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Hi, I’m Brad Feld, a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

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My Experience on NPR’s Talk of the Nation

Comments (12)

I’ve been listening to NPR since I was 7 years old.  Whenever my mom or dad drove me to school, NPR’s Morning Edition was playing.  Guilty weekend pleasures of mine include Car Talk and Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!  While I don’t watch any news on TV, I do admit to listening to NPR on my drive to the office in the morning and I occasionally catch Talk of the Nation.

Yesterday I was on NPR for the first time as a guest on the Talk of the Nation segment Who Pays for Our Online Lives?  Neal Conan interviewed me, Chris Anderson, and Kevin Rose about the challenges companies face building online businesses when consumers are used to getting information for free.  We covered some good ground, including the freemium model, different ways of making money online, issues (and rewards) of scale, and the difference between the potential of a popular site like Digg and JoesCars.com (who will now get some traffic because of this post.)  It’s all online (about 30 minutes) if you are interested.

The experience of doing the show was fascinating.  I don’t do much live radio (or TV) so it’s not a natural medium for me. I do loads of podcasts and live speaking things, but for some reason live radio felt different. 

It started on Tuesday afternoon when my partner Ryan McIntyre got an email inviting him to be on the show.  It turned out that he was on a flight to the bay area during the broadcast so he forwarded the invite over to me.  I connected via email with the show’s producer who filled me in on the topic.  I said I was happy to do it and waited for further instructions.

I got a call early the next morning with a "pre-interview interview."  I think the producer was calling to make sure I had at least a partial clue.  We had a nice 15 minute talk about the potential content after which I got the thumbs up to be on the show.  Then the "where do you need to go" scramble begun.  I was at my house in Keystone and I didn’t feel like roundtripping it to Denver for the day.  After an hour they came up with a studio in Edwards which was a lot closer.  There apparently used to be a studio in Breckenridge (right around the corner) but it’s now a "ghost studio" which I assume means that no one is ever there.

I drove to KZYR (97.87) in Edwards and met up with Steve at the station.  He did a great job of orienting me in a nice little studio with boom microphones and lots of computer / audio stuff I didn’t know what to do with.  The little clock counted to 1pm and then everything just started working.  The audio fidelity was superb – everything "just worked" – probably because all of the equipment was afraid of Steve.

I thought the interview went well (and was fun) although I realize that I have to reorient my brain on live radio (at least on TOTN) to talk in 30 second chunks (rather than my normal 1 or 2 minute podcast / panel chunks.)  I got a lot of great feedback from friends that feel into the "cool to hear you on TOTN" category and plenty of encouraging tweets along the way.

While being on TOTN wasn’t on my "100 things to do before I die" list, it certainly is on the "1000 things to do before I die" list if I ever got around to making it!

  • http://www.venturedeal.com Don Jones

    I was on the local public radio station once here in the Bay area. The main guidance they gave me was that when being a commenter on radio or TV, your answer should “lead with the punchline” and then add supporting information after.

  • http://www.donloeb.com don loeb

    what a cool experience…about to fire it up right now :)

  • Aziz Grieser

    Brad, I'm jealous. You made it onto NPR, one of my lifelong goals, and you didn't stutter and blow it like I'm destined to do one day. :)

    I like how quickly you honed in on the caller, Paul, and told him “you probably make a couple bucks a day”, to which he immediately admitted. Congrats on keeping it cool like Chuck Norris.

    Chris Anderson, editor at Wired, was on the show with you and he wrote a highly publicized article called “Free! Why $0.00 Is the Future of Business”, as you know. I really wasn't impressed, and neither were most other bloggers on Wired’s blog:
    http://www.wired.com/techbiz/it/magazine/16-03/ff

    Why?

    I came upon that blog entry expecting so much more, after getting the same entry passed along through 5 different blogs that I subscribe to. Arguing over the semantics of “free” is a painfully long way to learn basic marketing tactics, like Gillette promotions. The only “free” service or product that I've ever experienced, is Wikipedia. But then, all of us contributing info are subsidized by the charity, Wikimedia Foundation, so, it's not really free, is it? It’s someone being generous and therefore a subsidy.

    I subscribe to Wired, and I like the content, but please answer this question; why am I paying Wired's comparatively high subscription cost if it’s so full of little ad inserts, that when I open it during my bathroom ritual (very involved), the floor is littered with little wasteful pieces of paper. I tolerate ads in my Gmail and Google searches, (even though the paid inclusion is reducing the search validity at a disturbingly higher rate lately), because I don't pay directly for it. I can't even open to specific pages, because some of the ads are so thick (ok, and some pages were sticky in that last Feb issue with Sarah Silverman). J/K

    How was Chris in person?

    • http://www.feld.com Brad Feld

      I also have a handful of magazines for my bathroom ritual. Wired is not one of them – Fortune, BusinessWeek, Forbes, Runners World, and Technology Review.

      I was in a different studio than Chris so I didn't actually spend time with him in person.

  • http://www.intuitive.com/blog/ Dave Taylor

    Way to go, Brad. I'll listen to it from NPR.org when I get back into town. I've done lots of radio, but no national NPR stuff. Yet. :-)

  • http://www.adentalonline.com Chithra Durgam

    Listening now! Congrats Brad. How do you decide which of the programs to do? I get invited to speak on panels and do speaking engagements but it seems to take alot of time.

