The business and culture of our digital lives,
from the L.A. Times

« Previous Post | Technology Home | Next Post »

Craigslist founder sits in as guest DJ on KCRW

February 25, 2009 |  3:38 pm
Craig Newmark on KCRW
Craig Newmark's turn as a DJ premiered today. Credit: KCRW.

Craig Newmark founded Craigslist, the popular online classifieds site where you can buy poker chips, cars and heavy metal spouts. If you sat down with him for a chat, you might have many questions: how he came up with the idea for Craigslist; what his plans are for the site; if he really meant to drive a stake into the heart of newspapers by killing the market for classified ads.

You won't find answers to any of those things by listening to this week's Guest DJ project on KCRW, which features Newmark. But you can find out which songs inspired him and what kind of glasses he wore in high school.

The Guest DJ project is kind of like the famous BBC show, "Desert Island Discs," in which famous people are interviewed about their favorite music and why they love it. But it's a bit different. In the Guest DJ Project, which is streamed online, people outside of the industry tell host Anne Litt which songs have influenced them over their lives. Kevin Rose, the founder of Digg, for instance, listens to Pinback's "Good to Sea" when he needs to concentrate; Tom Anderson, the co-founder of MySpace, loves Kelly Clarkson and American Idol.

"Tech entrepreneurs are some of the most interesting people around," said Rachel Reynolds, who books the guests for the program. "Their minds work in such creative ways."

Newmark's five songs: "Little Earthquakes" by Tori Amos, "Magic & Loss" by Lou Reed, "Anthem" and "Democracy" by Leonard Cohen and "We Are One Body" by Sophie B. Hawkins. We learn from his discussion of the songs that he literally had a pocket protector and big black taped glasses in high school, that he's wearing black more now to be cool and that Leonard Cohen is "more or less" Newmark's rabbi.

He also seems to be advocating for a revolution of sorts. He says about Cohen's lyrics:

They're more or less giving me my marching orders in terms of what I should be doing right now. The deal is that we're now seeing a big surge in network grassroots democracy. This is something that's really happening and changing the world. It's kind of like 1776 all over again.

Then again, Cohen's lyrics might also refer to Craigslist. A line from "Anthem" perfectly describes some of the stuff listed on the site: "There is a crack in everything."

-- Alana Semuels