther from the truth. Because she was a joy to work with,” he continues.

“I didn’t know what to expect as far as Miley is concerned. But she was the sweetest, most hilarious girl.

CAPTION: TV pals fear spinsterhood for squeeze-less Miley (above).

TV pals fear spinsterhood for squeeze-less Miley (above left, with Simon).

“She showed up to work every day. No entourage. Just her. Wet hair, no makeup. Totally chill. Knew all of her lines. Incredible work ethic. So respectful of everyone on set.”

Earlier in the show, Simon reveals de- tails of his char- acter’s relation- ship to Hannah.

“The storyline of this episode is that Miley has been without a boyfriend for a very long time. Lilly and Oliver, they’re now together, and they’re sick of Miley being – they say she’s going to be this old spinster, all by herself.

“And Miley’s adamant that she doesn’t need a boyfriend. So they take her out to dinner, and it’s only supposed to be the three of them. And she shows up and there’s four place settings and she freaks out because they clearly have set her up on a blind date.

“Then I show up, I’m the blind date. They character’s name is Tim. And at first she’s throwing a fit because she doesn’t want this blind date.

“Then I walk in and it’s really funny because she’s like, ‘Oooo, hellll-o, Tim.’”

Simon’s turn as Tim on Hannah Montana, in an episode titled Once, Twice, Three Times Afraidy, debuts Sunday, May 31 @ 8pm ET/PT on the Disney Channel.

To hear Simon’s full interview, click here.

Some Thoughts from Podcast Expo

I am sitting in the Long Beach, CA airport waiting to board a flight to JFK after just leaving the 2006 Podcast Expo in Ontario, Ca.

The show had a lot of excitment and buzz. It’s always the case with new and emerging industries. I saw the same thing in the mid 1990′s in the European Telecom space. The podcasting industry is so new and you can clearly see that the space is gaining momentum.

Blogtalkradio did not have a booth at the conference because by the time we launched our company on July 25th, 2006, I didn’t even know this show was taking place. Podcasting companies like Podango, Podcast Show, Podtech all had a prominent presence at the show. Other companies, most of which I can’t recall displayed podcasting equipment, Ipod accessories, podcasting magazines, etc.

I checked out most of the exhibits and I must admit that I have no idea how these various podcasting content facilitators and aggregators can differentiate themeselves. A feature here a feature there, an exciting host here and another there.

Everywhere I went throughout the exhibit hall, break out sessions, panels, etc. I was looking for a discusison on introducing a “live” element to the podcast. No one, and I mean no one uttered such a word. Live, what do you mean live???

The reason for this is quite simple and that is because no conventional podcasting companies record a live broadcast where the host can engage their audience live. Personally, I believe that a live interactive format is far more engaging and entertaining than a prerecorded broadcast. Many people I spoke with at the conference (apart from the podcasting companies) seemed to agree with my assessment.

Finally, the blogosphere has exploded because it’s free, it’s open, it’s easy, it’s sharing, it’s forgiving (you can make a typo), etc. etc. It seems to me that the podcasting space is moving in an entirely different direction. It’s expensive, it’s complicated, it’s closed, it’s not forgiving, there are station managers, directors and producers. It’s anything but viral.

I think we get it at Blogtalkradio and I encourage anyone with a phone, something to say, something to share or an inquiring mind to visit our site and take a look around.

Alan

BlogTalkRadio: A New Medium

medium (see individual senses for plurals)
(pl. media) A format for presenting information.

I took the liberty of posting the definition of “medium” from wikipedia.

The other day I spoke with Richard Laermer. Richard is a terrific pr guy who worked with me in the past when I was president of Destia Communications. Richard has been around awhile and in addition to keeping his busy schedule, posts at his blog http://badpitch.blogspot.com/. Anyway, when I talked to him about Blogtalkradio he told me that he felt we were creating a new medium. After he told me that I went to Wiki to get further clarity.

Blog’s are limited by a number of things. First, they are historical in nature. Whether the post is 1 minute, 1 hour, or 1 day “old”, the conversation is historical in nature. Second, although posts can and are commented on, this form of two way interaction is less than ideal or interactive.

Our platform is not intended to replace the blog, never was and never will. Blogtalkradio “extends” the blog and the traditional podcast by allowing the host to interact with their audience in a live real time manner. Sure, the host’s shows are stored and can be podcast at a later date, however, our “medium” allows the host to speak directly with their audience. Cool concept.

Alan

BlogTalkRadio – Merging Old and New Technology

A few weeks back, I published a post where I discuss whether or not Blogtalkradio is a Web 2.0 company. As you can see in the attached piece, I concluded that BTR is clearly a Web 2.0 company.

