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Saturday, 07 January 2012

Interview with TV Host Martyn Andrews

British television presenter Martyn Andrews is the host for multiple television programs including "Moscow Out," "A Prime Recipe" and "Wayfarer." His job has taken him to popular and off-beat locations all over the world. He sheds light on the profession, gives advice for budding jet-setters, and shares his favorite up-and-coming destinations.

 

What shows are you hosting currently?

 

I'm currently doing Moscow Out, a weekly cultural show, highlighting different views of Russian culture. I am also hosting a show called Prime Recipe highlighting that 20 years ago in Moscow, everybody was queuing up for bread (and borscht, if you were lucky). And now, Moscow has one of the best restaurant scenes in the world. The restaurants are better than in London, and from what I think, from New York.

 

How did you become a presenter?

 

Well, I was born in Liverpool, home of the Beatles, a working class industrial town in North England. I've always had too much to say, probably... though as I've grown I've tried to make it more diplomatic. I was either destined for stage or screen, so I did both. I trained in theater; I'm a singer part-time and did musicals, various Andrew Lloyd Weber shows. Being in the same show after two or three months, creatively, became very unrewarding. As an actor I liked the creative process much more than the performing. My passion for writing/acting naturally formed into a TV presenter position.

What you call hosting, we call presenting in the UK. Making the jump to presenting was a little bit of luck, a little bit of fate. I retrained as a journalist and went to journalism school for 6 months. It can happen without schooling, but I thought, if I actually train, then at least I will be a journalist wannabe, as opposed to an actor wannabe.

ImagesI'm quite a believer of cosmic ordering. If you want something enough and pretend that's what you are, people will begin to see that, and it will come to you. I wanted to be this amazing jet-setting TV-host that lived across the world, and I met friends, hung out at the right places - I certainly wasn't eating at McDonald's, that's for sure. I wanted to evolve my whole life.

My biggest break was when I lived in New York in my late 20's. I met a Russian oligarch's wife, who was a TV executive. She was Anna Winter meets Cruella Deville. She purred every time she talked about her husband's TV channels. I instantly loved her zaniness and her manicness. I kept in touch with her until she sent me an email inviting me to host a program in Israel. I had a first-class ticket to Tel Aviv. My friends, family and agent told me "You're mad anyway, just go."

I was paid too much money for it. There was no screen test, no nothing. It was a TV job that I landed by meeting somebody at a dinner party in New York.

 

It seems that Russia is central to your travels. How did Russia become your specialty?

 

The Russian oligarch, I went on to do shows with her. We flew all over to do a diving series, produced by her production company, and shown on Russian channels. Even though I was making English-speaking programs, most of the camera crew was Russian; I made a lot of Russian friends in the media in 2004 and 2005.

 

I learned there was a new channel, Russia Today, and was invited to do RT in Moscow. It now transmits to 100 countries around the world.


What’s the most valuable television show you have produced, in terms of the new information you’ve learned?

 

I think it was when I visited the Polar circle. I went to an area with the Eskimo people, living in "chums" and they were called Nennetts. No Skype, water, internet... the most simple, basic people I've ever met in my entire life and all of a sudden my entire existence became this materialistic horror.

Meeting them and eating with them showed me how simple and happy life can be without what Westerners put up with. It taught me a lot about humanity, about how simplicity and stillness and nature are actually what life is about. It's about family values, human contact, love, and not skyscrapers and so on. It took my breath away, and made me question myself and my existence.

 

What advice to you have for people who dream to become TV hosts?

 

One thing that is different about me from other presenters is that I am ridiculously pro-active. I'm constantly doing travel talks, conferences, trying to keep my fingers in my New York, Russian, English scenes. The biggest thing is to be pro-active. It has nothing to do with how good you are. It is the right place at the right time, and a lot of luck.


What personality traits are needed to be successful in your line of work?

 

You need persistence and patience. The TV/media world is tempestuous and tumultuous, and involves lots of egos. As the face of the program, whether you are tired, hung over, lonely and miserable, you can't let that go. I hope that I always come off as ridiculously personable.

 

I think my discipline stems from my theater days, knowing that there are always 20,000 people who can get that job.

 

How are stories determined?

 

Actually, I do. I do have a team of researchers that help me out, but for myself, it's pretty easy to know what foreigners would want to know about.

 

Moscow OutAs a westerner, I think Russia is the most misunderstood country in the world, and Moscow is the most misunderstood city. Russia has volcanoes in the east, palm trees in the south, and the people are traditional and wonderful and great partiers. Moscow is the new New York, like New York was in the 80's - opulent, exciting, historic. I find it unfortunate that the media all over the world really gives a bad impression of Russia. I think it's one of the most misunderstood, sensational, adventurous countries that exist.

 

How many countries have you been to?

 

I've been to 130-odd countries. My travels range from 5-star glamorous private jet vacations and crying through the dirt backpacking. And both are sensational vacations. I went last year overground from Panama to Mexican city. We were part of a hold-up in a bar, a fabulous experience. 

 

What are other up-and-coming destinations you recommend?

 

Americans have got this fascination with Paris. It's horrendously expensive, the weather is a little bit better than London. I think that Eastern Europe is the place anybody should visit. Croatia is the new Spain. Dubrovnik is sensational, the most beautiful place to visit. Poland, Cracow, Warsaw are these beautiful medieval places. Estonia, Latvia - again, are medieval winter wonderlands. Visit these instead of the conventional sites.

 

I like to do wacky things, like visit Transylvania for Halloween. (Nobody dresses up as Dracula, except for me.) You could almost hear werewolves. And everything was a dollar. The food, the taxis, the drinks, everything was a dollar. The cheapest place I've ever visited in my life.

