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Creator of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives Tells All About American Food with David Page | Ep. 179 | Business Podcast

Creator of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives Tells All About American Food with David Page | Ep. 179 | Business Podcast

Creator of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives Tells All About American Food with David Page | Ep. 179 | Business Podcast

Creator of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives Tells All About American Food with David Page | Ep. 179 | Business Podcast
Creator of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives Tells All About American Food with David Page | Ep. 179 | Business Podcast

Summary

Two-time Emmy winner David Page changed the world of food television by creating, developing, and executive-producing the groundbreaking show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives on the Food Network.

Before that, as a network news producer based in London, Frankfurt, and Budapest, he traveled Europe, Africa, and the Middle East doing two things: covering some of the biggest stories in the world and developing a passion for some of the world’s most incredible food.

Page walked through Checkpoint Charlie into East Berlin the night the Berlin wall opened, but his favorite memory of the eastern side before reunification remains the weisswurst sold under the S-Bahn elevated train.

He was first served couscous by Moammar Khaddafy’s kitchen staff while waiting in a tent to interview the dictator in Libya.

Blood oranges at a three o’clock breakfast with Yasser Arafat. Wild boar prosciutto in Rome. Bouillabaisse in Marseille. Cheese pies in Tbilisi. Venison in Salzburg. Nonstop caviar in Moscow. He even managed to slip a few food features in between the headline stories, such as a profile of Germany’s leading food critic, which turned out not to be the oxymoron one might assume.

Once back in the states, Page has pursued his passion both personally and professionally.

Show-producing Good Morning America, he was involved in a substantial amount of food coverage, including cooking segments by Emeril Lagasse. Creating Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and hands-on producing its first eleven seasons took him deep into the world of American food—its vast variations, its history, its evolution, and especially the dedicated cooks and chefs keeping it vibrant.

His next series, the syndicated Beer Geeks, dove deep into the intersection of great beer and great food. It is those experiences, that education, and the discovery of little- known stories and facts that led Page to dig even deeper and tie the strands together in Food Americana.

Listen to episode to hear these stories and more!

Links from this episode

Hello Friends.

Brandon:

Welcome to the show. Today. We’re talking with David Page. Who is the creator of a famous show on the food network that you will recognize called diners drive ins and dives Show has been running for 14 years and he shares the story of how he created this series, which is really fun.

Brandon:

And he has a new book out called Food Americana, where he uncovers the untold backstories of American food. There’s some really cool stories, especially something that I never knew about.

Brandon:

Red velvet cupcakes.

Brandon:

You’re gonna love this episode, David, a lot of fun.

Brandon:

Here we go.

Brandon:

Welcome to the Edge podcast, your weekly playbook about the inner game of building a successful business, making you a happier, healthier and richer business owner. And here’s your host, Brandon White David. How are you, what’s my name?

Brandon:

What’s your name?

Brandon:

Yeah, David Page.

Brandon:

Oh, good.

Brandon:

Cause the thing came up for the zoom recording and you had slated this recording with David, the food guy.

Brandon:

Isn’t that you? I guess that’s me. I didn’t know if I had a last name. That’s all.

Brandon:

No, that’s how I, how I, how I remember today. Well, there you go, thinking about you because we were just trying to get sprinkles, cupcakes delivered to our house and they claim that they delivered them and apparently they don’t after you paid or before you paid.

Brandon:

No, they got us to like the last screen and then they said, Hey bummer, we don’t deliver to half Moon Bay California? You’ll have to drive over the hill, life sumbitch, ain’t it?

Brandon:

What kind of cupcakes for you again?

Brandon:

Well, we like the coconut vanilla and the birthday cake.

Brandon:

And that loves my wife loves the red velvet.

Brandon:

As does everybody.

Brandon:

There’s something about, you know, cupcakes are so much better than cake.

Brandon:

Why?

Brandon:

It’s the right amount. It’s controllable would take. It’s like, I don’t know, I’m a pie guy or a cupcake guy.

Brandon:

You can pretty much keep your cake.

Brandon:

I tend to agree with you. You know, we started getting cupcakes instead of birthday cakes.

Brandon:

Yeah. No, it’s we got a great cupcake place on the island. I live on here and they did a thing.

Brandon:

It was an arrangement of cupcakes that in I guess it was my mother in law 100, birthday they made the cupcakes to spell out the number and it’s just a good cupcakes.

Brandon:

A perfect thing. Plus when you eat three or four of them, you can still, you know, I didn’t have that much because they’re tiny. You know, Do you think there’s something about the cooking?

Brandon:

I mean, you are the food expertise. But see I’m not a baker and baking is science. I would guess there is something about the cooking of a cupcake that because it’s not as big or it’s like, I think tenderloin when you cook me a big tenderloin, like £2 of tenderloin is always better than if it’s cut up into filet mignons cooked separately.

Brandon:

I don’t know if it’s because the juice inside.

Brandon:

It gets there. There’s something about volume of food versus exterior. I guess I would bet that there is something chemically different about the way a cupcake cooks then the way a kick cooks.

Brandon:

But again that say that five times.

Brandon:

No, no, thank you.

Brandon:

This interview is over.

Brandon:

So, but I do want to amend one thing for any listener out there. Yeah.

Brandon:

My favorite sprinkles. Cupcake is vanilla cake with chocolate icing with chocolate sprinkles, wow, you don’t like that?

Brandon:

That’s fine.

Brandon:

I mean, I I go for I’d go for Red velvet.

Brandon:

That’s just that’s got such a wonderful history.

Brandon:

It’s a wonderful thing.

Brandon:

What is the history of that? Because I don’t have a history.

Brandon:

I believe that the history of that. Please, if I’m wrong, don’t beat me up. I believe the history of that began in the african american community and that it was invented there. And as we all know or maybe you don’t, it’s basically just chocolate cake with red dye. But yeah, that’s why it has that reddish.

Brandon:

Um, check to it.

Brandon:

Really.

Brandon:

Would I lie to you. We’ve known each other for 30/40. No, you wouldn’t. But you know what made me so here’s and now someone’s going to google it and I will have been completely wrong.

Brandon:

It was invented by Mennonites. I don’t know. It’ll be fine. You know what at least then we’ll know and we won’t have to, we want to google it in ourselves.

Brandon:

The interesting thing of what you just said.

Brandon:

And actually, until you said that, David, I did not know that at all.

Brandon:

But so I’m right.

Brandon:

Well, you probably are about that.

Brandon:

I’m talking about to die.

Brandon:

And the color.

Brandon:

In 6th grade, we go on a field trip to McCormick in hunting the spice guys hunt valley Maryland.

Brandon:

The lady who was now a lady, I haven’t seen her many years, but the girl in my class father was the CFO at the time.

Brandon:

So we do this toward McCormick and they did this experiment.

Brandon:

And you know those things when you’re a kid that you just remember like they were yesterday because of the impact.

Brandon:

Yeah.

Brandon:

And I am so competitive that I always want to get things right.

Brandon:

Well, what they did is they died jello, they had jell o cubes and they were all lemon.

Brandon:

But they had died the lemon different colors.

Brandon:

And they said, so I ate the green one.

Brandon:

And they said, well, what flavor is that?

Brandon:

And I said, well, of course it’s line, right?

Brandon:

And you eat the red and you’re like, well, of course it’s cherry.

Brandon:

And at the end they reveal it and it was, it may have driven me to study psychology, but it had such an impact.

Brandon:

And when you just said that I was like some of the bitch, you know, every color of fruit loops tastes the same.

Brandon:

It’s one flavor, they have different colors, but they all have the same taste.

Brandon:

There’s no difference in the red fruit loop is no different in taste than the yellow.

Brandon:

You’re blowing my mind like we’ve known each other four minutes and you’ve already on my mind unbelievable.

Brandon:

You’ll never recover from this.

Brandon:

It’s true that you’re joking, but you don’t, you don’t, you don’t know me enough that I’ll play this over my head like 50 times and think about that.

Brandon:

But that’s that’s interesting.

Brandon:

Well, the whole look so much of I was reading an article on this the other day.

Brandon:

I live in New Jersey, 11, Southern Jersey, in Northern Jersey.

Brandon:

There is a pocket of companies that are the american food flavor industry And all they do is come up with flavorings for foods that are completely chemically based.

