Three months ago, Craig Conrad said he received a life-changing phone call.
He and his wife, Vicki, were preparing for an upcoming trip to Oklahoma as part of a tour to promote his book, “Unstoppable,” when the phone rang.
“When I answered, it was Orion Multimedia,” Conrad said. “They wanted to do an outdoor nature show and wanted me to host it.”
Conrad, a Craig resident and former Moffat County High School teacher turned motivational speaker, said never in his wildest dreams would he have imagined he’d host a television series.
But, that’s exactly what he’ll be doing with “Call of the Wild: Generation Next in Wyoming.”
“I would like to say this is a dream come true, but I never even dreamt it could happen,” Conrad said. “It blew my mind when (Orion Multimedia) asked me.”
The opportunity, Conrad said, was born several years ago in a random meeting with Orion Multimedia President Chris Dorsey.
“My son and I used to do guided fly-fishing trips several summers ago, and one year we had the chance to go out with Chris Dorsey,” Conrad said. “We had a great time, told each other stories and I signed two books for his kids before he left.”
Conrad’s book was written in 2008, and relays stories meant to encourage youths to push themselves to be their best.
Conrad said he never heard from Dorsey again, until the call around Thanksgiving.
“On that call, I found out Chris (Dorsey) was the president of the company and he told them I was their guy to host the show,” he said. “It was the furthest thing from my mind and came out of the blue, but it is incredible.”
The reason behind choosing Conrad, Dorsey said, was the background Conrad had with both kids and the outdoors.
“One of the main reasons we are excited to have Craig is because he comes from teaching and he is a motivator,” Dorsey said. “He brings an electricity to the outdoors you just don’t see in people anymore.”
When Conrad went to Denver to meet with Dorsey and the team who are putting the show together, he learned what “Call of the Wild” would be about.
“We take kids off the couch and we put them into the wild outdoors,” Conrad said. “We have a generation of kids that grew up indoors and we want to get them outdoors.”
Dorsey, who is also an executive producer at Orion Multimedia, said the main inspiration behind the show was to showcase the outdoors in hopes of bringing families and friends into it.
“Many people nowadays are suffering from nature deficit disorder,” Dorsey said. “This won’t be the same old hunting and fishing show, but a show that hopefully gets people outside to see that the outdoors has a healing power and the power to bring people together.”
Dorsey said the show probably falls into the reality TV genre.
“When we put the kids out in nature, we aren’t sure how they are going to react or what they will do,” he said. “We expect to see positive things — crying and laughter — and we want to see it as it unfolds.”
When the show airs, Dorsey hopes to see a payoff in the amount of people who step outside.
“If we can reach someone who is sitting at home and have them think, ‘Hey, I could take my kid or the neighbor boy,’ then we did it right,” he said. “We want to reach the new generation that will be deciding on how the wild will be treated.”
Part of the reason Conrad agreed to be involved in the show was because it will incorporate excerpts from his book, he said.
“Unstoppable,” Conrad said, was written to change the lives of youths and help them to succeed.
Another reason Conrad agreed to host was because he feels the current generation of kids needs to be outside more.
“We live in one of the most beautiful outdoor areas in the world here in Craig, and the kids sit in front of their Nintendo Wiis,” he said. “There are more kids than I thought that have never experienced the outdoors.”
Conrad said he practically lives outdoors.
“For me, fishing is my psychiatrist,” he said. “If I had a bad day, I would go fishing and it would calm me.”
The next step in Conrad’s journey to the small screen is to help select youths who will be part of the show.
Starting Feb. 19 in Wyoming, Orion Multimedia will host open casting calls for youths ages 14 to 17. The show will begin filming in the fall, and goes on the air in 2012.
Half of the show’s 10 to 12 participants will be from Wyoming. The other half will be from other areas of the U.S.
Conrad said he has a notebook full of ideas he wants to incorporate into the show, and the process of selecting its cast.
“I have some crazy, off-the-wall ideas of ways to announce to the kids they have been selected,” he said. “It will be a big deal for them, and I think it would be great if a kid from Craig could be selected.”
Anyone interested in being part of the cast should visit www.callofthewildtv.com to fill out an application and learn more details.
Without the help of his wife and his close friend, Lance Scranton, Conrad said he wouldn’t have been able to be where he is today.
“It is all a blessing from God,” he said. “I started out wanting to help children, and in turn, I ended up helping myself, too.”
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