 

I think people should visit Central America more. Nicaragua, El Salvador are beautiful countries. I think these will be the next big tourist developments - go there before they develop.

 

Do you have any advice for travelers?

 

What I would say to every traveler: take your own pillow. Bring your own toilet paper. Take a scented candle always (the whole range of hotel rooms can smell horrible).

 

Always, always get business cards printed. Networking during traveling has meant I have places to stay, invited to parties when I come back. And, use social networking to get to know ahead the places to go and places not to go.

 

I always order Kosher meals on airplanes (become they cost the airline 3 times more than the normal meals and you get served first) and check in 15 minutes before - if they run out of space in economy, they have to upgrade you to first class. Make sure you are a frequent flyer member on every airline to get airline miles.

 

Where next?

 

MartynandrI'm flying to Moscow tonight, and then back to London the next day, and then to Rio on Saturday. That's my life now. And it's fabulous.


Martyn's website is http://www.martynandrews.co.uk/.

Published in interview

Oleary 1Richard Daniel O'Leary has recently written the memoir, One with the Sea, which chronicles his journey from being from a poor family to becoming the CEO of Cruise Ventures, a company with 2500 employees, 55 offices in 12 states and a fleet of harbor cruise ships.

You call your book a "rag to riches" story. What were your origins, and how long did your journey take?

My father was an Irish Immigrant, who came to this country when he was 19. He was illiterate but turned out to be a huge force in my life. He first worked in manual labor in New York and in Boston and ended up in Maine, where he met my mother and I was born. We were very poor, and moved 10 to 12 times in the same city. He worked several jobs, was selfless, and his only interest was working to provide for his family.

At some point, between five and eight years old, my parents took me to the beach. It was the first time I had ever seen the ocean. I loved everything about it - the tides, the waves. It really sent the tone for my whole life.

I eventually went to Maine Maritime Academy. I had previously been working for a bakery making jelly donuts and sandwiches for a year, from 62 cents an hour to the highest paid, $1.60. I didn't know if I should give up this job, but I did.

I had a rough time at Maritime Academy, because I didn't smoke or drink. That changed. I became a leader in some of those areas. A guy, Arnold Stenson, Jr., probably the most popular student, befriended me. He was a really great guy and this helped me, and my image.

Times were tough when I graduated, so I applied for a job in a Navy. The ship I was assigned to was an AE212 ammunition ship, about 450 feet long. I went aboard, and was told to take some bags to the navigator's room. I thought I would meet the navigator, but instead realized he meant I was the navigator. I was not in any way qualified to navigate a ship like this. I was astonished. It went very badly in the beginning. I could have crashed into something or blown the whole ship up.



I eventually became quite a good navigator and later took my leave from the Navy in Izmir, Turkey. From there, I went home to Maine. I really wanted to go to the Mediterranean. Instead, I got on a job on a freighter heading out to the North Atlantic. The weather was furious at sea during the winter. I got back to New York and went on the Far East run, from the Philippines to Korea to Japan. I was the youngest guy on the boat at 25. I went on the SS United States, the fastest ship in the world, from New York to France in about 4 days. I was on there for 5 years and crossed the Atlantic 252 times.

I was chosen to go to United States Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, New York. I was just turning 30, and I became pretty successful. It changed me and made me feel singular. I left for Washington, but was longing for the sea.

In Virginia, I got very interested in cruise ships. I made a plan to start a company, and found investors. We succeeded and went on to have 2500 employees and 55 offices. We specialized in offering cruises from places they don't usually sail from.

We entered the air business. We started chartering airplanes. It was very successful. I retired 6 years ago and turned the company over to the employees.

Any advice for future rag to riches-ists? Do you have a prescription for success?

I heard someone say, "Success in life is easy. Always try to do a little more than what people expect of you. People usually try to get away with a little less."

As an entrepreneur, I never forget the people who gave me money and believed in me, when I didn't have anything. Never forget those people.

And my wife, of course, was one of them.

Oleary 6The book is called One With The Sea. What did the sea teach you?

It has to do with that first time I saw the ocean. I was at sea for about 12 years and all the business I was in had to do with the sea. Our home is near the water.

One thing I've learned from the sea: “Be careful. Constant vigilance is the price of safety.”

I was on the greatest ship the world's seen, but the weather is still fearsome. It taught me that life can be difficult, and it takes discipline to go to sea for a long time.



What was it like to write a memoir?

I never wanted to do that! My writing had been in an academic environment. I had no interest when people told me "you've had an interesting life, you should write about that." I had zero interest. But, I eventually changed my mind. I wrote with a legal pad and a $1 pen. I got into a routine of getting up at 5 or 6 o'clock and writing for 4 or 5 hours every day, seven days a week, and would read it to my wife. After 2 months, it was done. But it took a full year to get it out and put it together.

You call your story "an adventure in capitalism."  What does that mean to you?


I believe in capitalism. Our little company was a grand example of capitalism. It started with me, with no money, and some people who were willing to take a chance, and make profit.  Riding through adversity, good fortune and bad fortune, we made good profits and then made employee owners of the employees. It is a perfect example of capitalism at its very best.

I thank my illiterate father, who was basically a saint. He taught me a lot of things about life, and I became very ethical. I never cheated, or skirted lines to make profit. I always tried to do more than was expected.


Richard's book is called One with the Sea: An Inspiring Rags-to-Riches Saga of the Son of an Irish Immigrant (Jetty House, September 2011). For more information, visit the website: http://onewiththeseabook.com


(c)Nate Marcus

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