Tom Merritt Explains What’s Wrong with TWiT

Undercover TD reporter Tom Merritt
Undercover TD reporter Tom Merritt
In the video above, Tom Merritt describes the core of what’s wrong with TWiT. He makes the salient point that advertising has eclipsed content on TWiT — in terms of importance — years ago.

What made TWiT great was:

  1. Enthusiasm for the subject material (tech).
  2. Lack of coverage in other outlets since the demise of Tech TV.
  3. Leo Laporte’s seemingly endearing character.
  4. Advertising that was minimally invasive and relevant to the audience.

What do we have now?

  1. Native advertising. Example: The Personal Capital CEO was Leo’s guest on Triangulation and Leo shut off the chat room monitor due to his own #twitlive sheep revolting against the huge native ad.
  2. Many other, better tech reporting outlets.
  3. Completely irrelevant advertisers: Pillpack (might be relevant to the average The Tech Guy caller), Naturebox, Trunk Club, Casper mattresses, Blue Apron, Boll & Branch bed sheets, etc.
  4. Leo’s complete indifference to his audience. They are only the source of his Podtrac clicks that get him his next Tesla lease.
  5. Leo doesn’t care about new technology now and only feigns an interest while he watches football games just off-screen during TWiT and The Tech Guy. He hasn’t learned anything new since 1994 and the audience can tell.

While we can’t be 100% sure Tom is discussing TWiT in the video about “places that [he’s] worked,” it is definitely an accurate description of the sad downfall we’ve all witnessed.

RIP TWiT we all knew and loved in the cottage days.

“In content companies is where I’ve seen it, where, you have great content ideas, but the only ones that get traction are the ones that the people who are selling the product think are good, because they can sell them, and your content suffers as a result. It’s not very cohesive.”

— Tom Merritt

This Tom clip came to us as a tip from a reader. The tipper remains anonymous, but he or she is very appreciated.

59 thoughts on “Tom Merritt Explains What’s Wrong with TWiT”

    1. Headdesk said:
      Well, that and also this, another one of Tom Merrit’s videos (how he preps for DTNS everyday):
      https://youtu.be/sHP6LAL2YNM

      Seriously, does anyone at TWIT actually do any prep work??

      I’m sure someone at TWiT does prep, but from what I had seen (haven’t watched in a LONG time) it’s certainly not any of the hosts.

      In the case of DTNS, Tom is the only one there so he does all the prep prior to the show, which he also hosts.

      At TWiT, I would hope that the production staff (those who are left) do the prep for the hosts, who then simply read the teleprompter and call it a day.

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      1. Not exactly; Tom has Jenny and Roger as producers. If he wanted, he could make them do all the research and then just add it to the script.

        That said, I’m pretty sure this is how he prepped for TNT as well, which is why Tom’s shows have that higher quality appeal to them that shows in the subject matter and conversation; because he knows what the eff he’s talking about since he spent a few hours beforehand prepping for his shows.

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        1. Headdesk said:
          That said, I’m pretty sure this is how he prepped for TNT as well,

          Yes – I hadn’t seen this latest “How Tom Prepares For the Daily News Tech Show” video yet, but in September 2013 he posted a similar video of how he prepares for TNT:

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BrC0v6K3H4I

          It impressed many at the steps he goes through when even 2013-era Leo was clearly winging it much of the time (albeit not as much as present-day).

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        2. He was pretty well prepped for Buzz Out Loud as well, he and Molly are/were pretty passionate about the subjects they covered. That’s why Brian Tong stuck out like a sore thumb, he just never really sounded like he knew what he was talking about, and had no in-depth insight or knowledge of any of the topics, unless it was fashion or trendy music or movies or hair dye – none of which was BOL’s market.

          Without insightful commentary, industry talk and gossip, I don’t understand why anyone listens, as you can find out about shiny new cell phones just about anywhere. But then, even among all my friends, who are uber tech nerds, nobody listened, I was the only one.

          Who exactly is TwiT’s audience?

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      2. Hosts should host, and producers should produce. Certainly the host should be prepared with background info. However the host should not do all the research.

        I worked at a place where the producer was also the newsreader. You can’t be dropping stories and editing scripts if you are reading news at the time. Delegation is good.

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        1. pewtie said:
          wrong you smelly twat.twit has a sales dept, and it does matter what show it is.

