About Burt Wolf
Since 1982, Burt Wolf has written and produced over 4,000 segments for Cable News Network (CNN), 800 segments for ABC (the American Broadcasting Company), 125 half-hour programs for the travel division of The Discovery Channel, 26 half hours for the Family Channel and 250 half hours for Public Broadcasting. He has been nominated for two CableAce Awards and a national Emmy in connection with cultural history.
Burt is presently in production with his ongoing series entitled Travels and Traditions. Shot entirely on location, this series travels throughout the world looking at the history, architecture, culture, customs, foods and festivals of some of the world's most interesting locations.
He is also in production with a group of programs that explore religious sites which attract millions of visitors each year. The destinations covered include Guadalupe in Mexico, Czestochowa in Poland, Lourdes in France, St. Patrick in Ireland, the Abbeys of Austria, Santiago de Compostela in Spain, Assisi and Siena in Italy, and Chimayo in New Mexico.
Burt's relaxed and personal style make the programs both informative and entertaining. In the United States the shows are broadcast on public television to over 90% of the television homes. They are also translated into Russian, Polish, Mandarin and Korean and reach a worldwide audience in Europe, Latin America and Asia of over 150 million people.
During his 30 years as a journalist, he has written or edited more than 60 books. For a number of years he authored a weekly column for The Washington Post.
Burt Wolf, host of the PBS series Travels and Traditions
ET INTERVIEWS BURT WOLF
ET: It's always interesting to hear how people get involved in what they're doing. How did you get "into" the travel writer business in the first place?
BW: I don’t think of myself as a travel writer. I know very little about the “business” of travel. I make programs about cultural history which began when Ted Turner invited me to report for CNN.
ET: Do you enjoy your television/filming work or writing books more, and why?
BW: For years, I wrote for the Washington Post, but like most newspaper writers, I had very little control over what actually went to print. I like to write for television. The books are edited versions of scripts.
ET: How much of any given year are you in Europe? What is your favorite one or two spots in Europe and why?
BW: I spend about six months each year in Europe. My favorite locations are in western Switzerland where I lived for many years.
ET: How many languages do you know?
BW: I know dozens of languages, but I only speak two--English and French.
ET: On air, you come across very relaxed and calm. How do you do this, since for most people it would be a frightening experience to be on camera?
BW: What you see is what you get. Probably the result of 30 years of meditation.
ET: What was the most "entertaining" European trip you've ever taken and why?
BW: My honeymoon. Why? Because I had just married to the woman of my dreams and the dreams keep getting better.
ET: I see you also lead tours to Europe. As a guide, what do you find most people look for when touring Europe for the first time?
BW: I host the tours to raise money for public television. Most first-time travelers are looking for places to shop, places to eat and clean toilets.
ET: What is your advice to travelers to a country where they can't speak the language and don't have enough time to learn much of it before they go?
BW: For the most part, speaking the local language is irrelevant. French will not help you appreciate the food in Paris --- look around the room at what other people are eating and if it looks good to you, point it out to your waiter. Speaking Flemish does not enhance your experience in the Van Gogh museum. In Italy the most interesting communications are hand signals.
ET: What European festival do you enjoy the most and why?
BW: Robert Burns Night in Scotland. Carnival in Venice. Easter in Florence. June Feast Days in Portugal. Saint Juhannus Day in Finland. Christmas in Germany. The Three Glorious Days at the at the Hospices de Beaune. Spring Fiestas in Seville. Each has a spiritual element that connects me with a deep sense of history and human culture.