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Jon’s PostLife Crisis: Brett Baker - Executive Producer, Speech Coach, ‘Hot Ones’ Star

Russell Brand once sang a song to this week’s guest. How many of you can say the same? 

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Brett Baker

Brett Baker is an executive producer for 10/11 News in Lincoln, Nebraska. I have little idea what an executive producer does, and I thought it would be interesting to find out, so I asked.

During this podcast, Brett and I talk about:

  • What it’s like to be an Executive Producer for TV News
  • What is the news?
  • How do you win an Emmy in Lincoln, Nebraska?
  • Why he returned to coach high school speech
  • Why it’s important to take speech in high school
  • Hot Ones! - How he achieved Internet Celebrity Status and had Russell Brand sing to him

I hope you enjoy it!

Hot Ones And Hot Sauces!

If you are NOT familiar with “Hot Ones” - so you know there are several hot sauces listed in this article, so you might find the references below confusing. These are hot sauces:

The Last Dab

Da Bomb

If you wonder what it’s like to eat a hot pepper raw, here’s my account and my home-grown habaneros are not anywhere close to Pepper X, the Carolina Reaper, or the Ghost peppers available.

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About the Transcript

Keep in mind that the following is a transcript. I use a service that automates the first draft. As much as “artificial intelligence” is included in the description of every bit of technology these days, it’s clear that computers understanding human speech is more artificial than intelligent. The transcript has been edited to take out human speech bites, you know, um, okay, uh, but it’s not been edited to be an “article”.

Transcript

Jon Johnston Welcome to Jon’s post life crisis. I’m your host Jon Johnston, founder of CornNation.com, your Nebraska Cornhuskers site of being around during the college football offseason. Today we’re talking with Brett Baker, executive producer for 1011 news in Lincoln, Nebraska. I have no idea what an executive producer actually does, and that’s why I am going to talk to Brett. Hey, how are you Brett?

Brett Baker

I’m well Jon. How are you buddy?

Jon Johnston I’m scratchy. I got the scratchy throat thing going. I had to drink a bunch of tea. I really should learn more from professionals how to get out of that. But when I got up this morning, I had the Kris Kristofferson voice going. And I don’t think anybody wants to hear me sing...

Brett Baker

Do a couple lines from Convoy. Come on.

Jon Johnston So what is an executive producer? It sounds very high profile very fancy, I fancy is probably not the right word, but it sounds very well like you’re in charge.

Brett Baker

Basically, we have the five shows every day. And then in addition to the show that we you know, shows we everyone like him. We’re a little different kind of situation. We own stations in Hastings, North Platte, in Scottsbluff as well. So to a little, I have a little limited role with those folks as well, but mostly I oversee the show In terms of making sure that they look and sound and are presented, you know kind of in the way that we we envision our news being put out. A lot of it is, is other stuff now I used t, you when you’re coming up as a producer, you just make TV shows. For 11 years in San Antonio, I built sportscast without spare space you’re there and here I started out doing the morning show, which is a two hour show every day and then I moved to the six and 10 o’clock which are half hours but a little more busy. Definitely different than the morning but from overall do I just kind of like oversee all those. Also to is you know, we help them in this I help them the decision making, story story direction. How you know, a reporter is going to make something look a lot of it too because we’re market 111 and this is where we get a lot of young folks who start out. A lot It is like mentoring, kind of coaching, guiding, teaching, how to put together a good story, how to, make your work that was visually compelling for our viewers so that they get something out of it. Hopefully they’re like, Oh, that was good. I want to come back. And then as there’s a million other things, there, there’s always projects going on. Coming up, the special shows that I’ll be working on elections, or we have our town, which is a four times a year series, and I’ll help produce those specials and there’s nothing there’s never like one thing. It’s always like 9 million little weird things that I know exactly what to do and you know, go to work and do but it’s very tough to kind of explain so. Yeah, as you said, it’s kind of a master of all and kind of thing and wherever they bring us kind of what you would would you end up doing but I don’t really do a TV show. On a daily basis anymore, so I kind of miss that part a little bit. But yeah, so it’s a little bit of everything. And you can’t really like say in one day Oh, this is exactly gonna be it. So you just got to like roll with whatever the day brings.

Jon Johnston You have to deal with about - you have to juggle a lot of things in your head all the time. Is that an incorrect statement?

Brett Baker

No, that’s true. Yeah, I mean, cuz there’s always things like, Oh, this I can do right now. But if I’m the assistant, which isn’t due for whenever, and so yeah, there’s a bunch of different things that generally are kind of happening at once.

