Tim Russert And The Lifetime Value Of Content

When I was kid growing up, I’d occasionally watch TV when my dad was in control of the remote. At that age, his taste in shows was boring. One show I did end up watching, however, was “Meet The Press” on Sunday mornings with Tim Russert. For those that follow American politics, Russert is a legend. He was a big influence on me. I don’t think we’ll ever see a political journalist like him ever again. Ever. I still remember exactly where I was when I heard he passed away in 2008. I was driving from Cambridge back to Connecticut for the weekend, and talked to my dad while I was in the car. Disbelief.

Fast forward to about a year ago, I finally got rid of Cable TV. I was concerned about live sports, but quickly got over that. We do get some basic network programming, but it’s not totally reliable. No DVR, of course. Many of the mainstream shows are available as back catalogues on Netflix (which we subscribe to), or through various audio/video podcast apps. We have Apple TV. But, practically, once I junked my cable box, I stopped watching “Meet the Press,” after decades of being a loyal viewer.

This all changed recently one day when the audio version of the most recent episode of “Meet The Press” miraculously appeared in my Swell radio broadcast. I was on a longer drive back from a trip and had plenty of time. It was content that I loved but gave up on because I gave up on the old platforms. And, even though I work for Swell, I had no idea it was in the database. The thought never occurred to me. Forty-five minutes later, after the episode, I felt more informed about what was going on in Washington DC, the world, and for a moment, got more excited that I could now listen to an old favorite by using Swell in the car, while walking, etc. Audio filled the void left by TV, and I felt just as informed, if not more. We had the same thing happen when “60 Minutes” came on in the car — a great episode featuring Jack Dorsey and others. It’s how I discovered all the great tech interviews by Jason Calacanis, and now I listen to him weekly. Fred’s blog AVC comes into my Swell mix every day, and I’m lucky to even hear myself on occasion!

Yes, there’s an efficiency and utility to bringing television content to a mobile form factor, in a format where I can just stream content and don’t have to think about downloading files, or worry about ordering the list of what I hear. Swell just does that for me. Easy. Done. But what’s hard to replicate when a show like “Meet The Press” resurfaces for me, out of the blue, is the feeling back to 2008, to thinking about watching that show as a very young kid with my dad and traveling through a time machine, and to think about his son Luke and the great work he’s doing, and to feel more informed of the dynamic world I often escape from during the week. It’s more than an efficient utility — Swell turns this into an experience for me, one that I couldn’t have scripted but now one that I cannot live without.