An ‘American technology broadcaster, author, and entrepreneur’ but to tech watchers, and listeners, he’s the unofficial president of the internet, all-round good egg, and Emmy Award winner. From his studio, now at the ‘TWiT Brick House’ in the Northern California town of Petaluma, his burgeoning media empire broadcasts a growing portfolio of shows, led by the flagship This Week in Technology which draws an audience of a million plus every month as Leo moderates a lively debate with an ecclectic mix of technology experts and commentators – and he also finds time to create The Tech Guy, a radio show that reaches 500,000 more people via 140 radio stations.
Leo has always had something to say – a genetic requirement for a successful broadcaster. He operated one of the first Macintosh-only bulletin board systems, MacQueue in the 1980s then creating and hosting shows on commercial and public radio, moving to television in the 1990s.
Despite the TV appearances and video versions of his TWiT show, you can tell that Leo loves radio, and radio loves Leo. His perfectly timbred radio voice gets him more than half way there. But Leo has an easy way with his guests. He gently draws guest and listeners in to his show where we feel part of the TWiT Army and there’s a shared or common mood, as if sharing something that’s both special but conspiritorial, almost subversive. Quality guests help create this unique environment with people like Kevin Rose and John Dvorak long-time TWiT friends.
Commercially, TWiT is a good story – voluntary donations alone amount to around $20,000 dollars a month but it’s the advertising rates that are fascinating; CPM or cost per thousand is how advertising is bought on the web – and usually businesses pay around $12 dollars to reach a thousand web users/listeners – Leo’s rates are around $40 cpm – indicating that his TWiT works for advertisers.
These days media buyers want to see results, and in web-advertising results are conversions. With partners like Citrix and Audible, Leo has heavy hitters paying good money to reach an audience that must be working for them. This is itself testament to Laporte’s shrewedness at developing a real quality product, but also indicates that there is rewards in niches. TWiT is certainly a niche production, but when you present an audience with quality, respect and the passion of a legend, success follows that dial.