Adam Curry was one of the VJs (video jockeys) of MTV back in the 1980s. In this position, he “interviewed” some of the most popular musicians of the time including Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney.

Adam is an early adopter and pioneer because he embraced the web and podcasting long before other people. He helped make podcasting “a thing” by collaborating with Dave Winer on podcasting technology, and he created one of the first podcasts, the Daily Source Code.

In 2005 Steve Jobs previewed Apple’s podcasting efforts by playing the Daily Source Code on stage at D, the most exclusive tech conference. It is a huge deal when Steve used a product like this.

Adam also started companies along the way that offered services such as web design, video-sharing, incubation, and podcasting.

He currently co-hosts the No Agenda podcast with John Dvorak.

Enjoy this interview with Adam Curry:

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Transcript of Guy Kawasaki’s Remarkable People podcast with the podfather, Adam Curry:

Guy Kawasaki:

I’m Guy Kawasaki, and this is Remarkable People. This episode’s remarkable guest is Adam Curry. Adam was one of the VJ’s, video jockeys of MTV, back in the 1980s. In this position, he interviewed some of the most popular musicians of the time. This includes Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney.

Adam is an early adopter and pioneer. He embraced the web and podcasting long before other people. In fact, he helped make podcasting a thing by collaborating with Dave Winer on podcasting technology. He also created one of the very first podcast, The Daily Source Code. In 2005, Steve Jobs previewed Apple’s podcasting efforts by playing The Daily Source Code on stage at D, the most exclusive tech conference. It was a huge deal when Steve used a product like this.

Adam also started companies along the way that offered services such as web designing, video sharing, incubating, and podcasting. He currently co-hosts the No Agenda Podcast with John Dvorak.

I’m Guy Kawasaki, this is Remarkable People, and now, here’s the remarkable Adam Curry: podcaster, VJ, and pioneer.

Adam Curry:

August 1st, 1981 is when MTV kicked off. I didn’t come in until ’87, as they’d gone through the first wave and they were doing an expansion, and that expansion meant that they were going on primetime cable, basic cable, which was forty channels, and that meant that that would be available everywhere.

And back in the day, only people who are old enough to remember this, but cable was a joke. It was, “Yeah, that’s not real TV, no one’s going to advertise on it, no one cares about it.” They had the ACE Awards, and then they laid out the CableACE Awards, and each of these cable systems was just like their own little fiefdom that the owner would be a typical guy with a Cadillac with horns on the front, like, “Yeah, it’s my wife. Hello, MTV man.”

So we’d also have to tour the affiliates to make sure that they kept us on their stations, on their cable networks. So it was real Mickey Mouse. And I was living in the Netherlands, and they recruited me from there. I was doing television over there. And I came from a state broadcaster and we had fourteen cameras, five makeup rooms. It was all gunmetal gray. None of it was spiffy or anything, but we had a proper camera operator and a cable puller, all the stuff you’d want, and MTV was basically a studio. We shared the studio at the time with, I think the Sally Jessy Raphael show, this was on the Unitel Video on 57th Street in Manhattan.

And there was a couple lights. The lighting director would come in once a week and he’d say, “Okay, stand in your spot,” and he tapped the light, “Okay, this is good. I’ll see you in a week or two.” We had no makeup, no wardrobe, we did all that ourselves. It was really, really guerrilla television, very low rent, and it was kind of being run by radio people like a radio station at the time.

So I fit right in, I felt great, although I never really connected well with the management. I think they thought I had too many aspirations. I had all kinds of things written in my contract they didn’t like, like I could do radio, and they just thought that was ridiculous. “Are you going to be a VJ or a DJ? What do you want to be?” I said, “Why can’t it be so both?”

There were other things, like I was in the music meeting as the only on-air talent where they decided what they would accept to play on the channel, and some producer things I’d negotiate because they came to me so that gave me an upper hand. But it was not the drug-fueled bosom babes rolling around the studio-type vibe that you might think it was, it was quite sedentary, quite tedious. In fact, we’d record, not in real-time, but just the segments. So we never actually saw the videos while we were taping it.

Guy Kawasaki:

What?

Adam Curry:

We’d seen them before. Yeah. Go on YouTube, you see me, I’d be like I’m looking off camera, I’m literally looking at like a floor manager or a production assistant like, “All right, that’s great to see Bon Jovi up there.” And they talk about the next video and then here comes, I look off to the side, I’m just looking into darkness, and then they would literally… This is so pre-internet.

They would take these big tapes, these pneumatic tapes, which is like a big Betamax kind of would look like, and they put them in a car service, drive it to Long Island to the network operation center, where we had guys all day long who would insert like Adam Curry, 12:00 PM segment A, and he’d play it and then he’d click the other machine and play the video, and then he’d fast forward, queue up the next segment, Adam Curry, 12:00 PM segment B, and he’d play that. So it was kind of a playout system like a radio station with cart machines. And it was really, really, really low rent.

And I was on the Internet at the time and they had a Wang computer. I’m like, “Whoa, these guys are ancient.” It was crazy. They were doing the Word processing on the Wang and sending it down from the studio. Whoa, it was great.

Guy Kawasaki:

You’re bursting my bubble here, Adam. So you’re telling me that you didn’t just watch the video and then react to it?

Adam Curry:

It’s all acting, Guy.

Guy Kawasaki:

All that was fake?

Adam Curry:

All of it was fake, man, all of it, every single bit of it. Yeah. And this is why I rarely do mainstream things anymore. I know how it works. I’m always disappointed.

I remember when Michael Jackson died and I got all these calls like CBS Evening News, “I want to talk to you.” I’m like, “Okay, that’s fine.” I was doing other stuff at the time, I wasn’t on MTV anymore. And I spent three hours interview, some walking shots, and then you watch at night, it’s literally fifteen seconds of me going like, “He’ll be missed.” All the other stuff I said was… I’m like, “I’m not going to do that anymore.”

I’m so spoiled by podcasting and the freedom that we have. There’s a lot of disillusionment there, but man, does it work. Does the mainstream trickery just work beautifully. Everything is a great product that I see, it really is. It’s not truthful but it’s a great product.

Guy Kawasaki:

Back then, did the experts scoff at the idea that there would be only music videos? Did they say, “American public doesn’t want this, they want movies, they want Disney specials, just to have two minute videos over and over again is not going to cut it”?

Adam Curry:

Interesting. Again, it was really radio people who drove this, and they said, “Oh, we can run this like a radio station, add VJ’s, and they’ll do shifts.” And basically, as a VJ, you’re one step lower on the rung from curable lepers, incurable lepers, then down there is VJ.

So they really want just interchangeable talent that you can just pull in and rotate out and have them look pretty and do their thing, don’t bump into the furniture, and we’ll play the songs. But something else happened, and the revolution really came from creatives.