Jon Johnston So when they go into like you said, you do five shows you’re at the station does five shows. Right?

Brett Baker

Right.

Jon Johnston So how far ahead of time I mean, if you’re going to do let’s say, I assume you do a show at like 6pm. How far ahead of time do you have that show arranged.

Brett Baker

So, six o’clock show the crews in by two we have our afternoon meeting at two o’clock. Usually lasts a half hour and by 230 year you’re throwinh what we call slugs you know at whatever you settle the story and you you’re thrown that in a rundown. You figure out you know how many reporters you know usually if we’re lucky last two or three reporters in a in any given show and you together they can be live with me in the studio is in a package. Is it will go a Bossa which would just be like a piece of video and a sound bite. You figure out how you’re going to treat it, you figure out where you’re going to put them in. If they are in station, they’re in studio where we’re going to put them we have multiple different sets. So you do all that stuff, starting at like 2 - 2:30. And you know, my goal was always to be done with the show by 530. So that if anything happened in that last 30 minutes, I could react to it pretty quickly. So I try to get the folks to do that too. But it’s definitely a lot of new younger so I know all the old dog tricks, I guess. So I I’m able to do that. But a lot of times too, we’re the news, we’re not the olds. So it’s reacting to stuff that’s happened. And there’s always stuff that happens between 230 and six o’clock. So you gotta adjust and figure out how to include that new content.

Jon Johnston So this is one job and once experience is really extremely helpful, you can’t just walk up and start doing this.

Brett Baker

Right, right. Yeah, definitely having a few miles on my, on the tires is better than not. Because it’s, you know, when you’re when you’re young and starting out, especially like, live TV. I remember my first week in San Antonio, I come from a place where I was doing like a TV news magazine with the Air Force. So you have a lot of time to prepare, get ready, and it was pretty nice and easy going. But then when it’s live TV, that’s a whole different beast, and I just didn’t have a first week. Every day when I came home. I felt like an elephant had been sitting on my chest and I’d somehow survived only going out again. Oh my God I can’t survive a year this that alone like 20 or 25 years of this, but eventually you figure it out you see everything and, and it just kind of like... I think of it like as a, you know, a quarterback in the NFL says the game just slowed down. At a certain point the game slows down and you just kind of like figure it all out and nothing scares you anymore. So then it just becomes fun. That’s, that’s the fun part. Live TV is the best. Because it’s, it’s this kind of evolving thing that you can mold in your vision. And how well do you handle the changes, the stuff happens is your folders, you know who they’re going to be a loser kaliesha whatever. So how can you address that was always the fun part. But yeah, being able to have seen and done that, getting reps helps in the slowing down process.

Jon Johnston So you’ve been around for 25 years.

Brett Baker

Yep. Let’s see. This year will mark my 30th year in broadcasting actually.

Jon Johnston Wow. I think I’ve been around 30 years IT consulting and during that time technology is wow, the changes we’ve gone through have been unbelievable. I can’t imagine what they’re like for you guys. I mean, we were on the sideline at the Minnesota Nebraska game and you were holding a video camera or some kind of video. What was it a tablet?

Brett Baker

No just my iPhone.

Jon Johnston And you said it was uploading video to the cloud and somebody else would be cutting it up?

Brett Baker

Yeah, yeah. Yeah, it’s amazing. I mean, I can carry everything I need pretty much in a game equipment bag of stuff as it a shoe box. And I’ve got my own tripod, that if I need it, I can, you know, we can use it. But yeah, I can do everything. Now with my iPhone, essentially, as you know, the main hub that used to take the satellite truck to do. It’s amazing.

Jon Johnston But at the same time hasn’t that made a frenetic process even more insane?

Brett Baker

No because you pick up time on the backside so like it used to be like you would have to get your interviews get this that the other and then you would have to hustle and get it turned around so that the people back you know in the station could get a cut and put up on the air. Well, now they can get that stuff in almost real time. We have an app called TV you which allows us to whenever you see a live shot or remote shot. Most folks they are using something called a TV you or alive you and it’s again it’s like about size of a shoe box but instead of using satellites, it goes now we use cell towers. And whereas like your phone or my phone has one cell card in it, these boxes will have like five cell cards in it so that they can get a beautiful, you know, HD zero glitchy picture. So Using that or using my phone, we can be sending stuff back to the shop real time and then to gain in 15-20 minutes there. You don’t have to turn it around. They’re getting it right then. So it actually it has made things easier and a lot of respects.