  • Steve Bergstein

    Cool story, Brad. I'll have to listen to it but cannot right now.

    I once heard another fraternity brother of ours interviewed on my local NPR station about his work at the media lab and some stuff he was doing there. He spoke so far above my head that I can't imagine too many listeners had any idea what he was talking about.

    I'm sure that you didn't fall into this trap – I look forward to hearing what you had to say.

  • http://www.feld.com Brad Feld

    My filter is simple – if it's geographically convenient and the topic is one that I think I have something on which to add, I'll do it.

  • virgilio

    Great show Brad

  • http://www.NEEDZILLA.com Erin Kabbash

    Thanks for sharing your insight on this topic with the world Brad. Your thoughts really help a tremendous amount to those of us in the postition of some of the callers all the way up to a Kevin Rose.

  • Donald Foss

    While TOTN only made it somewhere between 101 and 1000 on your list, I've always had “Be Interviewed by Terry Gross on Fresh Air” on my top 100 list, but that is as an author, not as a tech pundit.

    I've done many interviews for magazines/newsletters/PR campaigns, but never live. Your “everything just worked” experience really says something about the state of technology in the mass-comm industry versus the web. That is refreshing in its own way.

    • http://www.feld.com Brad Feld

      I left Fresh Air out of my NPR habit. It would probably also make my top 100 list. Good reminder.

  • Don Jones

    I was on the local public radio station once here in the Bay area. The main guidance they gave me was that when being a commenter on radio or TV, your answer should "lead with the punchline" and then add supporting information after.

  • don loeb

    what a cool experience…about to fire it up right now :)

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/aziz_griese5636 aziz_griese5636

    Brad, I'm jealous. You made it onto NPR, one of my lifelong goals, and you didn't stutter and blow it like I'm destined to do one day. :)

    I like how quickly you honed in on the caller, Paul, and told him "you probably make a couple bucks a day", to which he immediately admitted. Congrats on keeping it cool like Chuck Norris.

    Chris Anderson, editor at Wired, was on the show with you and he wrote a highly publicized article called "Free! Why $0.00 Is the Future of Business", as you know. I really wasn't impressed, and neither were most other bloggers on Wired’s blog:
    http://www.wired.com/techbiz/it/magazine/16-03/ff

    Why?

    I came upon that blog entry expecting so much more, after getting the same entry passed along through 5 different blogs that I subscribe to. Arguing over the semantics of "free" is a painfully long way to learn basic marketing tactics, like Gillette promotions. The only "free" service or product that I've ever experienced, is Wikipedia. But then, all of us contributing info are subsidized by the charity, Wikimedia Foundation, so, it's not really free, is it? It’s someone being generous and therefore a subsidy.

    I subscribe to Wired, and I like the content, but please answer this question; why am I paying Wired's comparatively high subscription cost if it’s so full of little ad inserts, that when I open it during my bathroom ritual (very involved), the floor is littered with little wasteful pieces of paper. I tolerate ads in my Gmail and Google searches, (even though the paid inclusion is reducing the search validity at a disturbingly higher rate lately), because I don't pay directly for it. I can't even open to specific pages, because some of the ads are so thick (ok, and some pages were sticky in that last Feb issue with Sarah Silverman). J/K

    How was Chris in person?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/bfeld bfeld

    I also have a handful of magazines for my bathroom ritual. Wired is not one of them – Fortune, BusinessWeek, Forbes, Runners World, and Technology Review.

    I was in a different studio than Chris so I didn't actually spend time with him in person.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/bfeld bfeld

    My filter is simple – if it's geographically convenient and the topic is one that I think I have something on which to add, I'll do it.

  • virgilio

    Great show Brad

  • Dave Taylor

    Way to go, Brad. I'll listen to it from NPR.org when I get back into town. I've done lots of radio, but no national NPR stuff. Yet. :-)

  • Erin Kabbash

    Thanks for sharing your insight on this topic with the world Brad. Your thoughts really help a tremendous amount to those of us in the postition of some of the callers all the way up to a Kevin Rose.

  • Chithra Durgam

    Listening now! Congrats Brad. How do you decide which of the programs to do? I get invited to speak on panels and do speaking engagements but it seems to take alot of time.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/steve_bergs2127 steve_bergs2127

    Cool story, Brad. I'll have to listen to it but cannot right now.

    I once heard another fraternity brother of ours interviewed on my local NPR station about his work at the media lab and some stuff he was doing there. He spoke so far above my head that I can't imagine too many listeners had any idea what he was talking about.

    I'm sure that you didn't fall into this trap – I look forward to hearing what you had to say.

  • Donald Foss

    While TOTN only made it somewhere between 101 and 1000 on your list, I've always had "Be Interviewed by Terry Gross on Fresh Air" on my top 100 list, but that is as an author, not as a tech pundit.

    I've done many interviews for magazines/newsletters/PR campaigns, but never live. Your "everything just worked" experience really says something about the state of technology in the mass-comm industry versus the web. That is refreshing in its own way.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/bfeld bfeld

    I left Fresh Air out of my NPR habit. It would probably also make my top 100 list. Good reminder.

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