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How to be a game show producer

"Our show rides the waves of the economy," says Mike Richards, executive producer of "The Price Is Right." Steven Byeon/Marketplace

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Everyone has a dream job growing up: doctor, vet, ice cream taste tester. But how do you actually get the gig? Marketplace is looking into how with the occasional series “How to Be a …

The first episode of “The Price Is Right” aired in 1956, and since then, we’ve been guessing the prices of toasters, smartphones and speedboats. During its production season, “The Price Is Right” tapes two episodes a day. Its executive producer is the person who develops new games, works the audience and makes sure the show makes it on TV. We went to the sound stage to find out a bit more. So, Mike Richards, executive producer of “The Price Is Right,” come on down!

Mike Richards has worked in television for 20 years.

My job is about putting together great shows, creating new games, making sure we have great contestants in the audience and then ultimately making sure everything gets done on time and then ultimately on TV.

You have to like game and game play and game theory — that’s an important thing. You have to understand how things are going to work, what the probabilities of things are, because you don’t want a show with all losses. I think what makes a great game show is something that has great play-along. Play-along is: I’m sitting at home and I can actually put myself in the seat of the contestant and say, “I would make this decision, I would answer this question” or whatever. I think that “Price Is Right” has a very broad play-along, which is why it’s done so well.

Drew Carey hosts “The Price Is Right.”

Our mandate is to make everybody’s day a little bit better. And so I think the best part is we change people’s lives.

I still remember we created a new game called Pay the Rent. Pay the Rent is a $100,000 game. The first person that ever won it was a woman who lives in Glendale, which is nearby, and as part of press I got to give her the actual cashier’s check and hand it to her. She has two kids, she was married. They were living in a small apartment. And she looked at me — she was crying — and she said, “This changes our lives forever. Because of this, we will be able to buy a house.”

A year later, there was a picture of her family standing there with the house that “Price Is Right,” in some small way, helped buy. And that is what’s so fun. So whether it’s just winning a toaster or a car or $100,000, we’ve made everyone’s day a little better. And that is, by far, the coolest thing.

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