Mike Rowe

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Mike Rowe
Ready for a Dirty Job (cropped).jpg
Rowe in 2010
Born (1962-03-18) March 18, 1962 (age 58)
Alma materTowson University
OccupationTelevision host, narrator

Michael Gregory Rowe (born March 18, 1962)[1]:6 is an American television host, narrator, and former opera singer. He is known for his work on the Discovery Channel series Dirty Jobs and the series Somebody's Gotta Do It originally developed for CNN. He currently hosts a series produced for Facebook called Returning the Favor in which he finds people doing good deeds and does something for them in return.[2] He also hosts the podcast The Way I Heard It with Mike Rowe, which he describes as "short stories designed specifically for the curious mind plagued with a short attention span".[3] Rowe has narrated programs on the Discovery Channel, The Science Channel, and National Geographic Channel such as Deadliest Catch, How the Universe Works, and Shark Week. He has also appeared in commercials for firms such as the Ford Motor Company.

In June 2020, Discovery Channel announced "Dirty Jobs: Rowe’d Trip", four episodes to be aired in mid-July 2020, billed as "part reunion, part road-trip, part look-back-special".[4]

Early life[edit]

Rowe was born in Baltimore, Maryland, to John and Peggy Rowe, who were both teachers.[1]:6 He stated in commercials for Dirty Jobs that the show is a tribute to his father and grandfather. He became an Eagle Scout in 1979 in Troop 16 in Baltimore,[5] and he read out loud to students at the Maryland School for the Blind during his service project for Eagle Scout. He cites this as one of the reasons that he became interested in narrating and writing.[5][6] In June 2012, Rowe was awarded the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award by the Boy Scouts of America.[7]

Rowe attended Kenwood Presbyterian Church in Baltimore, which his parents still regularly attend. He graduated from Overlea High School in 1980,[1]:28 where he excelled in theater and singing under choir director Freddie King, whom Rowe credits for his interest in performing.[8] He then studied at Essex Community College.[8] He was named an Honorary Life Member of the Barbershop Harmony Society on July 8, 2017, at the Society's international convention in Las Vegas.[9] In 1985, he graduated from Towson University[10][1]:28 with a degree in communication studies.[11]

Television career[edit]

As host[edit]

Rowe on Dirty Jobs in April 2010 with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Rowe has hosted On-Air TV for American Airlines, No Relation for FX,[12] and New York Expeditions for PBS.

Starting in the mid-1980s, Rowe hosted Your New Home for WJZ-TV in Baltimore for 15 years.[13]

In the early 1990s, Rowe hosted the CD-ROM music trivia game Radio Active (as "Bobby Arpeggio") for defunct Sanctuary Woods. During the same period, he was an on-air host for the home-shopping TV network QVC.[14] In a 2006 interview, Rowe related how he got the job at QVC: "I was in the opera at the time. I walked across the street with a buddy of mine during a performance. We're dressed as Vikings and we have a drink. The TV is turned to QVC .... My buddy bets me $100 I can't get a call back. So I crashed the audition and got a job on the spot. I basically turned the whole thing into my own stupid David Letterman show. I made fun of the callers and made fun of the products." Rowe has claimed that QVC fired him three times. When told in a 2008 episode of Dirty Jobs that the gourds he was working on would be sold via QVC, he said he was familiar with the corporation and proceeded to ad-lib a sales pitch for them.[15]

In the 1990s, Rowe hosted Channel 999 instructional guide for the defunct PrimeStar satellite television service.

In 2002, Rowe hosted Worst Case Scenarios for TBS.[12]

From 2001 to 2004, Rowe hosted The Most for The History Channel.[12] From 2001 to 2005, Rowe hosted Evening Magazine on KPIX-TV in San Francisco. During this time, he appeared in a news segment called "Somebody's Gotta Do It", profiling a number of unpleasant professions; the concept later grew into Dirty Jobs. Rowe's first work with the Discovery Channel included a trip to the Valley of the Golden Mummies to host Egypt Week Live!, where he explored ancient tombs live with Dr. Zahi Hawass, an Egyptian archaeologist.