Brandon:

And you know, I hate to sound like a film from the 50s, but no Tommy chemicals aren’t necessarily bad.

Brandon:

But almost all the flavorings in any kind of prepared food are not real. I mean, try put a real key lime pie next to a key lime pie.

Brandon:

They don’t taste anything alike. First of all the processing is much greener and secondly it has a much deeper taste because Key lime is more of a subtle taste.

Brandon:

The flavors we’ve come to expect and so much of what we eat. It’s kind of like the sound effects in movies. No woman in high heels makes that Clickety clack noise walking down a long card or turning the results of the court martial.

Brandon:

But she does in every film and that’s not what you expect.

Brandon:

Well it’s the same with flavors. We’ve come to expect this whole range of fake flavors to represent the real flavors that they don’t.

Brandon:

It’s what’s crazy is, is how much of your mind in your daily life is pre programmed and has actually, I was reading a book recently and I’m going to forget the name.

Brandon:

It was 7.5 essays about the brain or something.

Brandon:

And, and there’s all this new science that basically says that before you’ve actually even done something, your brain has already decided what the result is, which talking about food is exactly what’s happening here.

Brandon:

Right.

Brandon:

Well look, it’s, it’s a huge extension I guess to some extent from, from the instagram culture we’re in.

Brandon:

But every chef will tell you, you eat with your eyes and that the emphasis on plating at higher quality slash more expensive restaurants is not just for the hell of it.

Brandon:

It’s so that the food tastes better.

Brandon:

When you look at a well plated dish, it’s delightful.

Brandon:

It’s enticing, you know, I made last night was last night, I made a filet of beef that if if I so chose to call it, that could have been tornadoes.

Brandon:

Debuff in my case.

Brandon:

I took out a bowl, put some toasted french bread on the bottom and slopped in the meat and the brown gravy.

Brandon:

If I had that same dish at per se Where it would be part of a $900 tasting menu.

Brandon:

Each piece of beef will be carefully wiped off and placed in the center or slightly off center of the plate to be surrounded by little squiggles of some kind of mayonnaise that had a different color.

Brandon:

And every squiggle is like another 100 bucks because that’s, that’s what we do.

Brandon:

And now in this culture where there’s this whole generation of either food lovers or food snobs whose noses are so high and they’re being cool about food that when it rains, they drown and I make no judgments comma this instagram culture of food is, it’s kind of insane.

Brandon:

It’s only that, it’s pretty, it must be good.

Brandon:

Well, I gotta tell you.

Brandon:

David my experience when I see that plate come out and it’s all done up and I can tell it’s all I absolutely know that I’m going to pay way more and I’m going to leave hungry.

Brandon:

Well, yeah, but there’s one other thing, the other thing you should remember when you see that play is that somebody’s fingers have been all over your food.

Brandon:

Well, yeah, I don’t even, you know when I watch the cooking shows, I always, I’m like, why you, you’re touching so much of that food like, but I hope your listeners out there.

Brandon:

Don’t remember that part of this, but it’s true.

Brandon:

Right.

Brandon:

Well that’s actually that back when I was making food television, there’s always that bridge to cross.

Brandon:

Should you show the food being prepared by people with gloves on.

Brandon:

And in some restaurants they use clubs.

Brandon:

And then some restaurants they know it is, you wash your hands before you start messing with food.

Brandon:

And if you drop something or something else happened to wash your hands again, in either case that passes sanitary regulations.

Brandon:

But I would never want to show food being assembled by people were in clubs because it diminishes the flavor, the attractiveness, the entice enticing this.

Brandon:

That’s not a word.

Brandon:

I just invented a word.

Brandon:

Isn’t that part of the food is, you know, it’s um, now it is the safest way to work together, but it isn’t not much, it’s done more often, you know, in mass food settings.

Brandon:

The guy coming out to to replace the salad bar, Fridays is gonna wear clubs because there’s enough question in the diner’s mind about sanitation there to begin with.

Brandon:

Well, that’s a good point.

Brandon:

Well, I just want to say thank you for joining today.

Brandon:

I tell you, I’ve been excited.

Brandon:

I’ve been really excited to have you on because it’s a fun topic and and your story and I want to talk about your book and how you got there.

Brandon:

My book, food Americana available anywhere.

Brandon:

You can get a book, especially amazon dot com online that the one you’re talking about.

Brandon:

That’s exactly the one that shameless plug good okay, and that link is going to be in our show notes so that you can get what’s the book’s title again?

Brandon:

Food Americana available anywhere you get books.

Brandon:

I personally would suggest amazon dot com because my daughter’s still in grad school and that costs there you go. But you’ve had, I mean before diners drive ins and dives, which I would love for you to tell the story of how you spent years coming up with that name and and researching That whole you want me to tell that story 1st?

Brandon:

Yeah, Before you go back, I’ll tell that then you go back in All right, all right, okay.

Brandon:

After I left network news, which will get back to in a minute and did a brief but regrettable stint in home shopping, regrettable for all but the stock options, I opened a production company and was trying to sell shows to people and I wasn’t getting anywhere.

Brandon:

So rather than starve because I do like my food, I called a friend of mine called Al Roker who had worked for me when I ran the weekend today show and I had a production company and I said al I’m starving and you don’t want me to start because we’re friends, have you got any work at your production company I could do and he said yeah sure doing a lot of stuff for the Food Network.

Brandon:

So I just realized my microphone is like over there, which is for actually that sounded really good.

Brandon:

I’ve been impressed.

Brandon:

Well, thank you.

Brandon:

So I called him up and I said, you got any work, you see them doing stuff for the Food network, You want to do some of that.

Brandon:

Now I had no background in food television at this point, but televisions television. So I said, sure. And I started doing segments for a show he had called Rock or on the Road and then he started subcontracting hours to me.

Brandon:

The Food Network would would commission an hour program from him on something and I would basically deliver, absent his narration and then drop that in one of those was the history of diners, which is fascinating.

Brandon:

Anyway, as time goes on, it becomes, we’re having a great time.

Brandon:

But it becomes clear that for me to really establish a production company and or make a living, I’m going to have to deal directly with the network. So I started pitching them myself And I’m calling and throwing out show ideas and they’re very politely saying, no, no, no.

Brandon:

They, they were interested in nothing. I was pitching finally, it seems like, you know, 900 years after I first started pitching, I’m on the phone with the executive. There has been talking to me very nice woman and in frustration as she throws down, you know, it says no to all of my ideas, she says to me, don’t you have anything else about diners?

Brandon:

And I said to her, oh yeah, I’ve been developing this show called diners drive ins and dives And she says, that sounds interesting.

Brandon:

Tell me about it. So I tell her a little bit and she said this is like late on a thursday or a friday, you know like sick dusk time martini time and she says, well that’s good.

Brandon:

Here’s the deal. We have a development meeting on Tuesday.

Brandon:

So could you get me a write up on monday? I say absolutely.

Brandon:

When I hang up the phone and you know the good news, bad news thing, the good news is she’s interested in something, the bad news is, I just made the name up on the spot. I pulled it out of somebody part whichever one you wish to visualize and now I was stuck coming up with something to match the name.

Brandon:

So I spent the weekend on the phone. This was back in the days when you actually made phone calls on phones and you talk about, spent the weekend calling people all over the country, wrote something up center a pitch for this show that I had invented on the spot and they picked up a special and the special turned into a series and that’s, that was my long studied, well planned entree into food television.

Brandon:

Well it’s a great story.

Brandon:

I mean it also goes to show that, I mean you pitched, how many shows do you think you pitch before? They said yes to them or to the world.

Brandon:

I mean, well, I probably, I probably pitched them 100 and you and you were never you were never discouraged.

Brandon:

Of course I was discouraged. But my, my wife used to come into the office I was working in every morning and look at me writing up pitches for different networks and say, I don’t know how you do this.

Brandon:

And the only way to do it is to do it.

Brandon:

I mean if you want to make television shows, it’s like any business, but you you gotta No 1’s going to give it to you.

Brandon:

You have to ask.

Brandon:

And rejection is a way of life.

Brandon:

You know, I’ve had One massive hit television show under the banner of my production company, several other successful shows.

Brandon:

And that handful of shows came out of, I don’t know, 500 pitches 1000 pitches.

Brandon:

And and that’s, you know, that that’s just how the business goes.

