I woke up to a warm email from one of my friends and entrepreneur extraordinaire, Emil Rensing announcing the thousandth episode of Fast Lane Daily and the chronicled journey of achieving that milestone. For those that know the show, my brother was the first executive producer and helped them get their wheels in motion (no pun intended).
I got an outsider view of watching and hearing about Fast Lane Daily from my dinner table conversations with Kenny and Emil and it’s heart warming to read about the journey.
Instead of recapping it, I’m going to paste Emil’s email below. For those who want to get in touch with Emil, his website is located here.
Today is the 1,000th episode of Fast Lane Daily, the #1 car news show in the world.
You can watch episode 1,000 here:
Here’s how we got to 1,000 episodes:
In 2004 Russell Datz, Fred Seibert and I produced an interstitial car news minute for the newly launched Spike TV called “Zero to Sixty”. Albie Hecht, the then president of Spike introduced us to a then unknown Danica Patrick — and I learned my first lesson about producing TV: Place your bets early and invest boldly in talent. Alan Goodman, who directed our first shoots and crafted our first scripts taught me my second lesson about producing TV: Always wear a sport-coat so no one on the crew asks you to lift anything heavy.
Zero to Sixty Episode 1: http://bit.ly/eV2rxM
Rory Camangian sold 3 sponsors in the first 2 weeks: Valvoline, Castrol and Electronic Arts, but sadly we didn’t last long on Spike. The concept of short-form programming didn’t work well on the television, even though it was very slowly becoming all the rage with us nerds on the Internet… But that was just a fad, right?
About a year later, Fred and I were hot-to-trot on video podcasting and launched Channel Frederator and VOD Cars in the iTunes Podcast Directory — before iTunes supported video podcasting or Apple had an iPod that played video. I put up the first episode of VOD Cars late one night in August of 2005. I cut together the episode on a stolen copy of FinalCut Pro with some footage shot by Rob Ferretti. (That cop may be yelling at me. His name was Dave, by the way and he was a very nice man.) I even put a commercial in there — to teach my audience from day 1 that this was television-like and about making money. (God bless you, Trunk Monkey!)
VOD Cars Episode 1: http://bit.ly/ghMAdK
Fred did similarly with Channel Frederator — and even David Karp wanted to follow-suit with a Kung-Fu podcast but he was too busy with something called Tumblr.
Pete Alcorn from Apple featured our unique brand of 320 x 240 pixel video mayhem in the iTunes Podcast Directory. About a week later, I looked at my download numbers from pair.com who was hosting vodcars.com and, well, by the time the month was over, I owed them almost $20,000.00 in bandwidth charges. I recall having a great conversation with my now ex-wife trying to explain the situation: “You raced around like a lunatic with your friends in a Ferrari you shouldn’t have bought, video taped it, put it on the Internet and then paid more money than you have to let people watch it?”
Well, when you say it that way… (To her credit, she was always supportive of my insanity.)
For a brief time, vodcars.com was a directory of car videos on the Internet. Mike Glenn assembled a TON of those links from places like StreetFire.net, CarVids.com, RacingFlix.com and helped build those pages. Traffic soared — proportional to the bills.
Then YouTube came along and killed it all slowly but brilliantly with a much better, much more robust, much more consumer friendly video sharing service. Podcasting became second fiddle to web video when Flash won the format war thanks to YouTube.
But that was ok: It meant that someone else believed what Fred and I believed.
Fred and I wrangled a team together: Tim Shey, Herb Scannell, and Jed Simmons. We somehow convinced Spark, Saban, and Balderton to believe that television on the Internet was the next big thing of the moment — even after I told one of our VC partners, in our very first meeting, “fuck you” and essentially threw them out of our offices. (What? At least I’m consistent!) Next New Networks was born from our collective vision as creative, venture, development, production, programming, and management professionals. We started down the car road, among several other categories we still believe in to this day. “If you want to own a category, you want to own the news.” Herb’s words ring in my ears.
A daily car news show, shot in a studio every day, fashioned after Zero to Sixty… It made a lot of sense. We couldn’t and didn’t want to compete with Autoblog, World Car Fans or Jalopnik. We wanted to add something new to the community. How could we do something fresh, unique, and very different? How could we be the low cost provider of a great video news program? How could we be quality without being expensive?
