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tv   Charlie Rose  WHUT  December 31, 2009 6:00am-7:00am EST

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>> charlie: welcome to the broadcast tonight. a ok at sat night radio with the ceo of sirius xm, mel karmazin. >> the one day i made attention in school and shakespeare said the play is a thing. so i still remembered, you know, the play is the thing. so i was always a believer of one content, whether it be howard stern or the ncaa or the nfl. i wanted to have great content and i thought that no matter what distribution was out there, if identified hat content, the distribution with a want to carry my content. >> charlie: we conclude with paul goldberger the critic for new york magazine
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and author. >> great painting is thought with us all the time. architecture is with us all the time whether we like it or not. so we kind of have to make a peace with it and live with it and there's a lot to be gained from learning how to live with it. >> charlie: karmazin and goldberger coming up. captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose.
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from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> charlie: mel karmazin. he was ceo of cbs and coo of viacom. the lasts few years have been challenging for him and his company, but the sirius xm announced their merger from february 2007, the government took 17 months to approve the deal. last february in the midst of the financial crises the company was forced to seek out emergency funding and loans. karmazin has called these
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efforts to save sirius xm the biggest success of his career. welcome back. >> good to be here, charlie. >> charlie: so how close did it come that you were not going to make it? >> very close. and the reason it was very close was that lehman brothers failed september 15th. we needed to refinance a billion dollars of debt. we were unable to move in a sometimely manner. everybody was interested, they loved the store but they weren't prepared to do it. our lawyers advised us that since you can't be sure that you're going to get the financing, you have to have a plan b and you should be preparing for a plan b. and they then said to me that if in fact you're not going to make it, it's real important to know that early on so that you can preserve whatever cash you have because if you're going to continue to pay your debt, pay your interest and stuff, you're
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going to tap into this cash that if in fact you don't make it, you're going to need while you're not making it. so we've gone down two paths and we met it. some people compared it to, not me, and this is radio, not life and death. but there was an airplane that landed in the hudson, you know and everybody made it. you want to believe that every plane could do that and every pilot can do that. it was sort of characterized we did it. our baggage got wet but we managed to navigate through it and the rest is history. >> charlie: what did you give up. >> we were prepared to give up to a lot of companies but only one company came to the finish line fats enough. and this was media led by john malone and greg.
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we agreed to board $530 million at 15% interest which was a little less than tony soprano would lend me. >> charlie: at the time nobody was lending. >> the argument was i thought 15%, oh my god, but ge and the goldman sachs were borrowing money from warren buffett at 10% and equalities. >> charlie: what a great deal for warren buffett. >> it must have been a big deal for ge and goldman because they wouldn't have taken it. >> charlie: the fact that he's willing to invest in your company ves you a certain added value in public surception. >> which makes it a good dale for you as well. because if you can say -- >> charlie: that's true about john malone. >> john malone is very smart. what we've done is in addition to borrowing the money at 15%,
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we also gave him equity for 40% of the company. which meant that we preserve 60% for our existing shareholders. six months later, we paid back john malone the $530 million he length us because we were able to refinance at lower debt. he made a profit on that refinancing and his equity today is worth over a billion and-a-half dollars. so he's gotten the money back. he's he he can -- equity is a billion and-a-half. his share is now worth two and-a-half bill dollars. so the company has equity and you would think about had things not gone right, that we might have had to refinance all of that debt. >> charlie: the question that comes out of that to is it's not john malone but other people prepared to come to the rescue of sirius xm. >> interestingly, i had spoken
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to 22 different companies about it. and you know. lots of people weren't interested in it, but shortly after one question showed interest, charlie urkin's company. and the flood gates opened. suddenly, not just lib they but we were negotiation pretty far down the road for two other household name companies in addition to liberty that were interested in the deal in addition to dish network. >> charlie: but the fact that charlie urkin dish network was on the trail was a huge impetus for you to go make a deal. >> once he was interested, suddenly the others said gee, why is he here, why is he interested. so suddenly we went from not wanting to have anybody dance with us to where we were becoming one of the pretty just
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people at the dance. so other companies said if he's interested, let us look at it. a bunch of people did due diligence on it and saw that there was really value. this was a classic example of a company that has a good business model, company's a great product but really has a very very ugly balance sheet and an awful lot of debt. if we can clean up that debt for hi >> charlie: that's what he was doing. >> charlie bart some of the debt as did liberty media bought some of the debt. echostar, i know, charlie, the company was doing it and the company didn't make our shareholders as good an offer as we got from others, okay. they were trying to drive a harder bargain because they blaifd -- believed they were the only ones who had the deal. >> charlie: did anything about that surprise you. >> no. i've known charlie for a long time. he's an awto the businessman.
