#013: Ted Ishler

Updated: Mar 11


One of the biggest moments in Ted Ishler's life happened in a restroom. Ted was fresh out of college and had just gotten a job as a tour guide at the NBC Television studios in New York City. Ted was standing in the NBC men's room, when in walked David Letterman, who gave him a nod and proceeded to a neighboring urinal. In a strange way, Ted knew he had made it.


Thankfully, most of the other big moments in Ted's career have happened outside the bathroom. Ted has been a staff comedy writer for Candid Camera, a writer on The Joker’s Wild game show, won an Emmy Award for comedy feature reporting (at KSHB-TV Kansas City, and KTRK-TV Houston), and was award-winning creative director/writer/producer at networks including Ovation TV, Pac12 Network and local stations in Phoenix, Milwaukee and San Diego.

Ted and his wife Beth, a former Days of Our Lives actress, now host a podcast called ‘How Are We Still Married?!’ that takes a comic look at their 35 years of marriage and 35 moves across the country! They tell the crazy stories of their life together.


LINKS TO THE NEWS VIDEOS WE TALKED ABOUT:

Ted Ishler's Infamous comedy story on Pasadena, TX

Donald Duck Retirement Gone Wrong: Story starts at 1:20

How Are We Still Married Promo


Link to Ted & Beth's Podcast: How Are We Still Married?

Transcribed Episode: Ep13 Ted Ishler


[Voiceover]

You're listening to The Groove with Devin Pense.


[Host]

Hey, everybody, welcome to another episode of The Groove Podcast. My guest today is Ted Ishler, and Ted and I have known each other for several years, it could be many years. Ted, welcome to The Groove Podcast.


[Ted Ishler]

Thanks, Devin. I think it was like, what, 16 years maybe.


[Host]

Man!


[Ted Ishler]

In Nashville, something like that.


[Host]

It was! We met in Nashville, in such a bizarre set of circumstances. In fact, I think every time we've worked together, it's been a bizarre set of circumstances.


[Ted Ishler]

That's true. It's always that's sort of the recurring theme.


[Host]

So just real quick, can you just give everybody just a quick overview of what what do you do for a living because, you know, here on The Groove, we kind of take a whole approach, we definitely talk about what people do for a living, but we're really interested in the whole story. So, but real quickly, can you just kind of talk through like what you're doing now, and that kind of thing?


[Ted Ishler]

Well, I wish I could figure out what I do for a living, but I always say, you know, I gotta figure out what I'm gonna do when I grow up. But anyway, right now, I'm the Creative Services Director at a TV station in San Diego. That's one of my many careers throughout the years, but we met at Shop at Home Network back in Nashville, and I was in the creative department there.


So basically, I'm in charge of branding a local television station right now. So any of the commercials and any of the on-air promos, all that kind of stuff. That's what is under my realm, and sort of have done that for a long time and a bunch of other things that you may or may not want to go into at this point.


[Host]

So basically, so your specialty really then is you write, you concept, develop and write promo spots, and then you actually have them produced and then they go on air. Is that right?


[Ted Ishler]

Yeah, it's basically, ‘what do we have here?’ We've got a television station...what's the theme, the voice that this place wants to have out there in the world? And then I got to try to think of interesting creative ways to put that out there.


You know, everybody says, “Oh, you've worked all that all these different things.” Like, there was a shopping network, I worked at Ovation, which was an arts channel, and it's like, oh these are so different. But it's all it's all the same thing. You're sort of trying to - in promotions and the creative department - you're trying to just sell whatever it is you're selling. It's just like any other kind of sales thing. It's like, what's the product and then how do we get that out there? So everybody wants to have it?


[Host]

And so at this point, you're pretty darn good with writing Andy Griffith promos, right?


[Ted Ishler]

Yeah, that's it. Andy Griffith, 24/7.


[Host]

You know, when Barney leaves and goes to Mount Pilot for those sketchy weekends, you've got that down?


[Ted Ishler]

You know and anytime Jim Nabors makes an appearance, I'm all over that.


So the station I work for now is really big into local news. They're an independent station, but they do about eight and a half hours of local news every day. So that's their thing. So it's like, okay, how do we make local news exciting, and you know, that's the push.


[Host]

Got it. So just a quick background, as you mentioned, we met at a shopping channel owned by Scripps.


[Ted Ishler]

We did.


