Allen Hammock Interview

In 1995 CompuServe, America Online and Prodigy started providing dial-up Internet access and people started getting online. In April some tech folks from the University of Missouri came to our offices in Jefferson City and gave us a demo of the “World Wide Web” and our first look at Netscape Navigator. I can’t speak for the others in the meeting but I was mightily impressed.

I knew a bit about the Internet but nothing about how to create a website or register a domain, so I contacted Mike McKean, a professor at the J-School at the University of Missouri, and asked if he could put me in touch with a student who knew how to do this stuff. He introduced me to Dan Arnall, a senior journalism major. Dan was technically adept but he brought along Allen Hammock who was majoring in computer science. Dan and Allen were high school classmates in Springfield, Missouri, and were in members of a student leadership organization at Mizzou.

In this 12 minute interview, Allen shares some of his recollections of the exciting three years that followed.

Wayback Machine:

My little history project took me to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine where I got a look at some of the websites I helped create and maintain during the early days of the Internet. The first sites we created were for our two news networks, Radio Iowa and The Missourinet, but we felt like we needed one for our corporate site and went up in 1997. It was designed and built by Dan Arnall and Allen Hammock. (The story is in the link above)

I’m pretty sure I’m responsible for the look of the page in 1999 and 2000. I had zero design training or skills and I also didn’t have a budget for those talents, so I took a whack at it. We did have some professional help eventually but today they all look, let’s just say, dated.

A “home page” on the Internet was a brand new thing in 1997. They became the public face of a company or organization and in those early days, little more than brochures. Everyone was trying to figure out how to make them useful. “Look and feel” was way more important than usability back then. We loaded our pages with text because space was not an issue. Or so we thought.

Images tended to be tiny because big ones too a long time to load on slow dial-up connections. As we added more and more pages to our sites, “navigation” became important. We gave our page links clever names that meant nothing to the people visiting our sites.

Looking at these are almost painful. Like looking at photos from your senior year in high school. Want more? Missourinet and Radio Iowa.

Mark Cuban and AudioNet

The following is an excerpt from Learfield and the Internet: 1995-2005

In September of 1995 we received a phone call from Mark Cuban. He and a partner (Todd Wagner) had recently acquired a company called Cameron Audio Networks, named after its founder Cameron Christopher Jaeb. The company had acquired rights to broadcast radio and professional sports games live on the Internet. Cuban wanted to listen to the basketball games of his alma mater, Indiana University. Learfield owned the media rights to IU (and eight other universities and colleges). Cuban renamed his company AudioNet.

From the AudioNet media kit, October 1995:

“AudioNet is one of the most popular destinations on the Internet. People around the world know that when they want their choice of realtime and on demand audio programming there is only one place to go, WWW.Audionet.Com, the world’s first Broadcast Network on the Internet!”

“We offer them realtime broadcasts of radio stations such as KLIF Dallas, KFI Los Angeles, KOA Denver, XTRA San Diego, WQAM Miami, WJFK Washington DC WCKY Cincinnati, with many more to come. The there is the realtime broadcasts of exciting sporting events such as Texas A&M, University of Southern California, Baylor, Southern Methodist University college football, a growing schedule of professional football, baseball, basketball ad hockey, and Indoor Soccer.”

“In addition to sports programming we offer a complete choice of entertaining programming (you) can’t get anywhere else, like the Janice Malone Show, The Mark Cuban Show, Jeffrey Lyons Movie Reviews and Hollywood Reports, Medical Matters, Tech Talk, NetRadio, Geek Free Radio, Legal Matters, NetRadio, Celebrity Interviews with Michelle Pfeiffer, Patrick Swayze, Dustin Hoffman, George Foreman, Gennifer Flowers and much more. What’s even more exciting is that AudioNet is doubling (its) content offerings every month, with new things being added every day. Listeners know to stop by and see what’s new, and they do!”

On November 10, 1995, we met with Mark in Kansas City to discuss how our two companies might work together. It was Clyde, Allen Hammock, Steve Mays and (maybe) Chief Engineer Charlie Peters.

Since Learfield owned the broadcast rights, we couldn’t see the value of what AudioNet brought to the table. At one point Mark walked over to the whiteboard and scrawled some numbers, offering to sell 10% of his new company to Learfield for half a million dollars (others recall the number as one million). Learfield didn’t have the money at the time and really couldn’t see the value of AudioNet in any event. (Cuban sold his company to Yahoo! on April 1, 1999 for $5.7 billion, making it the most expensive acquisition Yahoo! had made at the time.)