So the first thing was these videos. Directors were making videos and they were doing them on really small budgets, and this became an industry. And so the first thing that had to happen was, we had to legitimize what was going on.

So every MTV Video, you would see the director, and the director would get a credit at the beginning and the end of the video. And that was not only an interesting negotiation that we went through with certain guilds, but it also really gave legitimacy to the product. And then you got celebrity kind of directors who would jump into the game, and there was people directing for each other. So that really became quite a thing. Then with John Landis and the Thriller video, all of these things really built up into this is an actual product that stands by itself, which ultimately also became MTV’s demise as we know it, when music videos were so commoditized that they found themselves competing with other networks for premieres.

So the next Michael Jackson video was going to BET. And so Viacom, MTV Networks, they said, “What? Let’s just buy BET, because we can’t have these guys cutting into our business here.” So they did that.

And then the commoditization just continued, particularly as online started coming to play, and they saw that they could get a 0.3 rating for music videos, maybe a 1.0 in primetime with some special programming like Dial MTV, or what later became TRL Live. But you did a long form programming like MTV Beach House, or MTV Real World, or Sporting Fool, or Remote Control, the game show, now you’re talking a three rating. And that was it. That was the smartest decision they could have made.

Sad for what it was, but the music video was no longer a viable business, and so they just went straight into, “We’re targeting this audience and we’re going to go after them 100 percent,” which a lot of it is low hanging fruit, teen moms. It’s crazy, it’s a lot of reality shows.

So the joke, the meme that goes around at the fortieth anniversary is, “Happy birthday, MTV, forty years and fourteen years of music,” all the rest was different kinds of programming. But it’s nice because it’s something that our generation, and that really is older millennials, I would say, up until… or maybe it’s just the older millennials and some boomers in there as well, that was something we shared.

It’s like the rotary phones on the wall. You can show it to people, they’ll be like, “That was like our thing. You stand here waiting for it, and you grab the cord and go around the door into the basement, really?”

So it’s that, that it’s hard to understand, but I’m so happy that I was a part of it, and I was there for seven and a half years. And to this day, I’ll be in just the most odd circumstances, maybe a CEO and then they figure it out like, “Wait a minute, aren’t you the guy from…?” And then the shirt opens up, Metallica T-shirt’s on underneath it. So it’s kind of a cultish thing at this point, but I’m very, very happy that I was a part of it.

Guy Kawasaki:

Wow. And tell me, how did MTV go from this scrappy startup held together by duct tape, into really defining the culture?

Adam Curry:

First, I will say Tom Freston was really important in that. I feel that he led MTV in his own Tom Freston way. He was a very, very interesting guy, very, very rock and roll, but complete suit, you wouldn’t know it. But you look into his background, he was into import export with Afghanistan. It’s like, “Okay. I know enough about Tom. This guy, he’s rock and roll.” And he had a good connection with the music industry. He understood what they wanted, because MTV is just a part of the system, and it became that very, very quickly, with all the negotiations and what goes on, “And who do we put in on special rotation to hook up someone else?” All the favors are all there.

And it was top forty radio sliding towards hip hop, the artists, and the video artists who put it all together, they made the words come alive. The videos, at a certain point was just the budgets were crazy, and record companies would still put them up and put up those kinds of budgets, and that started to change over time. So more creativity came in, the technology changed.

Final Cut Pro, that was instrumental for MTV Music videos in the latter part of I’d say the ’90s. It was like, “What? Nonlinear video editing and I can do this at home?” I remember going to CBS Sony records in 2005 or something, I was going to see I… ’04 maybe… see if I could do anything with the music business with podcasting. And I’m in the lobby there, and in Manhattan there’s a second floor lobby, and that’s where everyone waits until you’re called up to God to go meet with whoever you’re going to meet with. And I couldn’t believe what I saw.

It was just like 100 hip hop groups, and they’re all filming stuff, and they got soundtracks running, so I guess they’re doing a part of the videos that they’re going to get their record contract, and Simon Le Bon from Duran Duran is sitting there waiting next to me, and we’re looking at all this, and all of a sudden the lady comes on the speaker, “Mr. Simon Le Bon, Mr. Simon Le Bon, you can go up now, Mr. Simon Le Bon.” This is Simon Le Bon, we know who he is, and the whole thing was just mayhem, Guy.

I was like, “I don’t recognize this industry. I don’t know who’s making the money where it’s going.” And of course, the music business in general has really been stripped to its bare bones with Spotify and streaming and all the types of deals that were done to keep the broadcasters rich and musicians starving. The same story as always.

Guy Kawasaki:

Nothing’s changed.

Adam Curry:

No, not really, not really.

Guy Kawasaki:

And were you part of the, “I want my MTV promotion group”?

Adam Curry:

No, no.

Guy Kawasaki:

No? Not at all?

Adam Curry:

That was before me. That was the very first, when they just started off and they needed to get cable stations to carry the signal, that was the thing. Just like radio, you had to clear the stations and you had to talk to all these guys. I should know who came up with this. But the “I want my MTV” was an easy one.

You got all, especially the British guys to say, Bowie, The Stones, you got Madonna, you got Billy Idol, it was all the icons of the moment, and they loved it too. They were part of it. It was very, very community type thing, and it was heartfelt, even though there was money behind it and the intent was to create a four billion dollar brand, which it is, or at least annual revenues. So it behooved everybody. It was fun to watch. But the early days, no that was not me. I was not a part of that.

I was a part of Spring Break. This is a good one. So Spring Break became famous, MTV Spring Break coverage, but MTV didn’t want to just go to Florida and watch kids belly flop. That was never the idea. The idea was, “How do we get Budweiser to advertise on the channel?” And I was a part of this pitch. So we went to Budweiser, Anheuser-Busch, and we said, “Look, your beer is down there in Florida and all these other places for spring break. We’ll do wall to wall coverage like big inflatable bottles of Bud everywhere,” and they went for it. Then of course, it wound up with me on the Bud Light boat with Spuds MacKenzie. Okay. But we did whatever we had to do, and that was purely to get them on the station, and it turned into kind of an unforgettable programming that they repeated over and over again.

Guy Kawasaki:

Man, you’re bursting so many of my bubbles, Adam.

Adam Curry:

No, but this is good. It was really fun to do. It was real. The realest thing I think was the Video Music Award. Those were live, they went out live, the early ones.

Later on, it became a little too contrived. And it was so good in fact that the VJ’s were not actually invited. If it was in Los Angeles, you had to fly yourself out, you had to buy your own ticket. They were horrible to us. It was like, “No, no, no, this is special programming. This is not for you.”

But like the people watch this all day long. So you get to do one little segment or something like outside. I’m standing outside here, all the stars are inside, I’m the schmuck VJ on the outside.

