The Video Call Center, LLC is jointly owned by Wolzien LLC and TEGNA Media, formerly Gannett.
OMGOSS!P, a TalkCenterAmerica show owned by the VCC, has begun distribution on Wetpaint.com, one of the top gossip sites in the world.
The VCC project began in 2010 when founder Tom Wolzien (a former NBC News executive and long time Wall Street media analyst) became concerned that fragmenting audiences and revenue streams of linear television would soon need to be mitigated by lower content costs, but that the traditional use of reruns to lower costs would not stand up when the same shows were available on demand. One approach, he thought, was to consider the talk radio model, but on TV, using the then emerging approaches to internet video like Skype™ and others.
Working through Wolzien, LLC, the company owned and solely funded by Valerie and Tom Wolzien, trial and error concept testing and code-writing through 2011 led to hand-wired construction, more testing, and a patent filing in 2012. Late in 2012 a proof of concept “inventor’s prototype” was ready in the small carriage house behind Valerie and Tom’s home overlooking the Hudson River 25 miles north of New York. That prototype included a HD BroadcastPix switcher and Matrox video converters to handle the multiple inbound callers.
By 2013, early proof of concept “inventor’s prototype” systems were used successfully for dozens of hours of live programming that aired on the web under the TalkCenterAmerica® name and were hosted by Diane Dimond, who joined the team in early 2013 to host and help design the host’s interfaces with the automated systems, which by that point were driven by about 600,000 lines of Wolzien’s early code. Tom Porpiglia joined as producer after appearing as a caller on the first program.
The first several months of live programs were rocky. There were audio and video problems. Up to 40% of the calls via Skype™ were dropped on the air. Valerie called in every friendship she had to enlist callers, as did everyone else on the project. But while rocky, the shows seemed to prove the concept sufficiently for the Wolzien’s to continue their investment, and get technical help.
Larry Thaler was brought on board to head up a professional design and development effort to replace Wolzien’s code and hand-wired hardware. Larry worked with Alexander Maisey, the first hardware/software designer, and brought in then Cornell undergraduate Will Milne, who wrote new automation code from his room in Ithaca. Alex’s code eventually became known as the Caller Acquisition Technology (CAT™), and Will’s code was the HAT™, or Host Automation Tool.
Dozens more hours of content were produced during 2014 using much more sophisticated second, third, and fourth generation combinations of custom software and increasingly off-the-shelf hardware. In June 2014 The Video Call Center moved out of the carriage house and into a studio facility in Palisades, NY, about 10 minutes North of CNBC. By Spring 2015, 100 live content hours had aired on the web. In April 2015 programming shifted to Broadcast, with a daily half hour live program on KUSA (TEGNA-Denver) for the first month of the Colorado Theater Shooting Trial.
TEGNA invested in The Video Call Center, LLC, in June, 2015.
KUSA produced additional programming including “Broncos Tonight, You Make the Call” and “Balance of Power, You Make the Call” which were aired over their broadcast channels. This culminted with a Broncos Tonight episode just a week before the superbowl with dozens of callers showing off their Broncos attire.