[Host]

And it was in an old, if I remember correctly, it was, no…


[Ted Ishler]

Wasn’t it like in a shopping center?


[Host]

Yeah. was like an old shopping center like a Sam's or something. I don't remember. How long did you stay at the Shopping Network? I can't remember, I think I stayed like a year...


[Ted Ishler]

I think I stayed until they decided that The Scripps didn't want a shopping channel anymore…


[Host]

Oh, that’s right…


[Ted Ishler]

...and then they decided they were going to sell it to Jewelry Television. I think you were gone at that point?


[Host]

Yeah, I was gone.


[Ted Ishler]

And once they decided to do that, the whole thing really changed. I don't want to say anything bad about the Jewelry Television, but it was a little different level than Scripps. So they began selling a lot of knives and swords and coins and those sorts of things. So that was definitely fun to promote, but I left soon after that.


[Host]

You know that whole experience was interesting because, obviously, I went there to help revamp some personnel and up the production value. I had no idea behind the scenes of what went on in a place like that. It was very fascinating. I can remember all the different types of shows that they had, the cooking shows...remember when they would do all that cooking?


[Ted Ishler]

Oh yeah.


[Host]

Emeril Lagasse, he would come in and do all this, show off this cookware, but he was actually cooking. So after an episode, everybody would kind of come down in the hallways where they would just shove these tables and just eat like they've never eaten before.


[Ted Ishler]

I know, that was the best thing and that was what was cool that it was part of Scripps. I don't know if everybody knows that Scripps at that time, on Food Network and HGTV and all those things, so basically their idea was to tie in all their other products, all their other networks into shopping channels, like “Hey you see Emeril cooking something, why don't we sell the pot that he's that he's cooking that in?” So it was fun that we were able to get Emeril Lagasse there or other stars of those networks. They were in the kitchen cooking and had food for everyone and that sort of thing.


[Host]

My favorite memory of all of that is - I'm always pretty skeptical of that kind of stuff anyway so I would rarely partake, but I can remember...I don't remember if it was Emeril, there was somebody it was around the holidays...and they came in and they were doing baking. This person had made all kinds of stuff, including these popcorn balls. After the show was over, everything was out and people, like I said, would come down, eating everything, and a call went out, a very desperate call. I remember because it was right outside my office producers running down the hall yelling, “DON’T EAT THE POPCORN BALLS! DON’T EAT THE POPCORN BALLS!” Because for television purposes, she couldn't get it right or something, so the popcorn balls were held together by superglue.


[Ted Ishler]

Oh my God….


[Host]

And there were all these people out there just chowing down on these popcorn balls. I guess they made it out okay.


[Ted Ishler]

Yeah, I missed that day, luckily, or I would have been down there with them too. It was so interesting how a shopping channel comes together, just like you said, I'd never even thought about shopping channels. It was a big production, live shows constantly moving merchandise in and out, and just how these on air people can talk for hours on end about this beautiful piece of jewelry - which they know isn't - or a pan for 30 minutes. It’s pretty interesting.


[Host]

And from the control room what I found interesting was as they would kind of find the right groove because there was a graph that showed how many calls were coming...


[Ted Ishler]

Right, yeah that’s right…


[Host]

...and the producers were always talking in the talent’s ear like “Talk more about that pan, talk more about that pan.” I don't know, that's enough of the shopping channel.


[Ted Ishler]

Everybody's fascinated about the shopping channel.


[Host]

That was such a blip. So let's go back a little bit. What's very interesting to me about your story is the amount of different places you've been. The different places you've lived. The story of you and your wife, Beth, who's a very prolific author, actress, actor, coach...talk a little bit about your story. You actually used to write on the show Candid Camera…


[Ted Ishler]

Candid Camera, yeah…


[Host]

Take us back. Your wife's from Alabama?


[Ted Ishler]

She's from Alabama, I grew up in Toledo Ohio.


[Host]

I forgive her for that, as we've talked before.


[Ted Ishler]

I still haven't.


[Host]

So anyways, guys, I interrupted you, go ahead.


[Ted Ishler]

Oh my god. To go way back, I was in school, the University of Kansas and saw an ad for “Spend your Junior Year in college in New York City” so I thought that would be great. So I applied for that, went there. And that's where I met Beth, who was from the University of Alabama, did the same thing. We both interned at CNN in New York, which was actually in the World Trade Center, which was horrible, that was long before the issues there.


