Meet the man who made Alaska a reality TV star

Discovery Channel photo

What happens in Alaska no longer stays in Alaska, thanks in significant part to Thom Beers. The reality show producer behind "Deadliest Catch," "Bering Sea Gold," "Ice Road Truckers" and much more is the subject of a profile in the New York Times Magazine by Charles Homans, a former public radio reporter in Unalaska. The story opens with a fistfight in a California tavern, the result of bad blood between a Nome gold dredge owner and one of his crewmen. Of course, Beers is there, and the cameras are rolling, because it's a "Bering Sea Gold" reunion show.


From The Times:

If you have spent any time in the past decade clicking through certain neighborhoods of cable TV — former educational channels like Discovery and History, caterers to prolonged male adolescence like Spike and truTV — you have seen Thom Beers’s work. It’s the reason that viewers who have never worked a day away from an Aeron chair may know the dimensions and weight of a crab pot or the freezing point of synthetic transmission fluid. It’s the reason that on any given night you might turn on the television to find a fisherman or bush pilot detailing the hazards of his job to Jay Leno. ...

 Beers’s particular genius is realizing that the sphere of aspirational television could be enlarged beyond the mainstays of wealth, talent, youth and celebrity. That Americans wanted to step into not only the lives they might never live but also the lives they walked away from generations ago. “The stories we’re telling are guys’ versions of romance novels,” says Nancy Dubuc, the president of A&E Networks, who commissioned “Ice Road Truckers.” “People think about leaving the confines of the cubicle, or wherever they may be, and see the same traits that their grandfathers and great-grandfathers had growing up. It’s very nostalgic.”

Read more: A soap opera on the high seas