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he brought a company up from zero to a billion dollars. he's a billionaire, very smart guy and i think in how he handled our situation, he just was pushing too far. >> charlie: let's talk about business landscape that sirius operates in now. the merger was getting the government approval, took a long time. >> well worth it, well worth it. because there was no way that we could have captured the extraordinary synergies of the two companies. the year before the merger, the two companies combined lost about $566 million. it's complicated but it lost about 500 million. the first year after the merger there was a swing of a billion dollars. the swing isn't because of the great management of the ceo, the swing is because of the synergies of having the two companies come together and eliminating the duplication and
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rationalizing the cost. so the 17 month, i mean if it took us 17 months, i'm sure the government's going to spend five years with comcast. that's radio for 17 months. what about the other companies. >> charl: what percentage of the market for satellite radio that sirius xm owns. >> 100. >> charlie: that's what i thought. >> that's not the market because the market has am/fm radio and all this other stuff. >> charlie: what's happening to radio as they say, regular radio all of us know and grew up with. >> it just provethe same thing that's evolving with all media am radio started in 1920. it's still here today. so it's not growing and there's less people listening to it than there used to be and there's less people advertising than they used to but they're still around. am yielded to fm radio and in the mid 60's fm came along and more listening went on fm and more advertising went on fm. and now we're
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here today, more advertising more subscribers, more listeners are going to come to satellite radio but am will still be around, there's fm. get in your car, there's an am button fm button and satellite. >> charlie: what's the market. >> very fair. i'm not one of the people that will say i'll be in any business at a certain price. gentleman unmalone will say i could buy a newspaper, i can buy an am radio station as long as i buy it at the right price it's worthwhile doing. for me i have no interest in doing that. for me i have no interested in being part of growth companies and that was sort of what made me come here to begin with. i think there will always be an am radio station, an fm radio station. just making a lot less money than they're making today. >> charlie: sitting here five years from now what businesses will you be in that you're not in now.
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>> i had a meeting on that subject today. now we have the debt issues fundamentally behind us, things are going well today what is the next step. what is it that we would fantasize over having part of our portfolio. i know what we don't don't need and don't want but i don't really have anything. i can't tell you boy if in fact we can gethe financing and if in fact everything was right, i would love to own a television station. i don't want to do that. i dot want to own newspapers, i don't want to own radio stations. >> charlie: so what do you want to own. >> i think what we have right now is a good business and we'll continue to grow it and as opportunities come up in the future i will certainly look at it and i will have the financial capacity to do it. i don't think you have to think that way. in other words i don't think that in you are a cable company you need to say you have to own content because it's interesting that one cable company very
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recently said we want to own contest. >> charlie: contest. >> contest with nbc. there's this other company called time warner that says we have this cable. >> charlie: oh well. >> not oh well, we have cable systems. and we have this content but we want to split it up. within months of each other. call -- comcast says i want to own -- >> charlie: you want to be in distribution of content. did you have a favorite between those two. >> my favorite was always content. the one day i was paid attention in school, shakespeare said the play of the thing. so i still remembered, you know, the play is the thing. so i was always a believer of one to have content, whether
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it be howard stern or. i want to have great constenlt. if i had the content the distribution would want to carry my content. >> charlie: that's mething you and the rest don't agree on. >> that's true. >> charlie: what else do you share. >> very little else that i can think of. >> charlie: are people worried about what's happening to viacom and cbn. >> i don't know who is worried about it. i'm not. i mean -- >> come on, great companies. >> charlie: anybody involved in reading the business press knows that r stone has some issues about having finance debt. am i right or wrong? >> well, i think every company that has debt has now learned they should worry about it because it's no longer a matter of fact you have to refinance it. i think what you have are two of
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the greatest companies in the world. >> charlie: radio and -- >> cbs is, you know, great television network. you status there and you put great content on. cbs will have the superbowl this year u it will be the most watched show on television. viacom has some great cable networks doing phenomenally. there's great talent in that company. they're great. will they ever have the cash flow or will the stock price have to be where it was when i was there. it's just a different time. >> charlie: what do you think. >> it's just not going to be. >> charlie: does that mean it should never go apart. >> i'm saying even if it were together today because you can take a look at companies buying miscorp. and disney and other companies that didn't split apart they didn't fare that much better. >> charlie: i repeat my question. should it have been split apart. >> no. you give me a correct qution i'll give you a direct answer.
