Brad Berens, iMedia's Editorial Headman Tracks Audiences for 400 Years
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Susan Bratton: Welcome to Dishy Mix. I’m your host Susan Bratton and on today’s show you are going to meet a media titan. His name is Brad Berens. You’re probably familiar with Brad, he’s the editor and chief and chief content officer of iMedia communications. I got to know Brad even before the company was acquired by DMG World Media because I used to, of course, work at AdTech and they are under the same umbrella now. I met Brad probably in 04 or 05 and over time he is just kind of, I don’t know, unveiled himself to be an incredibly complex and interesting human being. I have wanted to get him on Dishy Mix. Luckily he got the clearance to do that and we’re going to get to learn more about Brad. On today’s show we are going to talk about writing novels and Vanity Google alerts. Do you have one? We’re going to talk about the loftiest press gold that Brad can think of. We are going to discuss Facebook and kneeling chairs and we’re going to chat about some dude named Joseph Carrabis. I have been hearing about him and I want to know more. We are going to talk about comic books and cake fixations. We are going to talk about Shakespeare and what it is like to be a worrier. We will talk about mass culture media tribes and something called the anatomization of content. I don’t know what that is. We are going to find out together.
Brad Berens: They are the anti AdTech. AdTech is our sister company. AdTech is the biggest, most complicated, most amazing immense show. It takes over the Hilton in New York. It takes over the Mascones Center in San Francisco. It is crawling with thousands of people and it is truly formidable. iMedia is a tiny little company with tiny little conferences and that is why DMG, I think, purchased both of us because it thought the two of them would go together. It is interesting because you have just jumped to the heart of, the way in which my crazy career path actually makes sense. Because if you were on your ipod listening to this interview you rewound the last couple of minutes and you listen to all of that again you would think “Okay. He was at Berkley. He was in Hollywood. This guy has no stick too it ness.” I am like a ping-pong ball and yet essentially I have only been interested for the last ten years in one intellectual question and that is what people do with the media they consume? You are what you read. You are what you watch in the same what that you eat. What the atomization of content, and that is the closest I can get to say it, is very clearly understood simply by looking at what iTunes did the for the concept album. I am old enough to remember pep sounds and I think many people listening to this are, Sergeant Pepper and the other great pep albums of the 60’s. Those were albums in which the transition from one song to the next was significant and the accumulative result of listening to the entire album, the entire CD, the entire collection of songs was greater than the sum of the individual parts. That is the phenomenon that experience has been completely destroyed by iTunes. Now iTunes is great and they get a tremendous amount of my money but it is more difficult for people to experience a work in it’s context, the artist entire creative event or simply within the confines of that individual collection of songs. You can have the impression of being close with people, of actually keeping up with them, on Facebook because everyone is publishing these little neat details and it means that it is a casual environment the way email used to be. Then I can drop a quick note to someone and say “Hey I’m trying to figure this out. Do you have any insight about this?” It is not the same as, if you’ll forgive me for an over meaning metaphor, Brad speaking as the editor and chief of iMedia. If I send somebody a note from that email address then I am kind of on the record in a big way where as if I do a drive by in Facebook it is much more casual and people are less alarmed. It is kind of nice.
Susan Bratton: Brad welcome.
Brad Berens: Hi Susan.
Susan Bratton: How are you?
Brad Berens: I am fine. I am somewhat reluctant to be characterized as a titan of anything.
Susan Bratton: Enjoy it.
Brad Berens: Because I am on a diet you see and the idea of being titanic in any dimension is bad news. Thank you for the lovely introduction.
Susan Bratton: Well you can be titanic in the industry because Dishy mix is about the people behind the business and it is the most interesting people in the business and it is web celebs and media mavens and media titans and all those good things. So you are one. You have a very high profile. You speak at conferences all the time you make decisions about what gets put in print and you have a lot of power to influence what happens in our industry. I personally could not imagine that that power could be in better hands because you are one of the most self effacing and rational people that I get to interact with. So enjoy titan.
Brad Berens: Well thank you. It is very easy I think to be fair when you are in the service of a community, which I am. You serve a mission in iMedia like AdTech and I think like Dishy Mix, has a very clear mission which is we are trying to advance the cause of interactive media, particularly within marketing. If that is the lens that I am using to focus what I do, it is a very enabling lens.
