Cool & Unusual Punishment

Luginbilled - Episode 8

Episode Summary

This week on Luginbilled, Jodie is excited to have papers in hand as we talk about the brief life of Luginbill Omnimedia LLC, a diversified media and merchandising company organized into four segments. Cool & Unusual Punishment is a member of the Nerd & Tie Network! Find more shows from N&T at their website in the show notes. As always, thanks for listening!

Episode Notes

Luginbill Omnimedia Articles of Organization

Teen finds fame has drawbacks, turns down million-dollar gig as host of national TV show

YouTube Teenage Chef Expands LA

Joe Luginbill is Living the Celebrity Chef Dream

Edgewood College School of Business Conference

Local Morning News Appearance

Nerd & Tie Network

Episode Transcription

Tyler: You’re listening to Cool and unusual punishment. This is Episode eight of Luginbilled, our special series on the music Man of Eau Claire, Joe Luginbill. I'm your host, Tyler Haas, and joining me in the studio, your other host, Jodie Arnold. How are you, Jodie?

Jodie: I'm doing well. I got lots of papers in my lap, and it makes me happy.

Tyler: You were talking about how big a fan you are of paper trails, paper evidence. At some point this afternoon, while you were putting the story together, you audibly gasped and then held up a piece of paper.

Jodie: I had forgotten about one. Then I found it. I was like, Oh, yeah, that's a good sealant on the story.

Tyler: So what are we talking about today?

Jodie: Okay, we are going back to October fourth of 2012, and we're going to be talking about something called the Luginbill Omnimedia LLC. On October 4th of 2012, The articles of organization for this particular LLC were filed at 10:55 AM. I happen to have the exact time, the State of Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions makes available this sort of paperwork.

Tyler: Is it worth explaining generally what an LLC, what its purpose is? Because I wouldn't know unless, like we had looked it up for our own purposes.

Jodie: I mean, it's a limited liability company.

Tyler: You want to do business under an LLC, because then your business assets are separate from your personal assets. So if your business got in trouble, your personal assets can't be like, included in any legal transactions or garnished, you know, or whatever.

Jodie: Yeah. The official definition: and LLC is a type of unincorporated association distinct from a corporation. So I think you know, a lot of times if somebody wants to start their own business, they do something like that. It's not like, a huge corporation, you know, it's on a smaller scale.

Tyler: Yeah, you can have an LLC if you're one person who has a one person business. It's just a form and a fee.

Jodie: Yep, to form an LLC in the state of Wisconsin. Back in 2012, it was $130. Well, that gets filed. The next day, October 5th of 2012, WEAU TV 13 has a story. “Surprise Sunrise: Exclusive Teen chef Joe Luginbill makes a big announcement. Have you heard of Joe Luginbill? He's an Eau Claire teenager who's making quite a splash in the cooking world,” and I believe we referenced this story when we've talked about other things early on. “He was also recently ranked as the number one most entertaining celebrity chef on the website, www dot rancor dot com.”

Tyler: Beat out Gordon Ramsay. If I remember correctly.

Jodie: Yes, and Anthony Bourdain, I think, which is by far the most offensive one to beat on there. “On Friday morning, he shared a recipe and a big announcement. He is launching his own company, along with several community partners and investors. Here's the official statement. Luginbill Omnimedia is a diversified media and merchandizing company founded by Joe Luginbill and other investors. It is organized into four business segments: publishing, Internet broadcasting, media platforms and merchandizing product lines. Luginbill Omnimedia's business holdings include a variety of print publications and television and radio programming.”

Jodie: So in the span of one day, he registers this LLC, which has done nothing.

Tyler: Uh, it's decided it's going to have four arms of-

Jodie: Four very complicated arms. Whenever I have to read things like that. I have to really carefully enunciate. So in the course of one day, he did this in the morning, must have sent out some sort of press release. Or maybe he gave some sort of exclusive, Hey, if you have me on, I'll give the dish on something like this. You know, on that same day, October 5th, 2012. Maybe on episode one or on episode two, I had talked about this story that had been done by a Richard Horgan for Adweek Online. 

Tyler: Yeah, if I remember, it stood out because it was an article about Joe, not from anything local. It was like a news blogger site or something. And we couldn't really make any connection between the guy writing this article and Joe. And here it was just kind of it at random, out on the internet.