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it never should have been. you want to have all of these assets and be able to take the slow growing assets and have the cash flow there help the fast growing assets. now you want to be stronger and bigger and i would never have done it. >> charlie: okay, howard stern. >> great partner. absolutely incredible money maker for us as well as for himself. and new tenant. i think probably the single most influential most successful radio personality in the history of radio. more than arthur godfry. he never made 100 million dollars. >> charlie: put that in context for me. you came to him. he was then working for cbs radio i guess at the time. >> i was gone. >> charlie: you were gone. >> i was at cbs and i hadn't yet come to satellite radio. >> charlie: they made a deal. >> they made a deal for howard. you happened the two satellite
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radio companies, both interested in howard, both sirius and xm were interested in it. you had terrestrial radio, that was interesting. howard was in the driver's seat in selling his services. everybody knew the audience that he generated. everybody knew the kind of advertising revenue he generated. and there was an old-fashioned, you know, auction. at one point, howard came to the conclusion then that he wanted to go to satellite radio. he didn't want to have the fcc, he didn't like censorship. >> charlie: he wanted to say what he wanted to say. >> he wanted to say what he wanted to, and he negotiated a, what turned out to be a great deal for sirius because of the awareness that it created, the fact that we got a tremendous number of subscribers because of it. and also got paid fairly in his opinion, not enough but got paid fairly for what he brought to the table. >> charlie: honestly, does he
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have the impact with sirius that he had went he was with terrestrial radio. >> it's like saying hbo versus the broadcast networks. so if influence you mean is it available, free, ubiquitous. well, is it free and ubiquitous. do more people watch the broadcast network than watch hbo? yes, a lot more. can you be influential with a program or a performer on hbo and i think the answer is he has less audience than he had before. so if that is influential, then so be it. but i think his credibility in his brand is so much better by not having to be censored and him to be free, to do the kind of program he creatively wanted to do. >> charlie: you are now in contract negotiations with him. >> no. >> charlie: will you be at some point. >> yes. >> charlie: that will be up when.
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>> his contract is up in december of 2010, and we have not begun but as i said he's a great partner and i hope is to be able to figure out a way to keep him. i like him. >> charlie: in your manner, probably he thinks we'll not offer him enough and we think we're offering him too much. >> i know where that came from. in other words somebody asking me a question about when will the contract. well i don't know when the contract. well what's the process. how does it usually start. and i said it usually starts with howard's agent saying i want this and i'm sitting there saying i want that. but i had a long history with howard every single deal whether or not it was simon & schuster doing his book or paramount, the radio stations carrying his show, we all made a lot of money with howard. my experience is i would like to continue to do business with him. >> charlie: what's the genius he has?
