He travels throughout the country, searching. Ever watchful, he remains alert. His mission? To find the most unique people, plants and places.
Patrick Clark is the host of the show "Offbeat America" on HGTV. He has been working with the show for two years.
"It's the perfect job," said Clark, a 1994 graduate of the SIUE Mass Communications department. "I find interesting people with offbeat houses, gardens and even on man who made sculptures out of horse manure."Another aspect that makes the show appealing to Clark is the people. He said he likes the commonality that all the of the people on the show share. Each one was told their idea was crazy and would not work; however, they did it anyway. Clark said they “followed their gut instinct” and their ideas usually worked.
Even after all his travels, one episode sticks out in Clark’s mind. The episode was about John Ivers from Bruceville, Ind. “He built a rollercoaster in his backyard,” Clark said. The seat for the coaster came from an old Pontiac. A bicycle chain was used to catch the coaster after it completed one full loop. Its speed was 20 mph.
“I asked him how he knew that for sure,” Clark said. “He told me he had a buddy that was a state trooper and that he brought over a radar gun [to test the speed].”
After a brief two-year run, the show is not being picked up again for another season. However, Clark is currently piloting another travel show. He is also preparing to shoot a food show.
Clark is used to the ups and downs of the television industry. He has worked as a reporter and field producer for KDNL-TV in St. Louis. Later, he moved to the St. Louis WB network, KPLR-TV, where he worked for six and a half years.
Brian Ledford, a news photographer/editor at KPLR and an instructor in the SIUE Mass Communications Department, first worked with Clark in 1998 and calls him “extremely talented in many different capacities.”
They were often paired together to work on stories with Clark being the reporter and Ledford being the photographer. Together, they have had many adventures. They have met famous athletes as well as entertainers. “There was this one time in Memphis, in a poor attempt at professional wrestling, where I snapped-suplexed him on a hotel bed and almost broke it,” Ledford said.
He also said he enjoyed watching Clark’s “Offbeat America” show. “My favorite episode was the first one,” Ledford said. “Not so much because of the content, but because I knew a local boy had made [it] good.”
Before working with HGTV, he hosted a show called G4tech. For his work with the show, he won an Emmy Award and a Telly Award.
However, there is more to Clark than just his reporting. He has also recorded two albums and is working on his third. Clark describes his music as being of the pop genre. On the albums, he plays the piano, guitar and harmonica.
What has helped to make Clark so successful? He credits his education from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. “You get so much hands-on experience,” Clark said. He said he liked the radio and television production classes the most. Clark also said he enjoyed getting to try new things from directing to creating graphics to producing his own audio.
Clark said other than just great classes, SIUE has great professors. “Half of it is the great people there like Judy Landers and Patrick Murphy, just to name a few,” Clark said. He has advice for those who desire to follow in his footsteps. Clark recommends that students should work at WSIE, the school’s radio station, or on the public access show in order to gain experience.
“Show initiative and be passionate if you want to make a living in it [the print and broadcast industry],” Clark said.
Story originally appeared in the Spring 2007 Mass Communicator. Article written by Lauren Kramer.