In September 2012, Rowe hosted a three-part series How Booze Built America on the Discovery Channel.

CNN announced on April 10, 2014, that Rowe would host Somebody's Gotta Do It, a new "Original Series" that began in the fall of 2014 lineup. The series now airs on the Trinity Broadcasting Network. Rowe highlights "unique individuals" in their respective passionate undertakings, whether it be work, hobby or fanaticism. Somebody's Gotta Do It is produced by Craig Piligian’s Pilgrim Studios.[16]

As narrator[edit]

In addition to hosting programs, Rowe has an extensive background as a narrator. His work with Discovery Channel includes narrating American Chopper, American Hot Rod, Deadliest Catch, Wild Pacific, Silver Rush, and Ghost Lab, as well as other Discovery specials and series such as How the Universe Works, and Syfy's Ghost Hunters. Rowe has hosted the Discovery Channel's annual Shark Week in 2006 and 2008, along with hosting the special You Spoof Discovery, an amateur parody video special which poked fun at some of the popular series on the Discovery Channel's lineup.[17] Rowe is currently the narrator for National Geographic Channel's series Wicked Tuna.

Rowe is a lifelong fan of radio broadcaster Paul Harvey.[18]

Mike Rowe poses for a photo during filming at Skulls Unlimited International.

Rowe was originally tapped to be the on-screen host of the Discovery Channel's Deadliest Catch, a show about crab fishing in the Bering Sea, and shot footage aboard several crab boats in addition to narrating the series. When Dirty Jobs was picked up by Discovery, he was told to choose which show he wanted to appear in on-screen. Rowe claims he was told by Discovery that the shows would air back-to-back on the same night: "We can't have you telling us stories about six dead fishermen on camera and making a fart joke with your arm in a cow's ass".[19] Rowe chose to host Dirty Jobs and narrate Deadliest Catch; the footage of him on the boats was not used in the series, although he did appear in a season finale of Deadliest Catch, interviewing the boat captains. Rowe hosted a related show about life on the Bering Sea, a 2007 miniseries, After the Catch, a show which has continued after each season of Deadliest Catch.

Other narration work by Rowe includes Mystery Diagnosis, Drydock: A Cruise Ship Reborn, Southern Steel, Powertool Drag Racing, Scavengers Rock (Animal Planet), Airplane Repo and the opening of Ghost Hunters, a Syfy series from the producers of American Chopper. Additionally, Rowe has done voiceover work for the reality television show The Ultimate Fighter and the NASCAR pre-race show for the 2009 Chase on ESPN.[20]

From December 21, 2009, to June 2012, Rowe was the announcer on ABC World News with Diane Sawyer.[21][22]

He hosts a podcast called The Way I Heard It with Mike Rowe, in partnership with Red Seat Ventures.[23]

Additional appearances[edit]

On October 7, 2007, Rowe appeared on Fox's American Dad! as the voice of a meter maid.[24]

Rowe appeared on an episode of Sesame Street (Season 39) in a segment called "Dirtiest Jobs With Mike Rowe", which aired on October 13, 2008. Rowe visits Sesame Street to find the dirtiest job, which happens to belong to Oscar. Rowe must do all the things Oscar does. His tasks include finding and counting stinky cheese, sorting trash, and giving his pet pig, Spot, a mud bath. To Oscar's chagrin, Rowe does not want to stop, as he is having too much fun.

Mike Rowe spoke to more than 70,000 scouts, leaders, and visitors at the 2010 National Scout Jamboree in Fort AP Hill, Virginia, and a second time at the 2013 National Scout Jamboree in Bechtel Summit.[25] Rowe, an Eagle Scout, spoke to the crowd about the importance of being physically and mentally clean, but emphasized the need for all scouts to get dirty.[26]

In 2012, Rowe appeared in the 'Baxter & Sons' episode of the ABC sitcom Last Man Standing playing the role of Jim Baxter, the brother of Tim Allen's character.