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>> i think howard has a way of relating to the audience that is so unique. he is honest. he bars everything that's going on in his life. he says what people are afraid to say. he has guests on and will ask the question that nobody else will ask and therefore they may not get that guest on again. people will shy away from him. so there are many people who won't want to be a guest on because, won't want to be a guest on howard's show because his candor and how direct he is. he's funny. he's not a stand up comedian. howard does four to five hours of live radio every day. most comedians have an act and that act is like an hour and they do that same act over and over again. so it takes a unique person, and howard is so unique and that's why we're talking about him, there's not 20 of them, you
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know. >> charlie: that's right. well don imus. when don had lost the two relationships he had, one with cbs radio, were you right there come in a second. >> no. i was sitting there saying shame on them, okay. shame on -- >> charlie: you had a place, you could have said come be with me. >> if i believed that i could generate enough subscribers, okay, to pay the money that imus would want, okay, i would absolutely have no reservations about doing it. >> charlie: what about martha stewart and oprah winfrey. all of that comes under your umbrella, oprah was with xm. >> we extended our contract with oprah for a number of ars. we've expended our agreement with martha stewart for a bunch more years. so yeah, i mean, we think it's all about content and i think that at the end of the day when traditional terrestrial radio is cutting back on their cost
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because their revenue's not growing so the way they need to react is to spend less money. spending less money on talent and we're spend is more money on talent because we think the play is the thing and at the end of the day people are going to listen to what's compelling. whether or not if the charlie rows show that we offer that's compelling or whether or not it's fox news that's compelling or cnbc that's compelling or martha stewart or howard stern all of tse things are part of our service. >> charlie: tell me about the advertising world and where it's going. >> i think that there is too much inventory. i think that the internet has changed obviously, i don't know how many people have been on the show that said that but has changed in the world and what's happened is that there is far more supply than there is demand. so a business that needs to support itself by advertising only is challenged, you know. and that's why people have said
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i want to own cable networks because i get a dual revenue because i'm worried about that revenue. and in the world where the internet, people are reluctant to pay for content on the internet. the way that's going to be supported is by advertising and there's just not enough advertising to go around to support all of this content that people want to offer. so i think it's a buyer's dream to where they can negotiate. >> charlie: do you want to put an ad on some method of distribution, you're on the driver's seat. >> if you got the money sitting there saying i can buy terrestrial radio, i can buy internet radio, i can buy satellite radio, if i wanted to buy radio make me an offer and then the buyer decides. and the same thing is true of video. i can run that advertising on cbs is going to charge me too much money, i'm going to put my money in some other places.
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and you can see what's happening to the advertising revenue in traditional media, it's just gone the wrong way. >> charlie: therefore they're in trouble. they've got a crutch that nobody seemed to have a way out of it. >> the satellite companies have a digital strategy but that's less than 10% of their revenue. that's less than 10% of their revenues growing but 90% is falling faster. >> charlie: the revenue they can get from transferring to digital is 10% from what they got from analogue. >> i think people are still watching television. we were doing a television campaign. we were media buyer. where do we want to advertise to get people to say sirius radio is no longer this company in government limbo waiting for merger. we no longer have this refinancing risk, we're back in business so where do we spend our advertising money. where did we put the vast
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majority of our advertising money? in television because the most number of eye balls are still there. where do we put it? we put it into live television, we put it into nfl games and where people weren't recording it on their dvr. we want people to watch it live. forget the business model. the largest odd just is still going to be available on free, what was over the air television broadcast network. the problem is the costs are going up so great and the fragmentation of the audience is going. so even though the networks still have this lions share of the audience it'not as big as it used to be. just like the am audience is not as big as it used to be. >> charlie: like the oscars in the nfl, big events. so what does that mean for network television? >> i think that one of the things that it means for network television, i don't know who has the guts to do it but there's an
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argument that says, identify remember meeting with paul alan. he fought this cable business charter and he came and invited me to his apartment for lunch in new york. so he said mel, you don't have a affiliate, your own tv station. i'm sure the market was clean. it's been a while. in cleveland. what i would like you to do instead of having an affiliate that carries your cbs program, take the content off that affiliate, take it off the affiliate and make it available on my cable system. so the only way anybody in cleveland can get the cbs content, so you couldn't get the superbowl, you couldn't get survivor, you couldn't get that, is to have cable, okay. and i will pay you for your content, okay. so i will pay you per subscribe just like we pay espn, you know. and that business model today is
