Inside Base Camp's Tom Foreman on Work, Guests

National Geographic News
March 19, 2003

Presidents and prisoners; scientists and soldiers; the heroic and the hated— all have sat down with National Geographic Channel Senior Anchor Tom Foreman as he has traveled the globe for the past 25 years. Starting out in small town radio in Alabama, he progressed through local television to join ABC Network News when he was 30. For a decade he covered virtually every major news story for World News Tonight, Nightline, 20/20 and Good Morning America.

Now, as host and managing editor of the Emmy award-winning Inside Base Camp with Tom Foreman, he brings his years of experience—and dozens of riveting guests—to the National Geographic Channel at 12:30 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, and Sundays at 11:00 a.m.

As the show's name implies, Foreman asks the intimate, revealing questions that cut to core of the passions that drive his guests.

So we turned the tables on him to ask: What pushes you past the point where other interviewers stop?

Foreman: I think the heart of it is my desire to explore and understand what motivates these people to do things that others only dream about. Our guests routinely risk their lives, their fortunes, and even their families to expand our understanding of our universe. And I'm not talking about just the physical universe. Sure, we have people such as Tori Murden, the woman who rowed across the Atlantic Ocean, but we also have conversations with folks like Ted Koppel. Ted came on the show to talk about ethnic hatred and how it is handed down through generations, and in the process he told us things about his own family's flight from the Nazis that I've never heard him talk about before.

How do you pick guests for Inside Base Camp with Tom Foreman?

For 115 years, the National Geographic Society has reported on the natural forces at work on our planet. This show is about the human forces that shape our world. So that is what we are looking for; and frankly, that is a very wide net. We have many influential, well-known people: Danny Glover talking about Africa; Jane Goodall talking about conservation; Ted Nugent talking about hunting and the environment. But we also have plenty of folks who are largely unknown, but who have spectacular stories to tell.

One of my favorites is Mark Ross. He is an American who leads safaris in Africa. He was with a group when rebel soldiers invaded their camp and took them all hostage. For hours, Mark and the other captives were marched at gunpoint through the jungle. He had to keep people focused, aware of their surroundings and moving, because…quite simply…every time one of them stopped, he or she was killed. Mark's story of how he negotiated with the gunmen, rallied the terrified captives, and ultimately secured their release is one of the most terrifying and inspiring stories I've ever heard. That is what we seek out in Base Camp; tales that contain lessons for all of us.

What kind of lessons?

Lessons about cultural conflict and understanding. Lessons about the frontiers of civilization and exploration. Lessons about the human spirit and the ability of people to find wonder, beauty and inner-strength even in difficult…sometimes life-threatening circumstances.

Are you often surprised?

I don't think we have had a single show where I wasn't surprised at least once.

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