Susan Bratton: Nice. I like that you have expressed that you are in service. I think that is a really nice way to approach things. I try to focus on others as much as I can myself. So now your title is big, long, and a little bifurcated and I don’t quiet understand that you are currently editor in chief and chief content officer of iMedia communications. Are you double dipping on salary I hope?
Brad Berens: Well that is a very good question. I don’t know in terms of my salary. What is means is this. iMedia has two components and the first component is the most frequent and I think the one that people know the best because it is the most obvious and that is iMedia.com the web site and our newsletter. But we also have, and this part of the business came first, is we have the iMedia summit. The summits are very exclusive, wonderful, four-day event that they can take several times a year. They are the anti AdTech. AdTech is our sister company. AdTech is the biggest, most complicated, most amazing immense show. It takes over the Hilton in New York. It takes over the Mascones Center in San Francisco. It is crawling with thousands of people and it is truly formidable. iMedia is a tiny little company with tiny little conferences and that is why DMG, I think, purchased both of us because it thought the two of them would go together. So the editor and chief part of my title is with iMedia connections with the newsletter, the daily media property. The chief content officer part is the part that is dedicated to the events where I am the counterpart of Dryani over at AdTech, which was your job before that. So that is why it is that crazy ampersand fused title.
Susan Bratton: Which one do you like better?
Brad Berens: I don’t. I can’t choose among my children. They both inform the other. I will say that the intimacy of the events and the fact that they are not slamming me on the head everyday as anyone in a daily media property knows that is the name of the game. On the other hand there is something really lovely about working with an individual group of pros over time. Working with a columnist week after week. I have a brilliant and dedicated team of editors who are sitting right outside my office and that is another wonderful thing to work with. So I can’t choose what do but they do inhabit different parts of my head.
Susan Bratton: You have self described your employment as a bizarre career trajectory. You have been an academia. You’ve been in Hollywood, you have done of course Internet writing and marketing and now you call yourself a marketing journalist. Tell us the story of Brad before we knew you as the iMedia guy. What’s the academia?
Brad Berens: Well I started my professional life as a graduate student and a teacher and I was a pretty good teacher. I won an award as a teacher at UC Berkley, I have lectured about Shakespeare all over the world. I have worked at the Shakespeare Globe Theater in London. My first web site I hand built for my students back in the mid 90’s but the first real web site I did that had any outside of the classroom real traffic was the history of Shakespearean stage history. I was a stage historian and that introduction to Shakespearean stage history was used as a textbook everywhere from South Africa to Florida and it was a lot of fun. From there when I decided to move on outside of the academy for lots of reasons one of the chief ones being there was a ninety percent unemployment rate in the Shakespearean biz at that time and it hasn’t gotten any better. I was quickly snapped up at the story end list at Dreamworks right when the company was founded. I was there doing freelance story analysis for a while at other places including Sydney Pollack’s company, New Regency, Bette Midler’s company. It was just a lot of different places and it was a lot of fun. Then the bubble happened and I got sucked into the Internet. There was a very interesting company called Line up Technology, which was kind of YouTube before there was YouTube before there was bandwidth or the Internet, and it was doomed like so many dot COM’s were. Then I wound up as the digital editor at Earthlink, the ISP for four years. That started in 2000. Then I got snapped up by iMedia about three years ago.
Susan Bratton: So on of the things your work in Shakespeare taught you was that you believe that Shakespeare invented the modern audience. How?
Brad Berens: It is interesting because the way you have just jumped to the heart of, the way in which my crazy career path actually makes sense. Because if you were on your ipod listening to this interview you rewound the last couple of minutes and you listen to all of that again you would think “Okay. He was at Berkley. He was in Hollywood. This guy has no stick too it ness.” I am like a ping-pong ball and yet essentially I have only been interested for the last ten years in one intellectual question and that is what people do with the media they consume? You are what you read. You are what you watch in the same what that you eat. The modern audience is the audience that takes material and does things with them because they don’t know the producers. Your daughter, I think you have a ten year old?
Susan Bratton: I do.
