November 2005

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July 22, 2005



Hey Alex,
Thanks for the update. Loving the podcast. My one compaint is about the videos. I run XP MCE and I can't seem to find a codec for h.264 to play them inside of MCE. Maybe release a divx and a h.264 version? But anyways thanks for the great tech content. Between TWIT, TechPhile, Command-N, and Diggnation, all my time is filled.


Seriously guys, a t-shirt for a podcast? COME ON...:P


Cool can't wait to watch 'em.


Wow thats amazing, Alex! Keep on Blogging and Podcasting cause your one kickass dude. Speaking of that, got anymore butt-commericals coming out?

Dan Huard

Life as a TechTV/G4 Employee

A lot of people ask, “what was it like to work at TechTV and ultimately at G4?” I have to say, for the most part, the experiences were amazing at both places. They each had their positives and negatives. So, I’ve decided to shed a little light on what exactly I did at TechTV and G4. Basically, this post will explain what my typical work day was like.

As an intern, I worked very typical intern jobs at a television studio. I got in before anyone did at TechTV, which was generally between 7:00 and 7:30am. Most of my work was for Megan Morrone. I did a lot of screen captures from websites, CDs, DVDs, etc. I remember one screen capture she asked me to do regarding something about NPR and September 11th. I remember this pretty well because I was so stupid. This was during the time TSS was using the CFH set while the new set was being built. She wanted me to capture some video of the sounds of 9/11. I totally misinterpreted what she wanted and captured all of the horrible, heart wrenching sounds as the trade centers fell, people screaming, etc. She was looking for more G-rated material like songs dedicated to all the victims, etc. It was just a stupid intern mistake. I also want to mention that Megan is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. She was always good to me and very patient as I made those ‘stupid intern mistakes.’

I was also behind the scenes teleprompting. Let me tell you how difficult it was to scroll a prompter for Leo and Patrick. They rarely read it, especially the news section. There’s definitely a script for them to read but they’re so good and comfortable in front of a camera they don’t even bother. Truthfully, the only bits they’d read were the teases. Teases are when a segment ends and the talent says something like “coming up after the break…” It was necessary they read the teases explicitly because we would have specific video or images that corresponded with the read.

I did tons of odd jobs as well. One time, I remember traveling to Berkeley with ex-TSS Series Producer, Ken Marquis. We went to pick up a huge telestrator TV. I’m sure all you TSS fans remember that giant TV Leo and Pat would use during “The Real Deal.” Ken and I picked up a U-Haul truck and ventured over to the place to pick it up. There were a couple problems. First, it was heavy and second, it was just Ken and I. Needless to say, Ken threw out his back but we got it in. Third, the TV was not secure in the truck. So, like a good starving intern I volunteered to jump in there with the TV. This is completely illegal, but I insisted. I was trying everything I possibly could to get a job. To Ken’s credit, he said no and it wouldn’t affect my chances for a job. I did it anyways. There was barely any air in there except for a few holes and it was hot as hell. So I took my shirt off climbed near the very small air holes so I could breathe. Luckily, it all went well except for Ken’s back. I’m sure its fine now.

My typical work day as a Production Assistant (PA) changed dramatically from the intern position. Now, I was in charge of all the computers on the set for TSS. I had to maintain and upgrade them on a regular basis. Anytime you heard audio from a computer I had to run audio lines to the control room. Also, whenever you saw a full screen of a computer, it was my job to run the video (scan lines) to the control room. I was in charge of the daily tech setup, as well. This meant I’d have to acquire info from each of the segment producers to see what they technically needed for the show. It was never really difficult; there was just a lot to do. My jobs ranged from getting Megan’s Downloads of the Day set up to setting up Linux boxes for demonstrations.

Another job I was given were the bumps. I’m sure you all remember these. They were little Windows, Mac, and Web tips that Megan, Morgan, Sarah, or Jessica would do. They used to be pre-produced with Megan’s voice over (which Morgan used to produce), but when I took over we decided that doing them live is more interesting. There were two per show which equaled ten per week. For just little tips it seems pretty easy but let me tell you, after a year of doing them, the ‘well was starting to get dry!’

