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In His reddit AMA, Mike Rowe Talks About The Mob, Exercise, And QVC

By Jodi Smith | Celebrity | November 12, 2014 |

By Jodi Smith | Celebrity | November 12, 2014 |

Mike Rowe, he of Dirty Jobs and the voice over for many a product and television show, is one of my favorites. He’s handsome, intelligent, well-spoken, funny, and not afraid to do some hard work. Straight from the man himself, this is why the delicious and dirty Mike Rowe stopped by reddit for an AMA:

“I spent the past decade traveling to all 50 states and introducing cable TV viewers to over 300 different jobs. My new CNN series, “Somebody’s Gotta Do It” airs Wednesdays at 9pm ET and introduces viewers to people who march to the beat of a different drum. This show is about passion, purpose, and occasionally, hobbies that get a little out of hand. I sang in the Baltimore opera and sold stuff in the middle of the night on QVC. I’ve made many mistakes. I currently use my skills from the home shopping days to auction C.R.A.P. (collectibles rare and precious) to benefit my foundation on I’m @MikeRoweWorks on Twitter and TheRealMikeRowe on Facebook.”

  • What job shocked you the most by finding out how awful it really was?
  • Many jobs appear bad at a glance, only to get much worse at a second glance. And some jobs simply get worse and worse with every subsequent glance, which is why (of course) many people watch the program with their eyes closed.

    I was never in a position to close my eyes, and consequently, I enjoyed a front-row seat to a great variety of pits, and holes, that most people simply don’t know exist.

    One brief example might be the interior of an ocean buoy.

    In the Coast Guard, buoy tenders are responsible for hoisting these giant steel contraptions out of the ocean, and refurbishing them.

    In this case, “refurbishment” means “crawling into a woefully inadequate tube not much larger than the space taken up by your shoulders, and wiggling your way like a worm into the shadowy depths whereupon you begin to remove the barnacles and various other forms of nautical life with a stick or some other improvised tool.”

    I could go on, but I won’t.

  • What dirty jobs did you always want to do but the network or producers wouldn’t let you do? (too dangerous, inappropriate, so on). Thanks for the AMA and good job with your skilled workers scholarship!
  • Thanks for the encouragement. The Skilled Trades could do with a few more fans, and I’m proud to be one of them.

    Regarding barriers to dirt, there have been many, and for a multitude of reasons. The segments I was most interested in doing but found the most resistance around was that of a rendering facility.

    Aside from the fact that “rendering facilities” are by their very definition optically horrific, there was another concern that I had not considered.

    That concern can be spelled out with the following letters: M-O-B.

    That’s right - the Mob is still involved in a surprising number of rendering facilities. Why the Mob has such a rich history in garbage-related industries and rendering-related industries is a conversation beyond my pay grade.

    I only know how relieved I was to finally find a rendering outfit that was not owned or operated by the Cosa Nostra.

    That facility was in Northern California. And they were called North State Rendering.
    To this day, I’m impressed with how brave they were in their decision to let us provide our viewers with an unvarnished look at what it takes to turn a dead cow into several hundred pounds of chicken feed.

    Yes, I’m deeply proud of that day.

  • Why do you still choose to live moderately even though you have made enough money to not do so? I saw the emails online that people send you and you reply and you sent a guy a picture of your view outside your apartment and there is a smokestack outside of it. why are you so humble??!
  • I’m not really humble, I’m just not properly acquisitive.

    I take more pleasure in saving than spending.

    And like the Native Americans, I tend to look at “ownership” as something more akin to stewardship. In other words, the more things you own, the more things own you.

    On a practical level, I find if you don’t have the space for a lot of stuff, you don’t wind up with a lot of stuff.

  • I really appreciate the work you do for trade activism, and the revival of blue collar trades. As someone who lives in Alberta, Canada where the trades seem to flourish, what are the biggest obstacles in the fight against the decline of the blue collar trades in the States?
  • The short answer is: perception.

    The number of people who depend upon a workable infrastructure and a skilled trade force are coincidentally the same number of people who currently inhabit the planet.
    For a long list of reasons, parents, teachers, and guidance counselors have begun to emphasize one specific form of education. At the expense of all the others.

    In this country, it’s widely believed that a 4 year degree for the most people.

    Unfortunately, that’s insane.

    Of the 3 million available jobs today, less than 20% require a 4 year degree.

    The rest require training, and a willingness to learn a skill that’s actually in-demand. On top of everything else, we have student loans outstanding in excess of $1 Trillion dollars.