Guy Kawasaki:

So as a VJ, you basically watch these videos and then you had to just make it up on the fly? You weren’t meeting with them, you weren’t interviewing? How did this work?

Adam Curry:

Oh, no, no, no. There was plenty of interviews and stuff that would then get chopped up. I had several shows throughout the years that would include, would basically be six segments in an hour, of which three could be two minutes and just typical, it was like typical television because you got to sell more Skittles.

So we do that, and those things were great, and I loved doing that, many, many interviews, but it was never really like a live show, except for a Mardi Gras was live, we would cut live to Mardi Gras, which was really fun, back before you got killed in the streets. Spring Break was live, and the afternoons were live for a while with the Dial MTV where people would call in and request their favorite video.

So no, it was actually a lot of fun, and they were, in general, highly scripted. So every VJ was highly scripted, there was a teleprompter. And I just said, “Just leave it empty because I’ll just make it up. I know what’s going on.” Because I was researching. I had found the internet in ’87, ’88, and I was on Gopher. I was poking around, I was looking at news groups.

Guy Kawasaki:

You were on Gopher?

Adam Curry:

Yeah, I’m on. I got a SLIP account through Panix in New York City, and I figured out how to set up that SLIP connection, and you got your PPP stack and all that stuff, and then you fire up the terminal. “Oh, okay, there it is.” And then you log into the Gopher server and check around. But I really had more fun with the newsgroups and email.

Email was phenomenal because my audience was college students who, A, didn’t count in the ratings at all, so they didn’t even know how many were watching. They were watching but they had very different ideas about what videos they liked. So I’d get feedback from them and that’s how I ultimately set up my own Gopher server and registered mtv.com to run it, and I would pitch that on the air from time to time, so people had put little stories up.

And so I typically had new stories a day before MTV News itself because I was getting it from the people out there in the country who were emailing me these stories. And then it was I think around ’90, and I got an email from a guy in University in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, and he says, “Yeah, Adam, I’ve got this thing, and I wanted to try it out.”

Guy Kawasaki:

Let me guess. A?

Adam Curry:

Yeah. Marc Andreessen. He says, “Adam, check this HTTPD server out?” I think it had like 1.4 or something. And I set it up and like…browse. I’m like, “Oh, wait a minute.” And that blew my mind. And I wound up leaving MTV maybe a year later to start my own company because I was like, “This is it. This is the real future, what’s going on here. I’m just mucking around on this cable news business or cable business.” And so yeah, that’s really how I got sucked in very, very deep, and I saw that I could be much faster, much nimbler, do more fun stuff, less restrictions online. And it was truly the Wild West.

AOL wouldn’t let you on the internet, if you recall, and people were like, “Come on, man, give us a browser, give us a browser.” And like, “Okay.” And you got that browser, and had to just click all those warnings like it’s dangerous out here, anything could happen, which is exactly what you wanted. And after that, AOL became a dial up company. Everything got sucked into the internet. It was beautiful. It was really an exciting time.

Guy Kawasaki:

Okay. Only one more question back in MTV days because we got to make the transition to the web here. Were you there when Michael Jackson required that everybody call him the King of Pop?

Adam Curry:

Yes. This is one of my favorite stories. So there were many deals that were made, and they typically revolved around the Video Music Awards. So if you wanted to have an artist of stature appear, then you maybe would have to play some other video by the same label, or some other favors were made, deals we’re done. And Michael Jackson, he was going to perform, and we had a whole Michael Jackson weekend planned around the premiere of his latest video, I don’t remember what that was, and of course teasing that he would be on the Video Music Awards.

And the way it worked on MTV is you tape on Thursday; you tape for Friday and Saturday… Wait. On Thursday, you tape for Friday, Friday, you tape Saturday, Sunday, something like that. Somehow we threw in a Monday somewhere. But we wouldn’t work on the weekend, but it was the weekend.

So we all did our bits, forty-eight hours’ worth of programming. And then I got a call Friday night like, “Y’all got to come in tomorrow because someone messed up.” The deal was every single time you say Michael Jackson, it had to go Michael Jackson, the King of Pop. I don’t even know if Michael Jackson cared, but we reshot the whole weekend just to make sure we didn’t screw anything up with that deal. That’s how political it was when it came to the deals. But it was all for the good. We wanted Michael Jackson to be on the show, I guess, but there was some grumbling.

Guy Kawasaki:

I can just imagine. Let’s get out of MTV days. We already touched on this a little bit, but tell us about this getting on the web. What a concept, right? How did that happen? How are you this early adopter, this pioneer of the web?

Adam Curry:

Well, I’ve always been a tinkerer. So my love of radio started when I was thirteen. I got a… and I still have it… Radio Shack 101 projects, and it’s a breadboard and it has components; you connect them with different length wires and stuff. And so that’s how I built my first transmitter, my FM transmitter, and that’s how I kind of fell into radio because I needed something to play on my transmitter, and before I knew it, I was building a mixer and understanding how to mix in a microphone, etc.

So my dad actually, we were living in Europe, and he was into all kinds of PR stuff, but it was online, and the first thing he brought home was a Minitel terminal from France. And France was very, very sophisticated early on. Every household had this little terminal and it was meant for hotel reservations or restaurant reservations and some news, etc. Turns out it was being used by sex workers a lot, so they had to scuttle the project at some point because there was a message board thing.

So my dad had all these weird computers and the one that I really grabbed hold of was the Sinclair ZX80, which was basically this plastic keyboard with a module on the back, which was the RF modulator that hooked into the TV and you could write and load programs through a cassette. But I worked part time at a computer store on weekends, and a buddy of mine who I think he might have had the Commodore VIC-20 at that point, but we built our own modems, our own acoustic modems.

So we ripped apart old phones and we put them in little boxes, so you could put the phone cradle right on top, and it worked, I want to say like three baud a minute or a second, whatever, but it worked. And so that was kind of my introduction, then bulletin boards and that kind of thing that followed. And then I put everything aside as my radio and television career started when I was nineteen in the Netherlands. And then when I got to the States in ’87, the first thing I did is I went to 47th Street Photo…

Guy Kawasaki:

Oh, my God.

Adam Curry:

…and I bought a Mac Plus with a scuzzy external hard drive, twenty megabytes, with that big scuzzy cable, remember to terminate. You could plug an RV into that thing. It was so much power. And the 1,200 baud modem, and I was using it for CompuServe, because I discovered CompuServe by then, I thought that was phenomenal. Prodigy was coming around, around that time, I think, that was a Sears deal. But all of this stuff was nothing because I kept hearing people say, “The internet, man, the internet. It’s impossible to get on but all the cool kids are there.”

And so I just fooled around night after night until I finally got a dial up account with Panix New York, figured out how to get the TCP/IP stack running, and I was off to the races. And from there, as I said, it just progressed into the web.