Brandon:

It’s like, I don’t know, I said Hemingway, some famous writer, they talked about the hundreds of rejection letters until someone picks something up because let’s, let’s face it, this is also subjective.

Brandon:

Have you ever William Goldman, the screenwriter?

Brandon:

I have not Goldman, one, a couple of Oscars should have one, probably 37 more.

Brandon:

Uh he got his Oscars for the film, he was proudest of. Which Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and one Yeah. One of my favorite movies. Yeah, it’s incredible. And then he got his other Oscar for a movie he hated after it went through. Ray writes all the President’s men.

Brandon:

But he also was one of the great script doctors in Hollywood history. He wrote The Princess Bride. I mean the guy was amazing.

Brandon:

Anyway, William Goldman has put out a number of books on screenwriting in Hollywood and I actually, the book I’m about to reference. I kept a stack of paperbacks because it wasn’t given away hardcovers under my desk when I was running the production company for diners and when a new employee or a freelance employee would come into the office, first thing I would do is give them a copy of this book and tell him to read it because in my view it was the smartest thing ever written on how you put pictures and sound together to tell a story.

Brandon:

Anyway, in his first book, Adventures in the Screen Trade, which is the one who was given away.

Brandon:

I should have gotten a cut. He talks about the bizarre process by which films do or don’t get picked up and after some succeed how other films similar to it donor don’t get do or don’t get picked up.

Brandon:

And he finally came up already called Goldman’s Rule and Goldman’s Rule quite succinctly and I quote is no one nos N.

Brandon:

S.

Brandon:

A.

Brandon:

Right.

Brandon:

I mean after diners we were on the air, we’ve had a couple of episodes run and uh they had rated particularly well.

Brandon:

And I had a network executive call me to kind of tamp down my enthusiasm. But by telling me, you know, we’re real happy with this. But understand something we don’t think this show has legs. I don’t think we don’t think it can go more than a season or two because let’s face it, how many restaurants are there Now?

Brandon:

I did the 1st 11 seasons.

Brandon:

It’s now in season 30 something. So apparently it had a longer legs than they predicted.

Brandon:

And you did that for 11 decisions. You won two Emmys for that? No, I won two Emmys for my work in the news world. I won one Emmy for senior producing what that year won for best investigative news magazine piece in the US.

Brandon:

It was a piece on the failures of the veterans administration and then I won the other along with a bunch of other people for coverage of the Romanian revolution, which I lead. Friendly.

Brandon:

See, wow, well, you know, you had a this Successful series, you go on for 11 seasons.

Brandon:

They come to you, I guess you do you sign a contract every year?

Brandon:

How does it work?

Brandon:

Uh Mrs has the work you do a contract with the network for a certain number of seasons.

Brandon:

It’s not like you’re their employee, they’re buying the show from you.

Brandon:

So you do that. Okay, so your contract, I assume after 12, how many you did 11? Let me, I did 11 seasons and it’s 13 episodes per season. It’s not like each season was a year. Let me say as much as I can about this without getting into legal trouble, which is showbiz is a funny thing.

Brandon:

So we parted ways after a number of conversations involving everyone’s lawyers in a process that I didn’t start.

Brandon:

Okay, well that’s a bummer, because my question was, I was like, I’m gonna ask this.

Brandon:

I was reading all value and I’m like 11 successful seasons, basically, I don’t want to say makes the food network, but these hits that go on that long.

Brandon:

Their anchors, I’ll be, look, I’m gonna be completely egotistical.

Brandon:

I gave the food network and most successful show ever.

Brandon:

I reinvented in many ways.

Brandon:

The way this sort of, let’s go visit restaurants is done.

Brandon:

And I taught television to the guy they wanted to make a star of and taught him how to maximize his Remarkable skills that said, I got to do 11 seasons my way.

Brandon:

And and the issue is if you have a vision and you want to do your vision a certain way, it’s rare in television, you get to do that.

Brandon:

I literally cannot go into details for legal reasons.

Brandon:

But I will simply say that if you can’t do it your way, don’t do it.

Brandon:

Yeah, I mean, I I find it interesting.

Brandon:

I find it interesting going back, you talking about, you’re not your process, the process that you’re pitching the network, You’re really pitching one person going back to Goldman’s role, right? Which is like, this is it seems crazy like why don’t you run a test?

Brandon:

Why don’t you there just like, you know, and you see, well they have, but see they a lot of this is self fulfilling prophecy.

Brandon:

This was before they realized that the Food Network Star contest was not going to give them any long lived Food Network stars. The only person to come out of that contest and become a star was guy.

Brandon:

But he won the second season of it when they still thought this was they were just going to generate the next network stars out of this contest.

Brandon:

It was very important to them at that point to maximize guy.

Brandon:

What they had done is they had onto a couple of big boy production companies, You know, they have boards of directors and everyone wears a suit.

Brandon:

Well then all wears, it depends on what Hollywood is doing at that point time. They were wearing suits, but with the shirt’s untucked to go just below the suit jacket anyway.

Brandon:

And they had engaged these two radio production companies to come up with prime time shows for a guy and in the meantime, they wanted to keep him in front of the audience that they wanted to keep him out there.

Brandon:

So when, you know, little baby boy shows up with this cheap one hour special, why not? Because I didn’t know they were going to give the guy, I didn’t know who the hell he was.

Brandon:

I didn’t watch the Food Network, I knew nothing about Food Network star. When they said yes to the special, I said, well let’s talk about a host. They said no, we got the guy you want, you know, we got the guy we want and I went to the web and I looked at him, I thought I’m screwed here, some guy in short pants with spiky hair.

Brandon:

Now, as it turns out, he had more natural talent than anyone I’ve ever worked with at the highest levels of network news, therefore he soaked it up like a sponge.

Brandon:

He learned quickly and he had the natural attributes that that are required to be successful on tv, mostly a complete intangible, which is tv’s voyeurism and to be a successful tv star.

Brandon:

You simply have to be someone that the audience wants to hang out with and and guys someone people want to hang out with, so I have no idea where he’s going with this story other than to say.

Brandon:

So they they saw this as a, as a space filler then, to their astonishment, the big boy production companies came in with what they thought were two shitty proposals.

Brandon:

So now they’re stuck, they’ve committed in their own minds to put a guy on the air in primetime and they got two ideas they hate and my idea, which they don’t really believe in is generating ratings.

Brandon:

So that’s how it became a series.

Brandon:

But you know, again to quote William Goldman.

Brandon:

So what I want to go back to this talent thing that you you know, you boil down to voyeurism and that the audience wants to hang out with them.

Brandon:

Is that is that a a coolness factor?

Brandon:

Can you teach that?

Brandon:

No, you can’t teach it.

Brandon:

I often say to producers, but it’s the same of talent if you have it, I can make you great if you don’t have it, I can’t do a damn thing.

Brandon:

I’m he said he’d artistically I’m very good at nurturing talent.

Brandon:

But if you don’t bring it to it that I cannot define other than the way that Supreme Court justice to find pornography.

Brandon:

I know when I see it, you either have it or you don’t.

Brandon:

I mean I’m a great example.

Brandon:

I started out wanting to be on the air and I was on the air as an investigative reporter in large markets, I was on the air in Atlanta and Houston in phoenix, but one day a news director in Atlanta, not the one I was working for said to me, David, there are people God intended to be on tv and there are people he didn’t in, in your case, he didn’t and you know what he was right?

Brandon:

I’m a hell of a producer, I’m quite fond of my abilities.

Brandon:

I and I was perfectly adequate in front of the camera, but it wasn’t great, didn’t sizzle.

Brandon:

I didn’t jump through lines and grab you by the collar.

Brandon:

There are people who do that.

Brandon:

There are people who don’t.

Brandon:

Again when I got guy, he was green as hell is everything in the world.

Brandon:

He didn’t, nobody had that it.

Brandon:

And the first time I saw him on camera when we were shooting at the Bay Way diner For the pilot for the one hour special, I looked at him, I said, this guy’s got it and it was just he has it and you can’t do I mean there’s a reason James Garner was a tv star for a million years.

Brandon:

There’s a reason time daily of all people was a tv star for a million years.

Brandon:

There’s a reason that tom Selleck as they wheel him off into the land of reverse mortgages continues to generate huge audiences for the show, Blue bloods on Cbs, these are people you want to hang around with.

