Where Traveler ~ My Baltimore: TV Host Talks Charm City

mike rowe horizontal portrait

By Anne Kim-Dannibale

This hometown boy got down with unsung laborers in his first show, Discovery’s “Dirty Jobs.” Now, on his new show for CNN, “Somebody’s Gotta Do It,” Mike Rowe features people with a passion for unique callings—among them, those promoting the Baltimore he knows and loves (check local listings). Here, Rowe talks about getting to know his native Baltimore, his unusual travel experiences and his own “dirty” job.

Tell us about your new show “Somebody’s Gotta Do It.”
“Dirty Jobs” was about people who were literally “on the job.” The new show is about people on a mission—could be a vocation or an avocation. We look for people who are passionate about a pursuit. Last week I met a guy who runs a Turkish bath house in Chicago. Before that, I carved ice sculptures with a husband-and-wife team. Before that, I worked as a bullfighter with the PBR. Tomorrow, I’m curling with an Olympic champion. It’s a rich pageant, as the song goes.

Why produce a show like this?
Part curiosity, part fondness for my fellow man, part contempt for the state of nonfiction television. This is a simple show about real people doing stuff they love. I think it’s important to have a few shows like this on the air somewhere.

Why do you have to do it?
I wanted to do another show where I could still be the person I am in real life. This is the only format that allows me to do that. I also wanted to shine a light on people I think the country ought to meet.

What’s the biggest challenge to promoting Baltimore?

Telling the truth. Many people assume the whole town is like “The Wire” or “Homicide.” Of course, that’s not the case, but neither is it all sunshine and rainbows. Too often, tourism bureaus will overcompensate and present a view that’s no less lopsided than the image they’re attempting to correct. Most people can see through that sort of propaganda.

My old friend Alan Charles runs an advertising firm here in town. He and the city’s tourism bureau asked me to participate in a new campaign. I thought it might be fun to profile the efforts of those “somebodies” as a part of the show. I was right.

What do you love most about your hometown?

I love that it has a chip on its shoulder. I didn’t realize that when I moved away in 1989, but it’s true. We’re not D.C. and we’re not New York. We’re sure as hell not Philadelphia. We’re the place you pass through on the way to someplace bigger or sexier or more glamorous. That means the people who move here to live and work usually have character. When you choose Baltimore, you choose something very real. It’s often called a big small town, and I think that still applies. The individual neighborhoods are still intact. I love that.

Read the complete article and more at WhereTraveler.com

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