[Host]

That sounded like fate, you guys coming from schools and…


[Ted Ishler]

I know and just how it all came together. You were only supposed to spend your Junior Year there and then go back to your schools to graduate because you'd get a year of credit through Hunter College there but then you'd also get internships and things like that.


So I was supposed to go back to Kansas, she was supposed to go back to Alabama. I wanted to stay at Hunter and graduate. She couldn't, things wouldn't transfer. I actually transferred to the University of Alabama and spent one year at Alabama, my senior, having never really been to Alabama before, which was interesting, and graduated somehow on time first after spending one year there.


[Host]

That was after you got through basic math, right?


[Ted Ishler]

Luckily, after going into broadcasting and all of that you don't have to do much more than two plus two. So we graduated, both in the same business because she was in broadcast journalism and all that kind of stuff, too. So we decided, we don't have jobs, we're getting married...we got married, and we decided let's move back to New York City. That's always smart to do without any money and just just newly married. So we did that, and I became a Page at NBC and she was doing a few things there. Then we moved to Demopolis Alabama from New York City after another six months, which is like 100%, extreme opposite.


Her stepfather was running a low power television station, he was the engineer of this little low power station in Demopolis, and they said, “Hey, you guys can come down here, get all sorts of great experience and do your own newscast, do whatever you want to do.” We go down, we decided, for some God awful reason, to move to Demopolis, which was a town of I think 12,000 or something like that, not far from the Mississippi border. It's a very interesting town.


So we ran or did a newscast, we sold ads, we did all our own stuff. Beth's mom made this backdrop for our newscast, and we sort of ran camera while we're also the anchors of the show, and it's just like craziness. Of course that place went out of business after about three months after we got down there. Then we sued them and took them to court, and that's another story in itself.


[Host]

Wow. That’s quite a story.


[Ted Ishler]

And then then went on to Meridian, Mississippi, where I was a sportscaster and Beth was a radio morning show newsperson. Then to Birmingham where I worked at the CBS station there I was an on-air reporter, started doing sort of fun feature stories. Beth had a radio show and a local radio station there that was really popular.


God I can't tell you everything it will take up your whole show. After that then we went to Baltimore and then we went to Cleveland. Then we decided we were both not working and we were in Cleveland, we thought, “here's another good idea, why don't we just move to L.A.?” Without any jobs when we're, how old were we then, we were like 28 or something? Yeah let’s just do that. So we moved to LA.


[Host]

That’s what everybody does, they move to L.A. without a job.


[Ted Ishler]

That’s always smart. So we packed up a little U-haul and went to LA, and I got a job as a researcher on the Joker's Wild Game Show like researching the great questions that they would create, the writers would create, that to make sure that they're accurate.


And then one day one of the writers had a big fight with one of the producers and the producer looked over at me and said you want to be a writer? I'm like, “well sure!” So at that moment, he got me in the Writers Guild and I became a writer on that show.


Then after that show ended I went to Candid Camera where I worked for a year which was the Dom DeLuise hosted version of Candid Camera which was…


[Host]

You knew Dom DeLuise?


[Ted Ishler]

I did. I used to write Dom DeLuise’ lines and come up with little pieces for Dom. He was a really funny guy, but actually he seemed like a 12 year old, trapped in whatever age his body was.


[Host]

Yeah, probably true.


[Ted Ishler]

Crazy, crazy interesting guy.


[Host]

What’s the craziest Dom DeLuise story you have?


[Ted Ishler]

So one of the days when we were shooting, we shot it at Universal Studios, had a big studio and big audience and all of that. We’d create all these little things that we did with a hidden camera other times, and then they’d shoot this whole big setup in Universal Studios. So one time, the show is starting, the audience is in there, they introduce Dom, he comes out. He’s supposed to walk from the entrance over to this little couch. There was always a little table there, but someone had moved the table because they didn't think it looked good for the shot.


So they introduced the show, he comes out, he sees his table isn't there. Then he just like runs offstage basically, and nobody knew what was going on. They just stopped production and everything. He went and locked himself into his dressing room and would not come out until somebody put his table back, but nobody could find where this table was. So for like an hour and a half or two hours, people searched for Dom's little table until we could get it back out there on set, and then he was all happy.


[Host]

Tell you what man, the divas.


