Current TV adds Olbermann to shake things up

The tectonic plates of the American media landscape are starting to shift once again.

Two major events have given me a new spirit of hope in news media, both occurring this week. And both by Tuesday!

First off, Keith Olbermann, the former liberal host of MSNBC‘s “Countdown” announced that he will be starting a new show on Current TV, the fledgling entertainment and world affairs network founded by former Vice President Al Gore and businessman Joel Hyatt in 2005.

Olbermann told reporters on a conference call Tuesday morning that it will be an “amplified and stronger version of the show that I just did.”

But the even bigger news here is that Olbermann will become Current Media’s Chief News Officer and take an equity stake in the company. Meaning he will be up there with Joel, Al and CEO Mark Rosenthal as one of the hotshots.

Current’s own employees didn’t know a thing until the New York Times announced it.

At least that’s what Mariana Van Zeller, one of the investigative reporters in Current’s investigative documentary series “Vanguard“, told me today in an e-mail.

Keep an eye on this five-year-old channel, because despite setbacks and low ratings, (around 25,000 viewers during prime time) shows like Vanguard, infoMania and now Olbermann’s are worthy of your attention.

Full disclosure of course: I interned for Vanguard in 2009. Blogged about my experience here and also contributed to Current’s news blog here and here.

Read more about Current’s reinvention here from MediaBistro.


NEXT UP: AOL + HuffPost = a reinvention of the news wheel?

2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is doing awesome!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 3,100 times in 2010. That’s about 7 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 22 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 68 posts. There were 46 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 31mb. That’s about 4 pictures per month.

The busiest day of the year was January 22nd with 38 views. The most popular post that day was The CoCo and Leno Show.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for amazon mp3 logo, amazonmp3 logo, mata leon, couples retreat, and rx bandits wallpaper.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


The CoCo and Leno Show January 2010


Mirthless “Couples Retreat”, heartfelt “Wild Things” October 2009


Pomona’s big changes July 2009


Bay Area band Mata Leon emerges with fresh focus February 2010


First Listen: Gorillaz “Plastic Beach” floats on March 2010

Life after college

President Barack Obama at the State Of The Union

This post originally published here on the Current TV News Blog.

I’ve been out of college for a little while now.

Six months, two weeks and one day to be exact.

Thing is, I’m not totally sure what I’m doing.

Then again, who is?

Options for college graduates are slim in this economy. And recovery isn’t happening overnight.

Jobs — or at least good ones — are still hard to come by.

One in 10 people in this country are unemployed. In California, it’s one in 12.

Fewer than 20 percent of 2009 grads that applied for a job have one, according to this survey. And it’s no better back in school.

State universities have been cutting courses and programs, like labs for science classes and student exchange programs. All with fewer days of education and tuition fees that keep increasing.

President Obama addressed the needs of the middle class during his first State of the Union address yesterday and expectations were high. He has plans on the way to help the job market, reform higher and lower education, cut taxes and keep his presidency accountable.

They’re minor in comparison to last year’s massive bailouts and the struggling healthcare overhaul, but not a bad start.

While the president attempted to bring back some of that hope we’ve all been missing, I was still left uneasy about the state of the nation.

My generation is experiencing the toughest times our age group has ever seen.

Today’s students, while often supported by their parents, have it harder than ever: we’re constantly under pressure to perform.

Between SAT scores, AP classes and GPAs, there’s always a new way of evaluating how qualified we are for the next step.

Yet, when do we have time to actually figure out what that next step is?

Personally, I’m in a hurry to stop losing money. I work part-time and freelance on the side, but the freelance market for writers isn’t exactly what it used to be.

Savings is a thing of the past. While my parents supported me through college, the deal was you’re on your own once you finish.

So I’m thrown into the wild with $15,000 in debt, not enough work in the field and little time to figure things out when rent is due each month.

There doesn’t appear to be any clear-cut path anymore.

“A high school diploma no longer guarantees a good job,” Obama told the nation yesterday. Yeah, well neither does a college degree.

But at least he’s listening. “In the United States of America, no one should go broke because they chose to go to college” was another line from his speech.

It was our generation that ushered him into office, after all, so we should be entitled to some high expectations.

Obama is promising a $10,000 tax subsidy for community college students and loan repayment reform that forgets a students’ debt after 20 years.

He’s also planning to give tax breaks to parents with kids in college, extend unemployment and create new green jobs.

It all sounds great. Let’s just hope it happens — sooner, rather than later.

For now, empower yourself: understand your student loans, watch the job market, and hold our president to his promises.

Today’s merger is brought to you by…

What is the world coming to?

A LOT seems to be going on these days.