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one that would work if you only owned the network and you didn't own the stations because today the people who own the network also own tv stations. but i don't know why a network, you know, nbc that may not have an affiliate in a given market or not an owned station in the market. what's the affiliate willing to give me, what's the cable station willing to give me. >> charlie: it used to be everybody who looked at cbs, the crown jewel they were the revenue producers. >> woe don't make the money on those networks but you when you add in the market. now what's happening the tv stations are challenged the network are challenged you're stucked with the tv stations and you're not going to fake away the network content. network is trying to get the
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cable stations to pay them for the content. >> charlie: they would do great business if you could just go out into every market and sell that content to the highest bidder. >> it would be a great business if you only looked at the audience and you didn't look at the business model. the business model for network television was a political business model. you don't own the content. i mean everyone who talks about content as king. the nfl owns the content. the ncaa owns the content. the olympics owns the content. it's not like nbc owns the olympics. what do you own if you're in nbc. you don't own oath -- the olympics. >> charlie: when you
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look at murdock, they're not doing something in his interest to say it kindly. can he find a model once the jeannie's out? >> i think, i've never been a fan of owning newspapers. had the opportunity. rupert loved the business. he's bought and paid a fair amount of money for newspapers, i think he's in the wrong asset class. trying to monetize your content on the internet, very few media companies have been able to do that, you know. google has done a phenomenal job. amazon has done a great job. e-bay has done a good job but it's very hard to find a site that has done a great job of monetizing its content on the internet, all right. and if in fact your site is going to be the wall street journal, the company is whether
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or not somebody is going to pay you for the content that's in the wall street journal or is there so much of the similar information out there, financial information, if you go to google and you put in boeing, you know, you'll get an awfulot of information about boeing. you wot get the wall street journal if it precludes the uses of it but you may get enough information to satisfy you. so it's a challenge to say whether or not there's something in the wall street journal that must have, must have, that someone is going to pay for when all of the other choices on the internet are free. >> charlie: how serious do you take the idea that most of us are going to get most of our media over computer or small smart phone devices. >> i still don't enjoy the experience. i carry two of them in my pocket as we speak.
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>> charlie: i carry a cell phone. >> i don't like getting my content that way. i do it as a, you know, because i need the information. but i don't enjoy watching video on it. when i enjoy watching television or i want to watch video, i want to see it on a high definition big screen set. i understand there's some subset younger people particularly who, or people who travel, that may -- if you can figure out a way to monetize it. it's not so much they want to have the content where they want it, they don't want to see the advertising. because they've been brought up, you can skip the advertising. so i don't know how u monetize that content on that device. that's where all of the challenges come up. i do think that there was a time, if you were to ask me, who do i worry about competing with the most. >> charlie: good question.
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>> i would have said rupert and news corp. i would have said they had a global platform. he has a longer time horizon, willing to spend money on content. >> charlie: and he was global. >> he was global in a big way. i would say today in my opinion, it's google. i think that google is the company that i watch the most. >> charlie: this reminds me, letting you know, a new book i called googled. do you know where i'm going. >> i do because he called me -- maybe you should say where you're going. >> charlie: here's where i'm going. there's a meeting between you and larry page -- three of them. you said that their advertising model was and you didn't really use this word was f-inwith the mac.
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>> i used the full word. i don't remember seeing it. but ken had verified two other people in the meeting that i did say it. it absolutely sounds like something i would have said. what i was saying is i love the model that i had then. at that point i had, i was a ceo of cbs and i had a motto where you buy a commercial, here in advertising you buy a commercial in the superbowl. at the time you paid $2.5 million for a spot. and had no idea if it worked. we had no idea if you sold product, if it did any good. and loved that model. >> charlie: that was the magic. >> that was the great model. >> charlie: and you didn't know. >> and you didn't know. why, in i can get away with that model, if i'm in the business where i can sell advertising. >> charlie: people are beginning to give you x number of millions of dollars for 30 seconds or whatever it is. not knowing exactly how many people are going to buy. >> no return on investment. you know how everybody looks for return on investment.
