Chuck’s “TV” Career – 1994-2000

It is a long time ago, but I was once on TV nationwide talking about the Internet:

The whole thing happened because my late friend Rich Wiggins and I had as a friend a named John Liskey who was a reasonably high executive in the TCI cable organization. The three of us ended up at the bar in the early 1990s where Rich and I would tease each other about the emerging Internet technologies. Rich was always the logical NYT-reading academic (who never even finished his BS) and I was the pragmatic grumpy alpha coder (who ultimately got a PhD.) that knew the real world. So we would have spirited debates at the bar. John would sit and watch and say “these conversations should be on TV”.

So in 1994, John got TCI to hire camera folks, studio folks, a director and editor and we taped a monthly show that was sent (on tape) to the TCI affiliates in the major markets which showed each show 10-20 times per month on the “local origination” channel.

It started in 1995 But the cable companies were in a feeding frenzy in the late 1990’s so each time the Lansing / East Lansing market was sold to some other company, we had to rename the show – but John just went to the new company and kept us in production and on the air. Our shows were:

Internet: TCI
Nothin’ but Net
North Coast Digital

In 1995-1996 – we were avant garde. We won two national awards in 1995. We won a “Michigan Cable Emmy” and predated TechTV and Leo Laporte by 3 years. We were first on the scene but as soon as TechTV came on the scene with 24-hour programming and national distribution our days were numbered. We kept producing on a less-than-once-per-month schedule through 1999 and our last effort was to try to become reporters for TechTV:

TechTV Audition Tape

Our audition tape was viewed TechTV – but by 1999 – the “Old Guy Nerds on TV” was not front and center for their programming. They wanted to feature young good looking people talking about video games. So we had no chance. Interestingly, the future for Leo Laporte was no longer on TechTV either and he went on to create his own show on the Internet.

So it was a fun time – and a good time to teach me how to talk to a camera and think on my feet.

My Internet History, Technology, and Security course on Coursera and video based column in IEEE Computer magazine was a way to revive my collection of material from those early days in the mid-1990’s.

Secretly I just want to be the Anthony Bourdain of tech :)