Brad Berens: If your daughter creates a painting it comes to you with a context. You not only know what is on the paper, the colors, but you know the mind that created it. Where as if you created and you send it out through mass culture what you are doing is, you are the creator, a fixed point within the culture and you enable the most interesting thing about interacting with the same pieces of media over the course of time. The same media brand. You look at the Mona Lisa once and that is fine but if you look at it twice you are not only looking at it at the time you are also having the memory of it before. That is called cognitive funding or ascetic funding. Steven Pepper who was an art historian, an art critic, at Berkley invented that idea. Cognitive funding is the biggest thing about what happens as you watch the Bond movies over the course of time or you follow a particular actor across different roles. It is the way that a brand whether it is an advertising brand or a media brand or a narrative brand can bond itself to its audience most clearly. It is the thing that is most present by the fragmentation of media and culture we are experiencing today. That is not just the Internets fault that started with cable TV and lots of other things. Shakespeare was the first person to really do that because he was the guy who had a four-pronged relationship with his audience. He was the author of the play, he was the part owner of the company of players, he was the part owner of the building that they played in and he was one of the actors. So he was a stable point in the reference of the audience. Does that make any sense?
Susan Bratton: Well Shakespeare was vertically integrated, I just got that part of it. I also think what you are saying is that because Shakespeare wrote so many plays and was in so many parts of the production that over time he was able to build a bond to his brand through the repetition of his connection with his audience.
Brad Berens: Exactly and the more you went the more associations you had with that experience therefore the richer and more satisfying your experience because you experience going to the Globe was richer you wanted to go back. Everybody always wants to feel like an expert. It is a very gratifying feeling. So if there are ways of making your audience feel like experts by giving them a great frame of reference you are going to bond them to you.
Susan Bratton: So what is your notion of this anatomization of content? Say it right for me Brad. I read your article about it and I would love you to explain it to us because I think it hooks into the bond to the brand.
Brad Berens: What the atomization of content, and that is the closest I can get to say it, is very clearly understood simply by looking at what iTunes did the for the concept album. I am old enough to remember pep sounds and I think many people listening to this are, Sergeant Pepper and the other great pep albums of the 60’s. Those were albums in which the transition from one song to the next was significant and the accumulative result of listening to the entire album, the entire CD, the entire collection of songs was greater than the sum of the individual parts. That is the phenomenon that experience has been completely destroyed by iTunes. Now iTunes is great and they get a tremendous amount of my money but it is more difficult for people to experience a work in it’s context, the artist entire creative event or simply within the confines of that individual collection of songs. What happens there is happening increasing across other media. So if you look at YouTube breaking up the good bits from last night’s Daily Show or individual scenes from shows there is just a lot of drive to break things down into it’s core and component part. There is a challenge for that kind of audience bonding that I was talking about before with the consumers of media. It is also a real challenge for advertisers because advertisers want to have a stable group of people that they can get their messages in front of and that makes it hard.
Susan Bratton: Right, a stable audience that repeats that you can create a bond to your brand by continuing to show up.
Brad Berens: Right, and without that brand everything gets commoditized on the media side but also it drives commoditization of product as well. So if you are trying to say you BMW drivers your are going to like this kind of media that is fine. But search and media fragmentation say they make all soft tissues in to which you blow your nose the same and it’s harder to differentiate and say Kleenex come out better.
Susan Bratton: So anatomization. What is anatomization? Is that like something is anatomic, something anatomic? What does that mean?
Brad Berens: Like anatomy it is breaking something down to its components.
Susan Bratton: Like classification breakdown. Got it. Okay. One of the things you have also stated is that you think mass culture is on a diet. That mass is going away and you talk about media tribes. How does that all connect into this thing you love which is watching audience?
Brad Berens: Well media tribes is something I have adopted and I am trying to remember who invented it. I thought it was a provoking idea and so I linked to it in my blog, which is called mediavorous like carnivorous only with media. I must confess I have lost track of the first part of your question because I was intent of giving credit to where it was due to media tribe. What was the question?