A guy from Sun Microsystems, Karl Jacob, who later… I think he’s still an advisor… He might have been on the Facebook board at some point. But he was at Sun and he said, “Check this out, Adam.” And at this time, I had a 56K frame relay in my house, “Look out, I’m cooking with gas now.” And so he streams a sound file from San Francisco to my computer in New Jersey. I’m like, “That’s it, man. Why am I mucking around on this cable business? This is where I got to be.”

And so literally, I finished the number one video on the Top Twenty Countdown, and I said, “That’s it. I’m leaving MTV. I’m going to start my own company. I’m going to do something on the internet. I don’t know what it is, but that’s where the future is, and I’m done and I’m out.” And I left and I never looked back.

Went right to my radio syndicators and started a company called OnRamp, and the first thing we did was this Fifty-sixth Annual Grammy Awards, we did what we call the cyber cast, with two sponsors, VISA and Casio. Casio was sponsoring because they’d just come out with digital cameras that you could connect via a serial cable to your computer so you could then upload the photos. And we were using CU-SeeMe video, hello, one frame a second, and it was a tremendous success.

Guy Kawasaki:

Oh my God.

Adam Curry:

And we even brought a T1 line into the Shrine Auditorium, and it was cowboy stuff. It was really crazy. But it was all East Coast, right? It wasn’t until I met the West Coast guys that I really understood how nuts the world was. And that’s where I met such luminaries as Marc Canter, and Dave Winer, and John C. Dvorak, John Perry Barlow, and I really didn’t know that much about the culture of Silicon Valley and computers other than the thing I held in my hands. So these are like profits, man. I was like, “Wow, there’s a whole another thing going on out here.”

In fact, I was still at MTV I think, and Halsey Minor gets in touch with me, he said, “We’ve got this thing which is a pilot called CNET. Come on out.” I’m like, “Okay.” So I go, and they had an idea, they brought in Kevin Wendell, a top… He helped build the Fox Network, not Fox News, but the Fox television station network, and they were going to do like a cable channel or something called CNET, and they had a whole bunch of people in just shooting all weekend long.

I said, “This should be an internet thing, really.” He says, “Oh, yeah, good idea. What should we do?” I said, “Well, do you have cnet.com?” “No.” “All right. Hold on a second.” I register cnet.com. I ran their email for at least a year, IMAP or POP3 email boxes for them. They never had an idea that it was going to be seen at the computer network the way it turned out to be.

So there were all these things I was just coming across, but that really enamored me with… If you sit down with Marc Canter and he’s smoking some weed, man, you can listen to that guy for hours like, “Wow, these guys are nuts.” And so that’s how I kind of started to learn about, again, the tinkering side, RSS. This is what I learned from Dave Winer. He was building microblogging, really, he was building RSS and the aggregator, and Marc had his multimedia stuff, and all of these different things happening.

Meanwhile, I moved to Amsterdam at the end of ’99, to go back. I had a Dutch wife and she wanted to be near her parents, and they had cable modems. Now, this was cool because cable modems was not fast or anything, but it was always on. You didn’t have to dial up, you didn’t have to tie up a phone line. Napster was just happening, so people were like, “Holy crap. I’m sharing all this stuff and I’m literally poking inside someone’s hard drive and pulling mp3 files out, and it’s all kind of working, but it was also slow.”

And that’s when I came up… I wrote a blog post called The Last Yard, and I had this idea that since the computer was always on, why couldn’t we just have the video file that you absolutely want to see instead of the experience of the day, which was click, wait, wait, download, click open up with another program, the real player starts to jerk open, all this stuff that was a crap. I said, “Well, wouldn’t it be great if there’s some program that would run in the background, something I wanted to see was ready,  would download it, but then would tell me later,” because once it’s downloaded, then it’s just one click, it plays. So what I don’t know won’t hurt me. That was my whole concept.

And somehow, when Dave… and I was very involved, because I loved his product, Radio UserLand, I said, “Well, this is a two-way system. You create an RSS feed on the blog, and I aggregate it, and I can read it on my end. Why don’t we do like a file attachment?” But it wasn’t that simple. I had to go fly to New York and I had to explain to him what I was talking about, and I think he probably thought I was a schmuck.

Like, “What’s this Hollywood guy doing here telling me what to do?” But he saw it, he saw the light. And I think by the time I was back in Europe, he had kind of coded it in. And for two years we were testing this functionality, just going back and forth and like, “Oh, cool. There’s another 100 megabyte file that Dave uploaded last night in San Francisco, and I don’t have to download it. I click, it plays right away.” It was all kind of fun, for me at least.

Dave was working with Chris Lydon. I know that they had done some stuff for his radio program, but when I saw the iPod, yeah, that’s when it all came together. I’m like, “Ah.” Because I looked at the iPod, and that was not a digital Walkman or whatever people were saying, I looked at it and I said, “That is almost exactly like the Sony transistor radio my grandmother gave me when I was seven years old that I have under the pillow, it was the same size.” I said, “This is a radio, it’s a radio receiver.” And now we can have the radio shows… subscribe was the word of the time… you subscribe, and then this little program is going to look for the new episodes or whatever. We were calling it episodes, I think. And it’ll download it and put it on your iPod and Bob’s your uncle. And that’s where we started. Literally, that’s where we started.

And I’d started doing The Daily Source Code, which was a daily podcast. We didn’t even know what it was called at the time, and the whole point of The Daily Source Code was, I was talking about what the developers were building because they were building more radios. Ii was like, “Oh, the iPod Rex, and iPod Lemon and all these.” We didn’t have apps, we didn’t have phones or anything. My God, the tools we have now is so unbelievable compared to then. So yeah, and so that just took off real fast. I mean, people grabbed hold. I say that to Tony Kahn from WGBH, he was quite instrumental, unsung hero because he really pulled NPR into the game early, early on, and he was pushing them very hard. And that really gave it legitimacy, and yeah, it grew so fast. It was only a number of years.

Guy Kawasaki:

So people have applied the moniker “podfather” to you. Is that accurate? Are you the father of podcasting? Well, then what’s Dave Winer? Is he the mother?

Adam Curry:

I’ve heard people use podfather with each of us interchangeably. That’s fine. I’m the last one to say, “I’m the podfather,” but that’s what people say. Some people say Adam Carolla is the podfather, Ricky Gervais calls himself the podfather. I don’t think there’s any one father of anything.

If you look at the lineage of what we’re actually doing and how far back it goes through XML and the people who were involved in that, and luckily, there’s now a whole new generation of developers who are expanding on the original podcasting RSS 2.0 format with the podcast namespace. So this is just our role in the evolution, because you could also say that mp3 was extremely important in the whole podcasting game and the eventual licensing of that so everybody could use it.

