Interview: Steve Cropper, Life On Line Executive Producer and Host

This week's interview features Life On Line, the new virtual TV show that wants to reflect the enormous diversity of the online experiences of so many people that each day discover a brand new world online, and how we live our lives in the Internet.

Steve Cropper is the executive producer and host of Life On Line, a professional with many years as a broadcaster on Australian TV and radio, that is focusing all his enormous talent to create a stunning show that you can now enjoy in your computer.

- With 30,000 viewers in February, Life On Line has become a mass media for virtual worlds and their online activity. How do you explain the success of the launching of Life On Line TV?

- We were frankly stunned and very encouraged by the performance of the show in the first month.  We believe it is due in very large part to the nature of the program, which people seem to enjoy, based on the feedback we get from viewers.  Another important factor is the presence of our resident band SpaceJunky, which already has a significant on-line following.  We have used our personal networks in various virtual worlds including Second Life, Twinity and Entropia Universe to arouse interest in-world.  Andrew Peters has been very busy spreading the word across social networks too, the populations of which totally eclipse virtual world populations.  Above all, I suspect our initial success is due to the fact that we have sought as much as possible to address live on the internet as a whole and not get stuck in just one virtual world or just one country.  The goal is to have universal appeal.

- The show is presented by avatars. Why?

- The costs associated with producing a program like ours twice a month with real people in a real TV studio, having to bring in guests and cast members from the US, Australia, the UK, Singapore, New Zealand - and anywhere else - is impossible.  The costs would be astronomical and the time needed would also prevent our cast from ever doping anything else with their lives.  Producing a talk show featuring real people but represented by virtual avatars in a virtual TV studio gives us more freedom than would be possible using the real-world alternative.
- Will the show have similar sections, or will it change from chapter to chapter?

The show has a basic format which includes regular contributions from our cast members and the resident band SpaceJunky.  Each show only runs about 15 minutes so there's not enough time for all the cast every time.  we will always start the show with Sigmund Leominster's news round-up and we will always have a music act (half the time that will be SpaceJunky).  But our other cast members will come on the show on a semi-regular basis.  It also very much depends on what viewers ask for.  The content of our program is mostly viewer-driven.

- Who are the people behind Life On Line and what can you tell us about them?

- The show makes good use of established and well-connected artists and communicators. Being well known on the internet with considerable distribution power in their own right means that the cast themselves help build the audience of Life On Line in a very real way. In addition to the regular cast, there are also interviews with people making news across the internet. There is also additional material from other parties included in the program from time to time.

steve  Executive Producer and Host - Steve Cropper
The show is the brain-child of veteran Australian TV and radio journalist and communications consultant Steve Cropper, who in 2008 was 'Angelico Babii', host of the LATE SHOW on Metaverse-TV (www.metaverse-tv.com), creator of My-Metaverse (www.my-metaverse.com) and co-publisher of the online news magazine Metaverse-Tribune (www.metaverse-tribune.com).

His style is pacey and energetic but he's not so much of a 'wise-guy'. "Our show is a bit down to earth and homey. We are engaging with people sitting at their computers and whilst we aim to give them a big TV show look, we are also going for a more personal and intimate feel".

spacejunky Resident Show Band - SpaceJunky (www.spacejunky.com)
One of the best-known band in the virtual world of Second Life, SpaceJunky is a pioneer of the "virtual concert" genre.  Although the three band members are separated by geography (one in the US, one in Australia and one in Malaysia), they collaborate and market their music primarily online. They are a real life band with major touring and recording credits to their name and they do perform live and in-person, but SpaceJunky is currently best known as a virtual world band and has been featured on CNN International and various other real life publications. There are always between 50,000 and 80,000 SL members logged on at any given time. The band also has a popular website that scores about 150,000 hits a year.  SpaceJunky brings a very big audience to Life On Line.

Social Media - Andrew Peters
Andrew is a prominent blogger in his own right through his site AP Link, which attracts up to a quarter of a million visitors a year. He has a well-earned reputation as a commentator in the business community and the news and entertainment space. Acknowledged as a ‘Social Media Guru', Andrew advises the German digital media company Metaversum about the online marketing of their virtual world Twinity. He is also Marketing Director of the Association of Virtual Worlds, a network of more than 3,000 entrepreneurs and innovators engaged in the development of virtual world technology and content.

Internet News - Sigmund Leominster
Each show begins with Sigmund's news round-up in which he present a snappy summary of breaking news across the internet. Sigmund is another prominent blogger who has built up an encyclopedic knowledge of internet news makers as well as leading issues of interest and importance to viewers. Sigmund has a particular interest in the world's leading virtual world, Second Life and is well-known in there for his blog, ‘SL on SL' (Sigmund Leominster on Second Life).