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we had a business model that didn't worry about return on investment. and then here comes google. they screwed it up. they went to all these advertisers and say 'll let you know exactly what it is. everything follows after that. >> charlie: but you should worry about this, shouldn't you? that really is inevitable as technology and science movers forward. the ability to measure the audience. >> and that's why subscription, subscription, subscription. and the reason i love -- i used to love the advertising business. so google comes along and this is the new way of doing it and i'm now in the subscription. >> charlie: in other words the idea of media model to be in today is that you can somehow create content, go buy it or create it yourself and put it on a distribution system where people will subscribe to the distribution system and you can wrap it with some advertising
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and you get a bonanza. >> the nfl is a great example. if you were to take whose future, i mean who owns content at the future is very bright for, my sense is the nfl will sell its content to, you know, the broadcast networks, it will sell it to directv, sirius satellite radio, it will sell it to everybody and everybody wants their content and they'll have people who are watching it live so that the advertising model will work there and they're going to get a lot of license knees and a lot of content. >> charlie: take a look at this commercial. roll tape and we'll look at it. here it is. [elvis presley singing] ♪
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>> charlie: so there you go. that's your message right there. >> i think that that basically is talking about content, it's talking about how we're different, you know. that it's not just that we have an elvis presley channel, we had howard stern. great comedy. i thought it cut through the clutter. and people developed it internally. nothing to do with it. all i said is it was great don't touch it and we won't with it. >> charlie: all right. have youhanged because of what you went through in terms of the way you look at business management style. any of that? >> if you mean the liquidity issue. >> charlie: that. >> just one of the things -- >> charlie: -- scared the hell out of you so therefore what. >> any position i ever had before w whether or not how much pot -- profit we were going to make. it was not about whether or not
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you could buy your debt. yes, they were department pocket companies, very mature companies. i didn't realize early on, it wasn't about whether or not content was king or it wasn't about whether or not distribution was king, it was about cash. and certainly i don't think anybody will make that mistake again. i certainly will sit there and not ever find our ourselves in a position in any years that we weren't able to deal with maturity. i don't know when i will put it in practical use. >> charlie: five years from now not what business will you be in but will you be with sear must xm. >> we had a negotiation with the the board and the board wanted five years and we acquiesced to me doing -- >> charlie: what do you want to do. >> i don't know what i want to
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do after those three years. i want sirius to be an amazingly successful company. i know for sure, what i do know for sure is i'm not going to retire. i don't play golf. things that people do, i don't understand how people play golf. >> charlie: you do nothing. >> i do nothing. i do nothing and i love doing nothing. >> charlie: do you read. >> i read novels. are you crazy? here's what i do. i legitimately -- here's what i do. i work, i go home to my wife and my dog and we hang and i love that life. and i need to have that as well. so three years from now, god willing, you know, i don't know what i'll do. but i'm loving what i'm doing now. >> charlie: great to have you here. thank you very much for coming. >> thanks.
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>> charlie: paul goldberger is here. he's the architect critic for the new york magazine. he holds a design from new school and he published a new book called "why architecture matters." i'm pleased to have him back at my building. i want to mention his new book building up and tearing down which is his pieces that have appeared in the new yorker magazine over the years, welcome. >> thank you, charlie. >> charlie: why does architecture matter. >> it doesn't matter in a sense it's not a cure for cancer, it's not bread on the table, it's not justice in t courtroom. i think architect sometimes tries to pretend that matters likes those things. it doesn't. it doesn't sustain life but it can do an incredible amount to give the already sustained life meaning. it gives us a kind of richness in deep depth and resonance to the background of our life. >> charlie: does it matter more or less than say painting or sculpture or other art forms. >> i think it matters at least
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as much because it affects in a different way. great architecture can affect us as much as great painting or sculpture or great music. but it also provides a back drop for our lives all the time. great painting is not with us all the time. architecture is with us all the time, whether we like it or not. so we kind of have to make most with it and live with it and there's a lot of to be gained from learning how to live with it. >> charlie: you think architecture's art. >> i think architecture is art but it's also not t. it's art and not art at the same time. >> charlie: art plus. >> art plus. or as the case may be. the book makes the argument you will never understand architecture if you think it's one thing. the amazing thing about architecture is it's many things at once. it's art. it's also sociology, culture. it's all of those things and connects to everything about how we live and with a what we think and do and what we care about. >> charlie: it's also functional. >> and its function.