In June 2013, Mike Rowe spoke to the delegates at the 49th Annual National Leadership and Skills Conference for SkillsUSA in Kansas City, Missouri. He addressed the crowd of 15,000+ at Kemper Arena about the importance to "Work Smart and Hard".[27]

In 2017, Rowe was a guest on the premiere episode of This Old House. This first project of the season spotlights "Generation Next", an organization that is training young people to learn the building trades. Rowe, through his "mikeroweWORKS" foundation and the "This Old House" people are supporting this initiative.

As pitchman[edit]

Beginning in March 2007, he was featured in several Ford Motor Company F-Series truck commercials, presented in a style similar to Dirty Jobs, including one for Ford Sync.[28] In the summer of 2009, he appeared in advertisements for Ford and Lincoln-Mercury vehicles that used the tagline, "Why Ford. Why Now."[29]

On July 26, 2010, Rowe became the spokesperson for Caterpillar, "spending time with Caterpillar customers and dealers to get a real world perspective on their jobs and how the two partner to be successful."[30]

In 2011, Rowe appeared with his parents in television spots for Viva paper towels.[31]

Trade activism[edit]

On Labor Day 2008, Rowe launched the mikeroweWORKS Foundation, which is focused on the decline in the blue collar trades and the crumbling state of the infrastructure.[32] A trade resource center has been launched and provides information, resources, and forums for people interested in learning about, or pursuing a career in, the trades,[5] as well as a new blog aggregator for the trades and construction industry called the "Trades Hub", which launched in April 2011.

On September 29, 2010, Mike Rowe and the Association of Equipment Manufacturers started a campaign called "I Make America", aimed to create jobs in the manufacturing sector by encouraging infrastructure investment and export agreements. The group stated that the campaign would improve the economy and global competitiveness of the United States.[33]

In May 2011, Rowe testified on the issue of trade activism before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.[34][35]

Mike Rowe has contributed video content to The Alabama Construction Recruitment Institute's trade-worker recruiting campaign GoBuildAlabama.com, culminating in an Iron Bowl-themed commercial broadcast on local CBS affiliates during Thanksgiving weekend 2010.[36]

Rowe sent a letter to President Obama at the start of his first term offering to help promote the three million "shovel ready" jobs promised during the campaign, suspecting it might be a tough sell, "given the country's then-current relationship with the shovel." He did not receive a reply. During the 2012 presidential election, Rowe contacted GOP candidate Mitt Romney and appeared with him on September 26, 2012, at a campaign event in Ohio. "He's non partisan, he's not here to endorse me, he's not here to add support to one campaign or another," Romney said of his guest. "He's here to talk about his ideas about how to help America create more jobs." [37]

In Spring 2013, mikeroweWORKS launched its newest initiative, Profoundly Disconnected. Rowe states, "many of the best opportunities that exist today require a skill, not a diploma. The purpose of this site is to promote that simple truth." While in high school in 1979, Rowe saw a poster in his guidance counselor's office that read "Work Smart, Not Hard". He hated it so much, he changed it to "Work Smart AND Hard"; he now prints such posters and wants them hanging all over the country to get people to change the way hard work is perceived.[38]

Rowe describes himself as a cheerleader for both blue-collar workers and white-collar workers, hoping to promote individual initiative and positive thinking throughout the U.S. economy. He has stated that he feels alienated from the current U.S. political system given that both business owners and regular workers receive, in his opinion, unfair criticism, with issues such as geographical mismatching and a lack of job training causing unemployment. Rowe has stated that he is a gun owner and a supporter of the U.S. 2nd Amendment, but not a member of the National Rifle Association because he is "not much of a joiner".[18]

Awards and honors[edit]

Rowe was the first winner of the Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Reality Show Host in 2011.

