The name John Tesh may ring familiar with so many folks. After all, Tesh was a television presence first on CBS Sports and later on Entertainment Tonight (ET) for many, many years. Tesh is hosting a radio program called “Intelligence for your life” and performing in concerts all across the nation and he shared with me where it all began.
“When I was hosting ET, I just really wanted to be a live touring musician. When I was a child, I used to put on performances for my friends, so it has been a lifelong passion of mine. I would spend all of my downtime writing music themes for news shows, sports coverage and even the Olympics but no one ever took me seriously. After winning an international competition for the NBA theme song (which I submitted anonymously) then my music was eventually played on every NBC broadcast of the NBA. It was such a wonderful feeling knowing that my music was being enjoyed by such a large audience. And, later when it won an Emmy Award it was the thrill of a lifetime.”
How hard was it to step away from a six or seven figure salary as ET’s host?
“I had watched some really amazing PBS specials and I knew it would be an awesome way for me to showcase in a live concert setting. Of course, when we approached PBS, my wife and I had to make a huge financial investment in the venue before PBS would even consider it and we took a second mortgage out on our home.”
How difficult was it to step out in faith and do that?
“Let me share the story with you. In 1995, after we made the investment with PBS and convinced them to air the concert, the stage was literally all set. It was to be called “Live at Red Rocks” and I would perform in Colorado before a live audience with my band and the Colorado Symphony Orchestra. Only four songs into the performance and the heavens opened up and it began to pour rain. The orchestra had to leave the stage and we continued playing in the rain, water streaming all over my piano – we were soaked. The audience stayed with us in the rain and many just opened up umbrellas. Because the folks were holding umbrellas they could not applaud and they would just lift the umbrellas up and down at the end of every song. It was reminiscent of a Mary Poppins theme. After awhile, the rain stopped and the skies cleared, the orchestra returned and we wrapped up the performance under a full moon. Later, a Pastor friend of mine would share with me that we “Backed into the Blessing” and the Live at Red Rocks performance would go on to become one of the most watched musical performances to ever air on PBS.”
It appears that you’ve reinvented yourself and you are truly living the dream.
“I have always been an entrepreneur but the problem with that is that you have to be able to take calculated risks and not just jump in. My wife is able to manage my enthusiasm because, truthfully, I’m ADD and find everything interesting and inviting and would spread myself too thin. We began a radio program called “Intelligence for your life” and cover topics such as health & wellbeing, family, pets, diet & fitness and so much more. We began with just five radio stations and one even cancelled. We persisted and today we have over 200 radio stations that tune in, I continue to do about a dozen or so concerts per month. When we perform, we don’t just do the fourteen song set. At the end of every concert, we take time to interact with the audience.
What does the future hold in store for John Tesh?
“I’m sixty years old now but I am in the best condition I’ve ever been in. I work out daily with my son, a complete forty minute workout. I am able to work from home most of the time for the radio station. I have more quality time with my wife and my children and I am loving life. I would encourage anyone to step out in faith and do what you love, what you dream. What’s that old saying, ‘Do what you love and the money will follow?’ Live with passion and make your dreams come true.”
Interview with John Tesh at West Point, NY, December 2011