I&T Today: How did the Podcast come about? Also, why did you decide to go with a much shorter format compared to other podcasts?
Mike Rowe: Like a lot of people, I remember the late great Paul Harvey and “The Rest of the Story” with great fondness. His short mysteries were ideally suited for the curious mind with a short attention span, and let’s face it – attention spans have never been shorter than today, so I thought the time might be right to revisit Harvey’s unique brand of story-telling. Obviously, I have no hope of filling his shoes, but I’m honored to follow in his footsteps.
I&T Today: What is your process for writing them, and how do you find stories?
Mike Rowe: I look for a person that most everyone knows about, and then tell you a story about that person you probably haven’t heard. As the story progresses, more clues are revealed, and the listener has a chance to figure out who I’m talking about before their identity is ultimately revealed. Potential subjects are literally everywhere – historical figures from the past, pop culture icons from the present, heroic soldiers, inventors, trailblazers…the fun thing about this format is that….if people like them, we’ll never run out of content.
I&T Today: I was curious about your thoughts about social media, how do you keep it from being overwhelming from a time standpoint, dealing with online negativity?
Mike Rowe: Long before I was on Facebook, Discovery built me a chat room to converse with fans of Dirty Jobs. My main objective was to get ideas and suggestions for the show, and we accomplished that many times over. But the bigger benefit of chatting with the fans was the gradual understanding that they were in fact, my collective boss. I formed a habit of talking very candidly with the viewers about a vast assortment of topics, most of which had nothing to do with Dirty Jobs. Today, that community has morphed and grown into 3 million Facebook friends, and I try to maintain the same level of candor and randomness I’ve always had. It can be overwhelming, but if you think about your fans as the people most responsible for your career, you don’t begrudge the time you spend. In fact, it’s a lot of fun. Ultimately, I think people crave transparency and authenticity, and Facebook is a great place to deliver on both.
I & T Today: What is the best way for our readers to become involved with Mike Rowe WORKS?
Mike Rowe: At base, mikeroweWORKS is a PR Campaign for good jobs that employers are struggling to fill. We highlight opportunities that require the mastery of a skill that’s actually in demand, and award Work Ethic Scholarships to people who wish to pursue those skills. We’ve awarded over 3 million dollars so far, and helped train nearly 400 men and women for skilled jobs. Which is a long way of saying…send money!