How to Get Your Own TV Show

Posted in Trip Testers

You may or may not have heard, but I’m hosting a new show on Travel Channel called Trip Testers. If that sounds crazy to you, it sounds doubly crazy to me. For all the time I spent performing in plays as a kid, I never once expected to have my own TV show. Character actor in a mildly successful sitcom? Sure. Co-host of a super fun show where I get to be myself and not memorize a single script? Never in my wildest dreams.

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The premise is simple: two travel writing buddies go on vacation to let you know where to spend your hard-earned vacation dollars. My co-host Jeff Miller has been the Los Angeles editor of Thrillist for a decade now and we’ve been going on trips together for the past five years or so. It’s a fantastic way to live.

Now that we have our own TV show, the number one question I get is “How did you get your own TV show?” So I thought I’d walk you through the process.

The short answer is: volunteer to run the light board for a play in the first week of your freshman year of college. While that may seem extremely specific, the sentiment is more universal. In my case, I arrived at Northwestern in 2000 with a lot of ambition and not a lot of anything else. I knew a few people, but I knew the best way to meet more was to get involved in anything I could. So I volunteered. The producer of the show happened to be Lisa Lapan, who — a decade later — would become partners with Geoff Clark at a small production company called Something Kreative. They’re the people to whom I first pitched the core idea for the show. This is all to say that the real way to get a show is to make friends.

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That lesson proved even more important nearly six years ago when I went to a weekend at the Alisal Ranch in Solvang for a “BBQ Bootcamp.” That’s where I met Jeff and we hit it off immediately. Over the next few years, we went on various press trips together taking us from Vegas all the way to Australia. Along the way, we realized that we’re perfect travel buddies and a formidable entertainment duo. We’re just two regular dudes who have the incredible opportunity to travel the world through our work as writers. That became the kernel of the idea that became Trip Testers.

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Now, it would be nice if you could just make friends and immediately get a TV show, but it’s obviously a little harder than that. Once Something Kreative dove in further, they were able to get a major production company attached: Authentic Entertainment. Authentic has done everything from Ace of Cakes to Flipping Out to Toddlers and Tiaras. They’re a heavy-hitter in the world of unscripted television and once they were onboard, we were off to the races. Kind of.

After shooting a six-minute “sizzle reel,” where we made a mini version of what we hoped the show would look like, they tried to sell it to networks. It didn’t work. A year later, they came back to us and asked if they could try again. We (of course) said yes and a week later, were told that the Travel Channel was interested and wanted to make a pilot (a full trial episode).

From the pilot stage, we were lucky enough to get the green light to make eight more episodes and in just a few short days, the first of those new episodes will be seeing the light of day.

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It’s been a long journey to get to this point and there are a LOT of steps left out here, but the takeaway is clear: get to know people — the right people — and one day, you too could be watching yourself on TV.

Watch my brand new show Trip Testers every Monday night at 11pm and 11:30pm (e/p) and let me know what you think down in the comments!

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  1. The show looks like lots of fun…and more important, another vehicle to encourage all of us, of all ages, to get out and travel. As a fan of Fly and Dine and daily reader of Thrillist, I know your show will be enjoyed by all! Best of luck!!

  2. Congratulations! You two look like a great team. Questions: did the travel channel air the pilot before giving the green light or just viewed the edited pilot and decide from that? Also, who paid for getting the pilot made?
    Thanks in advance for your answers.
    Good luck and have a blast, I’ll be watching.
    Gigi

    • Thanks, Gigi! Hope you enjoy the show. Our pilot aired over the summer and they made a decision based on how it was received. I’m not sure about the financing — I leave all that up to the production team.

      • Jason,
        We loved watching your first two episodes! You two are funny! The zip line looked crazy!
        Is your pilot show anywhere online or tv? Do you know yet if there will be a second season?
        Gigi

        • Not sure what they’re doing with online content. Hope they make the pilot and other episodes available to everyone! We’re hoping to know about a second season as soon as possible, but right now have no information.

  3. Wow, this is a bloggers dream! Good luck to you guys. Hopefully blazing a trail for other travel bloggers to follow. Randy could host a Boarding Area Channel!

  4. That was fun! Watched both episodes last night. As a meeting professional taking a group to Las Vegas this month, I have some cool new ideas for them to try.

    Jason, my husband, Paul Bacon, misses writing guest blogs for Fly & Dine.

  5. Love your show. Your trip to New Orleans and the selection of restaurants were excellent. I am from the area and it was great just to see it. Continue, and enjoy yourselves. But if you ever need an extra person, I am available.

    • Thanks Cheryl! We had an amazing time in New Orleans. I’m still dreaming of those muffulettas! New episodes on Monday night at 11/10c and 11:30/10:30c. Tune in!

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