Thursday, September 29, 2016

The TV "Expert" Life

So, you're probably wondering what being a TV "expert" is like. Was it fun? How did it happen? Is everything they say true? Did you get paid a lot of money? Well, let me answer those questions one by one.

  1. Was it fun? Look, I won't lie. Some of it was very fun. I got to meet two famous people and got my opinions and ideas seen by millions of people. That part was very, very cool. What wasn't fun, you ask? Well, I lost a lot of time with my family. Many times, I missed dinner and a few important moments. I hated being scrutinized by people about my credentials (more on that in a sec). There were also the occasional calls while out with family or even at my real-life job asking about things that weren't always in my "lane". Minor things. A lot of it was very stressful for me. Most guys in my shoes wouldn't see it that way. That said, enough of it was "fun" that if I'm asked again, I might do another interview.
  2. How did it happen? It all started one rainy day..... Okay, it wasn't exactly like that but close enough. I got a call from Malcolm Nance, the Executive Director of TAPSTRI who needed someone to go on a major news show to talk pipe bombs. Yeah, I know - I'm not EOD. Guess what? I never claimed to be either. I thought the interview would be very short and probably over Skype. It wasn't. I was being driven to New York City to meet a huge television news host. Very cool. I bumbled my way through nervously and survived five minutes, barely. Then, the deluge of calls and requests for more TV came as more and more attacks happened. The rest is history.
  3. Is everything they say on TV true? I see you're an "explosive ordinance expert" now. What's up with that?!?! Hmmm. Well, it is and it isn't. Let me explain. Every show I was on was very honest with me and I was with them. No issues. Except for one teeny tiny one. When I first went on that previously mentioned news show, I was asked by a producer/booker what my credentials were. Obviously, being a "Security Forces Mediocre Superstar" wasn't cool enough. In the interest of not being "that guy" I stated the following in an email:

    "My name is Scriven King and I am a veteran of the US Air Force, having served 10 years in both operations and security program management. In my professional experience, I have responded to, directed first responders to, and developed programs and procedures in the mitigation of explosive ordinance. I was NOT EOD but I have a breadth of knowledge about rudimentary explosive devices. I have also been trained in SWAT and done executive protection while assigned to protect the Deputy Commander of US Forces Korea. I have been trained on vehicle and entry control point searches for explosive devices as well as the development and implementation of programs used to mitigate and facilitate their detection. I am also the national security expert at TAPSTRI and have provided commentary for other media outlets recently about ISIS and separately, the militarization of police based on my previous experience in military law enforcement and security and operational management."

    And that's how I became an "explosive ordinance expert". It's also how my Twitter account went nuts. I also recall telling a producer, rather sarcastically, "Thanks so much for calling me an expert. My phone battery will be dead by the end of the night." It most certainly was. So what happened? In a nutshell, television producers and guest bookers have no way to guarantee their audience will listen to a guy whose credentials are basically "I Know A Lot of Cool Stuff; Met A Lot of Cool People - I'm Just Not As Cool As Them" or "I Paid Attention And Read A Lot" (LOADS of sarcasm there - anyone looking to hire me). Basically, they have to convince a show host I'm smart enough and have relevant experience even if I wasn't some former JSOC G.I. snake-eating warrior of freedom. Granted, I'm not less qualified to talk about improvised explosive devices. They have been the centerpiece threat I have faced or had to mitigate over a decade-long career. I'm not special, though. That doesn't sell as well as "former Navy SEAL/Delta/Ranger/EOD Mega-Dope Dude" and so they made me an "expert". If you watch that clip, you can notice my cringe as I glance downwards and see what they described me as. An EOD buddy said it was the first thing he noticed. Then again, unlike many folks who know me through social media only, he's actually worked with me.

    By the way, I have found it far easier to just tell people I'm an "analyst". It makes sense and it's also honest. If you ever find yourself before millions of people, I suggest going that route. Keep it real.
  4. You looked nervous. Were you? Yeah, I don't know how these other guys do it. I was totally nervous the entire I was on a television show. What made it worse? Good-intentioned mentors and friends who called to tell me areas I need to improve upon. Do you wanna know what areas I constantly thought about the entire time and almost always repeated those mistakes? The areas of improvement. For every person who said to work on my "umm's", I must have said it even more after being aware I said it.
  5. Did I get paid a lot of money? No. Thank goodness. I think not getting paid makes it much easier to take a break as needed. I needed a break.
So that's what TV-life was like for me. Will I do it again? Not gonna lie - probably. Why? Because I get to talk about things I like. Will I make it a "thing"? Probably not. I like being a guy who knows a lot of stuff but doesn't want to be known as an "expert", especially a TV "expert".

Back to Blogging (sort of)

Dear Readers,

You've probably noticed I haven't been blogging in quite some time. Yeah, like in over a year. Well, I've been busy and life caught up with me. I'll do my best to answer what I've been up to and what this means for the blog (if you're still reading).

First, I've been busy. I was on television and seemed to be bombarded with various requests for interviews. It was a great experience but one that kept me from family and work commitments. So I took an extended break. I know, right? The direct opposite of what a TV "expert" does. Instead of garnering more fame, I shunned it. I have some good reasons for that. A lot of which I will explore in a later post. Suffice it to say, I learned a lot about myself and where I want to be as a professional through this experience. I still talk security when given the chance but being a guy on television a lot no longer appeals to me.

Second, the blog will continue. Over the last year, I've come up with a few really great topics that I think would be good to explore here. I'll try to keep an editorial calendar to keep myself consistent. If you haven't noticed, the posts can be sporadic and a little less thematic than they should be. It is my goal to keep this blog as objective and nonpartisan as possible. In other words, I'm not changing much.

Finally, I ask that you continue to be patient. The blog is going through some cosmetic and architectural changes. Nothing serious but I feel as though the blog could use a makeover. I'll do my best to keep you updated.

The Security Dialogue Staff (me)

Don't expect anything really soon. Like I said, I've been living and working my way through life and work. Plus needing a calendar to keep me on track and not blogging for over a year should tell you everything you need to know about when you can expect me to blog again.

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