‘Diners’ producer visits Aiken, promotes college education
Mike Morris was out of his usual environment but in his element when he visited Ginger Dunker’s class at South Aiken High School on Tuesday.
Morris, a producer on Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives,” has been visiting classes ever since he visited his daughter’s class when she was in the seventh grade.
“The first thing I do is encourage them to get an education; almost everyone I work with has a degree,” Morris said. “I also let them know there’s a lot of different jobs in television, not just in front of the camera.”
Morris has been around town a lot lately, visiting his daughter Leslie Blankenship, a teacher at Ridge Spring-Monetta High School. Her husband Kyle works at SAHS and, along with Dunker, came up with the idea to invite Morris to talk to the Digital Visual Literacy class.
“The kids get a real world application to whatever project they’re working on,” Dunker said.
Her class of juniors and seniors dives into an array of media areas such as film study, graphic design, music and video production and magazine production.
“I want to tell these kids how to prepare for a career in media,” Morris said. “It’s always very positive, they’re all interested and want to be there.”
Morris hasn’t been a television producer all his life. He actually began in radio after graduating from Indiana University. He later worked with a slew of different news programs in New York City and a couple of shows on A&E and ABC.
His voice can be heard locally on a TV commercial for Desserves Bakery.
But most of his time is spent with Guy Fieri and the hit Food Network show. Morris said he just got back from Toronto, where he wrapped his 165th episode of the show.
“It’s a fun job. We try to make it a fun atmosphere, so there’s a lot of fish guts being thrown around,” Morris joked. “We show real people doing real things at real restaurants. It always looks like we’re having a lot of fun and Guy is very knowledgeable.”
The show has visited the area once before, in 2010 when Fieri and crew dropped by The Farmer’s Shed in Lexington.