          Disagree. The ads Leo runs are on every podcast on the internet. Podtrac charges sponsors for placement in new media and twit gets the same rate of pay per view as every other podcaster. The advertisers don’t know anything about twit or any other little podcast.

          Twit sells ads so hard and will say anything in ads because they think if their offer codes do well they can sell direct to advertiser without podtrac and get 100% of ad rev instead of 60%. Unfortunately this was tasked to Lisa so…

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      1. Lisa and Leo were constantly talking about developing a show around a sponsor … an enterprise show. That show became the “award winning” tWIeT with the “world renowned” troll hunter, Friar Tummy Tuck.

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    2. The people on This Week in Law seem to do prep. That does not keep the show from being really boring if you are not into the subject matter. It is probably the only show on TWIT where the participants actually know what they are talking about. Well, and Ham Nation, which has its own problems. Both of these shows are done with no participation from the Petaluma people, other than technical.

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      1. LeoLess said:
        The people on This Week in Law seem to do prep. That does not keep the show from being really boring if you are not into the subject matter. It is probably the only show on TWIT where the participants actually know what they are talking about. Well, and Ham Nation, which has its own problems. Both of these shows are done with no participation from the Petaluma people, other than technical.

        Agreed. I watch Hamnation occasionally. There’s no Leo input, though that show is saddled with Harry’s and Casper crap.

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        1. holden said: Agreed. I watch Hamnation occasionally. There’s no Leo input, though that show is saddled with Harry’s and Casper crap.

          They have native advertising like crazy on that show. They even all wear supplier branded t-shirts sometimes.

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  1. Currently watching Triangulation with one of the guys that worked for Apple in the early days, and yet again Leo is fumbling through it, but hoping he is right about something. The guy keeps having to correct Leo on his facts. LOL Leo is having a hard time bullshitting his way through with one of the dudes from Apple basically telling him “No Leo, it was actually like this…”

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      1. I will give Mike some credit. At least he does sound like he read through a Wikipedia page before the interview to have some clue of what to ask. Leo on the other hand is just trying to fumble through trying to get what he believes as fact confirmed by the Apple guy. As much as Leo has carried on about HyperCard over the years, you’d think he would have at least gotten that right, but no, he had to be corrected about that also.

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        1. Sarah Lane said
          Elgan can’t interview, everything is prepared.

          Elgan prepares but he writes scripts. He doesn’t understand the medium and how to prepare. Learning a topic and coming up with interesting questions,He had no one to learn from. He is also low Intelligence.

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          1. Like everyone at Twit, if you do not know the medium in advance nobody is there to train you how to do anything except maybe how to not pop p’s in the mic. You’d think Mike would have gotten some help other than “smile more.” There is no mentoring whatsoever. And since we all get to see everything that goes on all the time these idiots do not even do a post-mortem after a show to discuss what could have been done better. Nothing, Nada.

            I do not know that Leo has ever given a tip or useful suggestion to anyone, ever. Tom didn’t need it, but Mike did. Others do too. They get nothing from this prick.

            This is amateur hour and very unprofessional. I blame Leo, he has never managed anything like this and his idiot wife has never been in a business anything like this. She’s a total poser. Leo was always a worker, not an executive. He’s still a worker and it shows.

            You can see it with the New Screen Savers. This is supposed to be a television show and it looks like a high school production. He should be embarrassed by it. Leo has done nothing to top TechTV in any way.

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  2. I feel so much better now that I have purged all my automatic feeds of twit “netcasts”, into my various devices. I’m done with twit, it’s a complete waste of time now. Too bad, because it used to be a good network with entertaining content.

    PEACE and TYFYC!

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  3. The way that TWIT would see its deficiencies would be if the number of Podtrac hits went down. Theoretically, lower quality content would drive this down. Lackadaisical attitudes and business stop this, and the automatic RSS downloads keep the clueless advertisers happy. (Casper mattresses are on sooo many podcasts.) Leo knew all this. But, until the CEO business, he also cared. With that, the caring was reduced and we have the “product” as it exists today, TWIT for a few people who care but more and more produced by those who dream of larger scale media distribution and don’t care much if at all.

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    1. I would suspect that by now Leo would have some of the professional botnets pounding his site to get the Podtrac numbers up. Everyone does it. The whole business is a big scam. You can kind of sense this when you see what his live views and YouTube downloads are. Very low. Nobody gives a shit about these shows any more. Leo himself has driven off most viewers. These shows are just not that good anymore or even fun.