First, Conan O’Brien gets kicked off the Tonight Show, only to be replaced by the aging Jay Leno (who, apparently, didn’t age as fast as NBC predicted). This will surely not work out well. I bet Leno’s popularity is declining by the day.

Next, the Supreme Court approves votes to allow corporations to sponsor politicians. Sure, it’s not direct financing. But this massive change to campaign finance reform will surely make someone regret this decision. Expect a lot of unwanted political advertisements in the coming campaign season.

NOW, our good friends the government approved the merging of Ticketmaster and Livenation. The Justice Department says it will “preserve competition.” You have GOT to be kidding me! This gives the new company, Livenation Entertainment Inc. an 80 percent stranglehold on not just the concert market, but the music business as a whole.

The merger doesn’t significantly expand the market share of either company. Instead, it creates one company that will have a hand in just about every corner of the music business.WSJ

This vertical integration gives one corporation a piece of the pie in just about every aspect of music from ticket sales to artist management and concert promotion.

This might as well be Clear Channel all over again. Which, if you don’t recall from the early ’00s, was the corporate juggernaut of last decade, running the majority of radio stations and live music events, along with all the advertising needed for some good old synergy. The conglomerate’s practices weren’t exactly friendly, and it pretty much forced any significant artist to run with Clear Channel stations and venues for fear of being dropped from of all of the subsidiaries.

Perhaps this was unstoppable, but we have most assuredly created a monster:

Live Nation stages more concerts and concert tours than any other promoter, and owns or operates 75 major venues in the U.S. Ticketmaster sells tickets for the majority of major sports and entertainment venues in the U.S., and has an artist management division that handles the affairs of hundreds of the biggest acts in pop, rock and country. Ticketmaster’s Front Line Management unit represents over 200 acts, ranging from veterans like the Eagles and Journey to newcomers like Miley Cyrus and Kings of Leon. – Wall Street Journal

The only good news? A few restrictions thanks to Obama’s new antitrust chief Christine Varney:

•Livenation Entertainment Inc. will not be able to retaliate against artists that use competitors for ticket services — like when Clear Channel threatened to pull bands like Blink 182 off all its stations in 2001.

•Ticketing and concert promotion will have be sold separately, not as a bundle, within the new company.

•Certain data will not be shared between departments to prevent the stifling of whatever competition is left.

Thank you Corporate America. Let this be known as the beginning of the end.

Reality America

Is life not real enough? Apparently, for Americans, the answer is no.

Reality TV

Reality TV

NBC just ditched 5 hours of scripted programming for scripted “reality” television. Awesome.

I turned on cable for the first time in ages, and it’s the same ollllld shit. The shit that reminds me a) why I don’t have cable and b) what’s wrong with our country on so many levels.

You turn on American TV and it’s no wonder everything is so fucked up here. One glance and you can see all that we care about: girls, cars, glory, money, beauty, and making it big.

Everything is about the ever-so challenging lives of beautiful people, mostly women, across the country. All we care about are the beautiful people! Normal people do far more impressive things FYI. We’ve got the Kardashians with a new show about what a couple sexy ladies can do with a buttload of money in Miami. The answer? Whatever they want. Duh.

Jon of Jon + Kate Plus 8 wants out of the TV show and a regular 9-5 job. He’s probably made his millions already, so who blames him?

I think even Heidi from The Hills has her own show with Spencer now, too. It pains me that I even know all this!

I admit, I pipe up sometimes looking to find the most ridiculous reality TV or pop culture craze to poke fun of, but man do they make it easy.

I mean, MTV and VH1 have completely ditched music for “reality” programming. What has the world come to?!

And a few signs of the Apocalypse, judged from my first 20 minutes of channel surfing:

– White Chicks and an third (fourth? fifth?) installment of Bring It On are on TV at the same time

– SNL and MTV reruns are just as terrible as I remember watching a year ago

– 15 years since “The Real World” first aired on MTV, reality shows dominate.

It’s cheap, it’s stupid, and it’s entertaining. So why bother giving us something worthwhile?

Well, maybe because there are SOME people out there who appreciate a decent drama or an honest attempt at comedy (Arrested Development, for one).

“Unscripted” “reality” television sucks for everyone: it takes away work from writers, eliminates jobs in Hollywood, makes audiences dumber, takes away chances for the public to experience decent programming…oh, and not to mention, it’s quite the stab in the heart to ever-sinking creativity.

On top of all that is already wrong with the world, we have TMZ perpetuating it all. This obsession with vicariously living through celebrities and invading every last inch of their personal lives just so we can get the juicy “scoop” on who they’re dating? Or maybe a glimpse of them leaving a club drunk? WHO CARES?!

It hurts. And it hurts bad. The real world (not the show) is real enough these days. Honestly.

I will never like reality television. Someone, anyone, please stop all this. Before it spirals out of control. Oh wait….