For the past ten years I have had the distinct pleasure of appearing bi-weekly as a performing arts contributor on WISH-TV’s “Life. Style. Live!,” a lifestyle program that caters to local viewers who are interested in everything from food to fashion to health to entertainment, etc. Currently, there are three co-hosts, Amber Hankins, Randy Ollis, and George Mallet, and for now, guest talent who sit in until a permanent replacement is hired. Each time I am on air during my segment, I am paired with a different co-host and sometimes it is with Mallet.
During the time he has been on the show, Mallet and I have gotten to know each other a bit during commercial breaks. I learned that he had a theatre background as well as art in general, which prompted me to approach him about sitting down for an interview. My training was in theatre, but I gravitated to television as a career. Thus, I was curious as to whether theatre had in any way informed Mallet’s work in TV as it had mine. Listening to his interviews, I clearly saw his support of the arts, so I hoped to learn more about his back story. Consequently, I sat down with Mallet for a one-on-one interview in the Channel 8 green room.
Mallet, a native of Delaware, said that in high school he played Henry Higgins in “My Fair Lady” and later had fun doing theatre in college during which time he worked in a dinner theatre where he waited tables and did shows. “I eventually figured out that there were certain roles that were good tip-getting roles.” The last show he did was “A Christmas Carol” in North Carolina where he lived at the time and which he said, “was half a lifetime ago.”
As far as Mallet’s background as a visual artist, he took drawing classes at the University of Delaware and painting courses at Duke University. He currently paints images in watercolors that include typewritten captions. Theorizing that art is in his genes, Mallet shared, “My father was an arts guy — an accomplished painter as well as a jazz musician and an industrial designer.” He added, “My father was a big influence on me and my sibling. When we were bored, he would drop a bunch of crayons on the table, and we would color, draw, and create.” Mallet’s younger sister was also influenced by her father’s work, he said. She is an art teacher and a photographer.
Mallet’s career in broadcasting began after he graduated with a journalism degree in communications with a concentration in journalism in 1983 from the University of Delaware. Having learned to write well, his first job out of college, at the age of 23, was working as a news clerk for the Associated Press in New York. “I got to do some writing but also made a lot of coffee and ran errands, picking up my boss’s prescriptions and shoes at the repair shop,” he laughed.
While living on 54th Street in Manhattan, he walked through the theatre district every day on his way to work. At night he said, he would catch the second act of shows after intermissions. One of the shows he saw was “A Chorus Line” which he said, “Eventually, I finally did see the entire show.”
The AP, where he worked for less than a year, was right across the street from NBC in Rockefeller Plaza where he had a contact who introduced Mallet to Richard Valeriani, a reporter who later helped him land a job at the network as a news feature assistant. Because he could type 40 words a minute, Mallet was really good at taking correspondents’ dictation over the phone. Famed CBS anchor, Connie Chung, who worked at NBC at the time, was instrumental in helping him produce a demo reel which helped him land his next job as an on-air reporter in Agana, Guam, a U.S. Territory. “I only stayed there for like 2 loads of wash,” joked Mallet who went on to drive a bus for a while until he got a job working for the NBC affiliate in Washington, North Carolina. where he spent a few years. Eventually he ended up at the ABC affiliate in Raleigh Durham and spent a decade anchoring the 5:30 news and reporting on the street. The rest of his resume includes gigs at TV stations in Philadelphia and Rochester, Minnesota.
Eventually Mallet found his way to Indianapolis and WISH through a relationship that began in high school where he met his wife, Kathi. Mallet sought out a job in Indianapolis to be with her after they developed a romantic relationship. Calling himself a “horse nut” Mallet loves riding his wife’s two horses named Sportsfield Earl Grey and Aughatubber Eileen’s Dream, both Irish Sport Horses. They call them Tinker and Tubby respectively. Mallet used to own Secretariat’s grandson, Brahma Fear. Mallet’s son Colton, from his first marriage, turns 11 this month and is a hockey player, equestrian who rides in rodeos, lacrosse player, viola player, and according to his proud dad, “an awesome little boy!”
Mallet, who has been at WISH since November of 2021 said, “Thus far, co-hosting ‘Life. Style. Live!’ has been an absolute joy. I love coming to work each day. I am learning so much about art, music, theatre, and cooking,” adding that, “My co-hosts, Randy (Ollis) and Amber (Hankins) welcomed me so warmly. They are both the same people in real life that you see on TV. I look forward to spending time with them on air each morning.”
When asked how he likes working on a lifestyle show as opposed to news programs, Mallet said, “I have been a news reporter for decades. I have enjoyed that work throughout, but the idea of doing something completely different really appealed to me. I love telling positive stories. I feared I might miss covering crime, courts, and politics. That has not happened yet.”
Wrapping up our conversation, I asked Mallet what kind of impact he wanted to make broadcasting in Indiana. “I want to tell the positive, quirky, feature stories that get ignored by news organizations. There is a prevailing wisdom in some television news operations that feature stories are a waste of time. But I’d say bad feature stories are a waste of time. Feature stories that are told well, well-written, and entertaining are far more memorable than the latest crime or colossal car accident. I’m having a blast shooting such stories with little more than my iPhone, a wireless microphone, and non-linear video editing software,” he replied.
Finally, I inquired of Mallet what his impression of Central Indiana is. “I’m really impressed by the thriving arts community and the neat things that happen here. Plus, people are really friendly, open minded, and sensible. I have felt welcomed,” said the East Coast transplant.
Watch Mallet on Life. Style Live! weekdays from 10 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Email him at email@example.com