Susan Bratton: That’s okay. My question was media tribes. If we have this anatomization, you have to come up with a better word. I can’t say that thing, anatomization. If we have this kind of breaking down into its core elements of media, everything becoming bite-sized audiences are now fractured into these millions of little pieces. They come and they go and there is no sustainable time to build them. You also talked about media tribes. That makes me think about swarms and hordes and groups of people that have consumption patterns and I wanted you to explain what media tribes were and how it fit into this story that you are unfolding for us.
Brad Berens: Well it was the Atkins Diet comment I think that was at the heart of that question and that is something you can track very simply by looking at numbers. The number one television show right now is a pale selection of the number one television show ten years ago and certainly it is infra testimonial small compared to twenty five years ago. The Bob Newhart show, the original Bob Newhart show, when it first ran back in the day was getting numbers that the Super Bowl would be proud of today. So there is still mass culture in so far as you are what you read, you are what you consume. People who do consume things together have a shared context. The context for sharing is much slimmer. There are fewer and fewer shows that everyone watches. There are fewer and fewer shows that everyone recognizes and that means that without a nation of media consumption we are really breaking down into more geographical and individual tribes of media consumption. But although in the case geography is a very bad metaphor. I should say because so much of the consumption is cross-geography because people are watching things, consuming things, they are sustaining their communities online. That is one of the greatest things about the Internet, the growth of online community. There is a very exciting program at USC called the Charles Danenburg program and online community. I am an advisor to them and they are actually taking kids and turning them into masters in communication management. People with online community as a focus.
Susan Bratton: We are going to take a short break and stop right there because I want to come back and talk to you about a couple of other media related things. Then I want to get into more Brad Berens things. So for all of you listening we’re talking to Brad Berens. He is the editor and chief and the chief content officer of iMedia communications. I am your host Susan Bratton and we are going to take a short break right now to thank our sponsors and we’ll be back.
Susan Bratton: We’re back. This is your host Susan and I am with Brad Berens and just before the break we were talking about media and media consumption and media audiences. I want to flip this to you a little bit Brad and ask you about you being in the media. If there was a place for you to be recognized in the media what would that outlet be and what would they say about you?
Brad Berens: Do you mean how does the media talk about me?
Susan Bratton: I mean, I will just give you an example. I was written up in the New York Times about three weeks ago. Bob Tedeschi did a fabulous article about Personal Life Media, on my ad forum at the surround session in pod casting. It was just half page, it had a great photo, and I looked skinny. I love it. It was like the penal of mid press coverage for me. It was just my dream piece. That is my dream piece. What is yours? What do you want to be in and what do you want that outlet to say about you?
Brad Berens: It is such a funny question because I’m old.
Susan Berens: I know. You are a journalist.
Brad Berens: I am always surprised when one does reach out to me. I am an old teacher and so for me the ability to act as a translator almost regardless of the venue is the thing that really floats my boat. I have been very privileged and pleased to be invited by Anheuser-Busch for example to come in and hang out with them for a day. I opened up an internal summit that they did and then they kept me around and asked me to kind of just stay there and answer questions and give my perspective and that was really a lot of fun. A couple of reporters from USA Today have discovered that I am handy because I can try to explain what the real story is and I really like that. You mentioned in the introduction I am writing a novel and so I have the same vain hunger for fame of that kind but in my capacity at iMedia, and this is getting back to something I was talking about before, it’s really all about the mission. So whatever the context is I am pretty happy. There is nothing that quite duplicates the thrill of talking in front of a live audience and I really do like that. So I will go to extreme lengths to make sure that every single presentation on that PowerPoint deck is going to work and that the jokes are in the right place and there is some take away for people. I don’t know if this is answering your question. I am certainly enjoying this conversation and I have no particular dream of being interviewed in the New York Times but I would enjoy the experience if it happened.
Susan Bratton: So you are not vain. You like to be in service. You don’t have some big press thing you want. Maybe you want your novel, which I want to get to in just one second, you would like to have your novel, perhaps in the New York Times top ten best seller list. That might be good but you do have a vanity Google alert as do I and I was wonder how many other listeners have one. So why don’t you just briefly describe what they are so everyone can say “Oh if I don’t have one I need to get one.”