Jodie: When I looked back at this article, it starts “We should all be so lucky as to have had, at age 18, a calling card as impressive as this. Meet Joe Luginbill, CEO of Luginbill Omnimedia,” and I realized this is the lead for the whole story, right? “The Eau Claire native officially unveiled his new enterprise today to expand upon a range of media tentacles crowned by weekly a YouTube cooking show. Luginbill Omnimedia is described as a diversified media and merchandizing company or organized into four business segments publishing, Internet broadcasting, media platforms and merchandizing product lines.”

When I had initially reached out to Richard Horgan, I didn't realize at the time how significant it was that this was written on October 5th, because the LLC had just become a thing the day before. So I then went back to the email correspondence I had with Richard Horgan, where I had asked him back on February 4th of this year.

“Hello. I'm curious to know what inspired you to write this article from 2012. Did Joe Luginbill reach out to you?”

 Well, he had written back to me and said, “I can't remember. Likely that I reached out to him after coming across his efforts at the time. Rh”

Boy, that this guy would just randomly reach out to Joe Luginbill back in 2012. I don't like to speculate very much on the podcast because I really like facts, and I like paper. It could also have been the case that Joe had reached out and just had blitzed a bunch of places with some sort of press release and that guy bit on it and then did the story. That also, to me, feels like a very likely scenario.

Tyler: Yeah, there's a tone, too. Interviews and articles about people who went viral like, whoa, suddenly everyone knows your face. You know the cadence of a new interview on Oprah like that, right? That article starts with Let me tell you about this amazing man.

Jodie: And leads with Luginbill Omnimedia, which had just become a thing one day before. So I guess all we can say for sure is what an amazing coincidence, right?

So then I started thinking, Where else has Luginbill Omnimedia LLC been mentioned? Because it is really hard to figure out what exactly this is what the practical carrying out of this business model looks like. It just reminds me of like, we've joked about corporate speak and synergy and all these things, where it sounds good, but what does that actually mean? I just wanted to see where else this had been mentioned, and see if this business would make more sense to me. and everybody else. And another place Luginbill Omnimedia LLC was mentioned is on the Celebrity Chef Network, which is Celebrity chef network dot com. And as always, we will have links to all of these things. This is a profile that features celebrity chefs, and his is a photo of Joe in an apron. His photo is of him himself in an apron with Joe's Kitchen on it, and it says, “Joe Luginbill is living the celebrity chef dream,” and this came out later in the month in October. It's not dated. This site doesn't date when things like are added to the site. But it must have been later in October, because it goes to say, I'll skip some of it, “The young man, ranked number one most entertaining celebrity chef on the website rancor dot com, announced earlier this month he had started his own company to benefit all of the media he creates. This is what Luginbill had to say in an official statement...”

Tyler: Read it again, please read it again.

Jodie: It is organized into four business segments: publishing, internet broadcasting, media platforms and merchandizing product lines. Luginbill Omnimedia's business holdings include a variety of print publications and television and radio.”

So I'm like, All right, there's another mention of this business, and I still don't know what it is or what it's really done. So then I find Luginbill Omnimedia LLC. It just rolls off the tongue.

Tyler: It literally sounds like when you track corporations like, oh, what corporation owns that? And then you keep going up the ladder and you find out that there's four companies that rule the world. The companies up there are so vaguely named that you don't even know they exist. Like, Luginbill Omnimedia, a multipronged multimedia platform system is just perfectly vague enough to pull the strings on the entire world and you wouldn't know. 

Jodie: This profile of Joe Luginbill, I find it on the Celebrity Online. The main purpose of this website is to give net worth for celebrities. In October 2012, he and several investing partners announced the launch of his namesake company, Luginbill Omnimedia, which served as a public relations firm through his endorsements with mega foods, Silver, Spring Foods and Ali. So Mega Foods, no longer around in this area. Silver Springs, he did do the videos with that, some of those cooking videos were. The third thing there is Ali, which is a weight loss pill from Glaxo Smith Kline? Um, not what I would expect from Joe Luginbill, It doesn't really fit, you know. You've got a grocery store chain, a mustard. I did reach out to GlaxoSmithKline. I got no response to my inquiry. That was probably three weeks ago. I can't find any other reference to him and that drug other than this profile.

Tyler: Uh, and what was this? That he had a sponsorship with them? Is that what it was?

Jodie: He had an endorsement. I would assume that your face or likeness or name, but somehow be attached to Ali at some point. I can't find anything like that. All the same. Unverified, if that's correct or not.

