College Debt

Mike Rowe on Well-Paying Dirty Jobs, Nonprofit Whiskey, and Male Decline

The country's favorite blue-collar champion calls attention to the 'skills gap' and asks why young men spend so much time online.


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Mike Rowe is a bestselling author, Emmy winner, and podcaster best known for his stint hosting The Discovery Channel's long-running Dirty Jobs, where he performed the sort of work we all rely on but don't want to think about too much.

From cleaning septic tanks to putting hot tar on roofs to disposing of medical waste, he's done it all—and loves to talk about the value of the hard, honest work that he thinks is devalued by a society fixated on sending everyone to college. I caught up with Rowe at FreedomFest, an annual gathering held this year in Memphis. 

We talked about how his mikeroweWORKS Foundation matches young people interested in learning trades with employers dying for applicants, why men continue to fall farther behind women in school and work, and how Knobel Whiskey, named after Mike's maternal grandfather, is fueling his nonprofit's impact.

Photo Credits: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Region, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons; Franze; Paul Souders / Danita Delimont Photography/Newscom; Bill Vaughan/Icon SMI 726/Bill Vaughan/Icon SMI/Newscom; Tom Williams/Roll Call Photos/Newscom; CHAD CAMERON/UPI/Newscom.

Music Credits: "Robot Revolt," by Alex Growl via Artlist.