On Tuesday night, Hellicane, a blog dedicated to the Katrina disaster was scheduled to host a show on Blogtalkradio. The show was scheduled to air on the one year anniversary of the disaster in New Orleans and surrounding cities and towns. A little more background if I may. When we launched Blogtalkradio at the end of July, just a little more than 1 month ago, Hellicane was one of the first hosts to sign up. The host channel read that the “podpoet”, the organizer of Hellicane project would be reading original poetry submitted to his blog over the past year. I thought this was a great idea and terrific use of the BTR platform.

The podpoet did in fact do one show, but the show was aired before our archive function was up and running. That was it, no more shows were scheduled and I had not heard from Hellicane or the podpoet for three weeks. This past Monday I saw that a new Hellicane show was schedueld to air on Tuesday evening, as I said before, on the one year anniversary of the disaster. I immediately put the show on the home page and we made sure that the show would go off with out a hitch.

As the show goes on air, I hear silence, dead air. I have come to learn after one month that the worse noise is no noise. Obviously something is wrong here. I immediately call Bob and he tells me he is on the phone with the podpoet (we dont know his name). It seems that our host lost his internet connection just before he went on air. We all know that feeling of helplessness.

This is where Blogtalkradio combines the old technology of basic telephone service and Web 2.0 characterisitics. The podpoet was able to host his show using his plain old phone. There was no need for an internet connection, no Skype, no softphone, no web.

The podpoet continued his show and read some of the most touching original poetry contributed by individuals effected by Hurricane Katrina – Here is the link to the host channel – http://www.blogtalkradio.com/hostpage.aspx?show_id=1531

Please note that we will be hosting a 9/11 tribute on Monday 9/11. We are working through the details as I prepare this post. The link for the upcoming show is here
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/hostpage.aspx?show_id=1882

See you “on-air”

Alan

Blogtalkradio and Skypecast

Let me start by saying that this headline is a bit misleading. No , we are not combining forces or working together in any way. Lately, I have heard a fair amount about the Skypecast service, so I thought it would be a good idea to compare our services.

Let’s be honest, Skype is a multibillion dollar company that has more than 50 million users and unlimited capital. Blogtalkradio, on the other hand has been around for three weeks and without divulging the amount of invested capital, well let’s just say, it’s a lot less than $ 1 billion.

Around 6 months ago, while we were working on our platform, I took a look at Skype’s Skypecast service. My initial feedback on the service was positive. The GUI’s looked great, the colors and flow of the site was impressive, but a few things bothered me.

First, when I logged in, I would see around 4 or 5 shows “on-air”, however, very few of these shows had any particpant’s. I found that many, if not most hosts set up shows and simply never showed up. And when a host did show up, in my view the content was less than impressive.

Secondly, without live streaming and archiving of shows, the usability of the service is limited. I figured that even if the content was decent, most people would like to listen to shows when they get around to it. As one our hosts mentioned last night, we are living in an “on demand” society. Everybody wants everything when they want it.

Also, it troubled me that you have to be a Skype user to not only be a host but be a listener. I mean, what if someone with an interesting point of view wanted to host a show and didn’t have skype or any type of softphone for that matter? What if they wanted to host their show using a pots (plain old telephone service) line or mobile phone? Also, how many potential listeners would feel the need to download Skype.

Well, if you look at each of these points I have raised you will see that Blogtalkradio answers all of these questions and more.

At Blogtalkradio, our overriding focus is on driving content and creating an environment where the BTR hosts have something interesting to say and the platform to say it. While today, we are getting our share of less than stellar content, we will continue to work real hard on insuring that we attract the best content to BTR. Everyone can listen to BTR, but not eveyone can be hosts. Not because we turn people away from using our platform, it’s just that if you don’t have anything interesting to say, no one will listen. Pure and simple.

Secondly, from the outset, we wanted our shows to be available to be listenend to by an unlimited number of listeners. Although, we allow 5 simultaneous calls to be on-air at any given time, our service can in fact accommodate an unlimited number of listeners. To the Skypecast users that are approaching 100 listeners per show, we welcome you with open arms, because when you hit the big 100, the Skype service has hit its limit.

As you know from some of my prior posts, my background is in Telecom. As such, as we devised Blogtalkradio, we felt that it was crucial that both hosts and callers could use any phone to use the service. That’s right, hosts and callers can call into BTR using a land line, a mobile phone, a VOIP phone like Vonage or a softphone like Skype, yes Skype. There are no downloads required to use BTR and therefore it’s very accessible and easy to use.

Finally, unlike Skype, all of our shows are archived and can be listenend to at a later date. If there is an easier outsourced podcasting application out there, well I haven’t found it. And if you can find one, than please send me the link.

On an unrelated point, I will be on vacation the next week or so and therefore, to insure that my marriage stays intact, I will resume my blogging and blogshow after Labor day weekend.