So I had pointed this out to you, and then I discovered that it was documented, and so I wanted to bring it up. If the use of the term “Omnimedia” sounds familiar to you and you're thinking, where have I ever heard-

Tyler: Was that the corporation in Robocop? Because that's what I always think of.

Jodie: When Joe told the leader telegram 8/17/2013 that he had taken part in a Sirius satellite radio program with Martha Stewart, he started off by telling Martha Stewart the name of his company. And according to him, she said he had good taste and choosing the name of his promotional company, because her company, encompassing a variety of business ventures, is named Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. We've gone over it. She was an influencer for Joe. Probably, you know, somebody that he had aspired to be like. And so, of course, his name is going to somewhat mirror that and then also have all these facets, right? Well, in the several stories here, there is reference to other investors, Right, like “we” here, it's not just him involved in this show-

Tyler: Yes. Joe “and investors” started this company.

Jodie: Yeah, the part I didn't mention about the articles of organization is Joe is not the only organizer in this business venture.

So for all of his media domination off this Luginbill Omnimedia LLC being his, there is somebody else that is a business partner.

Tyler: listed in the filing papers?

Jodie:. Mhm. The other name on this document is Aaron Bryce, who is one of the owners of Ambient Inks.

I was completely shocked to see Ambient Inks on here. What was that all about? What happened? How did that happen?

Tyler: And which of the four prongs of Luginbill Omnimedia did they fall under?

Jodie: Yeah. Yeah, well, I reached out and talked to Aaron, who was wonderfully forthcoming. He told me that he had reached out to Joe, who was starting to make a splash back in 2012. There was, you know, the sort of word of mouth campaign generating. You know, there's this kid, he's doing all these amazing things. At that point, Ambient Inks was in its infancy. So they had reached out to Joe Luginbill and offered to do brand work and merchandizing on the house .

On paper, at this point, you've got somebody who appears to be on the cusp of-

Tyler: A rocket ship to the moon You wanna get in on the ground floor.

Jodie: Yeah, and it's like, hey, if we give him some free stuff now, maybe he will come back and utilize us for his future projects. Right? There is a photo from the WEAU story and its Joe wearing this apron with the Joe's kitchen logo on it, that is what Ambient inks designed for him. They start talking to him some more, and they realize that Joe is in need of help in the form of creative direction and marketing. Now, Joe had mentioned that he was being offered a show on the Food Network.

Tyler: This is different than the one he was offered on PBS or something?

Jodie: Well, that was the Mr. Rogers thing later. He had mentioned that he was being offered this Food Network show. So, of course, the folks at Ambient Ink had thought to themselves, he gets the show on the food network. We can do the merchandizing for it. This will be awesome. They decide that they're going to form this business together. Luginbill Omnimedia LLC. Both the names are on there. They sign off and then guess what happens.

Tyler: Uh, a very successful partnership between two businessmen.

Jodie: What happens is they form an LLC together, and then they never hear from him again. I cannot think of a story we've done involving anybody else in which this is not the case. 

Tyler: What does that entail? Like they signed the papers together or whatever it takes. Then, I mean, I know what never hearing from him again technically means, But I assume he's like, all right, let's get to work on our business. And he stops answering his phone or what?

Jodie: Yeah. Hey, how's that Food Network show coming along? Hey, um, what are we doing together as business partners? Just classic questions you might ask somebody you’re in business with. Never hears from him again.

Tyler: If he wasn't gonna ever talk to Aaron again, why did he do this with him?

Jodie: That's a good question. I don't know. I mean, I think the need to have another notch on your belt of things is greater than the back end, which I think is always like, well, at some point, I'm just gonna duck and run from this thing.

What happened in the aftermath of this, okay, is that they didn't hear from him, and then Aaron started hearing some rumblings from people who had experiences with Joe or had heard things, and were cautionary with his involvement with Joe in this venture. That, coupled with he's not responding to simple inquiries and realizing that they're not going to get paid for anything that they're going to do, was a big red flag. So they started then reaching out to him not to say, Hey, what are we doing together? It was to say, Hey, we want to dissolve this LLC. And again, the response from Joe was not 24 hours later, like they wanted to end the LLC, they wisely identified that it was a good idea to not be associated with this person. And we certainly know of people that had identified Joe as a problematic person back in 2012 because some of those people had pointed us in the right direction.

Tyler: Yeah, someday. We’ll thank them for this podcast.