In 2016, Rowe was made an Honorary Lifetime Member of the Barbershop Harmony Society.[39]

Personal life[edit]

Rowe sang professionally with the Baltimore Opera.[40][41] He resides in San Francisco, California.[42][18] In 2016, he was subject to rumors describing his death, leading him to quote the famous line attributed to Mark Twain: "Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated."[18]



Year Title Role Notes Source
2000 – 2004 The Most Host & Narrator
2002 Worst Case Scenarios Host
2002 - 2010 American Chopper Narrator aired on Discovery Channel
2003 – 2012, 2020 – present Dirty Jobs Host aired on Discovery Channel
2004 American Hot Rod Narrator
2004 – 2010 Ghost Hunters Narrator
2005 – present Deadliest Catch Narrator aired on the Discovery Channel
2005 – 2010 The Ultimate Fighter Narrator
2006 Shark Week Host aired on the Discovery Channel
2007 – 2012 After the Catch Host
2007 American Dad! Meter Maid Season 3 Episode 2
2008 – 2010 Ghost Hunters International Narrator
2009 Wild Pacific Himself aired on the Discovery Channel
2010, 2014 – present How the Universe Works Narrator Seasons 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8
2011 Human Planet Narrator aired on the Discovery Channel
2012 How Booze Built America Himself aired on the Discovery Channel
2012 Last Man Standing Jim Baxter Season 1 Episode 18
2013 – 2014, 2019 – present Bering Sea Gold Host aired on the Discovery Channel
2013 – present Airplane Repo Narrator aired on the Discovery Channel
2013 Bering Sea Gold: Under The Ice Host aired on the Discovery Channel
2013 Huckabee Himself
2013 – present C.R.A.P. Host web series [43][44]
2014 Building America Host & Narrator TheBlaze
2014 – 2015 Somebody's Gotta Do It Host aired on CNN
2016 America's Greatest Makers Guest Judge
2017 – present Returning the Favor Host Facebook Watch
2017 – present Somebody's Gotta Do It Host aired on Trinity Broadcasting Network [45]
2021 – present Six Degrees with Mike Rowe Host discovery+