Brandon:

And I would argue that even though the people who made Seinfeld contended that it was a show about unpleasant people who never learned or grew the bottom line is you want to hang out with jerry Seinfeld and with Julia Louis Dreyfus The Other two.

Brandon:

But the point is tv is voyeurism to make it properly, is to exploit that voyeurism to do everything you can with the audio and visual tricks to bring your audience into make them think they’re part of the event.

Brandon:

For example, on diners, most cooking is shot under these massive hoods that are blowing air.

Brandon:

You can’t, you can’t hear the cooking For every 30 minute episode of Diners, which was 22 minutes of content plus commercials.

Brandon:

I put each episode through 23 hours of your sweetening to make sure through sound effects that when the spatula hit the grill, you heard the spatula, then you heard the sizzle, then you heard the burger flip when every spoon hit the pan.

Brandon:

You heard that when the soup was stirred, you heard the plop plops because I had no ability to make you smell that food.

Brandon:

I had to use every other ability to make you feel it, which is why not to get too technical, but I go just nuts when I watch a food show and they’re shooting the food handheld and it’s shaking.

Brandon:

No, I cooked each dish on diners four times to get different views of what was going on and one of those passes was nothing but a lockdown tripod camera on every single step of cooking so that when it was time to flip that burger, the screen was full of the world’s most beautiful burger flora And you heard when he flipped all of a sudden the fat started to sizzle.

Brandon:

It’s that sort of thing you need to use to bring the viewer into believe that he or she is in fact standing next to guy as he goes, that’s crunch a licious.

Brandon:

How do you learn that By doing it?

Brandon:

Look, I’m 66 years old.

Brandon:

I started in this business at a little radio station when I was 15.

Brandon:

If I don’t know what I’m doing by now I should be shot.

Brandon:

But no, you learn by doing this is people go to tv and radio programs and colleges which crack me up.

Brandon:

Yeah, this is trade school.

Brandon:

You should go to college and learn stuff Like political science and economics and useful stuff because I can teach you the mechanics of making radio or television in about 10.5 minutes.

Brandon:

Really?

Brandon:

Yeah, I’d much rather when I was hiring, I was much, there were two things I look for, I mean I don’t, I’m an author now.

Brandon:

I’m not a production company, but at one time page production said 50 employees aided rooms.

Brandon:

I mean we were relatively big small deal And the two things I look for in new hires were intelligence and curiosity.

Brandon:

And the most important is curiosity, I can teach you to edit.

Brandon:

I can probably teach you to do it better than the hacks who taught it to you or whatever.

Brandon:

Broadcasting.

Brandon:

Still you want to.

Brandon:

First of all because I don’t edit like a lot of other people.

Brandon:

I spent 50 years learning what works and how to break the rules and how to best tell the story in many ways that the rules don’t allow for but you gotta know the rules to know when you can break.

Brandon:

But no, I want smart people and more than anything else in anything that is in any way journalistic.

Brandon:

I want curious people because you know, if you’re going to accept any answer on anything and not ask but what you know and uh come on, you know, I I, one of one of the stories I was proudest of when I was with NBC news.

Brandon:

We we got, we got the nightly news order for the annual story to be done in advance of the NATO summit where all the NATO leaders come together in brussels and they have a meeting and the story that leads into it is always a candidate for the single most boring story of the earth.

Brandon:

The, the, the western leaders will discuss concerns about people are asleep.

Brandon:

So I said to myself, how the hell can we do this differently?

Brandon:

And I asked myself the following question, what is the smallest army in native?

Brandon:

And it turned out to be the 600 man army of Luxembourg.

Brandon:

An army is so small that it didn’t even have a general, the guy in charge was a colonel.

Brandon:

So we went to du Luxembourg as our pre NATO story where among other things I learned, I realized this was shortly after Germany had kind of regained its place on the world stage.

Brandon:

I learned that for all of the talk of NATO unity.

Brandon:

Nobody in Luxembourg trusted the german because Germany destroyed Luxembourg during World War two and in Luxembourg was the largest american military cemetery in europe.

Brandon:

It’s where Patton was buried and the defense minister of Luxembourg because it’s such a small country, was also the agriculture minister.

Brandon:

So we were able to join him with our cameras on the float during the Milk Day parade as he was throwing small containers of milk to the crowd.

Brandon:

It became the greatest free NATO summit meeting ever told.

Brandon:

And I was very, very proud of that story because we dug into the sort of nuance that americans never heard of that I didn’t know about until we went there, which is that, you know, not everybody trusts those Germans.

Brandon:

And along the way, coming back from the shoot, we stumbled across this incredible restaurant that turned out to be run by an ex pat from Tucson who greeted us like we were some sorts of king even though we were dressed in jeans and proceeded to serve us one of the greatest meals I’ve ever had in my life, including his own vintage champagne.

Brandon:

So hey, here’s the Luxembourg cheers on that cheers.

Brandon:

So I want to touch on a few things that you’ve said that my rambling.

Brandon:

I’m sorry.

Brandon:

No, you’re not.

Brandon:

I love it.

Brandon:

You skipped over this.

Brandon:

But before we go back to you, starting in the radio station at 15 years old, I want to rewind just a little bit to your regrettable experience other than the stock options at Home Shopping network.

Brandon:

Now.

Brandon:

It was, to be fair, the name of the company wasn’t Home Shopping Network, it was Shop NBC.

Brandon:

Okay.

Brandon:

Which is now E vision or something.

Brandon:

But yes.

Brandon:

So why did you hate that?

Brandon:

Because they were mostly inept.

Brandon:

I have a really hard time with an aptitude and B because I have no problem with the concept of retail sales or business those should exist.

Brandon:

I just did not think that they were being honest or fair in the way they were marketing things to shut ins who didn’t need to buy more gold.

Brandon:

But to the best of my knowledge, they didn’t do anything terribly illegal.

Brandon:

I just, I looked up one day and I said, you know, I I left network news because it was changing not, it didn’t turn into fake news, it didn’t turn into bias news.

Brandon:

It just was chasing ratings in a way that had not been the standard during the heyday of my time there.

Brandon:

And what really did it to me as I was lying producing Good Morning America.

Brandon:

The line producer subject to the ep had the show.

Brandon:

It was his or her show a week at a time.

Brandon:

There were three of us we rotated and during the week I would line producer, I would literally get 12 hours sleep all week.

Brandon:

So it was a kind of intense thing.

Brandon:

One day the executive producer came to me and said, remember when you want to be a millionaire was was like the the thing of it was and then she came to me and she said, there’s going to be a million dollar winner tonight, I think it was the first million dollar one. And she said you’re going to have him in the first half hour tomorrow.

Brandon:

And I thought to myself, I wouldn’t mind putting them on the show between eight and 8 30.

Brandon:

But if you’re gonna put a game show winner from our network on in the first half hour, things have changed a lot. And that’s when I started looking around a sub story, I got head hunted and I ended up at this home shopping place, partially because there is an attraction that thank God I got out of my system in America to being a hunt show at a publicly traded corporation.

Brandon:

And here I was getting a senior vice president title at a corporation that was on I think new york stock exchange.

Brandon:

Anyway, so when you go back the best of me now, it turned out fine because most of the other senior executives didn’t have the balls to sell the stock was at its high because they didn’t want to piss off the Ceo, I don’t give a sh it and that’s what sustained me for the two or three years before I got diners is I mean it all went away and that’s fine.

Brandon:

But so that’s how I ended up in the home shopping business.

Brandon:

And look it was a learning experience.

Brandon:

I learned how you sell stuff.

Brandon:

I learned that even though there is no time limit on how long you’re gonna be selling this bangle if you put up a clock and say there’s only three minutes left.

Brandon:

Sales double.

Brandon:

I learned a lot of stuff.

Brandon:

I’m not and by the way, home shopping is a concept is not bad at all.

Brandon:

I mean Q.

Brandon:

V. C. Is ceres.

Brandon:

Sears used to be a relatively low priced way to get everyday items and Q.

Brandon:

B. C. Which is a very well inc to my mind has become Sears I don’t see them as terribly manipulative.

Brandon:

I didn’t like where I was because I thought they were trading on the on a base of of of women living in queens who couldn’t really afford to buy all the gold jewelry they were buying.