Jon Johnston Can we talk about what makes the news the news or should we go there?

Brett Baker

Sure. We can totally do that.

Jon Johnston Okay. When when I talk to people, people get angry and you see them on social media like Facebook, which is hell anyway. But you see them on social media and they’ll ask the question, why is this news? In my personal life, a lot of times I describe how the news works - When it’s up, tear it down, when it’s down, build it up. Is that a fair statement? Or am I just a jerk?

Brett Baker

Can’t it be both Jon?

Jon Johnston True?

Brett Baker

Know I think the question we always ask ourselves is is this important? If yes, why is it important? And then to whom is it important? You know, I know that the cycle thing and the build it up and tear down thing I know. I think that probably happens more on maybe like the network level as far as local news, I’m much more interested in keeping our audience informed about the South loop beltway project or what’s happening down at the ledge or crime, you know, what’s happening, you know, with, you know, a string of robberies that are going on in North Lincoln or whatever. I’m much more interested in that than like, Oh, can we take you know, what can we do about this politician, you know, we’re going, you know, and I don’t care what side you’re on or whatever. I mean, there’s always somebody that you like, this guy is a pain in the butt to let’s, let’s figure out how to make life miserable for him. We don’t have... A, that’s never going to be our kind of mission. But um, we you know, the resources and stuff to do that. And I think what you get out of that is you’re going to expend way more than you’re going to get out of that. So for us, it’s it truly is about what can we do to keep our audience informed and engaged and coming back to us for more.

Jon Johnston Okay, so, the other thing people will do is, for example, there’s a Husker football player that I don’t want to bring up the sexual assault stuff with Andre Hunt and Katerian Lagone, I can’t remember his name. I mean, that’s obviously news.

Jon Johnston

A lot of times, there’s other minor stuff that happens with Husker football players who are on the roster and people go, why is this news? If somebody else did x, they wouldn’t be on the news. This is unfair. How do you respond to that?

Brett Baker I think that’s a good question. It’s a question that we have all the time. And there has been plenty of things that will will see that if you go back and do a Google search as compared to other folks, we don’t cover. Because I think, and that’s one of the things I really, really like and appreciate about the 1011 newsroom. I think we have a level of talent that exceeds our market number. I think we’re very blessed in that regard. Because we do sit down and we have very serious conversations about why or why not we should we cover this. Because in most times, we say, Okay, look at the circumstances they were caught with X amount of marijuana or whatever it is. Would we care if this was another University of Nebraska student. And if the outcome was like, Oh, well, they got it, you know, lifted from, you know, their dorm room, then No, nobody cares. So there’s plenty of the times when things have happened. And unfortunately with the case of the two young man who were, you know, going through the court just now and been recently charged with the sexual assault, we had that story quite a bit before it went anywhere, but at that time, nothing had happened. So instead of because they charged hadn’t been filed, the investigation was, we could not determine where it was with regards to LPD or anybody else. So we had it. But eventually the the young woman went to ESPN. And once ESPN started digging in, then the city law enforcement and I guess part of the District Attorney’s Office changed maybe a little bit and what they were doing, because that kind of broke everything free and then all right now we’re seeing some traction and things happen. But there are plenty of times when there is stuff that like yeah, no we don’t. We don’t care. There’s an example where complaint has been filed. And I’m not going to bring up names for the exact reason that we didn’t name names then. But complaints filed against a couple guys who were on the team. And a lot of other stations went just to the wall with it. And we again, we sat down, we have the conversation. Well, if the same exact thing was leveled it just any university students, and they were not Huskers? What will we do? And the answer is probably nothing until you know, X, Y or Z happens, which is what we did is we did nothing at that when we said, yes, there’s an investigation on two university students, we didn’t identify them. But just because at a certain point, it’s like, well, what everybody’s like, well, you’re covering up for him now. No, we’re not covering up for him. But again, there’s lots of opportunity. There’s things that happened that we wouldn’t normally cover, and just because you play for Nebraska, doesn’t mean you’re, you don’t get the same kind of consideration.

Jon Johnston

You’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t.

Brett Baker Sometimes

Jon Johnston

People are gonna say, well, you’re covering up for him or why is this a news story? You’re never going to be right.