[Ted Ishler]

I'm not sure what the table was other than like a security blanket or something but…


[Host]

He probably stored his coke underneath it.


[Ted Ishler]

I have no comment on that.


[Host]

Me either.


[Ted Ishler]

That was like a crazy story back then within after you around people like that for a long time, you hear a lot of things like that.


[Host]

It doesn't seem so crazy when you're when you're there working.


[Ted Ishler]

I know you've dealt with a lot of celebs in the past too. I know, you've got a lot of stories about those similar kinds of things.


[Host]

I've been pretty fortunate not to run into any really crazy things. My main thing that I learned a long time ago is usually most on the basic level, and this kind of falls in the story you just told, but kind of on the basic level, when you reach a certain status in the industry, you begin to get insulated. So you have people around you, you know, hair and makeup people, wardrobe people, producers, you know, executive producers, and you have this kind of shield or whatever.


Most of the time, I always found that as long as the talent knew what they were doing, and where they were supposed to go, and that could be as simple as “you're going to walk in, and you're going to sit in this chair.”


[Ted Ishler]

Right.


[Host]

Everybody was cool. Then probably, Dom probably was like, that was kind of his thing. And then there was something missing.


[Ted Ishler]

Yeah.


[Host]

And they just were like “Woah woah woah which chair? Which chair are you talking about? Which way am I going to walk?” But as long as you communicated like, “here's where you're going to be, here's the questions we're going to talk about.” I never had anybody go cuckoo on camera or anything like that.


So anyways, so you were writing for, and let's pause right there. So the pattern here, and this is what I want everybody to kind of capture and to check out. As you're on your career, whatever that might be, whether you're just starting out, or whether you're a seasoned vet - which I want to talk about later that has something to do with kind of recreating yourselves - but if you listen to what Ted was talking about, and Ted you were talking basically about you: you're fresh out of school, you moved to New York, you were a Page, you're there for what, six months-ish?


[Ted Ishler]

Yeah, yeah.


[Host]

So you had some basic knowledge, but then you moved off into a situation where you and Beth had to do it all and that was kind of my path to is like if I don't do it, it's not going to get done. So you kind of learn the ropes. At each stage, in each move, you were able to take on more responsibility where you showed up. Then the one day that you showed up, you happen to be there, and then next thing you know, you're in the Writers Guild.


[Ted Ishler]

Right, yeah.


[Host]

I think it's an important note to make, whatever field you're in, things don't always happen fast. And I know in the world we live in today, especially in the production world, you can buy gear cheap and at least start making decent looking pictures fairly quickly, but that doesn't mean you can be a director on a commercial set, tomorrow, or whatever.


[Ted Ishler]

Right.


[Host]

And it's this kind of long line of ups and downs and life lessons. That's how you gain by the time you reach the level where you're having to deal with more important - let's just say important, I'm going to use the word important, but you know, in context - the higher you go...I always have the saying “the higher up the ladder you go, the thinner the air is.”


[Ted Ishler]

Yeah.


[Host]

You get up there and you see a lot of people falling off, but by that time, it takes time and experience and really time is the key, before you're ready. I've got another podcast, I'm getting ready to start called “Success on Set.” It's really all going to be about just the different positions on set. Whether it's you're a PA, it's your first day, you want to be in the business, you move to L.A. without a job, you somehow find a way to make it onset and you do “x” and piss everybody off, and you just don't get called back. L.A. you know, a lot of people think oh man, it's a huge town. It is a big town, but it's still a pretty small world.


[Ted Ishler]

It is, it is.


[Host]

So it's a lot about experience. Can you kind of elaborate on that a little bit?


[Ted Ishler]

It’s a lot of it being in the right place at the right time. but it's also not burning bridges. Because just like you said, in that business at all, it's kind of who you know, and you can get a reputation or whatever, that can just really screw you over for a long time to come.


And you never know who, there may be somebody who's a PA, when you're working with them that they become a vice president or something like that. So, you just never know. It's always best to put your best foot out there and just do your best work and be in the right place. Just like I said with The Joker's Wild thing. I had been on TV in Alabama, even though that doesn't sound like a big thing, I became an anchor and all that back then. Then then we went to LA and it's like, do I want to be a researcher on a game show? That doesn't sound like much. But that, you know, you saw the right place, right time, got me into the Writers Guild, got me the next thing on Candid Camera. Then I used that experience to help me every step of the way the rest of the way that I did.


