in General, Tech

TechTV – RIP… or Reborn?

I’ve never lived in a household that had an extraordinarily inclusive cable package. No problem there really, I rarely felt like I was missing anything. Most shows I watch are on the major networks and a sparse handful of other basic cable stations. While I lamented not having the SciFi channel in middle school, well soon after it showed up on our ‘regular’ cable.

The one channel I always wished we got, and never had fulfilled, was TechTV. Sadly, it no longer exists. G4 ‘merged’ with it, in reality renaming the station to G4 and replacing much of the quality content. G4 is very much a video game channel and very little a generic tech channel. A friend has the new G4, and it rarely equals the heights of programming I glimpsed on the old TechTV now and again.

The few times I did get to watch a program, more often than not it was The Screen Savers. I’m pretty sure that show was wiped off the schedule at the merger. But thankfully, the original hosts of the show have started a podcast!

“Revenge of The Screen Savers” had its inaugeral this last week, and plans on posting a new show every Sunday. I’m psyched! Finally I can get in on the fun.

Plus, its a great example of one potential of the ever-emerging internet: alternative methods of content distribution.

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  1. Ah yes… good old ZDTV –> TechTV –> G4TechTV –> G4. The only shows left from the original network are X-Play (which happened to be the only show exclusively about video games on the old network) and Anime Unleashed. The Screen Savers was recently re-branded as Attack of the Show. It’s pretty much the same show, except the focus is a little bit more toward the “younger” crowd. When Patrick Norton left the network just prior to TSS going on hiatus in prep for the move to LA (he got married last summer, and his new wife just got her masters degree in information studies from San Jose State University… WAR librarians), that’s when I knew that the show would go into decline.

    As recently as two years ago, the main on-air talent on TSS were Leo Laporte, Patrick Norton, Morgan Webb, and Megan Morrone. Leo still does everything he used to do in addition to TSS (write his annual almanac, blog, and host a radio show), plus he’s on G4TechTV Canada hosting his old ZDTV/TechTV show Call for Help. I haven’t been keeping up with Patrick. Morgan is on X-Play with Adam Sessler (who reminds me so much of Seth from The O.C.). And Megan now has three kids, blogs, and contributes to Leo’s almanac. (Actually, I could argue that when Megan left the show in the spring of 2003 to have her first child, TSS began to transition from its original self.)

    Let’s see… who else? Martin Sargent – his show (Unscrewed) got axed in the merger. Yoshi and his crazy mods have gone the way of TechTV. (I sure do miss things like laser-modded iPods…) And the HOT Cat Schwartz (producer on the original Call for Help and frequent contributor to TSS) is now the official tech chick for Stuff magazine. The only one from back then I really don’t miss is Chris Pirillo and his wackiness.

    Now we have AOTS, and the only ones left from the original show are Sarah Lane and Kevin Rose (when’s the wedding?). (As I type this, I’m watching AOTS because nothing else is on.) This show is not as accessible to most people as TSS used to be. I’m about as much of a geek as you can be without being a programmer or software developer, but a lot of the stuff on the new show just doesn’t seem as accessible or practical to me as a computer user and member of a technological society. Do I want the latest news on the Segway, or an in-studio musical performance every Friday? No. I want to know how to upgrade a Mac Mini (which was done about a month or two ago), or lab results of tech products I might actually buy and use on a regular basis. Instead of providing programming that can increase the casual viewer’s interest in technology, the new G4 ignores such viewers, and instead chooses to hit its niche audience hard.

    (Think about that last paragraph really hard. It kind of reminds me of two things – the NHL lockout and the current state of the information profession – both the users and the professionals.)

    I’m way past my bedtime. Out.

  2. I’m glad that you pointed out TSS rebirth. This show and x-play were the main reasons for keeping digital cable. Once the buyout was complete and TechTV is no more, it was easy to downgrade to the cheapest cable package around. But I did miss the show.

  3. I caught AOTS once a week or so ago. I wasn’t impressed, it seemed like they were just reading the front page of Slashdot more than anything else.