What’s Trending wasn’t the first original web series based on the premise of “Let’s talk about whatever’s hot on the internet!” but it’s probably one of the best.
Conceived of and executive produced by Damon Berger and ubiquitous online video personality Shira Lazar and produced by their independent outfit Disrupt/Group, What’s Trending launched on May 17, 2011. It’s a daily news source and live, weekly, interactive program hosted by Lazar that discusses exactly what the title would suggest. What’s trending on the internet and in social media.
But where similar programs would comb Fark and Google Trends for talking points to recite in front of a camera, Lazar brings a background well versed in online news and online video that make the program not only great for news discussion, but newsworthy in and of itself.
And What’s Trending definitely has been newsworthy. Sometimes because of controversial interviews (like when Lupe Fiasco told Lazar “Obama is the biggest terrorist in America”) and sometimes because of preemptive announcements (like when the What’s Trending twitter account posted news of the death of Steve Jobs almost a month before the Apple CEO passed away).
That latter example of newsworthiness came with consequences. A day after the the tweet hit the web the program lost its distribution deal with CBS. But What’s Trending’s been able to forge on. The show sees over 84,000 weekly video views and has amassed over 30 million twitter impressions. A lot of that activity is based on the show’s high-quality production and Lazar’s ability to discuss interesting topics intelligently with a number of guests. A lot of it also has to do with the program’s ability to wrangle those guests. Adam Carolla, Brittany Snow, Cenk Uygur, Chris Hardwick, Drew Carey, Felicia Day, Kevin Smith, Lisa Kudrow, Mark Cuban, Morgan Spurlock, Rick Fox, Snoop Dogg, Terrell Owens, Will.I.Am and more have all appeared on the show.
As What’s Trending winds down for the end of 2011 (it’s last live episode airs today), I caught up with Lazar to ask her a few questions about the ups and downs of the past year and what’s in store for 2012.
Tubefilter: What can we expect from What’s Trending in 2012?
Shira Lazar: More live shows, more effort on YouTube and daily segments, as well as activity on the site whatstrending.com. We are going to be building a more robust site and show to further grow our community and own the mindshare around what’s trending online with editorial layered on top of that.
We also look forward to creating more verticals. Politics is going to be huge with the 2012 Presidential election coming up. Why not use our platform and format to build a weekly discussion focused on those stories, with influencers and celebs who are passionate around those topics. We want to continue to empower and inform people while being entertaining. One of our viewers called us “CNN Meets MTV”. We definitely feel like we’re filling a gap for the digital age, and the sky is the limit.
TF: Where is the show at in terms of sponsorship? Who’s sponsoring the show now and who will be sponsoring in 2012?
SL: We’re in talks with distributors, brands and investors right now. We’ll be announcing something shortly! In the meantime, our #Influencer segments and musical performances will be available to watch on Virgin America’s backseat entertainment “Best of The Web” in February.
TF: What’s been you favorite moment in the past year?
SL: We’ve had so many memorable and fun moments. Definitely one of my favorite guests was Snoop Dogg. He was so thoughtful and just a pleasure to be around. He literally hung out at the studio for an hour after we were live. We put on Sam Cook and he was just dancing in the studio. We also had his 12-year old daughter on to perform for the first time ever. It was a very special show on and off camera. Those moments make everyone realize how special what we’re doing is right now.
TF: The show’s obviously had a couple of setbacks over the past year. What’s been the biggest lesson learned?
SL: Have a staff that is reliable and passionate. We couldn’t have done what we’ve done thus far without an incredible team! Work hard, perfect your craft, be grateful and fight for what you believe in. We wouldn’t be able to continue and grow without our community, audience and great partnerships, which allow us to constantly connect with new audiences. We are always experimenting with new models, social media and interactivity. Be open to ideas and have fun. Passion goes a long way and I really believe that it comes through in our work.
Tune into What’s Trending at Whatstrending.com.