‘American Pickers’: The Important Lesson Mike Wolfe Learned When Pitching Show

by Courtney Blackann

Fans of “American Pickers” already know that Mike Wolfe pitched the show for years before it was picked up by the History Channel. The antique collector has been ‘picking’ junk for most of his life. Growing up in Iowa and scavenging old farms comes naturally to the television star. But on his way to fame with what is now “American Pickers” the TV personality learned a lesson or two while pitching the show.

The show centers on Mike Wolfe and Danielle Colby, who spend much of their time traveling across the country to visit old estates and meet people from all walks of life. There they find fascinating stories as well as really interesting items they like to purchase – and then take and restore.

But before the well-oiled machine that is now “American Pickers,” Wolfe was just doing this as a hobby. In an interview with Script, Wolfe opened up about the lessons he learned along the way.

“American Pickers” Star Receives Friendly Advice

Prior to the show getting picked up, Wolfe received some advice from Sarah Kosak of TLC. The TV star gave Wolfe a call and shared some insight about what he was pitching and how he should go about it.

She had just finished a show with Richard Davis called ‘Flip This House’. She suggested I take the format of that and put it into what I do. Me, naïve as I was, was thinking why hadn’t the production company presented a format? What were they feeling the whole time? I thought this was a creative process, but it wasn’t. I actually said that to them during the pitching process… that we don’t really have a show here.”

Wolfe had been filming parts of what was to become “American Pickers,” but it didn’t have a format. Wolfe goes on to describe how he handled Kusak’s advice.

Making a Plan

“But the production company wanted to show the network raw material so the network would have some real estate that they owned in this thing… and a say in what the show could be. They said the collaboration started with the network and the production company talking about what the show could be.”

Soon, Wolfe was formulating a succinct plan about how the show would run and how he could convey that to producers.

“Everything that I’ve learned since then, that’s about a quarter of the way through. Why would you go into a meeting without your guns loaded, your T’s crossed, your I’s dotted and say this is what you’re going to see every week, this is what we can produce, this is the level of the quality it is going to be? TV 101: Tell them what they’re going to see, show them what you just told them, and then tell them what they just saw. All of that – boom, boom, boom. They didn’t do any of that.”