Friday afternoon, Glenn traveled to downtown Manhattan where he was presented with the TriBeCa Disruptive Innovation Award. After receiving his award, the Charles Darwin Prize, Glenn sat down with Aryeh Bourkoff to talk about how his company is changing the media.
To those less familiar with Glenn Beck and TheBlaze, what Glenn is building may simply seem like a new news and information platform. For those curious enough to take a closer look, what's going on at TheBlaze is much bigger. Like the award says, TheBlaze is disrupting the system with something it's never seen before — something that is taking the power away from the giant bureaucracy that "news" has become, and putting it right back in the hand of the consumer. The engagement of TheBlaze subscribers themselves are a large part of the innovative disruption that is TheBlaze.
"News is like sausage...you might like to eat it, but you never want to see it made," Glenn told the Disruptive Innovation audience.
Glenn learned this early on in his cable news career.
While at CNN, Glenn was waiting in a green room watching Ahmadinejad address the U.N. What Glenn heard the Iranian leader say was beyond anti-Semitic rhetoric, it was insanely dangerous and needed to be reported and explained to the American people who would, and should, be outraged at his open-armed welcome into our country for this speech. Let's just say what Glenn saw the so-called "experts" report on this speech wasn't what the American people needed to hear. They needed to hear the hard truth and they weren't getting it. Anyone watching the speech would know they weren't being given the full story, but the media is desperately trying to train it's viewers to ignore their own eyes and ears and to trust what they're telling them.
"The system needs you to believe that you can't do it on your own," Glenn explained.
But the truth is, you can. You don't have to do it their way…or any certain way. "That's why YouTube is so great…there is no filter between them [the networks] and you," Glenn pointed out. From the ground-level footage of the Boston Marathon bombing to Justin Beiber singing songs that would lead him to his eventual career, you control your own content.
Along with the bureaucracy roadblocks, the world of television refuses to offer you a better product. While televisions keep getting more and more advanced, the content hasn't improved in decades. If you've ever watched Glenn's show you know Friday's are just about the only day Glenn stays in the same area of the set for much of the show. The rest of the week he is walking across a 16,000 sq. ft. set, from screen to screen, animated and passionate about the information he's sharing with his viewers.
Have you ever seen any other television host do that?
When Glenn was at Fox, they were having a hard time keeping up with him. The set was too small and they cameras couldn't keep track of him when he would hop up and walk to any one of his given chalkboards without notice. How was it possible that in 2009 moving freely around a set was too advanced? Traditional cable is still using what Glenn called a "Desi shoot," created in the 1950s by Desi Arnaz. Basically, a multi camera set up for multiple stations, without the ability to shoot around an entire set.
What was Glenn's solution at the time? "Get me a sport's director, please. Just tell them I'm carrying the ball."
But Glenn wanted more that just the freedom to move around a set. He wanted the freedom to try new things. In hindsight, walking away from cable news has allowed Glenn to do a myriad of new things, but at the time it wasn't as easy of a decision. In fact, when he made the decision he was told he wouldn't go through with it. "No one leaves," they told him.
Well, he did.
Glenn was able to walk away because, as he put it, "I hadn't been in it very long, I still knew who I was."
But there was more to it…Glenn had bigger ideas. A staunch believer in freedom and liberty, the giant cable companies weren't representative of his fundamental beliefs. He wanted to eliminate the negatives of TV by building something new. Something different.
"Independece and freedom built up first, then transferred over to the network."
When Glenn says, "TheBlaze is a network YOU are building," he means it.
The belief that man can do it on their own is key to Glenn's vision of TheBlaze — something many of the big networks don't want you to believe. But Glenn knows, with faith and integrity, man CAN do it on their own.
And with that in mind, he wants to empower his audience to be more than just a viewer. His focus is on entertainment, education, integrity, and providing access to information, all of the other rules can be broken.
TheBlaze is just getting started. Television, despite it's problems, is an important platform — something Glenn believes TheBlaze can help evolve. And while TheBlaze continues is efforts to be added to more TV providers across the country, it's just one of the platforms Glenn is building right now. The American Dream labs, an entire division devoted to innovation and story telling, is a big part of Glenn's future, along with radio, books, and stage shows — which are getting more and more creative every year. (Seriously, this summer's includes giant robots.)
Orson Wells and Walt Disney have had a notable influence on Glenn and his career. Through them Glenn learned to never give up, always think out of the box, humility, and to focus on the story. Those principles, along with a great team of smart business people, innovative thinkers, and hard working, honest employees Glenn is beginning to change the media.
"If you are in the book business you should be worried. If you are in the storytelling business you have a bright future."
Here's an inside look at a few photos and tweets from the event:
"Orson Wells taught me to never give up and always think out of the box." #tffdisrupt SJ— Glenn Beck (@glennbeck) April 26, 2013
Glenn Beck is a great example of multi-platform media #tffdisrupt— Sean McManus (@McManusReport) April 26, 2013
Yes…yes you did.
"The principles of innovation and the ability of the individual to make things different…that's what liberty is all about." #tffdisrupt SJ— Glenn Beck (@glennbeck) April 26, 2013
There will be pics of beck & Psy together #tffdisrupt— Scott Baker (@bakerlink) April 26, 2013
Yes, that's Psy (the Gangnum Style guy) with our very own Mr. Glenn Beck.