    In short, we’re lending money we don’t have to kids who can’t pay it back so they can educate themselves for jobs that no longer exist.

    That should probably stop.

  • I always got a good chuckle out of your QVC days, have you ever considered reuniting with them as a goof now that you’re so successful? And how long did it take for your fellow co-workers to catch on to your sarcasm or did they all just think you were really strange?

    PS: I always thought you had such a lovely speaking voice and was so impressed when I found out you used to sing opera, so kewl! For anyone who doesn’t know, educate yourself, the man can sing!

  • You flatter me.

    You also horrify me.

    I say this because a quick dirty down-the-wormhole of YouTube will in fact confirm all that you have said. My days at QVC (or more specifically, my nights) set the tenor and tone for what would eventually become my “career.”

    I was fired 3 times in 3 years (deservedly so).

    I made fun of the products, and all too often, the people who purchased them.
    I did this not out of any kind of mean spiritedness, but rather a desperate attempt to remain conscious.

    What I got away with from 1989-1992, on live television, will one day be a book.

    And if there’s any justice in this topsy-turvy industry, my former masters in the home shopping business will invite me back to the scene of the crime to sell said memoirs.

    But I’m not holding my breath.

  • Why should I watch your new show? Also, what is your favorite deli meat?
  • Hahahaha!

    Coincidentally, you should watch my new show for the same reason that I enjoy HAM.
    Do you see what I did there?

    I tried to create an - albeit tenuous - juxtaposition between my propensity to be a “ham” on SOMEBODY’S GOTTA DO IT, while at the same time, embracing all the delicious, sweet, porky nitrates most often associated with that delectable, glazed honey-baked ham.

    Now I suppose, we could have a conversation about whether or not honey-baked ham is technically a “deli meat.”

    But I’m not going to do that.

    I’m simply going to conclude this fascinating and unforgettable hour with a gentle reminder that SOMEBODY’S GOTTA DO IT not only tastes every bit as good as the aforementioned ham, but can be seen tonight on CNN at 9 PM.

    If there is any justice in this world, or among you reddites, or redditors, or whatever you call yourselves, you will join me in front of whatever screen you are partial to - and pour yourself the beverage of your choice and enjoy a ham sandwich with me.

  • How has the transition to CNN been? Also, what was the reason for the move?
  • In my industry, several well-known terms are currently in the process of being redefined.

    Terms like “non-fiction” and “unscripted.”

    These words no longer mean what they used to mean.

    Today, the Ducks have a Dynasty, the Amish have a Mafia, and until very recently, Honey had a Boo-Boo.

    These programs, in spite of their popularity, all aired under the “nonfiction” umbrella. And yet, they all have writer’s rooms.

    The truth is, it’s become very difficult to produce a show with no second takes, and no script, because the people in charge of putting them on the air would prefer to control them, in the same way an executive might be able to control an episode of THE BIG BANG THEORY.

    It occurred to me that networks like FOX and CNN were not just news outlets, but fundamentally, nonfiction outlets.

    CNN, in particular, was very interested in exploring alternative forms of programming, very similar to DIRTY JOBS.

    In short, they’ve been great to work with.

    And as long as headlines like Ebola, and ISIS, and terrorism, and natural disasters don’t completely dominate the landscape, I think there will be room for SOMEBODY’S GOTTA DO IT and other shows like it.

  • Hey Mike, always wondered..ever had an experience with a ghost?
  • Well, I narrated GHOSTHUNTERS for 8 seasons.

    All I can tell you for sure regarding the paranormal is that there’s good money in it.

  • Hey Mike! Would you do our reddit Secret Santa this year? It’s really fun and we’re all HUGE fans!
  • I’d be happy to! Who provides the outfit? I wear a European Husky.

  • Do you follow an exercise/weightlifting routine? I was watch Dirty Jobs a few years ago and realized you must do some sort of training.
  • For a while, when I agonized over maintaining the illusion of fitness, I committed myself to a routine that centered around Burpees.

    Also known as “the Prison Workout,” Burpees require one to drop from a standing position into a squat. Then you kick your legs backward, and do a push-up. Then, you return to the squatting position. Then, you leap into the air as high as you can. Then you do it again.

    And again.

    And again.

    Until you are either

    A) No longer fat


    B) Vomiting uncontrollably.

    The end.


    Jodi Smith is a Senior Reporter, Film & Television at Pajiba. You can email her or follow her on Twitter.

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