[MUSIC UP AND UNDER] BROOKE GLADSTONE: So, Bob. BOB GARFIELD: Brooke. BROOKE GLADSTONE: We cover the media here, right? Sometimes we cover cable. Sometimes we cover Comcast. BOB GARFIELD: Uh-huh. BROOKE GLADSTONE: And sometimes we nail our guests for conflicts of interest. So, Bob - BOB GARFIELD: Mm-hmm. BROOKE GLADSTONE: - what's the deal with this new website you've founded called Comcastmustdie.com? BOB GARFIELD: I happen to be a Comcast customer. I happen to be writing a book about how across a vast number of institutions, in the economy and society, the Internet is changing everything, essentially by ending a world in which we can be, as consumers and citizens, dictated to, and opening up a world in which the consumer is very much in control of his own destiny.
I had it very much in mind the day that I had some problems [LAUGHS] getting my Comcast Triple Play service - that's phone, Internet and TV — all bundled into the same package. And I, you know, I won't bore you with the details but it was, it was a nightmare, including vast hold times, including a lot of broken promises - and everything else. BROOKE GLADSTONE: So are you using your highly coveted, profoundly influential position of co-host of this program to solve your personal cable problem? BOB GARFIELD: Well, it's a question, of course, I ask myself not only as the co-host of On the Media but also as a critic of advertising for Advertising Age, which also covers Comcast.
I have a blog on Ad Age. It is the means by which I'm writing this book. In effect, I'm using the very principles of what I call "listenomics" to – [OVERTALK] BROOKE GLADSTONE: Patent pending? BOB GARFIELD: — to [LAUGHS], yes, patent pending. I'm using the very principles of listenomics to get the kind of feedback from readers that I think politicians and corporations must learn to get from their own customers and voters.
And I posted a blog item which I thought had the catchy title of Comcast Must Die [LAUGHS], and it was about my experience, but mainly it was asking other consumers about the idea of forming an E-surrection against companies that treat us like — dirt. That's how I rationalized my decision, not trying to extort Comcast into solving my personal problem but trying to extort Comcast [LAUGHS] into solving every customer's problems.
Of course, every phone company and every cable company has a large number of people who are really angry with them. BROOKE GLADSTONE: Now, this show recently did an interview that was critical of Comcast's practice of cutting off lengthy uploads. Don't you think it'll hurt our credibility as, you know, a fair broker in this, if you've got a website called Comcast Must Die? BOB GARFIELD: Well, I'm afraid it does, actually, undercut our credibility, which is why I, of course, am going to recuse myself from anything that our show does with respect to Comcast. Happily enough, when — you did that interview, I was like in Estonia - BROOKE GLADSTONE: [LAUGHS] BOB GARFIELD: - or, you know, somewhere in the Baltics. BROOKE GLADSTONE: But the thing is, is that even though you aren't doing the interviews, you are, in fact, you know, very much identified with this program. And doesn't it give the On the Media imprimatur to your endeavor? BOB GARFIELD: Well, I hope it doesn't. I'm certainly not representing On the Media, WNYC, NPR, Advertising Age or anyone else but my own quest to drag this particular company kicking and screaming into the digital age.
And, you know, Brooke, the evidence is, you know, in some very substantial ways they are coming around. For example, as far as I know, everyone who has posted his or her customer number along with their complaint on this website has gotten [LAUGHS] immediate follow-up from Comcast to resolve the problem. And many of them have written back to the blog to say, you know, it's kind of amazing, but not only did they do it but it's actually changed their way of looking at Comcast. Gee!
My website has been open for two months, and I don't know how many tens of thousands of page views I've had, but I've had more than 1200 comments, people taking the trouble to go to their keyboard and unburden themselves. BROOKE GLADSTONE: I should say, for the record, that you did not request this interview. I wanted to do it as a matter of full disclosure. BOB GARFIELD: I did not want to be talking about Comcast on our show. But it's just that conflict of interest issues, you know, are swirling already. I just didn't want to make them worse. But it's really nice, I got to tell you, being interviewed - by Brooke. BROOKE GLADSTONE: Bob Garfield [LAUGHS] is a columnist for Ad Age and co-host of On the Media. [MUSIC UP AND UNDER] BOB GARFIELD: That's it for this week's show. On the Media was produced by Megan Ryan, Jamie York, Mike Vuolo, Mark Phillips and Nazanin Rafsanjani, and edited - by Brooke. Dylan Keefe is our technical director and Jennifer Munson our engineer. We had help from Jessica Magaldi and Ian Whitehead. Our webmaster is Amy Pearl. BROOKE GLADSTONE: One last thing: Technical director Dylan Keefe — he's a former rock star. Actually, for seven years he's been OTM's personal rock star, and now he's leaving, going to a new national morning show to be launched by this station in early spring. BOB GARFIELD: You might have heard him. His voice has popped up in voiceovers in skits, including this one recently when he read one of our 12-word novels. DYLAN KEEFE: There are no atheists in foxholes, said the chaplain, so get out. BROOKE GLADSTONE: He picked that one. BOB GARFIELD: But, more importantly, he's picked out most of those little musical interludes that help make the show sonically and emotionally coherent. In fact, Dylan has been a master of creating graceful and sometimes profound connections between two different stories and two disparate moods. BROOKE GLADSTONE: And regular listeners know we've made no secret of how much we edit the program. A single interview can contain a hundred edits. A thousand edits go into every single show. Dylan is the guy who makes sure you can’t hear them. That takes him all night, every Thursday night, from roughly sunset to roughly sunrise, depending on the season. BOB GARFIELD: Then there are his ideas, which come from voracious reading and journalistic rigor that comes from God-knows-where, certainly not us. And he is the world's greatest [LAUGHS] guy, and we are just going to miss him, although, you know, as far as I'm concerned [MOCK- RAISING VOICE] the traitor is dead to me! [MUSIC UP AND UNDER] BROOKE GLADSTONE: Dylan's a bass player, you know, and it's his bass line, that steady thrum, that propels the show, both on the air and behind the scenes. We're going to have to find a new one now. [MUSIC UP AND UNDER] Katya Rogers is our senior producer and John Keefe our executive producer. Bassist/composer Ben Allison wrote our theme. You can listen to the program and find free transcripts, mp3 downloads and our podcast at onthemedia.org. You can also post comments there, and email us at email@example.com. This is On the Media from WNYC. I'm Brooke Gladstone. BOB GARFIELD: And I'm Bob Garfield. [MUSIC UP AND UNDER] BROOKE GLADSTONE: Ladies and gentlemen, for our purposes, Dylan Keefe has left the building. (FUNDING CREDITS)