Ep005: Michael Cascio on Storytelling, Documentaries, and Janitors

By October 25, 2016Podcast

On this episode, Dr.G is joined by Michael Cascio – an award-winning documentary producer and storyteller. As a former Executive Producer with National Geographic, A&E, Animal Planet, and many other mainstream media outlets, Michael has helped produce some of the world’s most iconic shows including Brain Games, Biography, Dog Whisperer, Crocodile Hunter, Inside 9/11, Breakthrough, and numerous others. Having branched out on his own, he now serves as an in-high-demand advisor to major media companies by helping them navigate the uncertain and rapidly evolving world of film & entertainment. In this rare interview, Michael gives us an exclusive insider’s view into the changes disrupting the media industry, he shares with us his signature storytelling approach to producing award-winning documentaries, and how his first job as a janitor at Wolf Trap helped define his perspectives that forever shaped his career. All this and more on today’s episode. Now, That’s Unusual.

About Michael Cascio

Michael Casio is the CEO, President and Executive Producer of M+C Media, LLC, a production company that does consulting for networks and producers as well as original documentary production. Their latest project is the independent film Munich ’72 and Beyond, a documentary that investigates the first incidence of modern terrorism at the Summer Games in Munich, Germany.

Cascio began his career in broadcast journalism as a reporter, news director and producer for local stations in Delaware and Philadelphia. He then shifted his focus to cable networks, jumping to A&E Television where he became the senior vice-president of programming and developed the acclaimed Biography series. His impressive resume also includes VP of Cable Programming for NBC News, EVP and GM at Animal Planet, and EVP of Programming for the National Geographic Channel. In the course of his career, Cascio has been nominated for two Oscars and won four Emmys as well as the prestigious “Producer of the Year” award.

Cascio earned an undergraduate degree in liberal arts from the University of Virginia and his Master’s in Communication from American University.

Key Interview Takeaways

The greatest lessons might come from unexpected experiences. Working as a janitor at the Wolf Trap outdoor theatre, Cascio got an education the working world. While picking up trash, he learned the importance of speaking up (service workers are often invisible otherwise) and reserving judgment based on appearance (a scruffy janitor might engage a world-class conductor in conversation about a classical piece). In fact, the best career advice Cascio ever received was from his supervisor at the Wolf Trap: Never turn down a chance to take on more responsibility.

While the viewers’ motivation to consume media remains the same, the digital revolution is changing the rules in terms of form and content creation. People are still attracted to compelling characters and a desire to learn, but the evolution of media now allows us to consume content anytime, anywhere – and that content might be user-generated.

As augmented reality increases in popularity, programming must have a plan in place for digital or VR (virtual reality) applications to complement the traditional broadcast. Travel and history shows lend themselves to VR, but we have only begun to explore what is possible in the realm of augmented reality.

Learn More About Michael Cascio




New York Times article: “Pearls of Career Wisdom, Found in the Trash” by Michael Cascio

Trailer and additional information: Munich ’72 and Beyond

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