"I was always drawn to movies and TV in high school," said Chan
"There was no doubt that this was what I wanted to do [when I was older]."
A Portland native, Chan
sought a career in filmmaking as a student at the University of Oregon
couldn't get into any of the classes he
sights to broadcast television and discovered how much he
enjoyed the industry.
Chan graduated with a bachelor's degree in broadcast communications and soon found work with a local radio station.
"I didn't like it much," said Chan
"And I didn't have any formal training for radio [work], but I eventually moved into public television for Portland where I found my first opportunities to do producing and directing."
In the fall of 1978, Chan
moved into commercial broadcasting for KING-TV
also freelanced for the major networks as a producer.
was eventually hired to run the national version of the popular "Evening Magazine
" at KPIX-TV
in San Francisco.
At KPIX-TV, he worked on the show as an editor, field producer, and line producer.
After a few years, Chan decided to settle down and start a family, so he took a job with KXTV in Sacramento, Calif.
accepted the position of creative services director.
"I did all the advertising and programming - basically anything on the air that wasn't news was my responsibility," Chan
Chan's team produced many nationally syndicated series, and he became the director of programming and production in 1991.
The A.H. Belo Corporation, the company that owned his station, was pleased with his success and created Belo Productions.
Screaming Flea Productions
Chan went on to become president of Belo Productions.
When the corporation wanted to relocate his
station to its headquarters in Dallas, Tex., Chan
division and moved it to Seattle instead.
"I didn't want anything to do with Texas … I wanted to stay in the Northwest, close to my roots," said Chan
In January 1999, Chan
team Screaming Flea Productions (SFP).
Armed with a network of contacts, Chan
had no problem hitting the ground running with SFP.
"To create a story viewers want to watch … there needs to be drama and a crisis timeframe," said Chan
"For example, if they don't clean up their house, something bad will happen."
"There also needs to be a 'good guy' and a 'bad guy' … The 'good guy' being the hoarder and the 'bad guy' perhaps being a well-meaning family member or an authority."
It is ironic that Chan
first became intrigued with the concept of hoarding after watching a news program in Japan.
The segment featured a reporter interviewing a man who had thrown out his
garbage on his
Later in the segment, the reporter returned with a crew to clean up the trash, but they end up arguing with the man over the clean-up.
"I didn't understand a single word of it," said Chan
of the Japanese news show.
"But I found the argument between them so interesting because of the clashing dynamic … I knew people would want to watch this."
"Hoarders" features people who are far from typical slobs.
From people who own dozens of cats - both alive and dead - to dwellers living amid sky-high filth, Chan
also believes that there's a train-wreck appeal to watching people hoard.
"[Viewers] get why people [on our show] do what they do … everyone understands the empathy behind hoarding."
started working on the show's concept and researching places where people were occupied with hoarding.
investigation led him to a company in California that did crime scene clean up.
They also specialized in clearing out junk from hoarders' homes.
"We just took that concept and refined it by adding personal storylines," said Chan
"It was A&E's biggest premiere ever," said Chan
"Other networks started asking us to do a show like 'Hoarders' for them … but we couldn't do anything like that for anyone else since we were under contract with A&E."
One of the networks that approached SFP during this time was TLC, who originally rejected the show.
When SFP was unable to produce a show for them, TLC produced their own version, "Hoarders: Buried Alive."
"I was unhappy when it first surfaced on TV," said Chan
of the incident.
"It's true what they say about imitation, it's the best form of flattery."
also notes that despite the similarly in names, the two shows differ in format.
"The TLC version doesn't tell a story … there's no beginning, no end.
They only provide a narration of the hoarders' problems," said Chan
But culturally speaking, it's hard to find Asian Americans willing to come forward on ["Hoarders"] since there's a fear of losing face and bringing shame to the family," said Chan
quick to emphasize that he
doesn't want them on the show for ratings.
"They need to know that we'll treat their story respectfully … we want to help them find solutions for a problem that they may otherwise not know how to deal with."
In response to Asian Americans who may dislike seeing other Asian Americans on TV in a less-than-favorable light, Chan
insists that this move is necessary for them to become more mainstream in the media.
"Asian Americans complain that there's a lack of people like them in the media, but they react too quickly any time they're perceived or cast in a poor light," said Chan