Leo Laporte is one of the most famous names the tech world today. Many will remember Leo from "The Screen Savers" during the TechTV days, and his nationally syndicated radio program, "The Tech Guy."
After TechTV was retired, Leo and several of his friends and co-workers took their tech knowledge to the internet, where he created the TWiT network. His flagship show "This Week in Tech" immediately skyrocketed in popularity.
Laporte and company began producing several shows from the TWiT Cottage, broadcasting for three years from one room. Eventually after five years they found themselves a bit over-crowded - even after taking over the entire building.
In early 2011, Laporte acquired the former home of BiAS Sound, in downtown Petaluma. Roger C. Ambrose, the man who designed much of "The Screen Savers" set, was brought on to help with studio design. Fans of "The Screen Savers" will immediately recognize his influence. Coming in just over $1 million, the TWiT Brick House was finished in July, with the first broadcast taking place on July 24, 2011.
While the outside of the studios isn't much to see, the inside is a never-ending visual and technological pleasure. Anyone who loves geek tech - whether they are familiar with the days of ZDNET, or new to the scene - will love a stroll through the space.
Upon entering the offices, one wall is covered with bricks, containing the names of people who have donated funds to the project. The bricks are sold for $128, $512, and $640 - numbers that represent increments of RAM. If you care to donate, your name or business will be etched in a brick and added to the wall.
Contrasting the bright white lights of the several small sets found in the studio, are interesting colors and shapes that fill the walls, ceiling, and floor. There is a projection of the TWiT logo on a massive gear embedded in the wall behind the main set. A control "pod," which is like the brain center of the production, is located in the center of it all. The "pod" can be rotated to view any area of the studio, where production might be taking place, at any given moment. Cameras are placed throughout the building, and broadcast during the live shows. There is also one live 24/7 "spy cam" for viewers to check out at any time of the day or night.
Many pieces of geek memorabilia can be found speckled throughout the offices - from antique typewriters and radios, to old Macs, to personal items of Leo's, and even Star Wars toys. Much of the decor has a steampunk feel to it, with leather and metal themed chairs, and wooden tables.
There are nearly 40 netcasts produced at the TWiT Brick House, with something going on every day. Fans can watch, and interact live, via the TWiT website.
TWiT currently has 16 full-time staff members, and over 50 outside contractors, including remote hosts, system administrators and marketing types. Of the 16 on staff in the building, 10 regularly turn up on shows.
If you'd like to stop by the TWiT Brick House, audiences are always welcome. Be sure to check out the TWiT page for info on how to get there, and who to contact for a visit.
For a closer look at the TWiT Brick House, click the attached slideshow.