Jodie: Yeah, they had saved Screenshots for years, right? And so anyway, Joe finally gets back to them. And he’s agreeable, the LLC officially gets dissolved on November 18th of 2013.

Tyler: So they formed the LLC. Never hear from Joe until about a year later, when he's like I would like to dissolve this LLC and then Joe's like, Yeah, let's do it! Okay, I just wanted to check.

Jodie: Dissolution by written consent of all members, that's signed by Joe Luginbill on 10/28/13. It's about a year and three months after the LLC is formed, it goes away.  The folks that Ambient Inks never speak with Joe again.

This would be the end of the story. They were smart. But then I had found this Edgewood College School of Business Conference that happened on the Deming Way campus in Madison on October 21st of 2016.

Tyler: Okay, wait. Edgewood College is a college in Madison?

Jodie: Private school, Liberal arts. I'm sure it's not cheap. 

Tyler: And so they're holding a business conference in 2016.

Jodie: Yeah. The theme of this business conference was “preparing and inspiring future business leaders for the challenges of today and tomorrow.” This happened on October 21st of 2016. You know, you're going to go for the day, you're going to sit in an audience. You're gonna listen to different panels and get inspired and everything like that, right? Now, there was a panel session called “social Entrepreneurship using business innovation to address social problems.” One of the speakers is Joe Luginbill, owner, Luginbill Omnimedia LLC and vice president of the Eau Claire Area School District. So, three years after this underwhelming LLC gets dissolved. He speaks-

Tyler: He sees a notice about this social entrepreneurship conference and thinks this is a job for the four prongs of Luginbill Omnimedia. He made this LLC and moved on in three months, and so it got forgotten until it was dissolved. And then by 2016, he's vice president of the school board-

Jodie: He's just on the cusp of forming the Luginbill Children's Foundation-

Tyler: And then sees this and is like, wait, I used to have Omnimedia. Let's go for it.

Jodie: I was going to tell you quickly, that when we first started this podcast back in January, we were digging up a bunch of stuff and we had found Luginbill Omnimedia on Facebook and there was no photo.

Tyler: Yeah, it was basically a blank like Facebook group, like, he like, made the account or whatever, made the page and never followed through. That's what I assumed.

Jodie: Yeah, and I just checked now and that's gone.

Tyler: Hey, hey, we are a force for change in the world.

Jodie: So that's my story on this, right? This is the Seinfeld of Luginbilled episodes because in a way, this is a story about nothing. There was nothing. 

Tyler: Do we need to put that at the start of the episode?

Jodie: Maybe. Yeah, because you know, I am blown away by the power somebody has in name alone to dissolve a company which did nothing. And then despite that, come back and sit on a panel for a very professional college. I don't know how they came to have Joe at this conference. I don't know why he would lead with something that was not even existent anymore. You know, I just know a lot of worthy endeavors out there that don't get a lot of press that certainly are important. And it kind of ticks me off when I think of the many times that media, local and otherwise just kind of rolled over.

Tyler: He went on the local news morning show and said that sentence that I made you keep reading and no one was like, Okay, what does that mean?

Jodie: Or whatever happened with that? Yeah, I think the local media and just people in general, uh, were receptive to what he was putting out because they wanted to believe this heartwarming story about a young kid, somebody local, making it big, that there was not a willingness to question it. You know, you share something because you agree with it without thinking that you should verify if it's factual. I think a lot of what we've talked about in regards to the media and people just believing him, has to do with that instinct. You know, you have to keep that in mind while also realizing in retrospect, okay, we can't have another Joe Luginbill happen again. So that's why it's good to talk about these things. Trust but verify. And I don't even know if I trust and I always verify.

Tyler: Luginbilled is presented by cool and unusual punishment. Research and interviews by Jodie Arnold. This episode was edited and mixed by me, Tyler Haas. Music by Michael Adeles, Ishaan Dinsor, John Wright, Xavly, Euvgeny Sarabrrkov, Sungjtay Kim, and Goldie Shine. Special thanks this week to Aaron Bryce for speaking with us. You can help support this and future stories while getting early and exclusive content by subscribing to our Patreon page at P A T R E O N dot com slash Cool and unusual punishment. Our website, where you can find more episodes as well as links to the material we referenced, is the world's greatest podcast dot com.

In case you were wondering, the corporation in Robocop is called Omni Consumer Products.

Jodie: Thank you, darling.