Brett Baker There are sometimes also in the case the kind of being vague about but nothing good come of it, nothing was ever pursued. And everybody else had taken these young guys names and thrown them all around there. And we did just want now I don’t know if that’s like being understood or appreciated as much maybe as we would like it to be. But I do know that at the end of the day, we just say well, we did not help contribute to that mess. And we don’t we don’t have anything to apologize for. And it’s like I said, we’ve been blessed with some really good leadership and, and our anchor team is just tremendous. Bill, Bill Schammert Bridget Fargen excellent critical thinkers along with our news director and and those are conversations that we had, I don’t think people like think like how deep the conversations go, but we do have a lot of deep conversations about how do we approach the certain it’s not just will Husker stuff, there’s, you know, way more things that happen in this city than, than just Nebraska stuff and you know, there’s some awful stuff that happens, but we think about the victims and how, how this will affect them. So there are a lot of conversations that happen. I don’t think people know or appreciate and they probably shouldn’t. I mean, why would they need to, but I just do know that at the end of most days, I can, we can all hold our heads high and say, we went about it the right way.

Jon Johnston

If you’re not doing these stories, I mean, how are your ratings in Lincoln?

Brett Baker Good. I mean, we’re blessed in that. It’s a legacy station. I mean, 1011 has been around since the 50s. And for a long time was the only source you know, east or west of Omaha, because the entire State. We kind of have this institutional buildup of viewers who like love my parents watched it, I watched it, and when I was a kid, I watched it. And so we’re lucky in that regard. And yet we have a bigger we have a bigger signal than anybody else. We still reach across the state, even though there are more, you know, entities out there competing now. So I think people do understand and appreciate the the professionalism of, of our anchors, I think we have, we compare it with anybody in the state, I think, I think CHANNEL SEVEN is probably who I would most compare us to, I think they’re probably, they are bigger, they have a little bit more money. They’re in a little bigger market. So, but I would compare us favorably to them in terms of style content, how we go after story. But, yeah, so as far as viewership, I think they trust us to do the right thing. And I think we do in most cases, I think we’re pretty responsible and I think that pays off with you know, loyal viewership.

Jon Johnston

All right, you’ve won multiple Emmys. How does a guy that’s working in Lincoln, Nebraska, which has to be a very, very small market win multiple Emmys? I mean, are you that good? They hand these things out like candy? What is it that goes into winning an Emmy?

Brett Baker Okay, well, so there’s there’s two different layers of Emmys. There’s the ones that you’re probably thinking of which, you know, like Game of Thrones or Monday Night Football or whoever. You know, there’s the Emmys on the level that they win and that’s this is from the it’s called NATAS, the National Association of Television Arts and Sciences or National Academy of Television, arts and sciences. And then there’s regional chapters, of which there are 12 and so every state in the US falls into one of these 12 Regional chapters. And then you compete against everybody else in that market for some categories, other categories like for us, which were considered small market. We just compete against other small market stations. In our case, it would be Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas, and Oklahoma, as I thinking about it correctly, so we compete against stations our size in those four states. So it’s so much more level playing field. It’s not like you’re going to see on one of the week night on some award show on one of the networks it’s, it’s regional so it’s like the Heartland Emmy. You live in Minneapolis area there. And you know, Boyd Huppert, correct?

Jon Johnston

I don’t know. I rarely watch TV.

Brett Baker I think it was a you should watch Boyd Huppert because he’s amazing. But he has a segment called land of 10,000 stories. He is very much like a Steve Hartman or Charles Kerault. The Minneapolis area is very, very blessed to have. I believe he has won more than 100 Emmys in your area. And that’s not even a joke. That’s actual facts. But I mean in your course 100 I was okay, I would put 100 up against somebody one anytime, but so yeah, so it’s a regional thing. So we’re only punching against people who are in our same weight class. But I do believe we’re good. I believe we put out a superior newscast. And I do think that’s why we’re rewarded. because there’ll be times when people will put the Enter submissions and the event won’t earn enough or the the piece won’t earn enough points and they’ll be like no nominees in this category, which happens. So you know, we’ve been fortunate to always have multiple shows nominated every year and, and we’re on a pretty good streak. I think we’ve won four in a row now. For best newscast, Which I hope, you know, continues this year. So yeah, that’s how it happens. It’s tough for people to distinguish and I’m not exactly sure, because I don’t even want to explain it every time but well, there’s a national Emmy and a regional Emmy and there’s 12 regional and he’s so you know, I just say, hey, yeah,, we won five Emmys. So it’s certainly something I’d proud of. It’s a nice thing. I think it kind of validates. Last year, the show we won for the shows we won for because we were born with two different shows. Daytime and evening was on a day when Nebraska had its first execution in more than 20 years. And it was kind of conflicted about it. But our main anchor Bill Schammert said something that that really made sense to me. He said, on a day when it was important that we be at our best, even if it was a horrible day we were, and I thought that was really good. And I thought okay, I can I That makes me feel good because then we’re giving folks what they need.