Brad Berens: Well if you are in the public eye at all then you can ask Google to track what you do and let you know when people are writing about you. Because I give a lot of talks and one of the things it is very easy to have happen to you if you do give a lot of talks is you can be misquoted. I am just always curious about the impact of what I have to say. So you set it up, you have to have a iGoogle page or a gmail, it takes about three minutes to do and it’s handy. I do believe in the things that I talk about and I believe that I have things to say about the nature of media and about what media matters. How to create media that is going to be impactful with people that is going to sustain them and incidentally, in wearing my iMedia hat, is going to be a good canvas for an advertiser and worth an advertisers support. Although I claim at least not to be hugely vain I believe in what I am telling and so tracking the impact of what that is, whether it be in iMedia, onstage, or on the blog, is handy. So that is why I have one and many people do and it is a lot of fun. There is however also a guy named Brad Berens who I have spoken with who runs an old age home a few miles north of me in Santa Clarea and there is also a Brad Berens who is a high school bandleader in North Dakota. So far we’re not getting each other’s mail but we do get each others Google alerts.
Susan Bratton: I Google alert not only myself but also my husband so I have a familiar alert on all of that. So let me put you into your kneeling chair. Go with me on this.
Brad Berens: So you have been reading the blog. Thank you.
Susan Bratton: You like one of those old eighties style chairs that has no arms and no back and is centrally rudden and you kind of kneel a bit. Right?
Brad Berens: Only when I am writing fiction.
Susan Bratton: Right. So you are in your kneeling chair you are writing fiction. You have been working on your novel and it is called Red Crosse with an E. We’ll find out about that and this is a novel that is set in the near future. You walk in and you sit down and finally you are off the grid, you have figured out how to remove all distractions, you are picking up a novel and you are ready to write again. You realize that it has been so long since you wrote that the near future is now.
Brad Berens: Well there are some things, I was imagining ten years ago in 97 when I first had the idea for this particular story that have come to pass or some things that are growing towards it. Red Crosse, I don’t like speaking about it in to great detail because it is still so much a work in progress. I will say it is set in fifteen to twenty years in the future and the key component of the universe that is worth talking about is that it is a universe in which your health insurance and your credit card have become the same thing. So if you have high cholesterol and you buy a pizza with your Visa card your health insurance premium goes up. Which is a quietly funny and terrifying idea for lots of people. We do suffer from, in this country, a grave crisis in our health care system. It is the kind of thing people are starting, sort of, to talk about and it becomes particularly important around election time. But for the most part I think the average person, the average worker the people who do the work and who live our lives in this country are getting pinched more and more by a vastly inequitable and over extensive system. There is a lot of anxiety that I feel about this. I come from a medical family, my dad’s a doctor and so part of my frustration and anger about health care and what’s happening in this country is what drove me to start writing the book. That however makes it sound like a very, very grim story but I actually think it is kind of funny, it’s an adventure, it’s a thriller. The protagonist is a young woman who was a former cop who is now finding herself trying to look for new work. I have had so many career changes that during one rather painful one I kind of came up with this character and that’s about all I really want to say about it. The point about the kneeling chair and having a new filter on the computer and a new user profile is that I have so much going on in my professional life. It is sort of an extraordinary embarrassment of riches in terms of the number of brilliant people I get to chat with everyday and at home I have my family who I just adore and who just returned from two weeks away. So I am extraordinarily happy right now that I have to come up with some way of isolating myself, even if only for a few minutes a day. Having a different chair and no distractions and a different user profile and the computer without email, without instant messenger, without guides are just all the things that I can do that when I do sit down finally to think about writing I can think about writing.
Susan Bratton: You didn’t mention your latest addiction, which is Facebook.
Brad Berens: Oh God yes.
Susan Bratton: What do you like about it?
