Mike Rowe Talks First Interview in Sewer That Eventually Turned Into ‘Dirty Jobs’

by Keeli Parkey
(Photo by Manny Carabel/Getty Images)

Like most successful projects, the idea for Mike Rowe’s hit series “Dirty Jobs” began with a small idea. And that idea was sparked with an interview that took place in a sewer.

Now, if you don’t know all that much about the 59-year-old television personality, the thought that the idea for a television show beginning in a sewer most likely sounds very odd indeed. However, if you are familiar with Rowe and his work, the fact that the idea for “Dirty Jobs” began in a sewer makes perfect sense.

After all, Mike Rowe is the man who has spent many years of his life showcasing the jobs most Americans would never in a million years consider doing.

According to what Rowe told FOX News, he was first motivated to give the show that would become “Dirty Jobs” a try because of his mother. At the time, Rowe was 40 years old. He had already been working on television in front of a camera.

But what he was doing was very different than what he would later become famous for. At this point in his career, Rowe had worked selling items on QVC. He had also had jobs with other networks during that decade of his life.

“I was pretty good at it. I got paid and I felt like I was doing ok like I had it figured out,” Mike Rowe shared.

A Phone Call from His Mother Motivated Mike Rowe To Do an Interview in a Sewer

It was while he was working on QVC and other projects that Rowe received a phone call from his mother. “She says, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if before he died he turned on the TV and saw you doing something that looked like work?'” Rowe shared. He then added: “Imagine your mother hitting you with that?”

With his mother’s voice echoing in his head, Mike Rowe decided to do something that would be memorable. And the idea he had led into the sewers of San Francisco, California. There, Rowe and a cameraman interviewed a man who worked as a sewer inspector.

Rowe told Fox News that what he and that cameraman filmed on that day was “so disgusting and so funny.” In fact, the footage was so entertaining that it became the inspiration for the “Dirty Jobs” television show.

However, some people did not understand what kind of show Mike Rowe was planning to create at first. They pictured it as a show that would interview people in odd situations. Rowe, however, wanted the show to shine a spotlight on the work done by the people who appear in his show.

“It took me a while to sell it because everybody who looked at my tape said, ‘It’s a talk show in a sewer.’ Kind of. But it’s also a love letter to work,” Rowe also said.