  1. ^ a b c d Jill C. Wheeler (August 2015). Getting Gritty with Mike Rowe. ABDO. ISBN 978-1-62969-835-9.
  2. ^ "Mike Rowe surprises veteran in 'Returning the Favor'". Fox News. August 31, 2017. Retrieved September 9, 2017.
  3. ^ "Podcast pick of the week: 'The Way I Heard It'". USA TODAY. Retrieved September 9, 2017.
  4. ^ Julius Young (June 23, 2020). "Mike Rowe to premiere 'Dirty Jobs: Rowe'd Trip' in Discovery Channel return". Fox News. Retrieved July 11, 2020.
  5. ^ a b c "It's A Dirty Job And He Gets to Do It!". Eagletter. Irving, Texas: National Eagle Scout Association, Boy Scouts of America. 35 (2): 3–5. Fall 2009.
  6. ^ "Transcript of March 7, 2006, Online Chat with Mike Rowe". Discovery Channel. March 7, 2006. Archived from the original on June 18, 2006. Retrieved January 1, 2017.
  7. ^ "Mike Rowe – Distinguished Eagle Scout Award". United States Scouting Service Project. June 4, 2012. Retrieved June 5, 2012.
  8. ^ a b "Mike Rowe Interview". Barbershop Harmony Society. Archived from the original on November 8, 2009. Retrieved January 1, 2017.
  9. ^ Mike Rowe named Honorary Life Member of Barbershop Harmony Society http://www.barbershop.org/mike-rowe/
  10. ^ "You Ask, He Answers (Dirty Jobs FAQ)". Discovery Channel. Retrieved March 22, 2007.
  11. ^ "The Towerlight - The Dirt on Mike Rowe". The Towerlight. Archived from the original on September 14, 2010. Retrieved July 11, 2010.
  12. ^ a b c Rowe, Mike (April 27, 2012). "Dick Clark". The Office. Mike Rowe Works. Retrieved April 29, 2012.[permanent dead link]
  13. ^ "(Way) Before Dirty Jobs".
  14. ^ All Things Considered. National Public Radio, February 16, 2014.
  15. ^ The Complete Dirty Jobs Show Guide Archived October 12, 2012, at the Wayback Machine from Discovery Channel.com
  16. ^ "MIKE ROWE BRINGS ORIGINAL SERIES TO CNN". Retrieved June 9, 2016.
  17. ^ Mike Rowe at IMDb
  18. ^ a b c d Nick Gillespie & Todd Krainin (October 21, 2016). "Mike Rowe Wears Trump's Robe, Fights a Drone, and Solves the Labor Shortage". Reason.com. Retrieved January 1, 2017.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  19. ^ Collis, Clark (June 21, 2007). "Shock And Awe: The stars of Survivorman, The Deadliest Catch, and Dirty Jobs share jaw-dropping tales from their brave work". Entertainment Weekly. Time, Inc. Retrieved July 26, 2007.
  20. ^ "1st Race of the 2009 Chase"[permanent dead link] on Mikeroweworks.org
  21. ^ "A Much Cleaner Job for Mike Rowe: The Voice of 'World News with Diane Sawyer'". Archived from the original on December 25, 2009. Retrieved January 1, 2017.
  22. ^ "The Ticker (Revolving Door Edition): O'Keefe, Kudravi, Rowe". Retrieved June 9, 2016.
  23. ^ Mike Rowe To Launch Podcast With Red Seat Ventures
  24. ^ Mike Rowe at IMDb
  25. ^ "2013 Jambo Live Feed". Retrieved June 9, 2016.
  26. ^ Bowes, Mark (August 5, 2010). "2010 Scout Jamboree comes to an end". Richmond Times-Dispatch. Archived from the original on August 7, 2010. Retrieved August 8, 2010.
  27. ^ SkillsUSA (August 8, 2013). "Mike Rowe - Full Speech at Opening Ceremony of SkillsUSA's 2013 national conference". Retrieved June 9, 2016 – via YouTube.
  28. ^ Bernstein, Marty (March 1, 2007). ""Dirty Jobs'" Mike Rowe To Tout Ford Trucks as Spokesperson". The Auto Channel. Retrieved March 22, 2007.
  29. ^ Greenberg, Karl (October 12, 2009). "Mike Rowe Doing Tidy Job For Ford Trucks". MediaPost. Archived from the original on September 14, 2010. Retrieved May 25, 2010.
  30. ^ Kenny, Kate (July 26, 2010). "Mike Rowe Is Ready to Hit the Dirt with Caterpillar Customers and Dealers" (PDF) (Press release). Caterpillar Inc. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 28, 2013.
  31. ^ "Mike Rowe and His Parents Join Viva Brand Towels to Tackle Tough Messes". Kimberly-Clark. February 14, 2011. Archived from the original on October 11, 2011. Retrieved September 22, 2011.
  32. ^ "About Us". mikeroweWORKS Foundation. Retrieved January 4, 2021.
  33. ^ "'I Make America' Campaign Kicked Off by AEM and Mike Rowe of 'Dirty Jobs'" (Press release). Association of Equipment Manufacturers. September 29, 2010 – via PR Newswire.
  34. ^ "Testimony of Mike Rowe".
  35. ^ Mike Rowe Asks Congress To Support More "Dirty Jobs". May 14, 2011 – via YouTube.
  36. ^ ""Dirty Jobs" host in Iron Bowl-themed commercial". Retrieved June 9, 2016.
  37. ^ "Romney gets down and 'Dirty' in Ohio". CNN. Retrieved September 27, 2012.
  38. ^ "Poster « Profoundly Disconnected". Retrieved June 9, 2016.
  39. ^ "Forefront - Sweet and Lovely (feat. Mike Rowe)" YouTube, July 10, 2017.
  40. ^ Banks, Susan (January 28, 2007). "TV Review: Mike Rowe dishes up "Dirty Jobs"". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved August 30, 2009.
  41. ^ "Mike Rowe bio" Archived April 12, 2006, at the Wayback Machine on Discovery.com
  42. ^ Mirabella, Lorraine. "Mike Rowe, host of TV's 'Dirty Jobs,' tackles toughest task," The Baltimore Sun, Tuesday, January 18, 2011.
  43. ^ "'Dirty Jobs' Host Aims to Revitalize Trade Jobs". Retrieved June 9, 2016.
  44. ^ "Mike Rowe". Retrieved June 9, 2016.
  45. ^ Rowe, Mike (November 25, 2017). "Off The Wall: Somebody's Gotta Do It on TBN". www.mikerowe.com. Mike Rowe. Retrieved December 29, 2017.

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