Jon Johnston

Interesting. Okay, you’re involved in high school speech. You are a speech coach.

Brett Baker That’s correct. Yes.

Jon Johnston

And why do you do this? I mean, you got a gob of things going on with news and executive producer. I mean, why do High School speech?

Brett Baker So when I was a kid in high school, I didn’t I didn’t really find my footing until my sophomore year, when one of my teachers kind of noticed my ability to write and kind of be, I don’t know if a clown but I’m, again, I think to think I’m amusing. I’m pretty funny. And so she steered me in the direction of our speech coach, and a speech coach was like, Yeah, you’re an entertainment speaker. We’re going to put you in entertainment. There’s what you do. And you know, so the first time ever I sat down to write something that I was going to perform in front of I don’t know how many people during the course of the season, and it gave me a real focus and purpose. And I ended up going to state that year. And I was like, wow, this is this is pretty cool. So for the rest of high school, you know, speech is a big deal for me. I enjoy not onlycompeting and working on my own piece, but helping my teammates, but it gave me a real solid footing and an understanding that because I knew when I was eight years old that I wanted to go into television, which is a weird thing to know, then, but I did. But it gave me noticing that oh, you know, you probably can do this now. So after high school, I joined the Air Force and I was gone for 22 years. But I always thought when I got back, when I came home, because I knew at some point I moved home. I wanted to give back. And so in 2012, when my daughter, we raised her down in Texas, when she decided to go to University of Nebraska like well, if you’re at the University of Nebraska, there’s no reason for me to stay in Texas. So I moved home with her. She moved here for college. And one of the first things I did was reach out to one of my buddies from from high school who is still very connected to the school and involved in a lot of stuff. And I said, who’s the speech coach now, what do they got going on? And it turns out that that year, our head coach, now she had just been handed the program, and she had never competed in speech. She’d never coached speech. And so I said, Hey, I’d love to volunteer and help out in any way I can. And we started out with me just go to one or two, and then over the season that kind of grew and then over the years, it kind of grew. And, yeah, it’s just, you know, it’s about giving back and wanting to make sure that somebody leaves Malcolm with the same enthusiasm and optimism about what they want to do in life that I did, because I think that’s pretty invaluable. And it’s meant a tremendous amount to me. So to be able to do that, you know, or at least attempt to do that on a yearly basis, at a place that I truly love and care about. Me means means everything to me, it’s probably why you know, I’m I’ve gotten some other job offers and bigger markets and more pay and stuff. But as long as Malcolm high school is sitting there, and they’ll have me as an assistant speech coach, I probably am not going to go anywhere.

Jon Johnston

I never did anything with high school speech. And I, I regretted it later. I’ll tell you that I ran as a sixth year undeclared senior at the University of Nebraska Lincoln, I ran for student body president. Okay. And we have this debate and I sat up on a podium with my two people that were running with me. And during this debate, I realized that I was terrible at public speaking, I realized I was terrified. I realized that I stammered through the entire thing, kind of like I do on this podcast sometimes. But that taught me that I kind of resolved that later I was going to be better at this. Okay, so So I graduated I got a nice career in IT consulting. I started writing in the computer industry. And the magazine I wrote for got me into a business show to speak. All right. It was called the Strictly Business Show at the Minneapolis Convention Center. And I was speaking on the sea at the same convention as Andy MacPhail. If you remember who that was, Manager of the Minnesota Twins. The first time I stood up on a stage and publicly spoke to people was in front of 700 people. Now, I didn’t, I didn’t eat for a day. People said they yelled at me while I was walking by and I didn’t hear them. I was absolutely terrified. But I didn’t die. And I went on and I continued to speak at conventions I spoke at conferences about technology and things like that. And I had a public speaking I wouldn’t say it was a career because it advanced my consulting career. But I did. I did kind of enjoy it. But I wish that I had more of a background in it. And then to just go, you know what I mean? If you’re listening to this, don’t start with 700 people start like, I don’t know, 20 people in a small room, you know what I mean? So I wish I would have done High School speech. I wish I wish I would have done like acting in plays in high school and I never did that. But I also had no confidence. You said you found your footing when you’re a sophomore. I really I don’t think I ever found my footing in high school. That was way later until get even in college. It was mostly trying Well, I was an undeclared senior for crying out loud. What’s that tell you about my direction in life?