Fast Lane Daily was born and became the cornerstone of our fledgeling internet-tv-automotive-video-media-empire. Garage 419, Global Motor Spies, VOD Cars, Bikini Model Driving School, Shakedown, FLDetours… Great programming with folks like Derek D., Matt Farah, Gene Sanchez, Alex Gizela, Tina Beth Pina, Ji Young Min, Andrea Feczko, Carrie Millbank and countless others who made it all go… We had lots of traffic, lots of audience, lots of fun for the next few years. We brought our audiences places they never saw before. All that cool stuff car companies do that you didn’t get to see? We showed it to you. All those cool videos from races, events, test days, factories, shops, and tracks? We had them just for you. Videos shot by the community of cool stuff caught on camera they wanted to share with the world? They gave it to us and we helped make them famous. Slowly but surely the industry saw what we could do for them.
Fast Lane Daily Episode 1: http://bit.ly/gOsWfm
A few years ago, I remember the launch of the Ford Mustang Bullitt in San Francisco. Ford staged an impressive “reveal” and posted the video on YouTube. Overnight they did almost 50 views and they were stoked! Mike Spinelli filed a report on the road during the drive and our version did about 5,000 in the same period of time. The consistency of delivery and the relationship with our audience made our channel valuable — and folks began to see that and understand and seek out our help in getting their message out with powerful video as opposed to just a press release, photo, and a few words.
It was working!
The one thing we didn’t have was a lot of ads… and with the down turn in Detroit things got even worse and automotive media fell by the way side across the board.
In November of 2009, Fast Lane Daily and Next New Networks changed their relationship. Fast Lane Daily joined the “Next New Creators Program” and I began funding the production of Fast Lane Daily, Shakedown, and FLDetours and shuttering Garage 419, VOD Cars, and most tragically Bikini Model Driving School (sorry, girls). The economic mess is a temporary condition. I worked very hard to get us where we were. I worked hard to get folks like JF Musial, Leo Parente, Alan Kaufman, Mike Spinelli, Kenny Herman, Ian Jenkins, Tom Albrecht, Donny Nordlicht, Tom Morningstar, Matt Farah and Derek D. on the team and I wasn’t going to let them go lightly. While some folks went their own way, some of the shows went “off the air”, some folks went to work wirth friends, and some folks went to work for me in other capacities. New people joined our team like Josh, Richard, and new Iain. We even got Alex Roy to come to the party regularly! Tangent Vector was born from the vision of JF and Christian — and he, Leo, and Derek never gave up hope and basically forced me to keep making Fast Lane Daily because none of them wanted to get full-time day jobs.
We changed what we do. We changed how we did it. We “fired” Derek. Got Leo on-camera and writing more often — and are back better than ever with a new tone, a new show, a new feel and a new Derek. It’s more fun. It’s more conversational and more intimate — and it’s working better than ever. November 2010 was our best month ever, up until December whch is looking like it’ll set the bar again as our biggest month yet! Automotive media is no longer a “dirty word”. BBC’s TopGear USA is on fire (say what you will, it’s doing very well for History) and rumour has it that Speed TV is trying to get in on the mix with a new pilot starring a former Internet star who all us car nerds know and love. Video on the Internet is becoming more and more of a preferred medium for advertisers and Fast Lane Daily continues to forge great bonds with our ever increasing audience and folks building new technologies like Autostream (but more on that some other day.)
So, as you watch Derek’s journey in Fast Lane Daily episode 1,000 to the automotive nirvana that is the Nurburgring… and as you watch him drive the world-famous Green Hell in a rented Citröen C4 “Picasso” mini-van… and as you laugh at the part where he can’t pump his own gas because he’s from New Jersey… keep in mind that we made this happen on a budget less than the catering service on a television studio shoot.
We do this because you love it. We do this because we love it. And we do this because we love that you love to love what we love to love to do.
And that’s how we got to episode 1,000.
Executive Producer, Fast Lane Daily
Co-Founder, Next New Networks
Chief Digital Officer, EPIX