This is really the heroics, is the people, like Dave, who make things that they cannot own. They cannot own a patent or a copyright because they know that it won’t work if one person has control. And this is what I love about podcasting. It is truly free speech in that, you only need to be able to create an RSS feed, a .TXT file basically, and a place to put your mp3 and you’re in business.

You don’t need anybody else. And that’s why no one has ever been able to own podcasting. Many have tried, myself, I’ve given it a stab, and I know for sure you cannot monetize the network. This is impossible, it’s dumb, and people who think they can do podcast networks, I am happy to advise you why it’s not going to work. And it’s become a part of the media landscape that is its own medium and is so powerful by its disintermediation and its decentralization.

It’s not a single person. Joe Rogan is not the most powerful person in the universe, but he makes up a part of a fabric that is way beyond the realm of anything most people are exposed to in mainstream. And I think that this is clear that this is growing as people discover more and as people start to use their voice themselves more.

You are looking at more than over four million podcasts, of which I think accurately about 800,000 are really active. That’s a lot. That’s a lot of content.

Guy Kawasaki:

But don’t you think that Apple is close to controlling podcasting?

Adam Curry:

No, they fucked it up. No, no.

Guy Kawasaki:

How?

Adam Curry:

No, actually, I made an error. I’m sorry. I should say that I made an error. When Steve Jobs called and asked me to meet with him, which was mind boggling. I could not have been on a higher high. And essentially, he was asking me for my blessings to put podcasting into iTunes and into the iPod like if I had said, “No,” he wouldn’t have done it. But it didn’t matter. What I’ve now come to understand when Steve is courting you, it’s hot, and I got the hot sexy Steve, and it was very enjoyable, but I made an error in that, I always thought radios would be around.

I’m a radio guy. So radios in cars, radios are everywhere, and the radio for podcasting is an app. And when Apple put podcasting capabilities into iTunes, I gave them our directory, it was called ipodder.org, and it was a decentralized… actually, a very cool directory with multiple country managers, and it all kind of flowed up into one centralized spot. It was a great thing. But it had like 5,000 podcasts, organized and categorized. So I went, “Why don’t you start with this?”

So first of all, what they did is they used that, but they put all of the mainstream NPR type stuff on the homepage, which was disappointing. But because of this, Apple became the defacto on ramp to podcasting because you had to be on the Apple podcast app. There’s no doubt about it was the biggest one at the time. Now, that by itself is a gatekeeper function that shouldn’t really be there, but Apple was a great steward of podcasting for a very, very long time. And the thing that happened in a weird way, which is a very un-Apple thing, the way I understand it, their podcast app functioned in the old school way.

It did the aggregation on your iPod or on your iPhone. It only talked to the Apple index to get the latest information, to get the latest update, really as a search, etc. Because of that, their API lay open and exposed for any independent podcast app to do the same thing.

So we had this whole ecosystem, kind of unbeknownst to everybody, that had done two things. It had not moved in ten years, because, hey, if Apple’s not doing a new feature, why do it? Why would a hosting company or anybody… “It’s not Apple, why do it?” So that’s very destructive for creative development.

And the other thing is, and it happened in two different ways. One, Joe Rogan decided to go exclusive with Spotify, and overnight, his podcast disappeared from every podcast app. And I thought, “Wow, okay, that’s interesting. Why did it happen so simultaneously?” Well, he removed his feed. No, but really, he removed his feed from Apple. So the whole ecosystem lost that.

Then there was some famous de-platforming’s that happened in concert; Apple and Facebook and Twitter, it took down Alex Jones and a whole bunch of QAnon podcasts, I don’t even care what it is. What happened is, they removed it from Apple, it went away from everything else. So this is a problem. If Apple doesn’t want to have that on their platform, that’s fine, but anyone else should be able to easily spin up an app and do this.

So that’s where I decided to put my foot down and we had to create an independent index that is just that, it’s independent, we don’t care, you can replicate it, duplicate it, you can make your own index, but it is the index of podcasts, and we provide a free API so developers can just go ahead and do whatever they want, any kind of experience they want. So we wrestled that away from Apple, I think just in time, because when they did their big change to the subscription model, believe it or not, the API changed.

So all of these apps again, had they not had the index, would have been dead in the water. And I think Apple has given up, and a lot of developers were very upset. And I said, “Have you ever paid Apple one dime for access of that API?” “No.” “Then you weren’t on their business list, my friend. They don’t care about you. They don’t care.” And they don’t, and that’s okay.

So now we’re in a little different position where we have big players, Spotify now entering the mix, all trying to do the same thing that has been impossible for anybody to do, and that is own podcasting. And luckily, the podcast index now makes everything available so everybody can go off and do whatever they do and include or exclude whatever podcast they want; if you just want to knitting app podcast app, be my guest, it doesn’t matter. And we’ve been doing a few more things in that regard with what I call Podcasting 2.0, to really solidify the capability for anyone to speak freely and not to have to wait for Apple to approve if you can show up on an app.

I want university professors to put their lectures in, and go home, and upload their feed, and it’d be available on 100 apps all immediately. We’ve created that. That’s now possible outside of Apple, but there’s some fragmentation going on.

Guy Kawasaki:

We need to back up a little bit, because I think people may have missed this transition. When you start using the pronoun we, so we is this podcast index project?

Adam Curry:

Yes.

Guy Kawasaki:

That’s the we, and you’re creating this index that is not dependent on Apple, Spotify, and all this other stuff. This is everything in podcasting.

Adam Curry:

Yes. Correct.

Guy Kawasaki:

Including QAnon, including whatever, Alex Jones.

Adam Curry:

I’m sure it’s all in there.

Guy Kawasaki:

Okay. And this is a not for profit or for profit?

Adam Curry:

It’s an LLC, three partners, myself and Dave Jones. Now, he and I’ve been working on RSS aggregation projects for ten years, just mucking around for our own business, just screwing around. And Aric Mackey, who is very important, because he understands legalities, keeps me out of jail, and understands how a P&L works. But it’s a value for value project.

So it was an open project, and what I learned with No Agenda, the podcast that I’ve been doing with Dvorak for almost fifteen year is, if you ask people to send you whatever they think your product is worth, you will be amazed at the success you have if you have an outstanding product. This is a core belief of mine. I call it value for value. Silicon Valley started pricing creative works really with… Well, it goes much further back, but let’s just say with the iTunes Store. If you want to buy The Beatles’, “I Want to Hold Your Hand”, ninety-nine cents. Who determined that, and does that really represent the value to me? If I had to pay ninety-nine dollars, I’ll do it every single day for that song, it’s one of the best love songs ever written.

So when we first started asking for what is now known as maybe a Patreon model, subscribe for five dollars a month or ten dollars a month, we’ll give you a T-shirt if you do twenty-five dollars a month. John and I said, but whatever this show was worth to you, just write that number down and send it to us. And we still got a lot of people sending five dollars, quite a few sending fifty dollars, and lo and behold, a whole bunch of people sent $500.

