Wayne Independent - Honesdale, PA
  • Honesdale son excelling in TV circuit

  • Brian Balthaser is light-hearted, funny, and above all — friendly.

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  • Brian Balthaser is light-hearted, funny, and above all — friendly.
    The former Honesdalian, now of New York, has worked his way through the television ranks, having most recently been a supervising producer for the fourth hour of the Today show with Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb. Employed by NBC for the past eight years, Brian’s held various positions: producer, senior producer, features reporter, writer and supervising producer. His professional name is Brian Balthazar, the name he chose after being told he needed a name others could pronounce. 
    August 1 was bittersweet as he bid good-bye to Today to pursue a director’s job with HGTV, Home and Garden Network. He’s looking forward to being one of the directors of original programming, a job he starts August 18. Monday found him hanging out at home with his parents: Harrison and Theresa Balthaser of Honesdale, doing a little landscaping. He laughingly says it just wouldn’t do to be working on the Home and Garden Network and neglect his parent’s yard. The love he has for his family comes through loud and clear.  “I think I get my goofy humor from my brother and father, both named Harrison. My mother Theresa taught me the importance of connecting with people. I love them so much and would love to thank them for that,” he said.
    That “goofy humor” comes in handy during his stand-up comedy routine. He calls it his hobby, something he does in his spare time. He’s done warm-up acts for various shows, including Fashionably Late on TLC, the finale for the Next Food Network Star, and most recently Man and Wife on MTV, due to air in September.
    HHS graduate     
    A graduate of Honesdale High School and Syracuse University, the now 37-year-old says his occupational journey “happened by accident.”
    “I was wondering what to do. I tried everything ... I think I’ve had every job in the world: insurance customer service, sang and danced on a boat, worked for a PR (public relations) firm, freelance writer, store clerk, waiter, and bar tender,” he says. In 1999, he made a fateful decision to take an overnight job at NBC in Boston, writing 20-second stories of the latest happenings from 1 to 7 a.m. And so began a long-standing career with the Peacock Network.
    He’s traveled to a number of places, and met a number of people. Everyone on the Today Show was top marks, being invited to Joan Rivers’ home for Thanksgiving was not to be missed, and Charo with her trademark “cuchi-cuchi” was a favorite. But the stories that really stand out are the everyday people, who’s heartfelt, sad stories or those of personal triumph, really touched him. In Montana, he met a family who’d started the Rolling Dog Ranch Animal Sanctuary, taking in disabled animals who’d been discarded, giving them the care they needed along with a loving home. It was Brian’s story that help raise thousands of dollars in donations.
    Page 2 of 2 - He recalls covering tsunami survivors and victims of other disasters. He also covered victims of terrorism. Following 9-11, he traveled the Nation, listening to heartrending stories of loved ones lost at Ground Zero. It meant much to meet those people and be able to help tell their stories.
    Life’s motto
    Asked his life’s motto, Brian said, he lives his life, “trying to be approachable to people. I think the key is trying to connect with other people and then you can better tell their stories ...and learn your own story in the process.”
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