Brad Berens: Facebook is terrifically fun, it is a huge time suck. The thing about Facebook that makes it different is thing that got them into such much trouble a year ago which is the feed. Every time one of your friends changes something there is a little note. This is what provoked undergraduates’ stalker book back about a year ago. That is the thing they got in trouble for, they are getting in trouble again this week because they are starting to put ads into the content well. But the thing that is so interesting is the trivial present ness of Facebook. People do this. People who should know better, officers and corporations, are saying things like “Yeah I am a little hung over today.” But they are saying it and publishing it within their private network. You can have the impression of being close with people, of actually keeping up with them, on Facebook because everyone is publishing these little neat details and it means that it is a casual environment the way email used to be. Then I can drop a quick note to someone and say “Hey I’m trying to figure this out. Do you have any insight about this?” It is not the same as, if you’ll forgive me for an over meaning metaphor, Brad speaking extr cedia as the editor and chief of iMedia. If I send somebody a note from that email address then I am kind of on the record in a big way where as if I do a drive by in Facebook it is much more casual and people are less alarmed. It is kind of nice.
Susan Bratton: It is definitely a humanizing application and it reminds me when you said the trivial present ness of Facebook that David Weinberger was on Dishy Mix, it just aired this week so you probably haven’t heard it yet. One of the things I love about you Brad is that you listen to the show. He said something, we were talking about Twitter, he is a big Twitterer, he really likes that application, as do I. He called it the intimacy, I am paraphrasing, but he called it, Twitter, the intimacy of detail. That being able to, we connect with so many people on a business level, but actually being able to show your humanity in the detail of your picayune day is something that creates a much greater intimacy. I actually think that’s what Facebook does to.
Brad Berens: I had no idea, for example, that tomorrow and we’re recording this on a Thursday that tomorrow is Nick Dentin’s birthday. But it is and Nick is an instant messenger buddy and a Facebook friend and a guy I have had lunch with, a guy that I like a lot. So I sent a note to his cell phone “Happy Birthday a day early. By the way blame Facebook.” That’s cool and sure the trivialities of detail and I just ordered David’s new book so I am looking forward to it.
Susan Bratton: Small Pieces Loosely Joined?
Brad Berens: I thought it was the Miscellaneous.
Susan Bratton: Oh yeah. Everything is Miscellaneous. That’s his latest one that’s right. Everything is Miscellaneous. That is the one about how we are organizing things on the Internet. I like that.
Brad Berens: Well I haven’t read it yet but I am looking forward to it and there is a wonderful book called the Perfect Mess by Eric Abrahamson that I am in the middle of. Things can be so relentlessly ordered on the Internet that a certain amount of randomness is desired in life because that’s where inspiration and the collision of different ideas come from. That is the kind of cool thing about Facebook is two friends might update their profiles at the same time and you might think you know those two should meet each other and the only conduit to which they are going to meet each other is through you. That can be great.
Susan Bratton: Well that is a perfect segue way for me. I want to meet Joseph Carrabis. I don’t know him but Jim Stern, you know Jim Stern from work. Yes from Emetrics and from Target marketing in Santa Barbara. Jim was saying to me you know who would be really good on Dishy Mix is Joseph Carrabis? Then I was reading your blog and you were blog linking to Joseph and some of the things he was saying and I’m like all right, I got to meet this guy. What do you like about Joseph Carrabis?
Brad Berens: Joseph is the chief research officer and founder of two companies called Next Stage Evolution and Next Stage Marketing? I forget the other one. But he is the Next Stage guy and he will beat me about the head and shoulders for having forgotten the name of the second company. He is a close friend of mine, we were introduced by Rob Graham who I think you know?
Susan Bratton: Oh yeah. I used to work with Rob.
Brad Berens: Rob who is the author of Fishing Where the Fish are or Shooting Fish in a Barrel, something, wonderful book about, I had it on my shelf but someone borrowed it to read it so I had to lend it out, about behavioral targeting. Rob introduced me to Joseph a few years ago. He’s written a twice-monthly column for iMedia and he is and I don’t use this word lightly Susan, Joseph is a genius.
Susan Bratton: Wow.
Brad Berens: He has a truly unique perspective on all sorts of things and he has lived quiet a life. He has been everything from a truck driver to a butcher to a chief scientist in residence. He gives lectures at universities all over the world and he really has an extraordinary viewpoint into how the mind processes information online. He comes at things from such a distinct point of view that people when he comes and lectures at iMedia they are just sort of agape and he is also a lot of fun. Now I come at things with a much more literary perspective and we tend to compliment each other so we wind up having our blogs intersect and having lovely conversations because our brains are at least interested in the same things and come at them from different channels. He is a lovely guy. He is living in New Hampshire right now. He also flies kites that are as big as my car.
