I owe my entire career to The Bachelor.
Yes. I owe my entire career to The Bachelor. OK , well let me back up. You might be thinking, NOPE Meg, I do NOT watch TV ergo I cannot relate to this post.
Ok let’s unpack this a little. I know there are some of you out there who don’t watch ANY tv, I just don’t happen to relate. NO disrespect at ALL, I just was a tv kid of the 70s and 80s and still love it. I grew up watching shows like Eight is Enough, Three’s Company, Gilligan’s Island and Laverne and Shirley.
Then as the years moved on, my tastes changed slightly. I would spend hours watching Days of Our Lives, Another World, Guiding Light. Watching MuchMusic videos on repeat until you knew all the words to the songs, cringing when the overly friendly Richard Dawson would kiss contestants on the lips on Family Feud, or that unbelievable storyline arc when Marlena got possessed by the devil and levitated on Days of Our Lives. Those were the memories.
Whether it was alone or with my sis, or my grandma, I loved the feeling you got when you knew the rest of the day could just wait. For that hour or 3, you just got to escape and live another “life”.
So where does Reality TV fit in and how on EARTH did I fashion a career from all this?
Well, I owe my entire career to a little franchise known as The Bachelor.
Let’s back up to the year 2004.
I had just moved back from living in NYC for 4 years (story for another day) and was working back at my former job, with a company called Consumer Impact Marketing (CIM). LOVED THAT JOB. During my almost combined 10 years at CIM, I was a Project Manager for many clients, one of which was CityTV. On this particular campaign, my role was to find a beautiful young couple to play a bride and groom, that we would shuttle all over downtown Toronto, passing out invitations for a relatively new Reality TV show called THE BACHELOR.
Well, it was Trista and Ryan’s Wedding actually. See Trista had been a contestant on Season 4 of the Bachelor with Bob Guiney. When love didn’t happen for Trista, they officially made a spinoff called THE BACHELORETTE. Trista met and fell in love with Ryan (still with me?) and then ABC broke the ratings with televising their wedding for the world to see. That’s where I came in, on a campaign from CityTV to help hand out “invitations” to watch this momentous occasion unfold on TV.
So promote we did.
When the wedding was over, I was at CityTV for a wrap up meeting with my clients. I recall there were 3 or 4 female execs in the room and once the business of the day was taken care of, I piped up with “omg guys, can we please talk about last night’s episode of the show with Bob”????
Noting my ridiculous excitement, they exchanged looks and then said words I will never EVER forget for the rest of my life.
“Meg, we are actually auditioning for a Bachelorette Correspondent. That person will not only report on the show on TV, but do a couple weekly radio hits as well with our sister station CHUM FM”.
GUYS I ALMOST FAINTED ON THE SPOT.
Long story short, I got the gig.
Well, that was after fashioning a mic sock and doing mock interviews on the street where I pretended to already have the gig. Wrangling my dear friend Mike from Calgary to help edit a video, then packaging it all into a “date box” and dropping it off at the CityTv main lobby. A petition, a rose delivery, you name it I did it, all in the name of becoming the ONE.
Well after a round of semi-finals, then a final competition where we were put into a booth and shown 1 scene from a past episode, then given 5 mins to write 3 mins of “copy”, then into the infamous Speakers Corner booth where we recorded our segment, I received the phone call that I was cast as the CityTV/CHUM FM Bachelorette Correspondent!!
There were no words to describe the feeling. Getting the phone call from Jenny at CityTV, saying “well, we have good news and bad news. The bad news is you’re going to have to miss a lot of time at work, because the good news is, YOUR LIFE IS ABOUT TO CHANGE, YOU GOT THE GIG”!!
Within moments they needed my bio and booked me in for headshots and a press release session. I cashed in all my vacation days and fashioned a new schedule whereby every single Wednesday I would leave my life as a Project Manager and spend it on my new TV career with CityTV.
My 9 Week Schedule began.
Each Wednesday morning I was put into a booth with one of the producers Andrew. Andrew would begin the feed from LA (still not completely edited, so exciting). Andrew would then sit with a pad of paper and pen and record MY reactions to watching the show. Then he and I would build my script for my segment. While this was happening, someone was magically building my set. Then it was off to hair and makeup and then we would shoot. Shoot me talking about the highs and lows, who should stay, who should go – and the segment would ALWAYS finish with me tossing a handful of rose petals high into the air “a la Bachelor”. If I tell you we had someone there to pick up each petal, for each take, would you believe me? Hilarious. And thank you!
The segment was originally intended to be 30 seconds during the commercial break at the halfway mark of the show but week after week momentum picked up and fans wanted more. Did I just type that? YES, I was informed that I was getting a good response so they upped the 30 seconds to 60. Then a 30 and a 60. I was elated. More rose petals!
Where did radio enter the scene?
Great question! In addition to shooting the TV part of the job, I had to travel up to my fave radio station CHUM FM where on Wednesdays I would go live with Darren Lamb in the afternoon to tease THAT night’s episode. Then the next morning I would join the Morning Show- with Roger, Rick and Marilyn to dissect what had just transpired the night before.
I will NEVER forget on day one, walking into the studio to meet the morning show. Roger was so kind and so funny, and also volunteered that “this isn’t really my kind of show, please know I am here, but these weekly chats will mainly be you and Marilyn talking”. I remember saying “oh Roger I will get you to come around, just wait and see”!
Week after week, as I juggled my marketing job and my over-the-top exciting Wednesday job at CityTV/CHUM FM, my love for the entertainment world grew. And week after week, Roger Ashby’s involvement increased on our weekly chats. We would talk about contestants, laugh at their mishaps as we all do on reality tv, and before you knew it, he was JUST as involved as we were. It was MAGIC.
Over the course of the 9 week run, I was also given a chance to become a Metro Columnist, with Meg’s Bachelor Banter. Every week I had to make my deadline to my editor as I spilled the “highs and lows” of this addictive tv show.
I also got to spend a day with an ousted contestant on a promo tour, along with a day with the Bachelorette herself, MEREDITH PHILLIPS! What a thrill. Here she was, right beside me dishing all the secrets she could. I was in heaven. That day we also joined Marilyn on her show (at the time) CityLine to dish. Glorious.
Well kids as all things do come to an end, the season of Meredith was wrapping up. Right before it did however, I was asked to come to the radio station to meet the Program Director Rob Farina. Rob sat me down and said that he’d like to make me an official offer, to join the CHUM FM Morning Show as Entertainment Correspondent. That would go hand in hand with some TV work down at CityTV and the former StarTV. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
I had somehow kicked enough butt and made enough of an impression on this rock solid radio team, to have them want me, ME, to join their family. I will forever be grateful to Marilyn Denis, who by all accounts made this position a reality. I went on to work for almost 3 years with my beloved radio family at CHUM. I also became a street reporter with StarTV, covered the Toronto International Film Festival, and made lifelong industry friends. When it was time to make the leap west, I threw my hat in the ring to co-host morning radio in Calgary, and well, the rest of the story you probably know.
That is how my career in entertainment began.
Not by going to broadcasting college.
By getting a University degree in Psychology that landed me a Marketing job.
By studying Second City Improv in Toronto.
By going to comedy writing classes for stand up in NYC.
And by auditioning my tush off to get the gig of Bachelorette Correspondent.
So to all the naysayers of the Reality TV world? We know it’s surface. We know it’s an escape. But it can lead to SO many opportunities and really change a life.
It changed mine.
PS – If you’d like to dish the HIGHS and LOWS with us, we have a group you can join called Meg’s Bachelor Banter. See? All these years later, still going strong. Thanks Bach!
You can also follow me on Instagram!