Last year, CBS “The Early Show” weather anchor Dave Price was sent on a special assignment: Go to Santa Monica, Calif., take $50, and make your way back to “The Early Show” studio in a week. And Price is doing it again, only this time you can choose where he starts. Then, next Thursday, the CBS weather guy hits the road.
TVNewser spoke with Price about the trip including what happens when he runs out of money. (Hint: he sleeps near a Las Vegas hotel swimming pool after blowing his cash in the casino). But we began by talking about his recent life change:
TVNewser: You got married this Summer, what does your wife think of you leaving soon?
Dave Price: In all the time I’ve know my wife and dated my wife Jackelyn, I’ve been on the road. I’ve been on the road what seems like half the time, 30% of the time, all over the country. But Jackelyn is really busy herself. She’s a partner in a real estate consulting firm. So she’s here, there and everywhere. The concerning thing is if she starts tweeting me and telling me to take my time getting across the country. But other than that, she’s been really supportive. I love being married, but it’s a challenge to just get married, and then be on the road like this.
TVNewser: What city are you excited about this year?
Dave Price: Last year, what we decided was “The Early Show” was going to drop me in Sana Monica, Calif., and I would have seven days to find my way home with nothing but $50, a backpack full of gear (computers blackberries, etc…), and I needed to figure out a way to get back to the corner of 59th and 5th avenue in seven days by earning an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work and using social media to garner favors in order to weave my way back home. This year, the difference is that our viewers are deciding where I start. So it could be anywhere from the San Diego Zoo to San Francisco to Newport, Oregon to Seattle, Washington, all the way out to Anchorage, Alaska. All of them provide their own unique challenges. I’m afraid of getting excited about one place or another, because I don’t know where I’m going to wind up.
TVNewser: Do you do anything to prepare for the trip?
Dave Price: If I start in a place like San Diego, tactically speaking, I’ll probably journey a southern route if I can across the country. If I start in Northern California/Oregon/Seattle/Alaska, it’s a northerly route. I have to take into account topography, the climate, and the viability of getting from one place to another in seven days.
TVNewser: How does your expertise as a CBS weather anchor help you on these trips?
Dave Price: Here’s what’s most valuable in this whole thing: The technical equipment I’m going to have. This year I’m going to be carrying a Microsoft 7 phone. I’m going to have access to everything from radar to forecasts to satellite imagery to tweets to Facebook to email, and all of that is going to help me to figure out whether to zig or to zag, where to avoid, where to get to. We’re in November now, so most likely we’re going to run into snow. We’re going to run into inclement weather. The key is for me, as a weatherman, is to anticipate that, to the best of my ability, to try and avoid as many of those messy situations as possible. But keep in mind: that’s not always going to be the case. If I can get a ride from North Dakota to Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, and it’s snowing in Fond du Lac, I got to move Eastward. But I’m going to run into that snow in Fond du Lac. So that’s part of the fun of this whole thing.
TVNewser: Are there any rules against calling friends/family/colleagues?
Dave Price: There are no rules against calling anyone, but to be honest with you, I do this to the letter of the law, as far as the rules go. And I do it also taking the spirit of the trip into account too. I’m not going to call Harry [Harry Smith] and say, “Can you wire me $50?” I won’t get an ounce of financial support. I won’t get a scrap of food, nothing from these guys. The other key rule is that I cannot take any commercial flight longer than 1000 miles. The key here is that I’m only relying on the good will of the people that I come into contact with, social media, and an honest day’s wage if I work.
TVNewser: Are you allowed to break the law? Because hopping trains is really cheap.
Dave Price: I’m not allowed to break the law. I can accept rides. I can’t go and hitchhike. So there is a fine line. Likewise, I don’t think the people at CBS will be happy if I put my life at risk. Although they may.
TVNewser: What have you learned from last year’s assignment?
Dave Price: I learned from last year’s assignment, and I know this sounds cliched, but I really learned we have a remarkable country filled with pretty remarkable people: good-willed, working hard, struggling in many cases, but determined to succeed. I learned how kind people are across the country. And that made a tremendous impression on me. Last year’s trip was an emotional experience for me. As you journey across the United States, you realize all the headlines all the headlines we read, people across the country are living through those, challenged by those, and that they’re more than headlines. They’re realities that people are working through. It’s one thing to report on the economy and report on unemployment. It’s another thing to see it. As much fun as this is going to be, it’s going to be a mix of everything: a lot of laughs and hopefully a lot of very compelling stories. I am happiest in my role here when I am on the road, when I am meeting people, and when I am able to share those experiences with our audiences.
TVNewser: Have you ever wasted the money on something you’ve regretted later?
Dave Price: Oh yeah. I wound up in Las Vegas last year, and I had a little more than $50. I had earned some money, and I thought I could really live large if I just won a little more. So I went into the casino, and I lost most of it. As a result, I didn’t stay in the casino. I actually had to stay outside at the pool at the casino overnight, because I had no money for a hotel. That would be a prime example of poor judgment. I’ve learned. Next time, it’ll be just $5 on red 18.