So I think that’s always important to always be, you know, prepared and do your best work and show up, but you never know where the opportunity is going to be.


[Host]

It's true and it's interesting when you do work at a place, as you said, you never know what's going to happen, because inevitably, especially in new startup networks - or it doesn't matter where you're at ultimately there's going to be layoffs of some sort.


It’s just that's the way it seems. Now, there's some places where people are, you kind of get you go and you can get locked in. And I know some people - good friends of mine - that work at a network and they've been there 18 to 22 years. You pretty much have to wait until somebody dies before you can get a promotion. But in other circumstances, a network could have a layoff, whatever, and then everybody that you knew at that network, spreads out and gets jobs, which kind of opens up the sea of opportunity for you if you're a good person, if you did your job, right, if you if you performed well.


It's all about how people remember you. It's like, “oh, man, I remember that one guy, that Devin guy, man, he really sucked. There's no way I'd bring him on over here.” Or they get over there, and they're like, “Oh, my gosh, I got to build this thing, and you’ll kind of get the call.


[Ted Ishler]

Right. And that's kind of how actually, both of us ended up in the PAC 12 Network in San Francisco, through somebody that we knew from working in Nashville that we kept up with and apparently did good work and brought us there. It’s just you never know who or what is going to be that thing. It's always important to play the game, be honest and fair and prepared.


[Host]

So let me ask you this question. As you have kind of gone through your career, what's kind of been your driving force, as far as your work goes?


[Ted Ishler]

I want to, when I'm doing something I want it to be, and you can't do this all the time, but I want it to be something that if somebody else was in my job, they wouldn't have created the exact same thing. Like you want to feel like you've made your mark on something. So you know, using your creativity to to create an interesting spot or a story when I was a reporter, those kinds of things. I don't want to be cookie cutter or know that, if somebody else were in my position, that this is the exact same thing that would come out there. So that's where that always kind of pushes you to the next thing so that you know that you put your signature on something.


It’s not always possible, but I like to think that sort of pushing the boundaries and those kinds of things. A lot of times you get a lot of pushback when you're doing things like that, but that's, I think, the way that I feel successful. Now in another iteration of things I was an on-air comedy feature reporter, so I used to do like comedy stories every day, and I remember one of the news people said one time “you know, you just do funny stuff, you know, we do the hard stuff,” and like standing in front of a fire as it's burning and telling people that it's on fire, anybody could do that, but doing a story about Donald Duck 65th birthday and taking a guy dressed up like Donald Duck to the Social Security office to see if he can collect, I don't think most people are gonna come up with that.


That's sort of what keeps me going is how can I make something different and interesting. If I feel like I'm falling into a rut, then you know I’m ready. That's why I moved so many different times, it’s like, okay, I think I've done what I can do here, let’s see what else is out there.


[Host]

So wait a second, you worked with Donald Duck and Don DeLuise?


[Ted Ishler]

Yeah, I sort of brushed over that. I worked in Houston, I was at KTRK, the ABC affiliate, they’re owned by Disney. My job was to do a funny story every night at the end of the newscast. And so that was one of the things I was always trying to come up with new ideas. It's Donald Duck's 65th birthday, so I got a guy, dressed him up like Donald Duck, took him to the Social Security office, we got pushed out by security, which made an even funnier video. Then I took him to a Luby's, which was an old place where old folks go, like a buffet. Took Donald Duck there, also got thrown out by a manager, like trying to cover up the camera. So we had this whole exposé thing of Donald Duck trying to celebrate his 65th birthday.


[Host]

That's awesome.


[Ted Ishler]

Yeah, and I got in some trouble doing some stuff like that, too. So there are plenty of stories.


[Host]

It really isn't easy, when you're having to create on demand. It's one thing for people who are writers and you have the time to sit down and spend five years of your life writing a novel. There's a point of burnout and going in situations like that. You're creating on demand, which basically means you walk in, and it's like, create, yeah, create something out of nothing, and that's not easy to do, day in and day out.


[Ted Ishler]

No.


[Host]

Because if you think about it, it is a fun way to make a living, but how many times would you say, you kind of hit a ceiling, like a burnout level, throughout your career?