In December, 1995, Learfield and AudioNet signed a letter of agreement for Internet distribution of our live college sports programming. AudioNet provided a minimum of 10,000 RealAudio streams while Learfield provided audio of our football and basketball broadcasts. We were also responsible for development of all content for the websites. Any advertising sold by Learfield, the split was 80/20 (80% to Learfield). If AudioNet sold the ads, the split was 60/40 (60% to Learfield). The term of the agreement was two years.

At some point during our talks with Mark, someone at Learfield asked why we couldn’t just do this on our own. Why did we need AudioNet? I recall Mark explaining he had an arrangement with RealAudio for streaming licenses that no other company could get. That was his edge.

Derry Brownfield Show: World Wide Web

The Internet has become so much a part of our lives it feels strange to say/write the word. Hard to remember a time when it was new and strange. The interview segment below is from 1996 and is a tiny time capsule from those early days of the “world wide web.”

On September 11, 1996, Allen Hammock was the guest on Derry Brownfield’s radio show to talk about the Internet and the “World Wide Web.” Allen and his partner, Dan Arnall, had recently joined Learfield Communications to “explore opportunities” on this new thing called the Internet. Allen and Dan were recent graduates of the University of Missouri in Columbia, MO. They created the first websites for our company and worked with our IT department to stream audio for our various radio networks and programs, including The Derry Brownfield Show. This 13 minute segment (edited from an hour-long show) touches on: Personal Communication, Privacy and Security, computer viruses, and getting “on” and “off” the Internet.

On November 22, 1996, Derry did a follow-up show featuring Solveig Bernstein, talking about privacy (and other topics) on the Internet (still newish at the time). Ms. Bernstein was the Assistant Director of Telecommunications and Technology Studies for the Cato Institute.

Relaunching news websites

Learfield NetworksOne of the first Learfield networks to have a website was Radio Iowa, our state news network in Iowa. That must have been around 1996 and it was created (using Frontpage) by Dan Arnall and Allen Hammock, a couple college guys we hired to help us figure out “this Internet thing.”

Dan and Allen went on to pursue new adventures a long time ago. And we’ve added lots of websites –for our company and for clients– since those early days.

This week we relaunched We relaunched a about a month back and we’ll be putting up the new in a couple of weeks.

Our news networks are pretty narrow in focus. We cover the legislature, state government and –with the help of our affiliates– news from throughout our respective states.

Our websites reflect that focus. State news and sports, with an emphasis on the sounds of the news. We are, first and foremost, radio networks. Our websites are designed to complement them. They are not high-traffic, destination sites. Time will tell if this strategy is the correct one. The next couple of years should be interesting.

Our new sites are very blog-like. At, we blog the sports and our news director maintains a blog. At Radio Iowa, News Director O. Kay Henderson is generating a real following for her political blog.

Time will tell if I have taken us in the right direction with these sites. If you like what you see, email me and I’ll put you in touch with Andy Waschick, the man behind all of Learfield’s websites. If you don’t… please don’t tell me.

Interview: Dan Arnall, Business Editor, ABC News

Dan ArnallIn the mid-90’s (1996? 1995) I went searching for someone that could help our our company get online. Websites were a new thing and I didn’t have a clue where to start, so I called Mike McKean at the University of Missouri School of Journalism (not sure if he was a professor back then) and he said he had a student that was really sharp, had his own web page, and might be just what we were looking for.

I met with Dan who told me he and his best friend, Allen Hammock, had a company that could do just what we needed. I think the company was about 10 minutes old at that moment but we wound up hiring Dan and Allen (who became affectionately known as the Cyber Twins) to guide Learfield into the new digital age.

We got wet –like everybody else– when the Internet bubble burst and Dan and Allen moved on to pursue their careers. Dan, a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, kicked around in Seattle and San Francisco for a bit and then went back to to get his masters degree at Columbia University.

We chatted for half and hour earlier this evening, talking about his duties at ABC; the changing world of journalism and media; living in Manhatten and Brushes with Near Greatness (John Lithgow and Tony Danza). (AUDIO: 30 min, 10 meg MP3)

Technical Note: After screwing the pooch on a couple of Skype interviews, I’m proud to report this sounds pretty good. I was a tad hot but I didn’t lose the interview.