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art is also function and every building has an obligation to be at least somewhat practical, some of them more than others. >> charlie: do we appreciate it more or less than other societies and other countries? >> i think we're beginning to appreciate it more. i think we haven't pressured it so well in this country. we tended to build very quickly and cheaply. we tended to tear stuff down, not what we're building for ages or t next generation but we used to build just for a 20 year depreciation psych -- cycle . we are now building more ambitiously. sometimes we do. we build with an expectation that things will be around for a while. and we build usually with a recognition that architecture has an emotional as well as a functional component in our lives. what's important is it has an international dimension because of different places or different times in their own economic life. >> yes. >> charlie: you're seeing a
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whole group of architects from around the world go to everywhere, all of them in their building in beijing. some of th are built in new york and around america. >> yes. >> charlie: and they are international names and part of an international community developing art around the world. >> architecture is now a more global art than it has ever been around. great american architecture building around the world. great architecture around the world is brought here. that's a rise in the architectural consciousness to use that term of the average person i think. we do more exciting buildings today than we used to do. >> charlie: a great building should make us feel what? >> a truly great building gives you a kind of feeling of awe. kind of a knot in the pit of your stomach. and it ultimately brings you to some transcendence as all truly great art does. but now of course because buildings are all around us, because we use them all the time
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every day, not everything can be or even should be at that level any more than you want to be listening to bethoven's fifth sym fee all day every day all the time. you begin to hate it. a great building is an occasion and one of the things they we have had trouble figuring out is the balance between the great and the ordinary. because of course chirp -- architecture is about the ordinary and making every day more civilized more comfortable, more enticing more exciting. as well as those occasionally truly great experiences. so it has the obligation to be both bethoven's fifthth civil fee and background music sometime. that's a great balance. >> charlie: walk with me around the world. if in fact your son or daughter were graduating from a university and said dad take me to the great places. where would you take me. >> my kids are lucky enough to have been born and grown up in
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new york so they start with one of the greatest places of all. and you know, i often tell people when they ask what are the greatest pieces of architecture in new york, that they are two things that are not buildings actually. central park and the brooklyn bridge. also the streets of new york are incredible. >> charlie: would you go to the guggenheim. >> i would go to the guggenheim museum in new york, i would go to rockefeller center, i would go to all of central park west which i think is a remarkable street with the most incredible balance of buildings that are on to themselves and sitting together to make a larger whole. i would go to -- just the streets are so important. just walking up and down madison avenue, walking up and down bleaker street. >> charlie: washington has some of that now. >> washington has some. >> charlie: it has a great boulevard.
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pennsylvania where the white house is. >> and the mall and the vista. lincoln memorial to the capitol where the washington monument punctuating it is a truly amazing thing. >> charlie: private residence are you starting with falling water. >> falling water is the greatest private residence of the 20th century. it rests in pennsylvania it's a museum. it can be seen. it's a sublime magical thing a floating over the waterfall. it's the farnsworth house in illinois is almost as beautiful. i was talking about it one day, secret space around time. we can talk about it all we want but i have a different feeling going into the farnsworth house. >> charlie: how is that in what he did for himself. >> it's both very similar and
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totally different. they're both amazing houses and they're both in the national trusts for historic reservation which is great. so they can do business also. phillip johnson built the farnsworth house and broke away. the it's with white steal and glass. dplup johnson make his black steel frame and put it down on the earth. it sits like a temple, boom. it's a very very different thing. almost more classical. the farnsworth house is not symmetrical. >> charlie: going to europe, where would you put the louvre. >> i'll have to say i didn't like it originally and i liked it more and more as time goes on. in fact i think he was right that.