[Ted Ishler]

Well, yeah that happens all the time. Just like you're talking about, we worked at the PAC 12 Network, which is a network for the PAC 12 sports conference. So it's basically live sporting events 24/7 or close to that. There's only so many different ways to promote a football game, or a soccer match or something like that. So after you do a few interesting things, it's like, “oh, my God, what else? What else can I do?”


That’s always a difficult task to find the next way to promote something like that. It's basically advertising. So how else can I advertise this to make an interesting. Same deal with the shopping network? How many different ways are there to promote a show about selling pots and pans, but then that also opens a lot of areas that you're sort of forced into creativity that way.


I mean, you hit the ceiling all the time. When I was a feature reporter, I had to turn a story every single day and make it funny, and it was all up to me. I probably got burned out more quickly, just because every day it was something new and every day I had to come up with it, and some were hits and some weren't, some upset people, some were funny, some weren't.


It’s that daily grind of what can I do now to not get complacent, not get boring, and create. That’s the fun of it, you're not then an accountant, where it's just numbers every day. You have a blank slate, and you're trying to fill it.


[Host]

So back when you were doing those stories, did you have to get approval before things went on air or did you just like “here’s my story guys…”


[Ted Ishler]

Most of the time I would clear, here's the idea that I want to do, and then I'd have to shoot it. By the time I got back, three o'clock in the afternoon, it had to be on at six. There wasn't a whole lot of time to decide, “oh, no, this isn't gonna work well.”


So I'll tell you one that I got in trouble for. I was working in Houston, the city of Pasadena, Texas, which is a big suburb there, but you know, big town in itself, that's in the Houston market. Some magazine had listed them as the least romantic city in the country.


[Host]

"Stinkadena."


[Ted Ishler]

Pasadena, can you imagine? I thought well, that'll be kind of a fun story. I'll go there and just sort of have fun with that, I thought they'd have a good sense of humor. So I thought to make it extra funny, I grabbed a couple, a girl and a guy. I took them out - Pasadena is a big oil refinery town, so there's refineries everywhere - so I set up a little card table out like in front of a refinery. I set this couple down with this card table and I acted as a waiter, bringing them a TV dinner in some styrofoam, and had them toasting as if they were in love, having a nice night out in Pasadena. Then at the end of it, I had them kissing, both wearing sort of gas masks kind of things.


[Host]

Because it smells like rotten eggs over there for those who've never been.


[Ted Ishler]

So I thought, this is a hilarious story. I had told the news director basically the idea that I was going to do, and he goes “Yeah, that sounds fine.” So we put that on the air.


Then like immediately, there was a huge backlash. People were writing and saying that this is horrible, that these people aren't Texans that are doing this stuff, that the station has been taken over by Yankees, and they don't understand Texas.


I mean, they really got upset, in fact the city council of Pasadena passed some sort of ordinance against Channel 13 there because of my story. So the mayor decided that he would allow me to come back and talk to him, and he would have one of his assistants show me what's really great about Pasadena. So I thought, all right, we'll make up for it. So they sent me out there to do it again.


So this guy took me around. It was like 110 degrees that day. He took me to some dried up lake that had no trees, and said, “Well, people can go to a beautiful stroll in this park.” And I was like “Oh okay,” so I sort of showed that. Then they said - and this was back when there were still blockbusters - he said, “people can go rent a romantic movie at our blockbuster.” So I sort of played it straight, but all the stuff that the guy was showing me just proved that they were the least romantic city in the country.


And I put that one out there and that sort of pushed it all over the top. The anchor of the station had to go on the air and do a formal apology to the people of Pasadena. One of the photographers who was from Pasadena would no longer work with me, because he said he couldn't be associated with me with his people there in Pasadena. So that was sort of the beginning of the end for my comedy career there in Texas.


[Host]

So you're not allowed really down into the Houston area?


[Ted Ishler]

No, no.


[Host]

By the way, if Ted is willing, we might be able to show some of his clips in the show notes.


[Ted Ishler]

Yeah, absolutely. In fact, I got the Donald Duck one and this Pasadena one. So you can see for yourself if this was really over the line, which looking at it now, I'm like “oooh, did I really do that, yeah, I guess so.”


[Host]

Well, imagine though, so that was before social media.


[Ted Ishler]

Right.