My other major job was screening the phone calls. I probably enjoyed that the most. There were tons of repeat callers, many of which I still talk to today. In fact, Ashley, the lovely woman I’m with first called into the show. That’s how we originally met. There were definitely some crazies that called me. Looking back though, I wouldn’t trade it for anything…except for all-call Fridays. Those were my worst days! Trying to get ten or more calls lined up, enter them in iNews (our prompter program) and writing teases for each one was so difficult. Sometimes we’d have dropped callers just because it was so hard to keep up. Soon after, we’d have interns help field the phone calls to take the burden off me.

After about two months as a PA, CFH needed some help because they lost some employees (sadly due to lay-offs). So they had me do their tech setup in the mornings until 1:00pm (when the show ended) and then I’d start work at TSS. This was difficult because I was split between two shows, never went to any production meetings, and ultimately had no idea what was going on with either show. All I did was set them up. But I met a lot of amazing people, including my good friend Roger Chang. Now, a few months after that, Kevin really started to make a name for himself on TSS so he wasn’t able to manage and set up the LAN Party anymore. I was the next logical choice to administer that. The perks of being the LAN admin were great! I got free copies of the games we played, was always challenged setting up remote dedicated servers, and I got to play video games while I worked. I remember countless lunch breaks where Kevin, Joshua Brentano, Yoshi, and I would play UT2K4 and Halo. We would even stay after the show and play for hours. Brentano would NEVER lose, and I mean never…damn it!

My work schedule at G4 didn’t change much. I was now an Associate Producer (AP), which didn’t really mean anything other than a little bit more of a salary. I was still the LAN admin and phone screener. Really, the only difference is that cast members were no longer in charge of tech setup and the bumps were given to another producer. But there was a change. The Screen Savers definitely changed into a new show format. With that new format came a change in the method we produced. In San Francisco, we produced for geeks. In Los Angeles, they wanted us to produce for a gamer/geek lifestyle and culture. The difference, as you’ve all noticed, is very obvious. No longer were we covering subjects like the Intel 915/925 chipsets. Now, it ran the gamut of ‘Rock the Vote’ to all the way to TV dinners. This philosophy change also altered the live calls.

From September 7th on, every A block caller (the beginning of the show to the first commercial) needed to be pre-produced. Pre-producing live calls was my job. This meant I needed to troll through the viewer email for good questions (and people with netcams) and set their call up ahead of time. I had the first two weeks of our calls finished and produced. ‘Finished and produced’ means that I had products ordered, found freeware/websites as solutions to specific questions, and even found video for more visual elements. Management, not crew or cast, wanted it this way. Pre-producing live calls was not for the benefit of Kevin. He can answer pretty much anything you ask him. As for other hosts, new or old, I can’t speak for them. But keep reading for further information regarding the new hosts. Management didn’t want ‘geeks’ asking questions on our show anymore. I had to become more judicial with the people we put on our show. Producing a live call isn’t as bad as it may seem. They’re still genuine questions from real people. Since the show was taking on more of an entertainment-value format, it only makes sense to find people who speak eloquently and have not as technical of questions (at least for the A block). But this is where the problems started. For five to six years TSS has groomed its audience to be geeks, they encouraged it. When we moved to L.A. that all changed. The L.A. TSS changed the format without notifying you, the audience. Imagine watching the show 24 and the next season they change the format to comedy. It just wouldn’t work and there would be a huge negative response. So finding the ‘good’ callers, as they’d refer to them, became increasingly difficult.

After struggling to find better callers for the show, I started to fall behind in my work. I wasn’t able to be one or two weeks ahead of schedule. As a side note, it was hard to keep people scheduled because they were either flaky or they just had other plans that came up between when I scheduled them and the day they were scheduled to ask their question. I fell so far behind in my work that a couple days before I was supposed to leave for a week long field shoot at Disney World, they cancelled me and put Cat Schwartz in there instead. I was very angry at them and at myself because I was having such a difficult time. So I decided that the only way I’ll have enough time to produce these live calls was to take one of my responsibilities away. I asked management to take me off all on-air duties. That’s why all of a sudden I wasn’t giving out the phone numbers at the top of the show anymore. Daily on-air duties required me to be in the studio at 2:00pm. With makeup, wardrobe, pre-show, and lighting, I had no alternative.