Brandon:

But that’s neither here nor there.

Brandon:

I’m not saying home shopping is a bad thing.

Brandon:

I’m just I didn’t like where I was and it was time to do something else.

Brandon:

However, until that happened man you should, we had a store attached to the studios.

Brandon:

You know it’s the company store and people, this was in the twin cities and people could come and shop there, you had to see the day before valentine’s day.

Brandon:

Every senior executive the company in that store five minutes before it’s going to close that night and everyone running around taking care of you because you’re a senior executive.

Brandon:

It was quite funny. My wife got some good jewelry out of the deal.

Brandon:

Well I appreciate you sharing that. I just made a note here because you passed over it but it seemed important and you know you just dropped a huge dip, put a time clock on it, say three minutes and sales will double its. Yeah.

Brandon:

Oh absolutely, absolutely.

Brandon:

Anything that creates urgency in a sales environment.

Brandon:

What’s it gonna take to get you in this car today? We won’t have this deal tomorrow and it still works.

Brandon:

Of course it works.

Brandon:

It wouldn’t do it if it didn’t work. I mean Pavlov was right and I think a lot of those things are used in in tv I it’s not just T.

Brandon:

V.

Brandon:

I have a book in any one of these years.

Brandon:

I’ve been collecting bits and pieces that we as we go about the unpleasant side of advertising.

Brandon:

I mean when I was at 2020 as the senior investigator produce right, my correspondent for the unit was some Arnold Diaz who is a famous consumer reporter in the new york market and we did a piece that he had done previously because you can do it every few years on the pre holiday sales.

Brandon:

And I remember Macy’s is a perfect example.

Brandon:

You know everything’s for sale and then you go into the fine print on the edge.

Brandon:

It’s accept everything we sell.

Brandon:

It’s that sort of thing. It’s you want to give me a good deal fun.

Brandon:

Uh Anyway you off. I’m sorry.

Brandon:

It’s okay. It made me remember what I what you were what you sparked in me because this might blow your mind.

Brandon:

But I bought this year’s catalogue from 1984 on ebay about two weeks ago, maybe three.

Brandon:

What’s in there?

Brandon:

The internet.

Brandon:

Oh my God it’s the thing.

Brandon:

And they had that’s when they were doing the T.

Brandon:

V.

Brandon:

N.

Brandon:

For the news amazon.

Brandon:

It’s an amazon. We’ll think about what cheers was so that the spine has the table of contents I was looking at.

Brandon:

It’s upstairs on my table.

Brandon:

I couldn’t get it because I normally have in my office but now that I have it because it has the same T shirt that I can show you a picture of me wearing as a kid.

Brandon:

But the table of contents was on the spine. The table of contents on amazon’s on the left hand side with the search bar up top.

Brandon:

You’re right, you’re right, you’re right, you’re right.

Brandon:

It’s but understand something.

Brandon:

The ability to obtain goods from afar which is basically all amazon is changed mid America when the Sears catalog and the Montgomery Ward catalog.

Brandon:

Remember that became Monkey Ward’s.

Brandon:

Yeah but you know I think Roebuck and Ward were like tied up in the same cave.

Brandon:

Anyway, those two catalogs brought the world to, to mason city Iowa, they completely changed.

Brandon:

You didn’t have to drive Now, bizarrely enough, people would often still drive to the, to the regional big town to go to the Sears store to order stuff there that would be sent to them.

Brandon:

But the concept of getting whatever the folks in new york could get sent to your farm and I don’t say the word, farming any disparaging way.

Brandon:

I’ve spent a lot of time and I grew up on a farm.

Brandon:

That’s what, where did that?

Brandon:

We’re the only way that we could get, where did you grow up?

Brandon:

Northern Maryland.

Brandon:

It was a farm and left the northern while you’re raising horses and cows.

Brandon:

I had like 500 acres, which isn’t a big thing, but you know, there’s still farmland in northern Harford County.

Brandon:

No look uh when I was going to Oklahoma University, my girlfriend at the time took me home to meet her parents and they were Oklahoma wealthy.

Brandon:

They had a Chevrolet farm.

Brandon:

Cheryle being a rather rare breed of cattle and I was in new york too with a big beard and dad looked at me and figure this, we’re not going down this road. So he took me out to the barn and had me help them artificially inseminate a cow now your your your your elbow when that happens.

Brandon:

Okay, so yeah, he was right. I hope Brenda had a good life. But big love.

Brandon:

Big love, big, big plastic love. That’s how I grew up. We, we used to I guess you’d call it Neutering the, the steers and they get in line and you know those were colorado meatballs or whatever they called him.

Brandon:

Rocky mountain oysters. There you go. Rocky minus your the food. Yeah, but see what’s funny is the closer you get to animals. I love animals. We, we ended up in the horse ownership world because my daughter, a friend of ours called up and said, hey, I’m I’m taking my five year old out for a pony ride.

Brandon:

Does Hannah want to come along handle with six? Who said sure, so I had a pony ride, the, the other kid didn’t give a damn. My daughter fell in love with horses, which led to her engaging in a lengthy a question, showjumping career in which the last horse cost twice what my Mercedes did.

Brandon:

But along the way we ended up owning horses and actually had a little hobby farm and I just, I fell, I fell in love with them.

Brandon:

But what was fascinating was, I don’t know how old you are, have you seen green acres, the new york new york lawyer, I don’t know what it is, The new york lawyer ends up owning a farm and it’s all stupid.

Brandon:

Well I ended up, I realized I was a horse owner one day when I was picking clubs at your show and I realized I had convinced myself that all this stuff flying into my face from the horseshoe was mud.

Brandon:

That’s when you were a horse owner.

Brandon:

Yeah.

Brandon:

We actually still own a horse.

Brandon:

Oh what kind?

Brandon:

Well my wife rescued it, it was off the track and then she was a hunter jumper, but then she fell off and broke her ankle and has three plates and 17 screws.

Brandon:

So now she does dog agility and she’s like world class dog agility person and congratulations.

Brandon:

Yeah, the bar is high at the White House here.

Brandon:

Now the thing about horses until you’ve owned them until you’re around them because you don’t realize how incredible they are, You come up to a horse and you blow in its nostrils so it gets a sense of your scent and they’re just the most incredible animal.

Brandon:

I mean on the rare occasion my daughter was very good at riding.

Brandon:

She’s giving it up for the moment while she’s in school, but she was damn good and and I just recall the bond between her and her horse.

Brandon:

She didn’t leave the saddle much, but I remember in a couple of occasions when she got dismounted and her horse just stop there and said, I’m not going to run you over, could we get this crap back together?

Brandon:

You know, it’s just, there’s such remarkable hands, they really are.

Brandon:

We’re just talking, we spent a lot of time in mason city Iowa where buddy holly died but they had bad a regional or show that it was quite good.

Brandon:

Anyway where are we going with this?

Brandon:

We’re talking about Sears and Sears brought Sears brought everybody up Iowa because they changed the world and completely changed the world.

Brandon:

It did.

Brandon:

So I bought this catalog because I just think it’s just interesting to bring when I talk or something to say, hey look you think that this internet thing is new?

Brandon:

You think amazon was innovative?

Brandon:

Sears is the internet.

Brandon:

The deficiency is is that Sears didn’t reckon I actually entered.

Brandon:

Uh don’t do interviews. I have conversations about that conversation. Had a conversation with the city.

Brandon:

The CMO of Seers who is now at another company as Ceo because Sears couldn’t get it together because the Ceo it really wasn’t getting together.

Brandon:

But Sears missed potentially the biggest opportunity in all business. I don’t want to say ever they have a chance to to really exploit online and didn’t, they didn’t, all they had to do was take that catalog and the spreadsheets and put it online.

Brandon:

The distribution channel was already there.

Brandon:

But it’s funny you look back a few years past the moment at the fears and what was retrenchment when I was at the home shopping channel.

Brandon:

The Ceo was on are asked to make our graphics smaller.

Brandon:

You wanted to look like entertainment and at one point I put up an identify their that said shop NBC dot com.

Brandon:

And he went ballistic because we’re not Shop NBC dot com.

Brandon:

We’re Shop NBC.

Brandon:

And I said, but we’re both, he said no, no, no, no, that’ll take business away from us.

Brandon:

You have to step back and just look at what brought it.