Guy Kawasaki:

$500 for what?

Adam Curry:

Oh, yeah. That was the value they got out of the podcast when I asked them.

Guy Kawasaki:

Really.

Adam Curry:

I said, “What was the show worth to you?” And by the way, what we’ve learned to do is on the next show, we’ll thank those people and say exactly how much they gave us. You can count the money that’s coming in by just listening to our donation segment. This turned into a whole thing where numerology comes into play and people on Pi Day, they’ll send thirty-one dollars and forty cents, $314.

Guy Kawasaki:

What?

Adam Curry:

Yeah. You can’t look in someone else’s pocket book. People negotiate against themselves all the time. “Well, my show, is it really worth five dollars a month for eight shows? I don’t know, man.” When you ask someone else, “What was this one show worth?” “Oh, that was worth $100 easily. I loved it. He you go. Here’s $100 bucks.” Someone might spend $100 easier than you or I, and if you just leave that to the individual, turns out that that is the magic to the value for value model, and we have put kids through school.

We’re not billionaires or millionaires, we get what we deserve. And this is the model, this is the media model that we’ve developed, and we’ve exported that to other podcasts and helped them do this, and it really does include the fundamental…

My wife is a semi-retired nonprofit professional. She worked at Ronald McDonald House Charities, many other nonprofits, and she said, “The number one reason why people do not give to a cause is because they’re not asked. People forget to ask.” So we’re blatant. We’re like, “Hey man, that butcher shop you never went to and then it was gone one day, that could happen to us.”

So taking that into account, we knew that if we started on our own dime, we built the database, the index, we filled it up, now the hosting side of podcasting is still very distributed. It’s a lot of small companies. 100,000 here, 100,000 there, 25,000 there. These are all small companies all serving their customers, mainly with advice and teaching, because someone shows up and says, “I’m ready for my podcast,” so they do a lot of educational stuff to help people use their system.

They have so much benefit by being able to do things like not have an index aggregator, paying all of their feeds ten times an hour and sucking all those feeds out. That’s just bandwidth they’re wasting. They want new features, they want transcripts, they want chapters, they want location, they want seasons, all these things that were not possible because everyone used Apple as the central index. So we’ve expanded it with all these new features. And then all of a sudden, app developers come along and say, “Wow, that’s cool. I’ve been looking to make a better app.” And with today’s tools, a web app is baked in a day, but we have many apps, Android, iOS, at newpodcastapps.com, you can see all the apps and hosting services that provide these extra features.

So we run purely on the donations that people give based upon the value. Often, it’s developers. Like, “This is so valuable. I get to develop this app. Here’s fifty dollars. Thank you very much for keeping it running.” And we don’t take any salaries, well, it would be great if one day we could, but that’s really not the point.

This is to keep podcasting, something for everybody, so it’s not owned by one central company. I want to use it. I don’t want to get de-platformed, Guy. I could say something stupid and then… Okay. This is really critical because this is the final thing.

The problem, as you all know, is advertising. Advertising is the issue. It is now used as a lever for political means, etc. But when Google first started with YouTube, they didn’t care. They didn’t care what you said. Throw your alien stuff, your conspiracy theories, the crazier, the better. And the advertisers came along and went, “Yeah, I don’t want my stuff anywhere near any of that.” So okay, the first thing you do is, they say you’re demonetized. No, just the ads are not running on your stuff. You’re not demonetized. They don’t care about you. They don’t want their advertiser to be exposed to whatever the advertiser is upset about.

Literally, advertising is censorship because of the programmatic way that ads are thrown into every single piece of content, every new stream, that’s what Silicon Valley runs on, mainly. Advertisers have a lot of power by saying, “Okay, I can’t trust you, Google, to run me on your AdWords because I keep showing up on the White supremacy site, the self-harm site, all this stuff I don’t want to be on.”

Okay, so they can fix some of that, but this is where you get the mechanism where you can easily organize online whether you’re Media Matters, or whether you’re Sleeping Giants, or you can get together and say, “Oh, that podcast, yeah, Mr. Advertiser, you don’t want to be on that podcast because this guy’s XYZ,” fill it in whatever the person is. And the advertiser, the first thing they do is like, “I’m done, I’m out. No problem. I don’t want any controversy.” So that lever has been applied. So that can be applied to anybody at any time.

And with that in mind, I said, “Well, we also need… Now we kind of have this uninterruptible distribution, we need uninterruptible money. We need to be able to have this supply of value going between the podcaster and the audience.” And as we were looking at this, the Lightning Network, which it’s layer two, but I call it Venmo for Bitcoin, has just come into its own, and you can send real micro payments. One Satoshi is 0.001 penny, and you can send those in one, or fifty, whatever you want. So we hooked up the mechanism, believe it or not, value for value, again, where you say, “Okay, this podcast that I’m going to listen to, it’s definitely worth a dollar an hour.” I think any podcast, if you listen to something for an hour, it’s worth a buck.

So I’m going to fill up my wallet here with ten, and every minute that I’m playing a podcast, one-sixtieth of one dollar is being sent to that podcaster in real time, no intermediary, direct from your app to the podcaster’s wallet. Should you like something that the podcaster says… now in Silicon Valley land, you hit a heart or a like button… here, you hit a boost and you can send 500 Satoshi’s, which now you’re talking ten cents. You could do 50,000 if you wanted, which would be like twelve dollars. This is working.

So we implemented this nine months ago and this flywheel is just turning, and we now have over 1,000 podcasts doing this, they’re immutable by design of the database, and they’re receiving value back for the value they provide in mp3 bits going into someone’s ears with little bits of Bitcoin coming back. And I think that this is a model for all kinds of content moving forward. It’s time-based, it’s pleasure-based, it’s value-based, the pricing mechanism is done by the person receiving the value, which, in general, what is a television or an audio program worth? Nothing. It’s not tangible, it’s worth nothing. It’s only enjoyment you get from it.

And it’s phenomenal when you see how people use this. They’re sending special numerology like, “Oh, 2112, that’s my Van Halen number,” 2,112 SATS. So that’s ten cents, but there’s also people sending much more, and they’re truly supporting the podcaster in real time. And this is creating something, and I’m certainly dragging it forward, so it has to become something, because it’s so exciting; every minute of the day, there’s little bits of value coming back for people who are listening to your podcast at that very minute.

Guy Kawasaki:

So just to back up for a second. And let me put the pieces of my brain back in my head here.

Adam Curry:

Yeah, I know. I’m trying to fit it all into one week.

Guy Kawasaki:

So I have a podcast called Remarkable People, and let’s say that last week’s episode was Cody Keenan, he was speechwriter for Barrack Obama. He drops a lot of great tips about how to be a great speaker and speech writer.