To get back on track, even with an extra few hours to work on live calls, the execution of the calls were still suffering. Getting geeks to ‘come out of their shell’ is very hard. Rehearsing the question with them ahead of time always helped but as soon as they were on live television it usually went to hell. Nonetheless, I kept plugging away. After the next couple weeks of pre-producing the first live caller, I started to get some heat from my Executive Producer, Paul Block. Even with the callers I found from viewer mail, they still weren’t interesting enough for him. People get nervous on TV. Hell, I would get nervous on TV, it’s not easy. I explained to Paul Block and Joshua Brentano (the new Series Producer) that the demographic we’re using for the live calls isn’t working. Most of the TSS fans are geeks, they’re introverts. This is where The Screen Savers as you once knew them changed completely. I was ordered by Paul Block and Joshua Brentano to generate questions for live callers. But these weren’t any live callers. They wanted me to use G4 employees, friends, family, whomever. Basically, I would think of a question and give that question to a designated caller. So now, the A block callers were manufactured questions and callers. I used TSS producer’s friends and family, Peter Green’s assistant (Sr. VP of Programming & Production - this was done with his OK, btw), my girlfriend, and countless other people to create the ruse that these were genuine questions coming from our viewing audience. At this point my work suffered exponentially because my heart just wasn’t in my job anymore. The live aspect of the show just died, and I stopped believing in the most unique show on television. I was called into Paul Block’s office two other times this time I was threatened to lose my job. Here’s a quote from that meeting, “Dan, if I didn’t like you, I’d fire you right now.” Was Paul correct in saying that? Maybe, but I was forced to go against what four years of college told me not to do: lose my ethics. I fought them every chance I could, I tried my best to uphold the dignity and the ethics of The Screen Savers. From what I gather, this is why I was part of the lay-offs.

According to my anonymous source, “After the lay-offs they tried to pre-produce live calls, then realizing how difficult it would be, went back to real callers with non-technical questions. The new hosts are having an extremely hard time answering calls on-air. In fact, they have banned Chi-Lan from taking live phone calls and emails altogether unless it’s something she one hundred percent knows. Look back at the last five to six episodes, and you will notice she hasn't answered any questions.”

Although my friends still inside can't speak their mind, trust me when I tell you they all want out. It's not easy for everyone to leave due to contracts they have signed, they are bound to them.

I never intended to make this article a scathing expose on the inner-workings of G4. If it appears that way, please accept my sincerest apologies. I tried to balance the G4 and TechTV information as much as possible. Like I mentioned in a previous blog post, I’m genuinely appreciative of all my experiences at TechTV and G4. Each job brought its own positives and negatives, and both made me a better person because of them.


yay the videos ;D


Great stuff as usual. Still curious how you're going to do the LA, SF thing with Kevin.


Alex rocks! Ok first off whose posing as Dan Huard, and second, what does that have to do with Diggnation at all? We all miss the good ol days of TechTV but please keep the comments to topic.


It is so great that Diggnation is such a hit! I mean it should and I'm glad it is. Cause I know I can't wait for the weekend just to hear the new episode! Keep them going guys!

They are wonderful and are fun to listen to!!(Hopefully so I can download the videos to watch...but dailup is hard to do it on lol) But its great have you and Kevin together again! You guys are blast to listen to!!

As long as you guys keep making the podcast I'll be there to listen!!
Take Care! --Ellen


You & Kevin are so perfect for each other. I've missed seeing you guys on tv just talking about amazing stories, so it's great that you guys are podcasting now. AND thank god the videos are back up! Watching is so much better than just listening.


Wow... It is SO NICE to have things like DiggNation and TWIT to listen to now that G4 has, uh- crapped up? I think that's the term I'm looking for- the old TechTV shows. You and Kevin have great chemistry and how can anyone deny the charm of two nerds drinking beer and talking nerd?


Hi Alex,

I really enjoy the show with you and Kevin.

You guys have been great! Just get Leo and Patrick and thats all you will ever need! Only problem is to get Patrick to loosen up when you guys tape the show with beer.

Laurence Anderson

Alex, we at PreviewCast would like you to guest star on our show if you get the chance.


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