ex-Sea FM breakfast host tells his Ellen story

Simon Baggs (next to Ellen in the pic) was EP and co-host of Sea FM Gold Coast breakfast up until late last year.

Today he shares with us how he got to meet two big name TV producers through sheer persistence and being proactive. Over to Baggs to tell the story……..

So as most people in Australia would know, Ellen DeGeneres was in Aus recently and I was lucky enough to spend time with the Executive Producers of the show in Melbourne.

I had organised this with Ed and Mary (The Execs) back in January when they announced the Australian trip and I can tell you I was counting down everyday until I was able spend time with them. I took in as much information as I possibly could from Ed and Mary. I have looked up to these two for such a long time. They are the best in the business in my opinion and run an amazing production in Burbank, California.

So how did it all come about?

Well I have been in constant contact with the team from the Ellen DeGeneres Show and A Very Good Production (Ellen’s production company) ever since appearing on her show back in 2010.

Basically I would send the team ideas fortnightly and they would give me feedback. Some they liked and some they were kind enough to reply with a reason as to why it would not work for them. I wanted to do this to gain as much knowledge as I could about the American TV market from where I was sitting and find out how it all works. Being an Australian there is not a huge amount of opportunity in the TV industry so I figured why not go straight to the top. The funniest thing, I found ‘the top’ to be much more approachable then some productions in Australia (incase you didn’t know this is a major passion of mine.)

There are two major reasons why I am attracted to this type of show. Firstly, I honestly believe they create amazing content on a daily basis and have a great understanding of their audience. Secondly, I believe 150% in their value system. I witnessed how they treat their staff while spending time with them in Melbourne. I will tell you more about this soon.

What actually happened? Well I flew to Melbourne on the 26th March 2013. I had no idea where I was going to be meeting Ed and Mary as they were unable to confirm a location over email. When I arrived in Melbourne I had an email from Ed asking me if I had arrived yet and if I would like to come to the show in Melbourne. My flight arrived at 11:30AM, which was half way through the recording so I missed out on seeing the show. About 1pm I received a phone call from Ed’s personal assistant who asked me to meet at the Grand Hyatt lobby. I jumped in a cab after grabbing some lunch and pulled up out the front of the Grand Hyatt. As my cab pulled up Ellen and Portia were arriving in their limo with 100’s of people screaming for them out the front. I entered the hotel lobby, which had security everywhere and sat down at the lobby bar.

I was pretty nervous while I was waiting for Ed and Mary to turn up. I mean these are two people who I look up to in the business the most. I remember looking down at my hands and they were shaking a little so I kept them under the table.

Ed and Mary

Ed and Mary arrived and made me feel at ease straight away. Mary yelled my name from across the room and thanked me for making the effort to spend time with them. There was a lot of thanking on my behalf for their time as well. It was like talking to two close friends about the industry we all love. We all shared the same passion for the TV industry and discussed how important the Australian market is to The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

The conversation was flowing and after about 40 minutes Ed decided to order more coffee so I figured I must have been on a roll. They asked me what I wanted to do and I told them that I wanted to be working for them or a show like theirs one day. I asked them questions about different roles within the company and what they thought I could fit into.

After about 50 minutes Mary said “look Simon, if you live in America and want to work for our show it is hard work. If you live in LA it is even harder.” They asked me how many people I thought apply to work for their show weekly and I said “Oh I would guess in the thousands” they nodded and said ‘yeah’. Ed went onto say “Simon we go to over 20 markets outside of America, how many people do you think contact us and want to work for our show internationally?” I said “oh gee millions” Ed looked at me and said…. “Simon you are the only person internationally who has approached us and stayed in contact with us and we like your attitude.”

He said that I would fit in really well with the team and I needed to sort out my Visa. He was also very honest and said that there may not be a position available at the time I arrive with his show but he has some great contacts in the television Industry in America and he would help me find the right role. I was pretty excited when he said this but I acted cool.

The part of the meeting that stood out the most to me was the fact that Ed said “We don’t want to hire the ‘best’ people for the job at our show. We want to hire the right people for the job”. I thought that was a great way of recruiting and showed a real care for their staff. They said they had worked their way through to get their Executive Producer roles and understand everyone has a bad day. Mary started out as the receptionist for David Letterman. They are clearly great managers.

They had 60 staff come along on the trip and they were all told to bring their family members to experience Australia with them. I got the sense that this show was not just about its audience and high ratings. It was about creating something great that takes care of people and enjoys not only great success but shares the success with the team.

Truly an amazing show and an amazing time spent with the Executive Producers of The Ellen DeGeneres Show. A day I will never forget.

See more about Baggs at his blog here.

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