Getting to Know ... Max Duke

tooclose.gifWe thought it would be fun to spend some time introducing those of us working behind the scenes at PBS Interactive.  In the first of a series that we hope will expand to include PBS and station staff alike, here's a brief Q&A with Max Duke, Video Manager for PBSi Station Products & Services:

1. What do you do at PBS Interactive?
As Video Manager, my main responsibilities revolve around helping stations develop their online video experiences, whether through phone calls about strategy, or implementing products like COVE. The most enjoyable part of my job is probably speaking with stations. Whether in-person on a visit, at conferences or over the phone, I spend much of my time speaking with stations to understand their needs and then translating those needs to various project teams here at PBS. I think being able to advocate for stations is the most important aspect of my job.

2. How did you get involved with Public Media?
I graduated college in December of '98, and had planned on getting a Masters Degree in Education. The semester didn't begin until August, so I got a job at a Sunglass Hut in the meantime (which I'm sure my parents loved after helping finance a college degree). Plans changed and I needed something a little more career-focused so I applied for a job as a Publicist at the local PBS station, WPBT Channel 2. After a year, I moved into the role of Webmaster to begin building the station's fledgling Interactive Department. Eight years later I left to join PBS.

Somewhere in those nine years at WPBT, I fell in love with Public Media, with the idea that I was helping those in the community that could not traditionally speak up have a voice. I think Public Media has that affect on most people. Come for the job, stay for the community.

3. How will the interactive landscape change over the next few years?
I think the next few years will see a continued increase in the alternative platforms consumption of media. The success of this media consumption is beholden to two areas - distribution mechanisms and reception devices. Ways of delivering content are growing more complex, adding incredible capabilities. At the same time, revolutions are being made in the ways consumers can ingest this content. I'm really intrigued by the possibilities of touch control display devices, like the iPhone and Microsoft Surface. Already so much has been done with this technology, and over the next few years, I think we will see a convergence of ideas and applications to combine in amazing ways, specifically in the area of media consumption.

Although, I never would have predicted what has happened over the last five years, so take this Nostradamus moment with a grain of salt.

4. If the Internet didn't exist, what job would you have?
Honestly, retired would be nice. However, since independent wealth has not graced me with the Internet in existence, I doubt I be so lucky if the Internet never existed. I remember when I was a kid; I wanted to own a toy store. I still think that would be fun. But if I could do anything at all, I'd like to own a restaurant. Nothing fancy, just a nice neighborhood joint with good ol' American fare - hot dogs, hamburgers, nachos, wings, etc. If that didn't work out, then I'm going with party animal, like Stiles from Teen Wolf.

5. What is your favorite gadget and why?
I go hot and cold on gadgets. Usually, whatever I bought in the last three months is my favorite gadget. For example, right now my favorite gadget is a computer mouse I got for Christmas. It's lightweight, wireless, low profile with a slick silver finish. It has your standard left- and right-click buttons, plus a four-way scroll button. Flip it over and you see the real magic - five button presenter wheel activated by the flip of a switch. It lets you control presentations, media playback and more. It even has a laser pointer. Only thing it doesn't have is a HEMI. Love the thing!

collarstayb.jpgHowever, I'm sure my adoration will fade eventually. The one gadget I love that has real staying power would have to be Men's dress shirt collar stays. Those things are Manna from Heaven. Old school gadget!

6. If you could have dinner with any three people from history, who would they be and why?
Ben Franklin: Inventor. Statesman. Politician. Founding Father. What more can you say about the guy. Mostly I want to see what happens when he starts talking to the next guest on my list.

Kurt Vonnegut:  Prolific novelist (Slaughterhouse Five, Cat's Cradle, The Sirens of Titan), known for his blending of satire, dark comedy and science fiction. His works have had more influence on my worldly perspective than anything else. His sense of humor, intelligence and beliefs would make for an interesting evening.

Don LaFontaine: The greatest voiceover artist in history, responsible for over 5,000 film trailers. He would have to speak in his movie trailer voice the whole time, and he would have to begin every sentence with, "In a world where ..."



  1. Posted February 3, 2009 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Reply

    I was very happy when I heard Max was taking on the role of video manager at PBSi BECAUSE he was coming from station-land. Max, keep up the good fight for all of us out here trying to make our own sites relevant and integral to our local communities.

    And no one asked me, but I’d love to have dinner with Max and Kurt Vonnegut (hell, Ben can come too); that would be great theatre.

    KETC/St. Louis

  2. Posted February 4, 2009 at 12:03 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Great feature! Now, I finally know what Max left WPBT for. I figured it wasn't the snow and cherry blossoms.

    I think the Q&A is telling. If he wasn't doing what he is doing now (media consumption), he'd own a restaurant (food consumption). So, basically, he is designed for a career in consumption. :-)

  3. Posted February 4, 2009 at 8:42 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Max is a tremendous asset to the SP&S team, until a couple of weeks ago he was right across the hallway from me and we were able to brainstorm and think about how best to get stations what they need.

    In fact, he has a sign that says "What's good for stations is good for me", something we all try to keep in the front of our minds.

    -Jonathan Coffman
    Associate Product Manager, PBS Engage

  4. Posted May 15, 2009 at 4:08 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Isn't Max the guy that started uVu?
    They couldn't have picked a better person for the job at PBSi.

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