SideLines: Entertainment value

“Antiques Roadshow” is one of my favorite shows on TV. Whenever I watch, I can’t help wondering what it must be like to be on the show. I also wondered how someone gets on the show and what it costs to have something appraised.

Well, now I know.

I spoke with one of the appraisers, Mark Moran, on the phone recently to promote his show next week in Hinckley. He said the popular show can be “brutal” for the appraisers and a little “tense” for those with items to be appraised.

The appraisers, Moran said, are at a venue from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., seeing “thousands and thousands of items.” Although they aren’t paid, and are even responsible for their own expenses, Moran said the appraisers appear on the show for the prestige and exposure they get from appearing on TV.

Tickets are free, but are distributed by lottery so everyone has an equal chance of getting on the show.

Moran, who appeared during the 2010 season, said only six shows are filmed each summer. They are then edited to fill out a full year of episodes. Although he has been invited back, he hasn’t been able to make it because of other commitments.

Once the appraisers’ booths are set up at a venue, people file by with their items. Since most of the appraisers have several years of experience behind them – Moran has been involved in antiques for more than 30 years and has written 27 books on the subject – it often takes only a glance to determine if something is valuable. In some cases, Moran said appraisers have to do a little research on their laptops to determine an item’s value.

Getting on the air is a rather long process. Once an appraiser sees something of interest, he or she will contact one of the show’s producers, who will check out the item and then interview the person themselves, mainly to see if they would be interested in going on TV.

The person with the object must actually own it, Moran said. They can’t go on the air with an item they’ve brought in for someone else.

Then there’s something else.

“They want someone clueless,” Moran said, adding that the show’s producers like people who have no idea what they have. “They want that wild moment, when you hit them with the evaluation.”

Once the producer approves someone, there’s paperwork that needs to be filled out. It can be two to three hours from the time an appraiser suggests someone to the time they actually go on film.

“There can be a little bit of tension,” Moran said, “but that’s OK, too. We want the people to feel like it’s their 15 minutes of fame.”

The great thing about any show, Moran said, is that you never know when you’re going to find that unexpected gem. Unfortunately, there are just as many, if not more, times when the item worth is a lot less than the owner had hoped.

Moran will share some personal stories from the show, as well as his own knowledge of antiques, during an Antiques Appraisal Event from 6 to 9 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 8 at the Hinckley Community Building. He will also appear at the DeKalb Public Library on Dec. 4.

Anyone interested in having an item appraised at the Hinckley show, which is free and open to the public, must register with the library at 815-286-3220. Only 40 items will be appraised.

Moran is also available for private appraisals that day for $75. To schedule a private session, call the library or him at 715-281-5060.

I may not have anything of value, but I’m looking forward to the show myself.

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