Brandon:

I mean, I think the ones look the new york times and the Washington post are the two online sites right now who are exploiting the internet for the future that the Times by becoming under cover of darkness a a news you can use site with all sorts of consumer stuff and the post according to an article I read today by trying to follow Bezoza theme of becoming everything for everyone and and trying very hard to expand their presence internationally to grow their numbers.

Brandon:

But in either case it’s a matter of saying how do we take this to the elf degree as opposed to what a lot of places are still saying, which is how do we fend it off?

Brandon:

Can’t fend it off.

Brandon:

It’s the future.

Brandon:

I I am as news, consumerism as anyone could possibly be.

Brandon:

And I haven’t touched any kind of paper or papyrus product for several years now and I’m damn well informed, I read everything.

Brandon:

But I sure as hell read it online, I have a question for you about TV.

Brandon:

I refuse to answer.

Brandon:

I’m out of answers.

Brandon:

I would like to okay, one more 10 minute cliff notes on how to teach radio.

Brandon:

But before that, what do you think that television will change and obviously it will change, Will it never be the same because there’s not three networks anymore and a U.

Brandon:

H F 45 whatever the other channel was 50 for at least on the east coast for me when I grew up.

Brandon:

But now anyone, I used to do radio, I used to do sports radio because fishing reports and stuff like that.

Brandon:

Now I can do this podcast or a podcast from anywhere and bring our conversation right into their house with nobody telling me what I can and cannot do with my ratings are my own, my own thing.

Brandon:

I can create a Youtube channel and actually have my own Tv show and with nothing less than this camera that now has Dolby vision on it and Dolby audio that you know isn’t perfect, but does let you record a pretty high definition thing.

Brandon:

How do you think that that’s going, you know, Youtube especially is going to change television?

Brandon:

Well, let’s back up to what people want to see that.

Brandon:

That’s the question to me because someone will provide whatever the public wants.

Brandon:

My concern as an old guy who’s worried about the world, his daughter is gonna win error.

Brandon:

Is that the entire generation that is now growing into some sense of adulthood didn’t grow up with any concern for stuff that mattered and Tv will fill whatever void is there.

Brandon:

So I want to talk about entertainment, streaming is the future, There won’t be 300 streamers, you know that this 500 channel universe is bullshit.

Brandon:

The learning channel doesn’t teach you anything.

Brandon:

It figured out one day that it’s niche was my £600 life.

Brandon:

Okay.

Brandon:

The travel channel doesn’t travel anymore.

Brandon:

They decided that they could get ratings with the paranormal.

Brandon:

The food network doesn’t do a whole lot of food.

Brandon:

They do a lot of contests.

Brandon:

So let’s understand that every network that is succeeding in a niche falls victim eventually to the desire to be the highest rated broadest watch channel on earth.

Brandon:

So niche channels don’t do that well now in the future will they do okay in the future?

Brandon:

Will they?

Brandon:

Okay.

Brandon:

3000 I get on Netflix.

Brandon:

Okay.

Brandon:

Maybe.

Brandon:

But the bottom line is, we’re still seeking mass entertainment and mass entertainment banner.

Brandon:

I think the following verification will take place.

Brandon:

I think for traditional networks, the only future is live.

Brandon:

Okay.

Brandon:

The only thing that they can offer that, that no one else can at the moment.

Brandon:

But that’s gonna change is live events like sports, More news as it happens or the Indy 500, although even that wall is crumbling now that Amazon has the Thursday night NFL deal.

Brandon:

So you know what, why do you want to still have local affiliates and pay them money to rework their studies.

Brandon:

If you can stream your product to everyone and there you go now.

Brandon:

One of the problems with streaming is just still technically inefficient.

Brandon:

I’m sick of buffering, I’m sick of things that don’t load, you still get that on streaming.

Brandon:

I live on a small barrier island just north of atlantic city, New Jersey.

Brandon:

We don’t have the best cable service or internet service in the world.

Brandon:

So apple tv is particularly problematic technically for me.

Brandon:

But the thing that really concerns me is that there needs to be a place where news, not CNN bullshit, not Fox bullshit, not MSNBC bullshit, but somebody trying to do an honest newscast still exists and I think that may be going away.

Brandon:

I do not consider cable news to be news.

Brandon:

I consider cable news.

Brandon:

What’s, that’s something I consider cable news to basically be opinion and bullshit, which is not to say that there’s anything nefarious about.

Brandon:

Well Fox is serious but I just want to be real clear as an old network news guy who thinks that our standards and our willingness to spend money for a long period of time on something that may or may not produce news.

Brandon:

I wish that were still with us, but that doesn’t mean that the incarnation of metal news as you see it today is badly intentioned.

Brandon:

It’s inept, it’s badly done.

Brandon:

It’s for Matic Lee incorrect.

Brandon:

Every story starts with tonight, even when it’s based on an ap story for 12 hours ago.

Brandon:

I mean I can tell you that 12,000 reasons and there are no sucks today, but it’s not because it’s been coerced.

Brandon:

Coerced corrupted or co opted by a particular point of view or is in some way actively trying to screw in politics.

Brandon:

It’s just they don’t do it as well as we used to do it.

Brandon:

Well, I’m glad you went there because I was going to ask you, you know, one of the concerns At least my generation, which I guess this X whatever it is, 70-81 or 82 or you were born.

Brandon:

I was part of 54 dude, I’m sold.

Brandon:

Which cave painting when I started.

Brandon:

Well, I remember good news and I remember that that news you could trust.

Brandon:

I mean I don’t want it changed.

Brandon:

I’ll tell you when it changed when reporters started being told they had to walk somewhere in stand ups.

Brandon:

That’s when the consultants took over.

Brandon:

What’s that mean?

Brandon:

You see the report in front of you with a microphone saying and tonight 3000 people remain stranded.

Brandon:

Now watch network news tonight.

Brandon:

That reporter is not standing there.

Brandon:

He’s walking for no reason from one place to another because the folks that maggot and other um research companies, other consultants said it’s more dynamic of the reporter walks and you know, just as everything flows downhill, Your reporters don’t wear Tyson Jackets anymore.

Brandon:

They’re 12 years old in my day.

Brandon:

You gotta work your ass off at 37 local TV stations to become a journeyman network reporter.

Brandon:

When I, when I did my first network producing work at the Abc Abc NBC bureau in Atlanta after being fired by a local station.

Brandon:

And this was back in, I don’t know, uh 80 something.

Brandon:

I walked past the correspondents door and it was Kenley jones and the door was closed and there was a sign on it that had been stolen from a motel saying do not disturb.

Brandon:

And I said, what’s going on?

Brandon:

They said, oh, Kennedy’s writing for nightly news tonight.

Brandon:

It was a B.

Brandon:

F.

Brandon:

D.

Brandon:

Okay, getting it right.

Brandon:

It was a B.

Brandon:

F.

Brandon:

D.

Brandon:

And there was a guy in new york named Gil.

Brandon:

Gil Milstein who if you look up his biography was one of the Great Jazz writers of the 20th guilt.

Brandon:

It’s amazing.

Brandon:

But you could not get a script on the air unless Gil approved the grammar.

Brandon:

I got my ask kicked from here to Cleveland ones because I let a reporter in Germany right?

Brandon:

The following line about a prostitute and I quote stealing and dealing to feed her habit.

Brandon:

And after gil kick it, the senior producer supervising the project called me up and beat the living shit out of me because he said, we don’t write that way at the network, those kinds of standards have gone, you just watch anyone’s network newscasts.

Brandon:

First of all, it’s all tonight, secondly, there isn’t a complete sentence in the bunch.

Brandon:

Thirdly, the number of grammatical errors you well, count in the first two minutes, anyone’s nightly newscast, you’re out of fingers and toes.

Brandon:

Dude, that level of concern for quality and accuracy is gone.

Brandon:

And it’s because a, I’m gonna say something terrible.

Brandon:

You can get to be a network correspondent now at the age of like seven, you used to have to like have made your mistakes elsewhere.

Brandon:

They’re all seven years old.

Brandon:

You shouldn’t be seven and reporting the network news.

Brandon:

Well, I think that’s an interesting take.

Brandon:

I think all that true.

Brandon:

I don’t think there’s the professionalism, I boil it down to, they just want to click because if they don’t get to click and they don’t catch your eye, then they don’t get the ratings and it’s all the same thing.

