After a successful 13-year career at NBC News, Amy Chiaro made a life-changing career move in 2008, joining the development team for a new health-focused syndicated show featuring Dr. Mehmet Oz. “The timing aligned,” she reflected. “Dr. Oz was the one guest that we could not get on the ‘Today’ show. He was on ‘Good Morning America’ at the time and on ‘Oprah,’ but we just could not get him on the show. I was always interested in working with him and was also impressed with the teams at Sony and Harpo so I decided to take the leap into daytime programming.” It was a good move. She is currently heading into her eighth season as Executive Producer of “The Dr. Oz Show.”
Charlene Weisler: Since you started on ‘Dr. Oz’ in 2008, has reportage on the health field changed and if so, how?
Amy Chiaro: Absolutely. There has been a radical shift in the access to health care and health information over the past several years. When we first launched the show, we hosted multiple free health clinics, because it was very difficult at the time to get access to basic health and wellness information and treatment. Many of the topics we covered in our first few seasons have now become commonplace, for example Greek yogurt sales have exploded and sales of soft drinks have declined. It is a different world; awareness has changed and we now have many more tools available to us to take control and take our health into our own hands. In response, the show has evolved and we are now able to delve into more complicated areas of discussion and offer insight into issues that you cannot easily look up online or get access to. So that is a really good place for the show to be in.
Charlene: Can you give me an example of one of these more complicated issues?
Amy: A big conversation we had this past season was around the epidemic of opioid abuse and addiction in our country. We were one of the first to address this. In fact, “60 Minutes” did a story on it right after us. We had a symposium show featuring the US drug czar, Michael Botticelli, who has personally battled addiction in the past, to talk about what is really happening. This is the type of conversation that has real impact.
(Editor's Note: Dr. Oz recently discussed his wide-ranging addiction initiative in a candid Lunch at Michael's interview with Jack Myers and Ed Martin of MediaVillage.)
Charlene: How do you achieve work/life balance?
Amy: I have a two year old and a four year old and a five-year marriage, so balance between my family and work is a constant negotiation. That said, I love my work and I believe that if you work hard and are ambitious you can have a full life. I am “all-in” when I am at home with my family and also when I am at work. So while balance is still a work in progress, I know that to be a good mother I have to be happy and fulfilled.
Charlene: What are your thoughts on mentorship?
Amy: I work with a great staff and I especially love working with our junior members. If they are still deciding what they want to do in their career, I advise them to not get bogged down in making a decision. Be “all-in” at that moment and do the best job you can. Work hard and remember that no experience is wasted.
Charlene: Any final words of wisdom?
Amy: When I am looking for inspiration, I always think of my mother. She had to reinvent herself in mid-life, going back to school for her MBA and then a second Master’s degree. She instilled in me that hard work and drive will result in success. You have to believe in yourself and you should never be afraid of what is coming in the future.
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