As we were searching through one of Mark’s computers looking for some files we stumbled upon what you see below. As some of you know a while back one of Mark’s computers crashed and needed to be replaced along with restoring the backups. During that process many files were moved into weird places and we went looking for them out of necessity. As we were searching we came across the first of two which this one is now 15 years old!
We asked Mark what this was and in his usual manner remarked “Oh, yeah, forgot about that.”
The reason why this is striking is at the time Mark was doing this it was barely even considered a viable concept or idea. Today it’s the new normal.
In 2004 the idea of doing an in-studio professional three camera shoot of a radio styled program for broadcast over the air and cable was basically unheard of other than one or two high profiled hosts (Don Imus was one) being simulcast on MSNBC which at the time had what may called “an audience of none.”
That’s not a dig against Imus (Mark is and has been a very big fan) it was just the situation for cable channels at that time. Steve Balmer then CEO of Microsoft lamented many times on just how hard it was to gain an audience and It wasn’t until late 2005 with the signing of Keith Olbermann then later with Tucker Carlson (2006) and a few others did these cable channels become prominent talk venues.
Below is a teaser Mark was getting ready to use for pitching his idea to producers and other executives back in 2004. Again 2004! Mark says it could actually be late 2003 but 2004 is safer because he knows it was about a year before he retired and moved south subsequently shelving the idea.
It’s only 2 1/2 minutes in length, a bit out of sync and the colors are a bit off because of incurred degradation during conversions from the original videotape (videotape!) to digital media years ago. Additionally we also needed to change the original soundtrack because the original was the opening of Van Halen’s (Van Halen!) “Poundcake” and the license to continue using it expired.
You now see entire cable channels today (NewsMax is one) along with a plethora of radio hosts with shows (Joe Pags, Howie Carr are some examples) dedicated to this exact format.
But when Mark was vying to make the concept real even the idea of a smartphone was still unheard of. Google was still a relatively new brand and the idea of doing such a thing via the web or streaming was all but a pipe-dream. YouTube wouldn’t be invented for another year (2005) and Google wouldn’t purchase this fledgling startup for another year after that in 2006! The smartphone (iPhone) wouldn’t see its introduction until 2007. Wow!
When we asked “Why didn’t you go back to this earlier once everything changed with all the new technology?”
His response was:
“It wasn’t the direction I wanted to go. I took questions and such but I really didn’t like the subject matter I was dealing with at that time which was politics. Actually I hated it. Then the financial crisis hit in 2007 and ’08 and I focused on financial topics and how it intersected with business. I had too. Like everyone else during that period we were all looking at our televisions and other outlets all muttering the same thing like ‘WTF is going on, does anyone know?!’ Turned out in retrospect my first inclinations were correct as in ‘No, they do not!’ It was both surreal and down right horrifying all at the same time.
I started writing not knowing where it would go but I liked it and found I knew a heck of a lot more than most of those calling themselves ‘experts.’
The difference in all this was my writing allowed me to say it bluntly and it seemed to hit a chord. Now a decade later as they say is not only history but it’s all in the archives. So now I’m able to go back kinda like Jobs did with the iPad after the iPhone to use a similar analogy.
As he said in a interview once if I remember correctly he had the idea for the iPad first but shelved it. Then he did the phone and that opened up the world for the iPad in a more conducive way for him to go back and then bring that out.
What he seemed to me to be saying or what I was inferring was although he could have actually produced and released the iPad first much sooner than the phone and that in and of itself would have been an amazing revelation at that time. Putting it down and then waiting and working on the phone first allowed the iPad to be a much better product upon debut.
That’s very similar to what I was thinking back then. I didn’t know if I would ever go back to it but after the financial crisis and then my writing topics and how it spread finding a global audience. I gave serious thought to pull it back out and forward speaking about topics that are not only not reported on but in fact those that are are misrepresented at best and down right wrong at worst.
But the real deciding factor for me that really started to become the bee in my bonnet was I did not have to do politics. As a matter of fact I could now do it and actually eschew politics from any opinion standpoint and only talk about the what is and how businesses had to deal with it. That’s was when I looked back on the shelf and said I think that can work today. The rest is now unfolding history. We’ll see just how far it goes from here.”
We have another example covering something else we’ll get out over the weekend or next week with similar impact. But for now we hope you get a kick out of it as much as we did.
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