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2014 Keynote Speaker


The 2014 National Conference on Geography Education Keynote Speaker is Brian Unger, Host of the History Channel series How the States Got Their Shapes.

About Brian Unger


Unger began his broadcasting career at WOUB in Athens, Ohio. He then turned his back on public radio and Ohio to fetch David Letterman's lunch. That's what interns considered dignified work at NBC.

It was all down hill from there: Unger was tapped to produce the series Obstetrics & Gynecology Update for Lifetime Medical Television. After 26 episodes, Unger left the show and struck out on his own to produce documentary profiles on U.S. war veterans dating back to World War I.

Things were really getting exciting.

Freelance life and a needed departure from c-sections and pre-term births was gratifying but impoverished. Looking for a new challenge, and to keep the heat turned on in his New York City apartment, Unger accepted a field producer job from TV pioneer Maury Povich. After two years, Unger begged Povich for an introduction to his wife Connie Chung who bought Unger a decent pair of shoes, and hired him as an associate producer on her CBS News magazine Eye to Eye

Unger eventually became a producer on the show, staying with CBS News for three years before leaving to be a producer and correspondent for CBS's magazine show Day & Date. The show was eventually canceled.

Unger was unemployed, again. And Murrow wept.

Dejected and disillusioned, Unger devoted the next three years of his life to making fun of TV news - as part of the original team that launched the award-winning The Daily Show on Comedy Central. As a correspondent and producer, he helped to pioneer the series' satirical news reports on politics, people, and news events. Exhausted, and tired of living in motels, a friendless Unger left The Daily Show and moved to Los Angeles to begin a new journey down a different exhausting, friendless path: substitute hosting for other people with TV shows.

He hosted NBC's Later, E! Entertainment's Talk Soup, and eventually his own show for the network, the anthology series Hollywood Offramp, and Fox's World's Craziest Videos. He co-created and starred in pilots for Fox and Comedy Central. He created shows for MTV and Oxygen, including an acclaimed comedy series, O2Be Anyone But Me.

Then, Unger, the actor, tried his hand at hosting the entertainment newsmagazine Extra until he was fired for not acting like he cared enough
about celebrity and for asking Keanu Reeves at the Matrix premiere if there would ever be a Point Break 2.

In an attempt at self-healing, Unger re-dedicated himself to news: guest hosting for Keith Olbermann on MSNBC’s Countdown and joining NPR as a commentator. The Unger Report ran for 6 years on NPR’s Day to Day. He guest hosted NPR’s Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me and now contributes to NPR’s All Things Considered and the award-winning SoCal Connected on KCET.

The acting journalist and journalist who acts recently hosted the series Some Assembly Required for Discovery and corresponded for the Jay Leno Show at NBC.

He is best known to intoxicated college kids as the put-upon attorney and series regular on F/X’s It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and can be currently seen hosting the History special How the States Got Their Shapes which the cable network has turned into a new series airing Tuesday nights at 10pm ET.

In the 1900’s, Entertainment Weekly named him one of the "100 Most Creative People in Entertainment" and TV Guide and the New York
Observer both lauded his work on The Daily Show. Numerous outlets including The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Huffington Post have published him.

Unger was born in Dayton, Ohio, and currently lives in Los Angeles.

How The States Got their Shapes