Feb 26, 2017
JONATHAN DOWDELL is a senior producer at TV home shopping giant QVC. Jonathan identifies with the legions of loyal viewers who tune into the network 24/7 searching for good deals because at the age of 50 he is – as he’s always been – compulsively conscious of every dollar he spends. (34:26) EXPLICIT
Some of my very best friends in life are people I’ve met while working on various television shows. JONATHAN DOWDELL is one of them. I met Jonathan on a series in 1993 and, despite his moving to the east coast 15 years ago to take a producing job with TV home shopping giant QVC, we’ve managed to stay close.
When I turned 50, Jonathan and I met up in Clarksdale, Mississippi to celebrate with another relocated TV buddy. Recently, Jonathan turned 50 and this time the celebration was in Louisville, Kentucky. I packed my portable digital recorder thinking I might, on the occasion of his milestone birthday, convince him to sit down and record an episode of PIERSON TO PERSON.
I wasn’t sure what we would talk about – there are several topics we could have covered – but as you’ll hear in THE PENNY-WISEGUY, Jonathan was feeling introspective. As we enjoyed a pre-dinner drink in our room at the trendy 21C Museum Hotel, he was remarkably candid about aspects of his personality that he believes have stood in his way over the years, including his deep-rooted frugality:
“I’m very measured when it comes to spending money. It’s very hard for me to spend top dollar for anything. I do sometimes wonder if I was freer would I be happier. Not that I’m unhappy. But why can’t I have the nice dinner? Why can’t I buy the better bottle of wine? Why can’t I drive a nicer car? I don’t need to drive a 19-year-old car. I can afford a new car. Sometimes I wonder if I feel like I don’t deserve a new car. That it isn’t just about the money, or saving the money or not spending the money. Do I deserve nice things? I’m not sure I feel that I do deserve nice things.”
Being overly concerned about other people's opinions is another obstacle that Jonathan feels has hindered him over the years:
“I have felt that I can’t achieve certain things because I can’t get over the hump of being judged. Maybe I would be more successful if I didn’t care about how other people felt. There are a lot of things in my life that I have been reluctant to do because I’m worried about being judged or failing, and I think that that is something I’m striving to get over. How do I push that aside so that I can have some other achievements in my life that will ultimately make me more fulfilled, more happy, make my life better?”
This episode may, at times, sound more like a therapy session than Kentucky cocktail conversation. But in the 23 years I’ve known Jonathan, this is the most self-reflective I’ve ever heard him be. Maybe there’s something about hitting the half-century mark that inspired him to look inward. (That, and being sequestered in a hotel room, having me clip a mic on his shirt and asking him a bunch of personal questions.)
As I do with all my podcast guests, I sent the finished episode to Jonathan to make sure he was okay with me releasing it. He called a few days ago to say it definitely was weird to hear himself talking about “all that stuff.” Even so, he didn’t ask me to change a thing and gave the green-light to share it with you as is.
Many thanks to the composers of the music featured in this episode royalty free through Creative Commons licensing:
1. "Grab a Bargain" by Scott Holmes - Facebook: Scott Holmes Music
2. "Nature Kid" by Podington Bear - soundofpicture.com
3. "Chill Wave" by Kevin MacLeod - incompetech.com