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that glass tube was once a traditional form but rendered in modern material is exactly the right touch. you feel a greater sense of time. one of the key things in any city is to feel the arc of time. and the visibility of time. he helps you do that there without in any way interfering with the louvre the you read the louvre better. it doesn't interfere wh it. it actually supports it. 20 years ago i was not so sure. >> charlie: you tied the whole space together. what is that little town in indiana. >> columbus, indiana. >> charlie: yes. one man. >> jay irwin miller who is now dead but he was the head of comings engine company and he loved architecture. he went to yale and decided the way he was going to attract people to come work in the
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middle of this no where town was to have good architecture. first he and his family a patron of the local church got him to do a new church. there should be other buildings by great architects of the century. the foundation would pay the architect's fee for anything that the town agreed -- to hire an architect from his list. he made a list. over the years, this town has had buildings by am pay. skid more, richard meyer, on and on and on. >> charlie: when you look at the factors that affect our reputation today, how important is material, how important has been technology, how important other factors that has given today's architects tools they didn't have. >> material and technology are critical. they always have been. what is a
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gothic cathedral after all bean artistic idea of engineering for its time. it pushed the envelope of engineering as far as you could go in the middle ages and it's what great architecture has always sought to do. today materials are being developed. just like the boeing 747 with composite material. but the computer has also neighborhood all kinds of things to happen. if you think of a building one of my favorite building, the twa terminal, is now tiny compared to airports today. but that swooping curving form which was conceived in the 50's, it was a nightmare to actually build when the time came to build it, it was
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incredibly possible. when they finally built it, it's like we that again. bunow you can make a hamburger stand look like that. it's very easily. we're finding more and more extra building. things would not be possible without today's technology. >> charlie: how many famous women architects are available in today other than zaha. >> there are very few, actually. one of the next pieces i'm doing for the new yorker is going to be women architects though and about women architects who are not zaha. there are a couple of them who have achieved enormous success but not great prominence. >> charlie: in the age of signature architects still with us. >> well architecture is now running head on into the buzz saw of the economy. architecture's always followed money. today there isn't so much money and these going to be a lot less architecture at least for the short term.
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>> charlie: people are not building. >> people are not building or building more modestly. we're going to see much less flamboyant architecture. >> charlie: that happened out in brooklyn didn't it with the gary project. >> this was a different thing. a developer who somewhat cynically wanted to take advantage of frank gary's name. taking advantage of celebrity architecture right now. and thought he could get this project through on the basis of frank gary's name and his involvement. when the project was approved, gary was squeezed out but now of course it looked like the economic situation makes the whole project questionable. >> charlie: having not this question with the best but the most influential today is frank gary. >> i think frank gary is surely the leading architect, the great leading preeminence. >> charlie: what is the;e-
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ot that makes h that. >> sheer quality of architecture straight out. he's made new kinds of things. made us say them in new ways, given us new kinds of experience. and he's done something that i don't think anyone in the last generation has don which is that he has crossed the line to embrace popular culture and high art in architecture. by that i mean everybody seems fascinated and to love frank gary's work. he is admired by the most serious critics and historians yet it's also admired by the general public. people love to look at his buildings. that doesn't happen a lot. >> charlie: is that dramatically different and the forms so much more interesting in what they see. >> that's part of it. but gary has a particular gift which i don't think he's given enough credit for, for comfort really. physical comfort in spaces.
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one of the chapters in my book is challenge versus comfort. how live challenges us but comes to protect us. very few architects manage to do those things at once. i think it's far better at challenge than comfort. gary is able to do both in equal measure. >> charlie: by challenge you mean what? >> i mean visually to show you something new that you've never seen before. >> charlie: and you would say awe. >> yes, right, exactly. to have you say wow and make you think of the world in a lightly different place but not to make you uncomfortable for doing so. tation an architect like robert stern who is very good but is about comfort, the easy nurturing. >> charlie: dean of the school. >> dean of the school of architecture runs a much broader academic program than that. but his own work. gary is the only one who does both. there's challenge and comfort. >> charlie: there is no phillip johnson,
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a person who somehow helps architect define its age. >> phillip johnson's greatest achievement i think was in pushing architecture into a central role in the culture. it was greater than his own architecture which of which is so so. he's not the greatest architect of our time but the greats es architectural personage. we're still profiting from the way in which johnson pushed architecture in the spotlight and made it more of a central thing in the cultural dialogue today. >> charlie: are we in a certain period now. >> i think we're in a period first of pluralism and late modernism. we've gone back to modernism realizing it wasn't finished. potion modernism was built on the fallacy that modern -- modernism that was over. but then we
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realized within the modernist vocabulary there were million different things that could be done. look at what norman force has -- foster. on they've worked in completely different ways showing you can keep on inventing inventing. >> charlie: the book is called "why architecture matters" andou just heard why. paul goldberger writer for the new yorker magazine is building up and tearing down. >> the subtitle is renextion on the age of architecture. >> charlie: thank you. >> thank you. >> charlie: thank you for joining us. see you next time. captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
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