Programming

TAKE FIVE: A Q&A with TV's Multitask-Master, Martha Stewart

Martha Stewart on the Changing Syndication Market, Her New Blog, Gift-Wrapping Tips, Her Favorite Holiday Recipe 12/16/2007 10:15:00 PM Eastern

Holidays are a busy time for everyone, but Martha Stewart is busier than a Christmas Eve gift-wrapper at Macy's.

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (MSO) stock has been sluggish lately, but the high hostess of homemaking isn't showing signs of slowing down.

Last month, NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution renewed The Martha Stewart Show in more than 60% of the country for its fourth season in national syndication. Days ago, MSO unveiled Everyday Baking from Everyday Food, a weekly half-hour program on PBS premiering next month, along with the premiere of season four of Everyday Food, also on PBS.

On cable, The Martha Stewart Show will air on Fine Living in primetime on a one-day delay. And Martha Stewart Crafts half-hour segments will air on DIY Network.

Despite shuttering a magazine called Blueprint as a stand-alone publication, she declared her other titles—and the entire print medium—strong. She took five minutes from holiday multitasking to talk with B&C's Mark Robichaux about the changing syndication market, her new blog, gift-wrapping tips and the simplest of holiday recipes.


What's been the reaction to your blog?

Very positive. People are really reading it, learning from it and using the recipes. For me, it's like keeping a very good diary on a daily basis, but it's not everything I do. I try to involve the reader as much as I can in subjects they may learn from.


Do you feel it's necessary for syndicated shows and brands to be on several
platforms
?

You have to pay attention to who's watching and how. I was at a diner the other day and four kids, around 15 years old, were at the counter. No one was talking to one another—they were all watching programs on their hand-helds. Every one of them!

They were texting, listening to music and watching shows. They want one hand-held device that they can do everything from. They want to communicate, learn, research, listen and shop. And they want access.

We're where you want us to be. There are still plenty of people who want to read magazines. The circulations of our flagship Martha Stewart Living, Weddings, our Everyday Food, our Body and Soul, are growing.

It's important to be in the print and online worlds; that's where the customers are—both places. Magazines are not going to go away. They are still a viable form of communication. The magazine is core to our business, and from there, we expand to all other media. You go to our Web site for information, for inspiration, a recipe, a how-to and for pleasure. Our traffic is building quite nicely.

We're working on a new project called a Marthapedia that [is based on] my home-keeping handbook, which is an encyclopedia on how to take care of everything around your home. There will be user-generated information that is edited. Not like a Wikipedia, but more like comments and communication that are edited.


With so many syndicated lifestyle programs out there, how do you stand out?

You have to determine whether I stand out. I sort of started the how-to programming with a guy named Bob Vila. The two of us have been at this a long time—doing high-quality, informative TV—and I want very much to continue to provide evergreen information to the viewers who demand it, who love and who need it.


What's your favorite holiday recipe?

Eggnog. It's delicious; it requires just a few ingredients and it's easy to make. You can make it ahead of time and enjoy it for the duration of a long all-day party. Eggs, sugar, whipped cream, milk, heavy cream, bourbon, cognac, rum and a little nutmeg.


What's your best tip for men who don't know how to wrap packages very well?

Buy gifts that come in small boxes.


What's something people can do to save money during the holidays?

Handmade gifts. MarthaStewart.com has a large number of really beautiful projects that don't cost much money to make and are very beautiful. People look forward to those things.


Do you have a favorite?

I made some sparkly tabletop Christmas trees out of newspaper and they're beautiful! You need just a few inexpensive items to complete it—the pattern is on the Web site.

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