So me as a businessperson, I listen to that and I say, “I would have paid five bucks to hear that,” Okay? So now, what does Guy do? How do I get into this mechanism where now, Joe Blow, who loved Cody Keenan is now saying, “I’m going to send Guy five bucks.” How does that work? I don’t even know where to begin for that.

Adam Curry:

Well, it’s really simple. All you need to do is have a podcast or wallet on the podcast side, on the receiving side, and a new app, a Podcasting 2.0 app, and that has a wallet, and you literally fill it up with Satoshi’s, which there’s a lot of ways to do it, but now you can even get the Strike app from the app store and you can connect it to your debit card.

Guy Kawasaki:

For those of you not familiar with the term, a Satoshi is one 100-millionth of a Bitcoin. It’s named after the person or people who created Bitcoin. Satoshi Nakamoto.

Adam Curry:

And the onboarding is the biggest hurdle. I would say right now it’s analogous to the old days of podcasting when we used to say, “Subscribe to the show, find the little RSS icon, right click on it, copy link, take it over to your subscribe, and then paste it in, and hit go, and now you’re good,” you think. We’re at that level of getting your money into a bitcoin wallet. There’s also a lot of ways you can get it. People will give you some, just send it to your wallet. We’re doing programs to onboard people. But once that part is done, that’s pretty much it. Then it’s just go in the podcast app, search for the podcast, and then say, “Okay.” It’ll probably have a default of fifty or 100 Satoshis per minute, which will wind up around your dollar and a half per hour. You can change that per podcast. And then you just start listening. When you stop listening, the payment stops. If you pick it up again, it starts paying again.

Guy Kawasaki:

Right now I use Simplecast. So I put it to Simplecast and it goes to six different places.

Adam Curry:

Right.

Guy Kawasaki:

Do I stop that and go only with your thing or is that another…?

Adam Curry:

No, no, that’s the beauty of it. If you go to podcasterwallet.com, all you have to do is authenticate that it’s your feed and we actually add that in for you, at the index, we’ll add your… we call it the value block, and we’ll hook you up with any number of wallet providers right there. Just store your money with them and you can ship it right out, you can set up your own independent node that you can have running in your home. Again, freedom always requires an extra step. So there’s no help desk that you can call when you forget your password or screw it up, there’s lots of people willing to help, and once it’s running, it’s running, but there’s always a little more work required.

And it’s no surprise that of the 1,000 podcasts we have now, at least thirty-five, forty percent are Bitcoin and crypto podcasts because they have a jump on understanding the mechanism of crypto. A lot of people are just like, “Ugh, crypto.” But the system will work with the digital dollar, it’ll work with any digital coin that anyone comes up with. So if Bitcoin is somehow outlawed, which is doubtful, we could still use the central bank digital currency, because it’s scriptable money. That’s the beauty of it. You can now send and receive money with computer scripting. It’s beautiful.

Guy Kawasaki:

So in your world, to take an extreme example, Joe Rogan, who is exclusive with Spotify, he’s a dinosaur now?

Adam Curry:

Well, that’s a very interesting question. First of all, he’s a good friend and I’ve been on his show three times, I love him to bits because he totally recertified me as someone who matters in the podcasting world, because it’s eighteen years ago. Most people never heard of me. Joe, is this generation’s Tonight Show, and I don’t care what he’s on, he’s the Tonight Show. And the Tonight Show is not an hour jam packed with commercials and funny bits and jokes, and let’s move it along, it’s a three, three and a half hour sit down talk with someone who’s super interesting, or not, and you can skip it all altogether if you want.

So he really utilized the medium, and he also created an entire layer of comedians and talent that otherwise would not have been exposed to podcasting and might not have… Huge careers have come out of people who have been on Joe Rogan and started their own podcast to supplement their existing business, which is being a comedian and touring, etc. Not everything has to be money.

That said, I believe that he… even though I’m not intimately familiar with his deal, but I know that he can really do whatever he wants, but I think he does self-censor, the pressure is bigger, he feels there’s more responsibility. There’s always strings that come with something with a big paycheck like that. I personally think he may be back when three years is up. I think he was probably doing about ten million dollars a year in revenue as is, but he was in the sights of the cancel cannon. This is the problem. He cannot come back and do ads. Yeah, limited. Some advertisers will always stick by him, but a lot will…

Guy Kawasaki:

MyPillow.

Adam Curry:

MyPillow. Well, and this is kind of thing. Advertising on podcast, I’m sorry, Guy, but it’s not a big business, it never will be. Yeah, they say it’s a billion dollars, but it’s all B, it’s all C and D level. Nothing against MyPillow, fantastic product, I find the guy very entertaining, but it’s not BMW, it’s not pharmaceutical, it’s not Telecom.

These are the big advertisers that are not in podcasting, and they never will be because these guys don’t want any controversy. It’s just too risky. They’re not going to do it. So I don’t understand why people are still so hung up on creating this advertising juggernaut.

Spotify is not proving it at all. They’re losing monthly active users overall, and I think they’re having a hard time converting music listeners to podcasting inside their app. It’s not proven.

People like listening to scary, uncomfortable stuff. This is why true crime is so big. It’s the biggest category in podcasting, true crime. People love hearing scary, gory stuff that kind of feels like you shouldn’t be listening to it, but they love this. I’ve been in programming all my life, in television and radio programming, this is what people like. They want that. They also want their mind to be challenged with unconventional thoughts.

And yes, people may want to sometimes hear a crazy kook talk about QAnon stuff. It doesn’t mean that that person is evil or that you’re being sucked into a cult. I watch Rachel Maddow too, as much as I can. It’s beautiful. I still listen, it’s still valid. I want the negative boost so I can suck… back out of her wallet.

But podcasting is such a beautiful place still, Guy, and it is because it’s just impossible to control. It’s way out of control. There’s no way that a company can try and harness. I tried it myself. I set up a podcast network in 2006. Steve Jobs said it would be a good idea, and he got me in with Kleiner Perkins, and Sequoia, and Ron from Sherpa. These were the top, top VCs you, I disappointed completely with none of their money coming back to them. It can’t be done. It just can’t be done. But individually. This is what’s so beautiful.

We have one podcast, it’s two guys, and the family does this work, it’s real work, we’re working on all the time, but we don’t need staff to do things. You’ll never make money that way. You can do a lot yourself and there’s no need to trying to expand with more in a network.

Everything is its own island, and each island has its tribe around it. So now I’m crossing over with your tribe, and people who listen to me will now check out your show and vice versa, and that’s how it starts to expand.