Brett Baker And wilder as it were.

Jon Johnston

The other reason for being an undeclared senior. I’ll tell you the story just because I’ll tell it has nothing to do with this podcast. I discovered as an undeclared senior, or an undeclared student in Nebraska, you could take any course you want and they wouldn’t take your they would not check your prerequisites.

Brett Baker So there’s a backdoor,

Jon Johnston

I started taking 300 and 400 level computer science courses. And I’d be in a class and they would call out these other students and tell them they have to leave because they failed the previous class. They never did that. Until the day I went in to take a computer language called ADA, which was supposed to be the next big computer language. And Celia Daley was teaching the course. And she was the head of the computer science department. She sat in front of the class, she called two or three names and she said, Okay, you guys, you failed the prerequisites. You can’t take this course yet. And then she goes, Jon Johnston, you will come and see me after class. And so the class is over and I’m nervous, you know, She looks at it, I walk up to her, she looks at me and she goes, I know all of my computer science students, you are not one of them. You are going to tell me how you got into this course. And I think it was literally a 400 level course and I’m looking at her and there’s situations in which you know, you can bluff or lie through and lie, right? This was not one of them. And I looked at her and I said, Okay, so I’ve recognized figured out that if I’m undeclared, nobody checks my prerequisites. I really want to learn more about computer science, but I have my own computer. I’m not going through all this other stuff, just because that’s what you say I need to take. And she looked at me and she said, okay, you can stay in this course as long as you can do the work. But I can guarantee you that after this conversation, you will never and nobody else at this university will be an undeclared student and be able to get in courses that they can’t you know, they’re not supposed to be in. I stayed in the course they think I gotta be. I don’t even know where I was going with that, I suppose is about finding direction. Right?

Jon Johnston Hot ones.

Jon Johnston

Okay. I don’t know if everybody knows what Hot Ones is. My children know who you are. And that is partially because... well go ahead and tell us about Hot Ones.

Brett Baker So, internet YouTube series, it’s an interview show for all people think it’s a wing eating show but really it’s an interview show which is what drew me to it. But the concept of the show is pretty brilliant. And if you spend any time like trying to interview people, you get it right away. 10 questions over well... questions over hot wings and with each wing or you know round of questions. The hot wing the hot sauce on the wing increases sometimes by a little bit, sometimes it’s exponentially. But what that does is then, you know, people go from just when you interview somebody of a certain level of fame or notoriety or whatever, there’s almost always a limit to what they’re willing to give up what they’re willing to say, where they’re willing to go with the conversation. But what the hot sauce does is it’s a, it’s a psychological Kickstarter that turns off that part of their brain that’s going to limit what they want to talk about or where they want to go. And it just turns on the fight or flight response. And how can I get through this survive and get the hell out of here as fast as possible? And that just means going through the wings and getting done answering the question together, nobody’s gonna get up and walk off. So then the dynamic of an interview changes. You’re able to get things that you would never have been able to get before like maybe on The Tonight Show or you know, CBS This Morning or what have you? Because now, now that my mouth is on fire, what do I have to do to make this stop? Okay, I get to the next one, and then I’m done. Yeah, what do you want to know? I’ll tell you, get me out of here. So it’s a really brilliant, it’s a simple but brilliant concept. But the thing that really drew me to the show, the first time I ever saw it was with Key & Peele. And I think that was like 17 or 18 episodes in so it’s still very new, then. The thing that hooked me was was the show. So Sean Evans, who I had not seen or heard before, but Sean is such a smooth, polished professional operator, that as somebody in television, you know, with a background of like, watching people, perform on TV. I was, I was really just drawn to, to him and his abilities and great research, at that point, nobody, channels a nobody knew who he really was at that point, but everybody knew Key & Peele was He handled that thing, like a ringmaster. And it was a thing to see. So I went back and, and binge watched all of those and cut off and, and became a big fan of not only show but just Sean and the idea of the concept of what they were doing there.