Brandon:

But the bottom line is this the accuracy and purity of veneers.

Brandon:

If you simply, we’re gonna start every newscast by saying tonight, thus lying about the time frame of each story.

Brandon:

I don’t believe anything else.

Brandon:

Now, again, that’s not, that’s not some sort of of left wing plot to distort reality.

Brandon:

It’s just accepting, I guess business.

Brandon:

You know, we talk about the newscast.

Brandon:

If you read the trades, it’s all about ratings.

Brandon:

Who the hell gives a ship when, when I started it was a given that news was a loss leader.

Brandon:

Then we started to play internal financial games and I was asked to be senior producer of a show called a closer look, which was a talk show hosted by Faith Daniels up against the initial incarnations of jenny jones and whoever that whack doodle jerry springer.

Brandon:

The reason they invented that show was so that the entertainment division to pay the news division a million bucks for that show to help show a profit in the news division.

Brandon:

That’s not, I mean, I didn’t know it at the time.

Brandon:

That’s not a reason to invent programming.

Brandon:

No, but you’ve got some really fascinating stories about the news.

Brandon:

I I just think that I don’t read the news because maybe because all of the things that you articulated much like you did the serial early on that it all tastes the same, but it’s a different color.

Brandon:

Yeah.

Brandon:

But you know, you can’t not, I’m sorry to interrupt.

Brandon:

You cannot read the news.

Brandon:

I don’t make smart, I don’t believe you make, make some smart choices.

Brandon:

Read the new york times, read the english version of woman and read The Financial Times.

Brandon:

If you read those three, you’re going to get a pretty realistic view of the world.

Brandon:

Now the new york times is skewed left, not in its coverage of any individual story, but in its decision of what stories to cover.

Brandon:

But if you accept that you’re going to get a pretty realistic report on what’s going on in the world.

Brandon:

Our problem as a country is that we don’t read them on, We don’t we don’t read the Financial times.

Brandon:

You don’t read the sunday times.

Brandon:

What?

Brandon:

And I’m as guilty as everyone else.

Brandon:

I mean, when I lived in europe, I knew far much more about the world than I know now, because now I’m I’m lazy when I lived in Europe.

Brandon:

And this was before the Internet.

Brandon:

We all carried our prized Sony shortwave radios with us and wherever, whatever 14th world country we ended up in, we would find the BBC World Service and depending upon what they were talking about, they would tell us about some cool in a country would never heard of it.

Brandon:

It’s that sort of worldwide understanding that we just don’t have as a country and we don’t care to have.

Brandon:

And look the networks figure this out pretty quickly after the Berlin wall over them.

Brandon:

When the Berlin wall opened up, when communism fell, there was this whole great now we’re gonna set up bureaus and cover europe. And and then they did. And then they realized that no one in America gave a ship about whether the european union changed its tariff policies and in retrospect all of our coverage of europe until the wall fell was predicated not on an interest in europe when an interest in the United States not being blown away by Russia’s nuclear alignments.

Brandon:

It was entirely a domestic story.

Brandon:

It was entirely about american defense.

Brandon:

Once that one away, europe became with no interest.

Brandon:

When is the last story you you saw focused in any way on European politics doesn’t exist.

Brandon:

We had Brexit for 10 minutes, but that was reduced to kind of richard.

Brandon:

Um the french are dumb.

Brandon:

Let’s see who’s gonna, you know, which is a shame for cheese imports by the way.

Brandon:

Well, I did, I’m exaggerating a little bit.

Brandon:

I read the news, but I was making a point that it’s lost all the luster for me that you described and articulated that I probably didn’t process but understand it’s missing.

Brandon:

And I mean you end up, if you really want to know what’s going on now, you’ve really got to dig into publications like the atlantic or the new yorker where people spend some time producing reports that may have going in, you have to understand, they may have a bias.

Brandon:

These are pretty personalized reports, but they’re awfully good.

Brandon:

I agree with you there and I appreciate you sharing all that stuff because you have years and years and produced and worked in some of the most iconic news shows that you know, we, I was lucky.

Brandon:

Do you think you were lucky.

Brandon:

You think you were good?

Brandon:

Oh, I’m damn good.

Brandon:

But I will.

Brandon:

Well don’t you make your own law when it came time to pick up a little bit.

Brandon:

But look, it started with when I got to Chicago.

Brandon:

It’s a young infantry by, I impressed a bunch of people and they had to decide they had an opening in europe and they had to pick someone who said they could easily have sent any number of other people.

Brandon:

Once I was given the opportunity, I I rose to the challenge when I was lucky a to be sent and better be sent at a time when the world was undergoing such remarkable changes.

Brandon:

I covered all of the communist revolutions and and all of the changes in that part of the world.

Brandon:

After having been lucky enough to cover the east block from the other side.

Brandon:

So I actually knew what I was talking about.

Brandon:

I got to cover the second intifada.

Brandon:

I got to cover the troubles in northern Ireland.

Brandon:

I mean the fact of the matter was there’s a lot of stuff going on that was interesting at the time networks were willing to spend a tremendous amount of money to cover it.

Brandon:

I I went to Ethiopia the year after the big feminine with a great correspondent, Henry champ who has since passed away and a crew And we spent, I don’t know, 10 days in Ethiopia To produce 1 4 minute story for nightly news.

Brandon:

It was a damn fine story.

Brandon:

Yeah, okay.

Brandon:

I mean we had no idea what we’re going to produce.

Brandon:

We just knew it was time to do a piece on Ethiopian off we went and you know, Henry and I are in the middle of nowhere catching wides with the R.

Brandon:

A.

Brandon:

F. and uh it was, we were covering news in its purest form.

Brandon:

I think it’s harder to find that today. So I was lucky to have been in a circumstance where that mattered, you know, and, and time times have changed.

Brandon:

I will say something else though about the change of times.

Brandon:

I don’t have the balls to do today.

Brandon:

What they, what they do in my day, there was some understanding that as a journalist, you’re noncombatant and and no one would shoot at you on purpose.

Brandon:

I mean in Northern Ireland the kids would beat you up and stuff like that, but you weren’t going to get killed today, you’re you’re the target.

Brandon:

Um, I do not believe I have the balls for that.

Brandon:

Yeah, I think that said it’s a tall order, you gotta be tough to put yourself in that because you literally can die.

Brandon:

Yeah, I mean, Claris award of Cbs who has been doing incredible coverage out of Afghanistan was interviewed on some show the other day and she just blew me away when she explained that she has a family back in paris, I thought to myself when I was doing anything close to this, I was single, they talk about that woman needs a wheelchair and again, you know, when you’re single and stupid, it’s easy to overlook the potential risks of anything, which again in my day were nothing like they are today.

Brandon:

I I would be a complete chicken today.

Brandon:

Well with the mention of food, let’s talk about your book.

Brandon:

And yes, let some food Americana available on uh any online site.

Brandon:

Go to amazon, help my daughter go through college.

Brandon:

Yes.

Brandon:

Okay.

Brandon:

Yes.

Brandon:

Food Americana.

Brandon:

You how do you how do, what makes you decide to write a book?

Brandon:

Because you report on the news, you’ve done tv, you’ve done you’ve gotten me’s and now you decide that you’re going to write a book.

Brandon:

Is that because you saw all this food and felt inspired?

Brandon:

Well, it’s a couple of reasons.

Brandon:

Number 11 thing I do want to make real clear is that whatever version I’ve done this and it’s been journalism.

Brandon:

Okay.

Brandon:

I have always held any project from diners to the investigative unit at 2020 two pieces in europe, I’ve always proudly held them to the standard of this.

Brandon:

Better fucking be true.

Brandon:

And and that’s often not the case in reality television.

Brandon:

Anyway, having said that I’m one of these shape shifters every few years, even though I’ve been in basically television for 50 years.

Brandon:

I’ve changed.

Brandon:

I was an investigative reporter.

Brandon:

I was a consumer reporter. I was a city hall reporter. I was a foreign right? I I get bored. Okay, so not that long ago I was bored. I had finished my syndicated series bearing the exp because I didn’t want to make any money whatsoever.

Brandon:

And I wanted to lose all the money that I could syndicating, I’m really important show I cared about and I was afraid that I might still have some money if I didn’t do something else.