Susan Bratton: I love that. I see those out at the Shoreline Amphitheater here in Northern California and they are spectacular.
Brad Berens: That is one of his hobbies and there is no such thing as a boring conversation with Joseph and I do think he would be a terrific guest. You probably want to start off by having a couple of web sites that you guys are going to talk about so that your readers or listeners can be looking at them at first. It is always most productive if you start from a very concrete place and then you get into the ethereal outside.
Susan Bratton: Quick ethereals. Well, all right, good. We have to wrap this up. I want to ask you one question and then I have a request of you at then end.
Brad Berens: Sure.
Susan Bratton: My final question for you is why did you keep eighty thousand comic books that are currently stored in your attic and garage? And why did you sell your award winning Shakespearean book collection?
Brad Berens: Well you know my wife.
Susan Bratton: I knew it was going to be something about your wife.
Brad Berens: No, no, no, no. I was going to say my wife shares your first question about the comic books. I sold the Shakespeare books because we were selling a lot of books and because I am an inquisitive guy not in the sense that I need to have jewels or Armani coats but I mean I am an aggregator. I had Shakespeare as a hobby when I was a kid and then as an abiding interest in college. Then it became my job so there was all of this stuff. We had thirty-five boxes of books that we sold to Powell’s about a year ago. At a certain point of having left me the career part of the Shakespeare I thought okay what is the kind of core nub of the things that you really still think about Brad? The stuff that means something to you, the part that is a key component of your mind. I kept that stuff. That was good solid book but the rest of it, the stuff that you don’t really respect but you need to have it because other people are going to site it or this sort of thing over here that’s okay but your never going to think about it again. That is the stuff I thought might actually be useful to other people because there are lots of people squirreling away professionally in Shakespeare studies. It turned out people would pay me a lot of money for those things and so I sent them off and it was a great thing for this kind of books. I have this fantasy that one day I will organize them all and I will reduce by half and now that I have said that I am sort of on the record. I am sure that my lovely wife Kathy will get this particular snippet of Dishy Mix and put it on our answering machine outgoing message. I have this fantasy that I am going to go through them all and get rid of them. The problem is I have been collecting comic books since I was five and there are some habits that are hard to break. It could be worse I could be collecting things that are larger or more expensive.
Susan Bratton: Good justification. Here’s my request. This is our closing moment here. Before we got on the line and recorded the show today you and I talked for a few minutes just to get our levels set and everything and you made an offer to me. I would like to take you up on that offer now on behalf of our listeners. You offered to sing some Gilbert and Sullivan.
Brad Berens: Oh good heavens. I was only joking I haven’t sung in many, many years. So I may be the model of a very modern major editor but I’m certainly not going to do that in song. Thank you. I will however comply with the request that you made when we were talking several days ago, which I will confess that when you are interviewing someone else, it might have been David Cohen. It was so fascinating or possibly at the moment that Rex Briggs was confessing that he has very loud shoes and very fast cars I thought to myself “I wonder if Susan will every call me and ask me to be on DishyMix?” That sounds like lots of fun. So I want to say thank you so much for inviting me.
Susan Bratton: I am so happy to have you on Brad. It was really fun to get to know more about you. You have many delightful layers in your personality, which is strong, strong, strong. So thanks for sharing yourself with our industry and our listeners today. It was great to have you.
Brad Berens: It has been a real pleasure.
Susan Bratton: Okay well thank you so much for enjoying our time together, Brad and I. You are listening to Dishy Mix and I hope you’ll tune in again next week. You can subscribe in iTunes, just search for Dishy Mix or you can subscribe in RSS at my site which is PersonalLifeMedia.com. I have a companion blog to Dishy Mix. It is DishyMix.com. Not bad, huh? You can always send an email to me with your comments or questions about the show at [email protected]. For text and transcripts of the show we also have those on Personal Life Media.com. So pretty much anything you need is there. I look forward to your comments please call and email me and I’ll look forward to talking to you next week as well. We’ll have another interesting guest and another half-hour of fun. Have a great day
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