Off-Beat Reporter - Dousa Dragonash
A seasoned actor and voice artist in the UK, Dousa Dragonash is also the main news anchor for Metaverse-TV News (commonly known as MBC News). One of the first wave of people to approach virtual worlds, Dousa has built up a substantial personal network as well as an impressive television audience in her own right. As Life On Line's off-beat reporter, Dousa presents stories that are sometimes shocking, invariably funny and sure to trigger buzz across the internet. The news she focuses on is designed to prompt a viral affect. The intention is for her items to zoom around the world from email inbox to inbox with people messaging each other saying - "Get a load of THIS!" Like all of Life-On-Line's segments (and indeed the entire show itself), Dousa's material is posted on You Tube, Google Video and similar sites, specifically to draw yet more viewers to the show.

roman Resident Psych - Dr Roman Candle
No, that is not his real name. Roman is in fact a practicing psychotherapist in Sydney, Australia and an experienced radio presenter in that country. He is a specialist in relationship counseling and treating addictions, particularly problem gambling. Roman responds to viewer mail and discusses a range of psychological issues that manifest themselves online. His first segment ‘Online Escapism is good for you' sets the tone for his future appearances in which he ranges over schizophrenia, relationship break-down from online excess, compulsive disorders, sexual deviance and so on. His segments are supplemented by his regular additions to the Life On Line blog.

Hollywood scandals - Michael Buckley (What the Buck)
Michael has a regular subscriber base of more than 80,000 loyal viewers who love his irreverent, flamboyant scandal show, What The Buck. His ‘real person' segments ditch on the great and the good of tinsel town in a way that would make the most outrageous drag queen go pale with envy.

Our Man In Twinity - Jeremy Snyder
Jeremy is a co-Founder of the German virtual world Twinity. He gives regular reports on the show about happenings there and uses his segment to promote events and competitions in-world.

Our Man in Calypso - John Bates
John heads up Social Marketing for MindArk, the company that has created Calypso, a virtual world. John is an energetic and lively on-camera personality who injects considerable BUZZ into his reports

...And the cast continues to grow.

- How did you come up with the idea of making a show about how people spend their lives online?

- I am a TV presenter and journalist by training and spent the first 10 years of my career in TV and radio in Australia and Britain.  And in 2008 I was cast as the host of the LATE SHOW with Angelico Babii for Metaverse-TV.  That show ran a year and I was basically all by myself.  Although it was quite successful and it certainly taught me a great deal about what works and what doesn't in virtual TV, the show was rather stuck in Second Life and I wanted to make it a lot broader.  So last month I launched Life On Line, which replaces the LATE SHOW on Metaverse-TV  but is also seen on 21 other websites across the internet including of course Hiperia3D News.

- Do you think that the amount of time that people spend online will be lesser or bigger as time passes?

- The real world media is becoming increasingly obsessed with this question and with good reason.  In my country for example, we are seeing Australian households increasingly turning off their TVs and logging on to their favorite websites.  One analysis by AAP MediaNet here reported that in the year 2006-7 the average household spent about 12 hours watching TV and about 7.5 hours online.  The following year, those numbers had basically reversed.  The experience in other western countries is similar to varying degrees.  So in my own opinion, I suspect that real world television, whilst still dominant, recognizes that online TV, particularly 'social media'  (TV, radio and press made and distributed by private persons rather than media corporations) is getting to be a serious challenger.  And the viewing habits of teenagers today shows us how the numbers will continue to shift in favor of the internet.  Teenagers and young adults are much more net-savvy and engaged online than their parents.  To them it's just normal.

- How do you think that virtual worlds have influenced what people do online?

Leaving to one side game worlds like World Of Warcraft and Eve, the virtual worlds that are based on social networks like Kaneva, Twinity and Second Life have succeeded in connecting people across enormous geographies and social circumstances.  These are people who would otherwise be very unlikely to ever connect with one another.  Moreover, virtual worlds have served as great enablers, allowing people to experiment in fields that they might otherwise never have encountered.  People have started businesses, relationships - and TV shows - The opportunities that has opened up socially, artistically, commercially and even educationally are vast.  Online organizations such as the Association of Virtual Worlds for example have been created specifically because the range and pace of change is so fast.  And whereas these virtual worlds have existed now for several years, it seems as though we are still at the very beginning of the process - nowhere near the end.  On the other hand, it is not El Dorado.  There is a darker side to life online and we wish to shed light on that too.

Remember that Life On Line partnered with Hiperia3D News and you can now watch the show from our sidebar, automatically updated as new episodes are launched.

-Jordi R. Cardona-


© 2008 by Jordi R. Cardona. Link to this post without copying the text.

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