Enjoy the rest of your summer and as always, see you “on-air”

Alan

Net Neutrality: Will Broadband Giants Win Against Content Providers?

As I mentioned in one of my early posts, my background is in telecom. I have been in the telecom space since 1993. I have been through the ATT/MCI/Sprint wars and competed against the major European Telco’s.

“But what does the telecom space have to do with blogging and live blogshows,” you might ask? Well, unfortunately the telecom giants happen to believe that they not only own the pipes your data and content travel through, but that they should also own a piece of all that content—and charge all of us to create and access it.

Jon Stewart even covered the issue on “The Daily Show”:

This is detrimental to the blogosphere and to free access to information as we know it. So bear with me here as I give you some background regarding this issue. It affects us all and we need to take a stand.

The Rise and Fall of Capitalism in Telecom
As you may or may not know, telecommunications deregulated roughly a decade ago to allow free competition and break up the monopolies each company had on its local market. This led to the recent emergence of the CLEC business.

For the non telecom people out there, CLEC stands for Competitive Local Exchange Carrier. Basically this platform, called UNEP (yes, another acronym, but it basically means the same thing as CLEC), allowed any telecom company (whether a telecom giant or an emerging newbie) to buy local service from the resident telecom company and resell it at an acceptable margin.

Hooray for capitalism, right? Well, a few years back the FCC basically killed the competitive local resale industry by doing away with the UNEP platform. It seems the regional giants didn’t appreciate competition. So under significant lobbying by the RBOCs (Regional Bell Operating Company – the original local exchange companies), the FCC and Supreme Court threw out the UNEP platform and wiped away the CLEC space. That’s why ATT and MCI sold out to Verizon and SBC.

The whole point of deregulating the telecom space was to get rid of the monopolization of telecommunications. Of course, during the last 10 years, the six or seven RBOCs have essentially become two (SBC is currently planning to buy Bell South). What used to be a monopoly in ATT, which was disbanded by the Telecom Act of 1983, has now simply become a duopoly.

Again the RBOCs’ huge political leverage has allowed them to dominate local connectivity throughout the country.

But this is only the start of our problems as content providers and consumers.

Now enter the cable companies…

Telecom Goes to Bed With Cable
In my view, this is the biggest red herring of them all. Yes, the cable companies and Vonage have done a good job taking residential phone service share away from the RBOCs. But you need to understand that the RBOCs are far more interested in business voice and data services.

It’s just incredible!! Any company wishing to compete in the telecom space through selling such services can only compete by buying circuits from guess who: their main competitor. The cable companies can take residential market share away from the RBOCs, but won’t take important share away from the business segment – they don’t have the infrastructure for it. That means buddy up or get left in the dust.

So now, all of a sudden, Verizon and SBC are best pals with Comcast, Time Warner, Cablevision, etc. Mortal enemies become best buddies. It’s like Israelis teaming up with the Palestinians. They fight tooth and nail against one another for decades and then suddenly they’re best of friends.

Why you might ask?

Well, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. The cable companies can’t win enough high-end market share from the RBOCs. Plus they share new common enemies: Yahoo!, Google, and Skype. They believe it unfair that such companies are so easily and profitably gaining market share while these bulky utilities spent so much money building out their networks.

But I don’t buy their boo-hoo story. We each pay a lot of money for our broadband service (much more by the way and for far less bandwidth than other wealthy countries). We pay to use the pipe. Some of us use the pipe a lot and others only a little.

Their Brilliant Answer to a Mutual Problem
So all this background leads us to the present day: where the telecom giants and cable providers have put their heads together and devised a grand solution that is only spectacular in its complete violation of our rights as creators and consumers of free information.

The Answer: Broadband providers want to charge
content providers more money to access the consumer (already paying for their
right to access content) to see, or listen or watch such content.

Let’s not even get started on the ethics of this. Just looking from a management standpoint, how can this ever be measured and regulated? Not only would it be the mess of all messes to figure out from a financial standpoint – but there are huge conflicts of interest embedded in this plan that NO ONE is talking about.

And so the War Begins…
Verizon Wireless competes fearlessly with Apple to try and convince their users to use the cell phone as opposed to the ipod. The only reason Apple is winning this and other battles is because their products are superior.

But imagine if Verizon decided to increase the “toll” for itunes and didn’t increase the toll for Verizon downloaded songs? Do you see the conflict here? Same holds true for Comcast’s TV content or Time Warner’s movie content.

Finally, the clip below, featuring Jon Stewart, is brilliant and clearly summarizes the challenges we content providers face today. As you will see, the Senator in charge of the commerce committee, which is deciding this monumental decision, is simply clueless.

What a dangerous and unfortunate position we find ourselves in when the person deciding our fate is one such as this…

I urge each of you do whatever you can to stop the momentum of the broadband providers as they attempt to control not only the pipes but what goes through them.