Pop Culture

King of blue-collar reality TV driven by 'living on the edge'

Stars like Kim Kardashian and Snooki may be household names when it comes to reality television, but Thom Beers is the man who gets the credit for creating some of the most popular shows of the genre. From "Deadliest Catch" to "Ice Road Truckers" to "Storage Wars" and more, TODAY's Jamie Gangel caught up with the man known as the king of blue-collar reality TV.

"I love a good story ... that's what makes great television," Beers said on Wednesday's show. "Great characters, unique location, high risk, high rewards, but ultimately it's gotta be a great story."

And for viewers who may have an aversion to drunk kids at the beach or screaming socialites, Beers' version of great television provides an escape.

"I take people on a journey and places where they probably won't ever go and they experience vicariously that journey through these really interesting characters," he said.

A dramatic journey of his own to Alaska in 1999, in which Beers was stuck on a boat in a frightful storm, triggered the producer's inspiration for "Deadliest Catch."

"Little did I realize that we're about to sail into the worst storm in 40 years," Beers said of his trip with the Discovery channel. Within 24 hours we're 200 miles at sea and the winds are pushing 70 knots and the waves are cresting at 40 feet.... It was insanity but there was something about it."

And Beers says a quotation he'd once seen written on the wall of a wrecked ship being pounded by waves in Alaska captures his zeal for being in the middle of the action.

The words read: "If you're not living on the edge, you're taking up too much space."

"I thought, you know what ... I've adopted that motto ever since," Beers said. "That's me."

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