FishbowlLA Set Visit: The Young Turks

Watching yesterday from the second floor Culver City control room as  The Young Turks’ energetic host Cenk Uygur conducted a split-screen interview about – what else – contentious DC politics, FishbowlLA marveled at the talent everyone there talks about. His ability to do an entire, fast-paced current affairs program without benefit of a teleprompter.

“I’ve worked over the years with Matt Lauer, Katie Couric, Chris Matthews…” raved senior producer Roland Woerner. “I’ve never seen anyone with the ability to do a program like this without a teleprompter.”

The same goes for Uygur’s control-room brain trust. When a host and program run off a teleprompter, all sorts of cues can be “tagged in,” to help coordinate when to throw to a graphic, guest, specific camera shot and so on. With Uygur, there is no such safety net; the resulting flow, presided over with a masterful, arms-wide touch by director Genji Keen, is infectious. TYT’s ultra-modern and even-tempered operation is the kind of 21st century outlet many unemployed journalists would kill to be able to work for.

Part of the reason for this is the parallel YouTube edition of The Young Turks. Before each weekday 4 to 5 p.m. TV program roll, there is the matter of a separate two-hour (!) daily online version, recorded from noon to 2 p.m. PT. The “TYTTV” end of things has its own dedicated staff, often visible in Uygur’s on-camera background. Even better, while Current TV is available only in the USA, the online companion program beams out all over the world, with a few strange exceptions (Germany).

“Half our online audience is international,” Uygur told FishbowlLA after the show. “I try to read as many of the YouTube comments as possible, and while our overseas fans tell us they still have great admiration for the American way of life, they’re also kind of baffled as to how we seem to be messing it up.”

FishbowlLA’s set-visit hosts were Naomi Bulocknikov, director of corporate communications (previously on the east coast with MTV/VH1), and Shana Naomi Korchmal, supervising producer, digital, who runs the TV-side Twitter account @TYTonCurrent. Krochmal has been with Current for three and a half years, working formerly on the Vanguard documentary program, which she told us is coming back to the airwaves a little later this year. We also had a nice chat with Uygur’s ever-so-capable partner in crime Ana Kasparian.

Moments after arriving at the Culver City location, there we were, standing on the open set a few feet away from Uygur as he started to break down the day’s momentous Supreme Court decision. Later, when we exited TYT’s  concrete bunker, a large audience had gathered in the parking lot, ready to file into a taping of Comedy Central’s Tosh.0. Just one more strand of energy pulsating around Al Gore’s latest Internet-heavy experiment.