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      1. Lard Ass said: I would suspect that by now Leo would have some of the professional botnets pounding his site to get the Podtrac numbers up.

        He probably has a Father Scammer script or two running on free AWS instances. There’s no way Captain Cheapass would pay some Filipino or 50 to inflate anything.

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  4. No I don’t really think content is being driven by advertising(they don’t do “Mattress Weekly”) at TWiT, but obviously less popular shows are going to get axed since it’s not just Leo in the cottage any more – there are many people with mortgages/rent, kids to support, it’s a serious business now.

    Leo used his personal brand/following to make TWiT a success, probably more than he could have hoped for, but his company has plateaued and the tech news/media is a crowded market.

    He can’t really get substantial outside investment or a big name buyer because the investor would effectively be investing in Leo who is approaching retirement and is not going to take orders on how to run a business he created . So TWiT is stuck at its current level.

    Advertising influencing content is not TWiT’s current problem, it’s a business that grew fast but is now in the doldrums in the sense they don’t seem to have found a route – via content or new investment – to keep on getting bigger.

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    1. agreed – that whole idea of winding down the TWiT network dependence on Leo as a personality went nowhere, it is just him and some poor unfortunate souls.

      Obviously Leo’s heart is not in it any more, if they had successfully moved away from the Laporte brand a few years ago could possibly have sold it off. If the radio deal doesn’t get renewed I doubt TWiT will stick around.

      The only thing they have left is finding whatever deal they can and come up with some crappy content around it by milking cheap guest hosts.

        » Quote comment

      1. The cheap guest hosts seem to be falling by the wayside too with a cadre of know-nothings who seem to think tech equates to Apple watches and doorbells with cameras in them. Half of these shows should be taken off the air.

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    2. AbaCab said:

      Advertising influencing content is not TWiT’s current problem, it’s a business that grew fast but is now in the doldrums in the sense they don’t seem to have found a route – via content or new investment – to keep on gettingbigger.

      The only thing getting bigger is soups vacations on luxury cruise ships and spending 113k on a Tesla. He could care less about the quality of content produced on his netcast.

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      1. Soupslurper said: The only thing getting biggeris soupsvacations on luxury cruise ships and spending 113k on a Tesla. He could care less about the quality of content produced on his netcast.

        He *couldn’t* care less, but your comments are spot on.

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    3. Ham Nation is pretty ad-driven. The content focuses on those aspects of amateur radio that call for the high end equipment their advertisers sell. You will not hear much about low-power operation, or public service communication.

        » Quote comment

      1. LeoLess said:
        Ham Nation is pretty ad-driven. The content focuses on those aspects of amateur radio that call for the high end equipment their advertisers sell. You will not hear much about low-power operation, or public service communication.

        Yeah, they talk about radios that I understand are 3 grand and up. Icom basically pays all the bills.

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        1. Well if I understand, these guys are veteran hams and have fancy rigs to do contests with. They are beyond chatting on local repeaters.

          Come to think of it, it’s not really show worthy to say “yeah I got up on Saturday and spent the morning shooting the shit with my buddies on the local repeater with my icom handy talkie” it’s more exciting to talk about fancy expensive gear and working lots of different countries

            » Quote comment

          1. You can work lots of different countries with 5 watts and a length of wire. The kind of activity HN is about is “contesting” and “DXpeditions”, both of which are kind of like being in the middle of a rugby scrum.

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          2. Does anyone really do that anymore though?

            I think it depends on the age of the hams. I went to a meeting with a few who were under 40. They started trash talking cheap Chinese handheld radios. Then one guy pulled out this… cheap Chinese handheld radio, and passed it around. He said it was great for traveling.

            Also there are digital modes like packet, DSTAR which does require expensive gear, and Echolink which doesn’t. I don’t know if Ham Nation has covered that stuff, the baby boomer ham 101 tone of the podcast put me off.

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  5. In the early days of this blog, this site would often post the stitcher list that had a pseudo podcast rating system. For some reason I bookmarked it and have been checking it (screen grab) weekly.

    People always allege that TWiT is getting fake or robot downloads.. Well, I have noticed a pattern that suggests something is afoul. Each week a different show seems to skyrocket for no apparent reason. Last week it was triangulation up 700 places in “all” category and 30 in “tech.”

    Since the charts account for the delta, from prior weeks, if a podcast gets a huge spike in a week it will skyrocket and then slowly fall to its original rank. Twit may alternate propping up alternating shows week by week, I will be submitting my findings.