[Host]

So people would have to do one of two things usually, one of three maybe, like at local TV stations, they would either have to write a letter, which meant at least you had like a two or three day buffer, or they would call or just come up to the station. The situation we're in now with social media that would have just…


[Ted Ishler]

Oh my God, it would have blown up right away. Another thing that didn't help was one of the local radio stations, their morning show, they spent like two hours talking about it. So that got people all riled up too but...these days, that immediately would have would have been a problem.


[Host]

So having been in a career for so long, and it's an interesting career, and a lot of people think, “Oh, it's just such a glamorous job,” and in my opinion sometimes I do wish that I became a dentist or, you know, something that's gonna be just consistent, but it has been a fun ride. I'll say that.


I find sometimes, at least in different stages in my career, when I kind of sort of wander off into the ether, and kind of find that burnout stage, like what am I going to do? I kind of always eventually come to my senses of like, hey, this is a creative space, I have to stay relevant. It's almost like you have to recreate yourself. Do you find that you've had to do that?


[Ted Ishler]

Oh, my gosh, yeah, constantly. Reinvention, I guess is everything. As you've heard, I've worked in everything from writing comedy stuff to doing on-air stuff to going into promotions. One of one of the big turning points in in my career that got me into the promotions world is that job in Houston, the guy that originally had hired me and liked all the funny stuff I did, he left - which left me with a new guy who did not like funny stuff, and so I lost that job. And it's like, okay, I've got a child, and my wife has a children's theatre that she had in Texas, what am I going to do now?


So somehow I fell into the promo world, and then tried to take that wherever I could. So I think you have to be flexible, and you have to reinvent. In the creative business like that, it's all very interrelated. I found a lot of things that I do now or have done in promotions, go back to the kinds of things that I was doing on Candid Camera or even as a reporter. It's all sort of tied together, and it's always about how you can keep going. As you said, this business is ever-changing, so how do you stay relevant as you continue to age and get older and just see the business, everything changing the way that it is.


That also keeps it interesting. It's like, what's the next thing? I never think, okay, this is it, what else can we do? That's why my wife and I are starting a podcast, which I'm sure you'll talk about here in a minute, but we're always trying to think of new things and new ways that we can evolve and stay relevant.


[Host]

Yeah, and it's just not easy to do, especially for guys like us, mid 20s, we're getting up there, man.


[Ted Ishler]

That’s right. By the time I turn 30 I don't know what I'm gonna do.


[Host]

I know, I don't know if there's gonna be a place for us at that point. There is a way to stay relevant, but you cannot rest on your laurels. As I kind of alluded to earlier, and this is sort of what happened in the music business back in the early 2000s as the record labels began to kind of crumble and consolidate, so did the production companies, and there was a lot of change there.


You go from having to spend a couple hundred thousand dollars on an edit system to where you can edit on an eight hundred dollar laptop and a couple thousand dollar cameras, so the barrier to entry changed fairly quickly. I kind of found myself like, woah, I’ve got to figure out what else I'm gonna do. You just never know what's going to come around the corner. That's why it's important, whatever it is you're doing, to do a great job at it, to show up, to keep showing up. That's not to say, not to focus on your dreams or what you want to do next. Always do the best that you can, because you never know who is going to call you, just these calls out of the blue.


[Ted Ishler]

Right?


[Host]

You're not even thinking about it, you're like, what am I gonna do next? And then bam, hey, you want to do this or that? So it's an interesting world.


So what is next for you? I know you have this job now and talk a little bit about your podcast that you and Beth are going to be doing?


[Ted Ishler]

So you just heard little snippets of our story. Devin, you know, a lot more than what we've talked about, but my wife and I, and she had been a radio talk show host, she's been an actress on Days of Our Lives, and has had her own children's theatre, and a really great author, too, has a lot of books out, and we've just lived everywhere. So we thought, we've been married 35 years, how have we been able to do that? So we thought we would come up with a fun show, and we're calling it “How Are We Still Married?!”. And it's basically sort of fun stories, talking a lot of the interesting stuff that we've done along the way, a lot of stories about the people that we've met, the places that we've worked, how our relationship has been able to stay, how we’ve stayed together, when so many people in the business that don't even move around that much have broken up. Almost everybody that we know has not stayed together, and somehow we have and I guess we're just trying to examine that ourselves. So that's our podcast, “How Are We Still Married?!”


It’s just a lot of fun, thinking about how that has happened, and how do we keep it going?


[Host]

You think you're gonna be able to stay married throughout the...how many episodes do you give yourself before you’re like….