Brandon:

And I looked around and so what should I do next? And I realized that for years, the one thing I’ve wanted to do that I haven’t done is write a book because I understand something tv produces all believes deep in their hearts, if they have hearts, that there’s a book in them for the following reasons.

Brandon:

People think writing for tv is just some kind of simple thing.

Brandon:

In fact, it’s far more complicated than writing for pros, because in television you don’t get to just sit down at the Almost said type later at the computer and and just tell a story, You don’t get to say it was a dark and stormy night, then edifice killed his falter.

Brandon:

It doesn’t work that way in television.

Brandon:

What you have to do is use your words From one moment of reality to another.

Brandon:

You need to maximize the use of the visuals that you have there to get people into a situation where the reality unfolds in front of them and then you subtly push them to the next situation where the reality unfolds in front of them.

Brandon:

It’s very different than simply writing the story.

Brandon:

You are constrained by what visuals do I have and who said, well, very different thing takes a lot of skill.

Brandon:

What if you write a book you’re not constrained by any of that.

Brandon:

You get to sit down and say, here’s what happened on monday, blah, blah, blah, jeez, okay.

Brandon:

At some point in the last couple of years, well, three years at this point I looked up and I said, you know what, I’ve been talking about this forever.

Brandon:

Once find decided to write a book.

Brandon:

Now, I was naive, I didn’t realize that that was not the simplest thing in the world.

Brandon:

And I did not realize that the book I chose to write was a pain in the ass.

Brandon:

Because what I did is I chose to write a book in which each chapter was a self contained discussion of some pizza or barbecue bagels or wings.

Brandon:

And I realized as I was researching each of these chapters, that with just a couple of days more work, I could do a whole book on this.

Brandon:

So instead I ended up researching what could have been 10 or 12 books.

Brandon:

Okay, I thought it would take a year.

Brandon:

It took two years, but it’s been an absolute joy because a you know, I talk about curiosity, I have learned so many things that I did not possibly know before.

Brandon:

And b I’m pretty proud that I think I’ve managed to spin a tale that explains to a culture that now really digs its food, how we got to that food and why we dig it.

Brandon:

Can you tell one of the stories?

Brandon:

Because I’m interested in bagels, Okay, well here’s there’s a number of stories, a bigger first of all, I’m a new york, jew to me, Russian daughters is like the Parthenon in in Egypt in each in Greeks, pardon me and in researching this chapter, the folks that Russian daughters invited me in, I got to hang out there.

Brandon:

Not only that, I got to go behind the counter and try to slice lox, which by the way only produced lock starter, but they welcomed me to every aspect of this 100 plus year old institution that again, you know, you talk about food being the gateway to a culture.

Brandon:

I can tell you almost anything.

Brandon:

I want to tell you about new york Tuesday, which I’m one through the story of this particular place.

Brandon:

But but the whole story of lox and bagels is fascinating because you know on the one hand bagels came from Poland, they were sold by street peddlers.

Brandon:

They were literally the holes made it possible to put them on dowels and wave them around.

Brandon:

They were one of the few things that the polish government allowed jews to sell.

Brandon:

So right off the bat, you know, it was a limited prospect.

Brandon:

But the fact of the matter is as as jews escaped increasing anti Semitism of central and Eastern europe.

Brandon:

They came to the U.

Brandon:

S.

Brandon:

They brought the bagel with them.

Brandon:

Now the bagel changed because one of the things you got to understand is that american cuisine as I define, it is built of foods from other countries and cultures.

Brandon:

What all of those foods are then modified.

Brandon:

They evolve, they become different after they get here, Pizza changed mexican food, change, sushi, change it all changed.

Brandon:

And and that’s cool.

Brandon:

And I say that pointing my finger at those who claim that you know, it’s not authentic will spur you.

Brandon:

It’s authentic, chinese, american or japanese whatever.

Brandon:

Anyway, the bagel came here and it became us stand by of of poor Jewish immigrants, mostly in New York in the 10ements.

Brandon:

It got slightly bigger, it got a little less crunchy.

Brandon:

And and then something very interesting happened, which is the transcontinental railroad was completed, which made it possible to ship goods from the West Coast to the East Coast and pretty much the same time that we started to run out of blocks from nova Scotia so blocks salmon, if you will from the Northwest became a prized commodity, it was now possible to ship salmon from the northwest to new york by rail.

Brandon:

What they were no refrigerated railcars in the 1850s.

Brandon:

So what they would do is they would cover the salmon with salt.

Brandon:

Well, salt brine salmon, his locks.

Brandon:

And when that product appeared on the East Coast, suddenly it was a delightful expensive edition to the variety of fish that jewish immigrants could get at what they called an appetizing stuff, An appetizing store selling items that were neither milk nor meat.

Brandon:

Therefore if you were kosher, you could eat them with either meal.

Brandon:

Then a guy farmer enough state and he was trying to replicate french enough shuttle cheese and he failed.

Brandon:

But when he came up with was something he chose to call cream cheese.

Brandon:

And while all of the dairies that then sold that product translated their ads into Yiddish to run in the jewish newspaper.

Brandon:

The for bits translation of the forward, only the Breakstone bravery, which was a Breakstone daring, which was run by two jewish guys wrote special ads connecting this cheese to jewish holidays and jewish items.

Brandon:

Now there is no evidence they ever mentioned the bail, but the saltiness of the locks and the ability of the dream cheese to mitigate that.

Brandon:

And the presence of the bagels a platform.

Brandon:

It was clear that what you would soon end up with was watching bagels with cream cheese.

Brandon:

Then of course bagels became a national dish in the United States.

Brandon:

After the guy who invented the rollaway ping pong table, invented the automatic bagel maker And the Lender Brothers in new haven rented a least one and started making bagels you could freeze and and send to the rest of the country which were less dense, less crunchy, sweeter and more to the taste of non jewish men americans.

Brandon:

I interviewed marra London who’s a great guy.

Brandon:

I said, yeah, of course they were different.

Brandon:

We couldn’t have sold new york jewish bagels and you know, in the middle of the country, but that’s what made the bagel such an american dish that the most bagels in America are currently sold by Dunkin Donuts.

Brandon:

That’s so Dunkin Donuts sells more bagels, more bagels than any other retailer in America, including any of the bagel stores.

Brandon:

I got that directly from a Dunkin Donuts official.

Brandon:

That’s nuts.

Brandon:

Mhm.

Brandon:

Really?

Brandon:

Now, what’s interesting is that’s kind of the low point of bagels, there’s now been a resurgence and artisanal bagels in places like Kansas city where people are making bagels the way they were once made in new york and the whole thing is coming back again.

Brandon:

So it’s not all bad.

Brandon:

No, it’s a great story and I’m really grateful for you sharing it and for the listeners out there, you can get this story and many others, including sushi pizza.

Brandon:

What else is on the list?

Brandon:

So, we got, let’s see.

Brandon:

Pizza, mexican food, barbecue, fried chicken, sushi bagels, wings, and other boy appetizers, burgers, chinese food, lobster rolls, caviar, oysters and ice cream.

Brandon:

So if you’re interested in learning about any of these, which is really fascinating.

Brandon:

Get David’s book from amazon and it is in the show notes where you can purchase this.

Brandon:

Thank you.

Brandon:

David, I really appreciate you.

Brandon:

Coming on, man, this has been really fun and everything that I expected.

Brandon:

We never got back to your your radio Show at 15.

Brandon:

But I think we covered everything and in a really cool way that everyone can get an idea of your, of your background and how you did that hit show and now how you wrote this book, which is probably no pun intended to a whole new chapter for you that could do all sorts of things.

Brandon:

It’s been great.

Brandon:

And I’m I’m writing the next book right now.

Brandon:

What’s that?

Brandon:

We’ll go into detail.

Brandon:

But I am going to the Minnesota State Fair and actually to do some reporting.

Brandon:

Well when you get to a point where you will announce that I would love to have you back on the show and I would love to come back on the show.

Brandon:

It’s been a pleasure.

Brandon:

Thanks a lot.

Brandon:

David.

Brandon:

Thanks for having me.

Brandon:

Thanks for being generous with your time and joining us for this episode of the edge.

Brandon:

Before you go a quick question, are you the type of person who wants to get 100% out of your time, talent and ideas?

Brandon:

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Brandon:

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Brandon:

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Brandon:

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