Wheels Through Time featured on small screen'Small Town Big Deal' highlights museum
MAGGIE VALLEY — As he looked up and down Wheels Through Time's cavernous interior, TV personality Rodney Miller couldn't stop smiling. He was grinning at the museum's vast collection of historical bikes and cars, but even more so at the man who'd brought it all to town. As owner Dale Walklser happily started up vintage bikes and told the tales behind them, both men were clearly having a ball.
"He's been so much fun," Miller said.
The host of RFD-TV's "Small Town Big Deal" looked tickled — and maybe a bit relieved, too. This would be good TV. He seemed sure of it. Filming is not always this easy, Miller explained. As he and his production crew travel the county looking for other "big deals" in small towns, some people clam up in front of the camera. Sometimes they need direction or help getting comfortable in the limelight. But not Walksler.
As Miller put it, they could just "let him go."
"The story's got to be good, but the person's got to be good on camera, too," Miller said, indicating that, yeah, Walksler's got what it takes.
For Miller, it indicates that this segment on Wheels Through Time would be a nice addition to the show, which is beginning to make a name for itself after debuting in September on the popular cable network. In the last few months, Miller has traveled the country looking for stories of rural America that millions of people — he included — might not know about otherwise.
Thanks to this show, Miller, who made in his living in the tractors sales industry, has traveled to Bisbee, Arizona, to meet a killer bee charmer. He's been to Perryville, Kentucky, to see Civil War reenactors and to Circleville, Ohio, to meet locals passionate about their huge, prized pumpkins. These are people and places that Miller wants to pass on.
"I just love telling these stories," he said.
The process of creating new shows is always exciting and challenging, he went on, but stressed that Wheels Through Time was special.
"They're not always as fun as this," he said, still smiling wide.
Or as convenient. While Miller travels all over the country, the show's production is based in Atlanta. Producer Jon Baime originally heard about the museum through a colleague who's working with Walksler on another show, a yet-to-be-named series for the Velocity network. Baime explained that Wheels Through Time felt like "a natural fit."
"When something clicks, I get very excited about it," he said. "It's part of America people should see."
That gets to the heart of what this show is all about. "Small Town Big Deal" always features a little community "wearing its Sunday finest," Baime said. When he first walked into the museum, he was awestruck, surprised to see such a collection in such a remote area.
"This is like the biggest eye candy shop I've ever seen," he said, joking a bit later that there's so much eye candy "I practically got cavities in my eyes."
Walksler looked pleased with the good review but also touted the fact that it's nothing new. In the past decade, his museum has seen its fair of famous folks stopping by and TV shows filming in its famed interior. Of course he was excited that day, he stressed, but he's excited whenever he walks into his museum.
"Every day is special at Wheels Through Time in some way," he said.
Wheels Through Time is open through Nov. 26, with various events over the winter before opening back up in spring of 2013. The episode of "Small Town Big Deal" featuring the museum is slated for sometime in the spring. For more information about the museum, visit www.wheelsthroughtime.com. To learn more about the show, visit www.smalltownbigdeal.com.