    This can happen naturally but I see a pattern. I think the trick is to vary when the publisher releases a show so that in one calendar week the publisherwould release two shows by releasing a show a day late and-or the following week a day early. That way you get two weeks shows in one week.

    Would a morally corrupt institution allow cheating?
    Yes, not for money but to allow kids to get technology, it’s all for the children.

      » Quote comment

    1. John C Dvorak said:
      Twit may alternate propping up alternating shows week by week

      Screen shot of the stitcher list.
      https://imgur.com/edirKSM

      But, i looked back a few weeks and do not see any other twit podcasts jumping like this. So i thought that you were lying.

      But, Stitcher doesn’t let us go back to prior weeks in a category, such as Technology. We can only go back to the main TOP 100 list. TWiT does not make the top 100 anymore. Not in the weeks of-
      10/25
      11/01
      11/08
      11/15
      11/22
      11/29
      12/06
      12/13
      12/20
      12/27
      01/03
      01/10
      01/17

      I can not check your facts without the category list from past weeks that Stitcher does not provide. You need to show what you have.

      **I am a long time to viewer of the site and I do want to say that your admin is excellent. I don’t know if it because there are no ads or if it is something else, but your site loads fast and is such a clean read compared to all the blogs out there**

        » Quote comment

  6. I’m kinda over DTNS as well, starting to feel like a circle jerk of all the same people. At least TNT had guests. Hearing the same opinions from the likes of Young and Johnson has gotten old fast.

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    1. Lk said:
      I’m kinda over DTNS as well, starting to feel like a circle jerk of all the same people. At least TNT had guests. Hearing the same opinions from the likes of Youngand Johnson has gotten old fast.

      I agree. These people are starting to think they’re stars when they are just bloggers. And please Renee Ritchee – plrase move that camera way back from your face. I don’t need to see thise bad teeth and beard up so close.

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      1. So many video blogs really don’t need the video at all, I listen to my favourite tech blogs now audio only, much less bandwidth and I find I can more easily concentrate on the content, when not staring at ‘morning faces’ and peoples living/bed room studios with all the clutter and visual distractions.
        Professional news presenters don’t have makeup call for nothing!

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    2. Lk said:
      I’m kinda over DTNS as well, starting to feel like a circle jerk of all the same people. At least TNT had guests. Hearing the same opinions from the likes of Youngand Johnson has gotten old fast.

      And that’s why I will never give a bloody red cent to any of their Patreons. You want to talk tech? Then get a job with an entity that actually pays you instead of us enduring your beg-a-thons.

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      1. He went back(recently)? I remember that time last year when Leo jokingly threw to Tom for “The Week Ahead” segment that he used to do on the show before he left, probably as a joke, and then seeing the look on Leo’s face when Tom came back with actual content, right off the bat. Leo thought he’d catch Tom unprepared, but nope. Intentional or not, Tom’s prep work paid off again. It was epic to see.

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  7. TWiT started falling off the rails when Leo quit having guests on the show that would challenge him and challenge each other. Patrick Norton and JCD never backed down from locking horns on a topic when they felt strongly for a certain point of view. And for some reason, Leo and his politically correct liberal nature thinks that disruption is not good because it leads to rebellion of his slaves. And in true hypocritical fashion, Leo cannot preach the benefits of disruption when he himself fears the concept in his little kingdom. It is only a matter of time before he loses the iHeartRadio gig and then the Humpty Dumpty will have a great fall.

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    1. I don’t think that’s anything to do with being “liberal” to be honest. There are people on all sides of politics who have fragile egos and won’t allow themselves to be challenged or their audience to be exposed to conflicting ideas. Even on the libertarian left and right.

      Of course, I don’t think he’s particularly liberal. Or tolerant. Or a believer in diversity. He’s just a self-interested rich white guy who moved from an ethnically and economically diverse part of the US to one of the whitest richest parts of California.

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      1. I only used the term ‘liberal’ to have a contra to Leo’s view that JCD and others that don’t see eye to eye to his point of view are ‘conservative’ or even worse ‘Republican’.

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  8. The only great thing Soup did in 2015 was to fire Gum. Why he would bring him back on shows to co-host is ridiculous. And like the true shill he is, he had to mention Google + in the first 10 mins. Bill Fernandez schooled both of those ignorant fucks on Apple history

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