Jon Johnston

You’ve had Russell Brand sing to you

Brett Baker Right. So once I got all caught up on the shows as with most everything on Twitter, I, I did something to kind of amuse myself. I did a power ranking so that time there it said, there’s only like 18 guests or so that developed the show. So you’re gonna only leave, you know, if you do a top 10 you’re only going to leave eight people up the list. Not a big deal. So I just kind of like did this rough mock up like that I thought was kind of funny. And I did I called it the hot ones power rankings. And you know, and had 10 folks on there. Prince amukamara I believe was on the he was like the third or fourth guest on the show. So he was like he was on my original list because of course you know, Huskers got to support Huskers and and Sean saw it and retweeted it and he liked it and firstly sees the umbrella company behind Hot Ones and in the show they liked it retweeted it. It’s kind of cool. So picked up a little traction that I did it again the next week and got a little bit more traction and was like, Okay, this is fine. People are digging this I’m you know, and so I kind of kept doing it. And then a few years ago see this would have been in the end of February, early March to 2017. They always launch a new show on Thursdays. And so that Thursday, I was out at our high school getting ready. We were going to host our own speech tournament the next day. So I get a message from the show’s producer. And he was definitely we’ve kind of become friendly and we you know, change messages and talk and whatnot. And he was like, hey, I’ve got a weird request for you today. And I was like, okay, you Can you record yourself watching today’s episode? And I was like, all right, well, I knew something was up. So I’m like, yeah, sure, man. You guys, not a problem, I can do that. And then, right before they push the show to YouTube, once they made it public, I got a tweet from Sean Evans that said, brace yourself.

I think what the Holy heck. So I put the phone back in my pocket, and I didn’t think about I went to work and then 15-20 minutes later, my phone starts blowing up. I mean, there’s tweets and retweets and DMs and I’m like, okay, I don’t want to spoil the surprise. I don’t know what what is happening here. But I know they asked me to decide so I went I found a quiet room. And I set my gear up and I watched it and then yeah, so Russell Brand, kind of like made a plea to me to be considered for this he calls it which is a very English thing because the league table, which is like how the Premier League or soccer. They don’t call them standings. They’re, they’re called tables. But he wanted to be at the top of the league table. And he improvised a minute and a half song to me over going through like every single sauce, which is amazing. I mean, he just like that was like him and Sean in a dark room, the magic cameras and TV lights. And he just riffed and went for a minute and a half and he went through all the songs and it was amazing.

They ended up hiring somebody to score music that whatever it so he but he did it when it was quiet, which I always think is just phenomenal. And so then yeah, then life just kind of changed and got super, super fun, super interesting for for quite a while. And it’s still, you know, still got some notoriety leftover from it. But that eventually led to me coming out to going out to New York. They flew me out there to flip the tables on Sean when they got a million subscribers on YouTube. And I interviewed Sean for an episode of Hot one. So I like to say I’m like, I’m the only person without a Wikipedia page that’s ever been on Hot Ones.

Jon Johnston

My kids know who you are. Because we’re a hot sauce house. I have had The Last Dab. And for Christmas, my rotten son, the youngest one that goes the University of Minnesota got a gift pack of the three of the hot sauces from Hot Ones. I had one of those over the Christmas vacation holidays. And these hot sauces are a step above what I used to make or what I used to have. Since I had my heart attack, when I had my heart attack, indigestion or heartburn was really the trigger for it. So I have this psychological kind of fear, I don’t go for really massive hot sauces anymore and those things are really a step above anything that I’ve ever experienced. It’s really got an amazing what they, I mean? Wow, like tear your head off amazing.

Brett Baker Right? It’s, I mean, so it’s all about, you know the cultivation of the pepper. And so if you talk about you’re going to go deep into the weeds I’d have to say, but so The Last Dab, the amazing thing about it that is the pepper that’s used in that which is presently called pepper x. I don’t know if that’s always going to be the title because it was the 10 year project. So the x stands for 10 but it was always it was it was cultivated by a guy named Smokin Ed Currie from Pucker Butt Farms in South Carolina. And he kind of he invented these that and the Carolina Reaper he cultivated that so that these the you know more than a million scoville units or 2 million or 3 million scoville units.

He’s doing that now the thing I will say that you’re impressive about what he does those, those are all natural, like triple x is it that’s just natural heat that he figured out How to make whereas like if you ever have Da Bomb which is the infamous number eight sauce on the show and its truly legitimately terrible I think that is, enhanced isn’t the right word. But I think that’s one of those that they work with whatever the capsaicin is, they book it up steroids it up. So that whatever it is that they put in there, it’s just like that because it’s it’s only like 115,000 Scoville units, which, you know, I mean, yes, that’s a lot, but it’s so much worse with 2 million.

Jon Johnston

A jalapeno peppers like 3000 correct.

Brett Baker Yeah. Yeah. Like Yeah, that 1500 and 3000 range, pretty much nothing.