[Ted Ishler]

We got to stay together now because we've got a podcast, that’s all part of it! We have a son who's 27 years old, and he's been dragged around to a lot of these different places too. He's sort of, I think, wondered that same thing. He's a PhD student now and doing really well. So I guess we didn't screw him up too bad or he's done. He's been okay, despite how he was raised.


[Host]

Yeah he's one smart dude.


[Ted Ishler]

He is.


[Host]

So as we kind of wrap up as we're headed toward that time, what advice would you have for people, let's just say people in the creative space, who would have had a bad 2020 or whatever, and they're trying to find that next thing, or they're furloughed, or they got laid off. Do you have any advice for people that something that they could focus on or something that they might be able to think about or perspective?


[Ted Ishler]

I mean, for me, there'd been many times, I've probably lost a job, probably four times, maybe more than that, or been at a place that you go in one day and they say, “okay, we've been sold now, good luck you guys, we’ll see what happens with the new owners!” You may think that things can't turn around, or things are just just the worst, but then if you keep trying to reinvent yourself, or if you get in touch with people that you've known in the past. I mean, everybody, that's the thing about this pandemic, is that everybody in the world is going through it at the same time. It’s not just us, it’s the entire universe basically.


There’s a lot of changes happening, a lot of people have lost their job. I was worried there for a while, and you just never know, I could go in tomorrow and that’s that…but you always have to know that something will come if you just keep pursing. It’s the old adage, if you get knocked down, you get back up. It builds character and you know that something will come your way and it may be something totally different than what you’d ever planned to do. I never really planned to get into the creative side to do promotions and things like that, I always thought I was going to be this on-air TV guy and go to the networks, but I’m glad I took that turn. A lot of people who are actors go into directing or production or whatever. It’s always being open to the next thing and just keeping in touch, being a good person and talking to all the people that you know because everybody is sort of living the same thing, it’s like you think other people just have it made, but if you dig down you see that everybody’s sort of the same way. We’re just trying to survive, trying to be creative, trying to better ourselves and get through this life and do the best thing we can and make a mark.


[Host]

One of the things that I’m working on for 2021 as I reinvent myself again, is getting a little group, a collective together, that whether we hop on and have an impromptu informal podcast, it may never air, or we hop on a Zoom call or whatever. I think it just helps to hear somebody on the line that’s going through what you’re going through, and just a perspective here or there really makes a difference, like “Oh I was reading this book, or I read this quote, or I ran into so and so, and they’re doing this now…” You never know what’s going to spark that next fire in you creatively. It’s real easy being a creative, you can get into the dark side pretty quick.


[Ted Ishler]

Right.


[Host]

If you’re not creating, it’s kind of like, oh man, you just feel like you’re dying on the vine. I think connection is super important.


So Ted where can people find you right now? Your podcast is about to launch and I’ll have all that in my show notes, as well as some pictures of you and Beth and some stuff through the years. You guys have some great pictures and some great memories and some of your videos are freaking hilarious so we definitely want to share those.



[Ted Ishler]

Yeah we’ve got a lot. So the podcast again is going to be called “How Are We Still Married?!” Beth is also going to do an author, she’s an author, and she’ll be interviewing other authors, so she’s going to have a podcast called “The Best Bookshow Ever.” I’ll let you know where everybody can get in touch with us, but you can look for those podcasts coming soon.


[Host]

That’ll be great. Ted Ishler thanks for joining me on The Groove, and I appreciate it.


[Ted Ishler]

Always great to talk with you Devin.


[Host]

Just a quick update, since we’ve recorded this episode, Ted and his wife Beth have officially launched their podcast, it’s called “How Are We Still Married?!” They already have several episodes up and you can find it at www.stillmarriedpodcast.com. They also have a cool promo - of course, Ted being a promo guy he is - on Vimeo, along with some great photos. Ted was kind enough to include the Donald Duck retirement and the infamous comedy story about Pasadena Texas. All the links are in the show notes so be sure to check them out.


You can still find me at devinpense.com and on Instagram @devinpense. Also head over to thegroovepodcast.com for all things The Groove. You can join our mailing list and support the show by joining our Patreon page. Also be on the lookout we have some Groove merch coming very soon. Don’t forget to hit that “like” button and leave a review wherever you listen to your podcasts.


Thanks again for listening, until next time, peace.


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