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By: Tim Donaldson

Fisher's ATV World

“In His Own Words” - Up Close & Personal with Brian Fisher of Fisher’s ATV World

Brian at High Lifter - Bone Filming
Brian at High Lifter - Bone Filming

Many of us watch our favorite television shows, enjoying the entertainment that it provides, but few of us really understand what is typically involved in making that ½ hour show a reality.  ATVSource.com recently had the opportunity to talk with Brian Fisher of Fisher’s ATV World to discuss what is involved in making his show happen and about how he started in the television business.
 
ATVSource:  When did you start the show?
Brian:  Fisher’s ATV World (The Television Show) started in 2000.  The first network that we aired on was Outdoor Channel in July 2001.

ATVSource: How did you get into “ShowBiz”? Really, how did you come up with this idea to start an ATV television show? How did it all begin?
Brian: This all had a kind of really crazy beginning. I’ve always been a self-motivated, driven person that knew from way back in high school that I needed to do something different with my life! Just out of high school, I met my best friend, Melissa, who five years later became my wife. We were just two kids that didn’t have a clue of what life was all about but ready to take on the world. We bought our first house together and struggled to make ends meet. Melissa was a paralegal (five years), and I worked for a large printing company (twelve years).  When our first child, Tyler, was born, we decided to have Melissa stay at home to raise our children which meant we ate a lot of peanut butter and jelly! Our daughter, Briana, arrived one year later!

I’ve always been into the outdoors–hunting, fishing, camping and riding ATVs, just a down-home country boy that liked the simple things in life. Melissa came from the woods, too. She loved the outdoors and even had her own dirt bike growing up! One of my favorite television programs has always been Realtree Outdoors. I dreamed of someday having my own television show just like Bill Jordan.

During the course of the next several years, Melissa and I tried many different business ideas, but none of them seemed to be what we were supposed to do.  One day, I came home from my job at the printing company and told Melissa that I was going to call the local finance company and get a loan for $5,000 to start buying and selling used ATVs. She thought I was crazy, because the interest rate was so high on this type of loan, and she wasn’t quite sure how this would all pan out. In 1997, our first two ATVs were bought and sold in one week’s time. We made enough profit to pay back the high interest loan and still keep $5,000 to work with.

Over the next two years, we continued to buy and sell used ATVs from our front yard, turning a pretty big profit. On weekends, it was nothing to have four customers’ vehicles sitting along our street, checking out the ATVs we had for sale. In October, 1998, we leased a business property one mile down the road from our house in Dover, PA and finally opened the doors for business at Fisher’s ATV World. We began with very little on our shelves in the store, but built it into a fairly large business in just a few short years. As a matter of fact, our doors opened in October, 1998; and after our first full year of business in 1999, we did over ONE MILLION DOLLARS in sales! Not too shabby for a used ATV Dealership in the small town of Dover, PA. We knew that customer service is the key to making any business work. Our philosophy–make one person happy, they tell five other people–make one person upset or mad, they tell twenty-five other people. We had customers coming in from all of the surrounding states of PA, too.

Brian ended the day on camera!
Brian ended the day on camera!

During the year 2000, I was watching television and came across an ATV Show on Outdoor Channel. After watching it, I thought about the dreams I once had to have my own show like Bill Jordan. I just knew that I could have my own show, too. I talked it over with Melissa and, again, she thought I was crazy! We were completely swamped with our ATV Store, and she couldn’t imagine doing anything more. I told our head ATV mechanic, Bone, that I was going to start my own ATV show, and he just kind of shrugged and walked off, not taking me seriously. Two weeks later, I walk into the ATV Store with two large used video cameras in hand and ready to go! Melissa told me to take the cameras back because they cost too much money, but I assured her that we were going to have an ATV Show. She wasn’t too keen on my ideas but agreed to help me any way she could.

I started getting all of the information together for networks and sponsorships.   After paying a local production company $20,000 to put together a pilot show to shop around at different networks, we were finally accepted on Outdoor Channel.  Now it was just a matter of pulling together all of the sponsorships. This was the real challenge! Over the next nine months, I literally got my a__ kicked by the potential sponsors and ad agencies. I had no clue what I was doing but eventually caught on. I was hung up on, cussed out, and called about every name in the book, but I wasn’t giving up. The first company to sign on with us was Yamaha! Eventually we pulled enough through sponsorships and money borrowed from our ATV Store to put our show on air in July 2001 on the Outdoor Channel!

Now we just needed some press/media to let the world know about our show!   We attended the Dealer Expo in Indianapolis, IN and met up with the senior editors of a few magazines and told them that we were going to have an ATV show, some were very helpful and some laughed in our face. The first senior editor we talked to from a nationally known magazine laughed in my face and told me we’ll never make it. He said I had no TV experience and had no idea of what I was getting myself into. Little did I know that this exact same magazine was in midst of putting together their own television show, and this guy was the host! Now remember Melissa was there with me and still not completely “into” this whole television show idea, yet. After having this guy laugh in my face, we didn’t get but five steps away and Melissa looked at me and said “We’re gonna have a television show!” From that point on, it was ON! We MADE it happen together!

ATVSource:  Do you or Melissa have any formal training, schooling, etc.?
Brian: No, Just a BIG Dream and a “DO WHATEVER IT TAKES” attitude! We both finished high school but have no formal schooling/training in broadcast television. We do, however, have very talented production staffs that have multi-media training/schooling combined with years of experience. I’ve always been really comfortable in front of the camera, because this was my DREAM, so I guess you could say hosting the show just kind of comes of natural for me. I always tell everyone (and its true) that Melissa is the brains behind this whole operation. She can pretty much do ANYTHING she sets her mind to. Not only my wife and best friend, she’s an AMAZING BUSINESS PARTNER!

ATVSource: What are the biggest challenges of having a TV show?
Brian: I think one of the biggest challenges we face is being out on the road away from our families. That can sometimes be hard when we have trips that are back to back. It’s nice in the summer, because they get to travel more with us.  Some of our other challenges would be having tight production deadlines, getting sponsorships, and staying on top of all of the industry’s latest news.

ATVSource: How many hours of preparation does it take to make a single episode?
Brian: Planning/Travel by production crew–one to two weeks; Logging & Digitizing Tapes–one to two weeks; Writing Tip & Product Profile–two days; Filming Tip & Product Profile–two days; Editing/Finalizing Show–one to two weeks; four to six weeks for each single episode!

Brian with some wheelie action.
Brian with some wheelie action.

ATVSource: What is a typical work week like?
Brian:  Travel with Production Crew for 50–75% of the year. When Not Traveling:
Mondays–Phone Calls/Office Work/Misc. Filming
Tuesdays–Staff/Production Meetings/Misc. Filming
Wednesdays–Phone Calls/Office Work/Misc. Filming
Thursdays–Phone Calls/Office Work/Misc. Filming
Fridays–Phone Calls/Office Work/Misc. Filming
Sat. & Sun.–Family Time

ATVSource:  How long is your planning horizon? In other words, are you thinking about next year’s show already?
Brian: We actually already have trips booked for 2009. Our travel is crazy busy for 2008 with having 46 new shows that need to be produced for the two networks (Outdoor Channel and Versus). We do already have our shows planned and our Show Schedule for the rest of 2008.

ATVSource: After taping an event, how long before viewers typically see it on television?
Brian: That really depends on where it falls on our Show Schedule. Realistically though, you’re looking at least eight to ten weeks or more!

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