Tom Wolzien is one of the media business’ smartest financial analysts as well as an inventor — and says he has an idea and technology that could revolutionize television. He’s in advanced testing for “Talk Center America,” a Skype-based television version of talk radio. With the proliferation of cameras on smartphones, tablets, and computers he believes TV channels, and Web services, could fill hours during the day with “talk radio doing show and tell.” He calls this a new genre because today “you don’t ever see the callers” — except in rare instances where it’s been pre-arranged. The key, though, is that the programming would be cheap; possibly costing a single digit fraction of the hundreds of thousands of dollars that networks often spend for an hour-long TV talk show. The host can handle the basic video switching, so there’s no need for a big control room. The low cost of his system “makes it potentially viable for a lot of places that are currently running re-runs” including second and third tier cable networks at risk of being squeezed by the industry’s fragmenting audiences and revenues. A former NBC exec and Wall Street analyst who has already invented processes central to interactive TV and set top boxes, Wolzien has been working on this for about a year in between his duties as a member of the TiVo board, and a top adviser for the Directors Guild and companies including Discovery Communications.
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