Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Meeting Rick Steves

I have always used Rick Steves' travel guides when vacationing in Europe, so when I heard he was coming to Sacramento, I managed to convince my editor to kick the story my way.

I called his spokeswoman and set up an interview. You can read the story from that interview here.
And that's how it usually goes with celebrities when you're a reporter writing a preview of their appearances. He was two states away when I talked to him, and that would have been the end of it.

So I was elated when the local public access reporter shot me an e-mail inviting me to meet Steves at a pledge drive in which his show on Andalusia was being aired after the talk detailed in the story linked above.

With my mom being such a fan of his shows and books as well, I brought her along to the station, where we just had time for a few words and a photo op before the live show.

Having never been to a TV studio before, I was equally interested in the whole process, which is best-described as controlled chaos, with three cameras filming while a stage director bounced between them giving hand signals.

Steves was on it, ad-libbing his entire segments, having asked the staff to turn off the teleprompter. He's a pro, and it showed as he was told he had to fill 30 seconds – and made his remarks last exactly that long without having to change how fast he was speaking.

I was impressed by the TV staff and Steves. Despite the frantic nature of the business, technical problems knocking out the host's teleprompter and filling his earpiece with audio feedback, the whole show went well, and the phones in the background were ringing regularly as pledges kept coming in.

I didn't get the chance to talk travel with Steves over beers or anything, but it was definitely cool to meet him. Maybe I'll run into him one of these days in Europe.

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