Jon Johnston

So if people can’t handle jalapenos. These sauces will probably kill them.

Brett Baker Right. And so the funny thing is, is like I never before was with a hot sauce guy. And like I that’s not why I watch the show. I watch show because it was an interview show and I love this great interview. And so when I went on the show, that was the first time that I had ever tried anything in that range of hot sauces, so I was a little proud of myself that I was able to just kind of get through it and not you know, make a scene or make a fool of myself or cry or whatever. And now I probably done the gauntlet,, it’s my party trick now, I’ve probably done it more than 40 times I would guess.

Jon Johnston

I think I saw YouTube of you eating like the three hottest peppers in the world.

Brett Baker We have that we have three versions of The Last Dab. So we did. All the same time. Yeah. So it’s like a triple Last Dab.

Jon Johnston

And you didn’t bat an eye.

Brett Baker Now I yeah, yeah. Now I can’t because there’s, you know, it’s kind of fun to test yourself and you get that little endorphin kick if it’s hot enough and now that I’m sans hair, kind of interesting sensation of the sweat and beat up top of your head, you can just feel it. And then they’re good skin around the back.

Jon Johnston

That’s your perspective. When I watched it, I looked at it and said, I wonder if Brett Baker is actually Satan?

Brett Baker Well, I can tell you that you and my ex wives probably thought the same thing then.

Jon Johnston

Okay, is there anything else that we haven’t covered that you want to talk about?

Brett Baker Oh, yeah, you know, this is a huskier show, man. I mean, I’m a Husker too. I love all things Nebraska. I’ve been this was born and raised. Interesting side back, though. My parents are from Ohio. And my grandfather, my paternal grandfather, huge Ohio State fan. So until I was 11 or 12 it could have gone either way because he kept me really well plied in Ohio State gear here in Nebraska for a long time. But then in junior high. I was kind of like, well, I guess I can go to a Huskers game. Everybody hear is a Husker. So I embraced it and I was born here. So I embrace my Huskerness. But yeah, you know, and you know, I love what you guys do. And it’s been a treat to run into you occasionally in random spots. I was also, you know, so I remember that spring game, I think it was just this past year that we’re walking, like Brett Baker. We met and as I actually then we ran into each other on the sideline in Minnesota this year, which is nice, too. So, Husker stuff man? I love some Husker stuff I don’t know. We could chop it up. Well, I tell you what we could get we could, I can figure out another show for that.

Jon Johnston

I kind of started this podcast as a challenge to myself. Okay, you know, you go through the brain injury recovery thing and part of that is is I’ve heard that I have done not a good job of like speaking where I was years ago, where I did a lot of public speaking. And I enjoyed it. And I kind of wanted to bring that stuff back into my life. So I started the podcast kind of as a challenge to myself, and to interview people and to get better at interviewing people and to get better at talking to people. And the other reason is because I flat out do not have time to write the stories that I’d like. Because I’m terrible at taking an interview and making it into a story. But if I can do a podcast and find out information like you today finding out what does an executive producer do, then it’s easier for me to do, it’s easier for me to complete.I feel like I’m getting better at this. And I don’t know where I’m going with this. I’ve been. We have a long post season, or offseason and I will still need content and I need still need to come up with ideas.

Brett Baker So let’s do it. Whenever you’re ready, I’m down.

Jon Johnston

Plus, here’s the thing. I know Joe Rogan can sit down and talk for five hours with somebody. Yeah, I can’t do that. We’re at about 45 to 50 minutes on this. And the other thing is, is I like to keep the podcast about in that range. Because I don’t think anybody should be forced to listen to me for more than an hour in the first place.

Brett Baker We product our “N Report” podcast, and I’m pretty strict with Kevin and Dan about keeping it to 30-35 minutes so it’s pretty consumable. So I’m feeling Yeah, that’s, that’s a good call. Yeah.

Jon Johnston

So we’ll end this for today. And we’ll figure out how we can you know what, how we can come up with Husker related Brett Baker show where you dish on all the inside stuff about all the other media crews.

Brett Baker Oh, that would be fun. And then I would be persona non grata forever, but I would be down for that.

Jon Johnston

Okay, there you go. Alright, we’re going to end our show there.

Jon Johnston This is Jon Johnston, founder of CornNation and Brett Baker executive producer for 1011 news in Lincoln, Nebraska. And we both wish you a good, healthy and safe winter because I know it’s getting nasty out there. You guys take care and thanks for listening. Go Big Red.