And that’s the discovery thing that Silicon Valley keeps thinking they can fix with podcasting, but it’s not fixable. It’s not meant for that. It’s not like YouTube. TikTok is the ultimate YouTube, that’s why TikTok is kicking everyone’s ass. It’s forty seconds, boom, done. Next one. It’s like top forty radio on crack. But that’s not what podcasting is. Top forty radio on crack, you can make so much money. Instagram, the ads are phenomenal the way it’s integrated, this is so smart, but that’s not going to work with what we’re doing here, it’s just not, it’s just not.

You may have a sponsor who sponsors you for a million dollars for the rest of your life. That’s something that is you and it’s who you bring to the table who you are, it’s not something you can do by calling your agency and saying, “Give me some podcasting.” It’s just not going to work that way.

Guy Kawasaki:

I’m going to have to rethink my entire approach to podcasting after this.

Adam Curry:

Well, what is your approach, Guy?

Guy Kawasaki:

Well, if Joe Rogan is a dinosaur, I am like frigging Amoeba.

Adam Curry:

No, I disagree, because you speak to remarkable people. You do remarkable things with remarkable objects, you have a remarkable device which I’ve been reading about.

Guy Kawasaki:

You’re going to get one.

Adam Curry:

You’re interesting to listen to, you’re interesting to watch. And I don’t know if you have any… wait for it… monetization strategy on this product, but maybe you just want to sell books, maybe you just want to sell devices. That is probably more of a valid monetization strategy than any. And why wouldn’t a college professor do lectures to sell himself or herself as a great class to take? These are all perfect reasons for podcasting.

Guy Kawasaki:

As I look back over my career, I think that the work I’m doing in podcasting is the best work I’ve ever done in my career.

Adam Curry:

I’m with you. I’ve been in broadcasting for forty years since I was fifteen, the most fun I’ve… also this last job, if you call it that, No Agenda, running on fifteen years, longest I’ve been in a job, longest I’ve been without an employment contract, longest I’ve been living paycheck to paycheck, like, “Who knows what will come in next week?” But the fun that I have, and this is the final thing that I would say about podcasting.

With radio, we learned the way to grow your audience is really there’s only two ways you can… well, it’s three ways. You can do stuff on location, which always works. Radio stations, going on location at the local soda fountain, whatever it is, at the local fair, always works. You can also put people on the air with phone lines, or you can read their… we used to read postcards, now of course, it’s email. So that’s kind of it. Then we took this to a next level and the first thing we said is, “All our data is open, we have no copyrights, except on our faces. You can do whatever you want.” And all the show notes, everything is an XML. I learned that from Dave, make it machine readable.

So we have people who’ve built search engines, every one of our episodes, there’s new album art because we have at least fifteen artists competing, while we’re doing the show, to make the art that we’ll choose, and there’s a place for it, the No Agenda Art Generator. We didn’t build it, we don’t maintain it. Some guys who make T-shirts, mugs, hats, hoodies, whatever, they’ve set up, No Agenda Shop. They get art from the art generator, they split the money with the artist, and they give us a donation from time to time. I don’t know how much. I guess it’s a third, maybe not. I don’t care.

I don’t have to have any meetings, no licensing agreements, they just do it and it’s done. Jingles, mixes, SEO, all of this is done by our audience who we early on called producers. “You’re not listeners, you are a producer of this show, and you show up with one of three things: your time, your talent, or your treasure. We need treasure to pay the bills, but if you are a lawyer and you’ve heard something about mandating vaccines, what is your professional opinion?” We have constitutional scholars, we have doctors, nurses, EMS, we have many people in government. Everyone has a story.

It’s what Dave Weiner would call sources go direct. And it’s not quite direct, but it is direct in the fact that they will send me their information verbatim, I can share that with the audience. So we’re information routers, and we play forty to fifty clips per show of mainstream that we then deconstruct and say, “Okay, well, here’s what I think is really going on with this.” And it’s only twice a week, but it I love my job, Guy.

I feel the same thing. I love my job and I want many people to be able to love it the same way I did without any restrictions. We’ve done it for eighteen years, we can keep it open, we can keep it going, and I intend to do that. I intend to keep that alive for as long as I can.

Guy Kawasaki:

If this is the first time you’ve listened to the Remarkable People Podcast, you may not know that the reMarkable Tablet Company sponsors the Remarkable People Podcast. The reMarkable Tablet is all about focus, helping you do your best and deepest thinking. So I ask each guest how they do their best and deepest thinking.

Remarkable People Podcast sponsored by the reMarkable Tablet Company.

Guy Kawasaki:

This last question is, how do you, Adam Curry, do your best and deepest thinking?

Adam Curry:

In the shower, without a doubt. The shower, my wife will be like, “You’ve been in there for forty-five minutes.” I say, “Yes, but I know how to do it now. I’ve figured it out.” That’s my best thinking, but passively, I will almost always at night, take a problem… not a problem, but something I’m trying to figure out or trying to solve, and if it’s not something immediate, I will make one up like, “Oh, if only I could make a command line script that could do this, this, or this.”

Every night I have to give my brain something, and I wake up in the morning and I usually, “Oh,” my brain has processed it. It helps me get to sleep, and it does some processing, and I love this skill because I can take something complicated and put it in my head and the next morning, it’s maybe not solved, but it’s always clearer.

So subconsciously, but really in the shower is when I connect the bits just like, “Okay, if I have that over there, and this fits into that.” And it’s usually technical stuff, and I can’t develop my way out of a paper bag, but I understand it. I understand how it fits. And I think you’re very similar in understanding how complex systems come together, how they work, and how you can actually attach part A to part B, those real connectors there.

Guy Kawasaki:

Thinking is getting a lot less effective because we have water rationing here in California so the showers are shorter.

Adam Curry:

Right. That’s where you got fires. Why are you living in that hellhole? I was reading in a diary, there was some guy, he was doing a journal in like 1870 or something, and he’s writing about California. “This place is a hellscape with fires and mudslides,” in like 1870. It’s always been that way. This is not new. And I lived in Cali, I lived in San Francisco, I lived in Los Angeles, so beautiful, the nature is so beautiful, but oh man. I’m happy to be in Texas now. I’m in Hill Country, Texas. I’m digging it out here, which is filling up with Californians, I’ve noticed.

Guy Kawasaki:

So there you have it, Adam Curry, pioneer and podcaster, podcasting pioneer. If you’re not old enough to have seen MTV, go look at some of the archives. MTV defined the culture, the pop culture in particular, of the 1980’s.

I’m Guy Kawasaki. This is Remarkable People. My thanks to Julie Masters. She introduced me to Mark and made this episode possible. My thanks to Jeff Sieh and Peg Fitzpatrick who helped define this podcast. Until next time, wear a mask, get vaccinated, wash your hands, be safe, be healthy. If nothing else, do it for the kids, because kids under twelve cannot be vaccinated yet. All the best to you. Mahalo and aloha.