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The Pivot & Go! Podcast w/ David Nurse

Jul 26, 2020

David Sams - The Marketing Guru who Started Jeopardy, Oprah, & Wheel of Fortune


David Sams is one of the world's most respected marketing strategists, a nine-time Emmy® award-winning TV producer, and emerging technologies guru. He has been featured in the pages of TV GUIDE, USA TODAY, and ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY. He has appeared on 60 MINUTES, ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT, NBC'S TODAY, DATELINE NBC, and WORLD NEWS TONIGHT. Sams is the archetypal entrepreneur a preeminent idea man whose track record is synonymous with success.


In the 1980's, Sams helped to turn WHEEL OF FORTUNE and JEOPARDY into the two highest-rated shows in syndication history, while head of global marketing and creative affairs for a family owned syndication company called King World. Soon thereafter the company went public and became the darling of Wall Street and one of the most profitable companies in the nation. Years later, without a penny of debt on its books, King World sold for billions of dollars.


In 1986, Sams launched the OPRAH WINFREY SHOW into national syndication. His creative marketing efforts made Oprah a household name even before the talk show host hit the airwaves. She was #1 in nearly every TV market from her very first day on the air.


Sams is considered to be one of the greatest marketers in TV syndication history. He re-invented the way syndicated shows and personalities are marketed, making a lasting impression on viewers. To this day, WHEEL OF FORTUNE, JEOPARDY, and OPRAH remain the top-rated shows in all of syndication.


As a TV PRODUCER, WRITER AND DIRECTOR, Sams has won 9 Emmy® Awards. He has produced news magazines, music programs, reality shows, and documentaries for multiple networks and syndicators. He is a member of the Director's Guild of America.


As a DIRECT RESPONSE MARKETER, Sams is responsible for over $120,000,000 in sales. He has produced the INFOMERCIAL OF THE YEAR, ENTERTAINMENT INFOMERCIAL OF THE YEAR, and PROGRAM-LENGTH ADVERTISEMENT OF THE YEAR. In 2005, he won a TELLY AWARD as well as a US INTERNATIONAL FILM AND VIDEO FESTIVAL AWARD for his BEST OF HEE HAW infomercial for Time-Life. In just one year, over 1 million HEE HAW DVDs were sold. Interactive television that calls for audience participation (meaning "pull out your credit card now") is the key to much of Sams' success.


As a commercial producer and director, Sams has won multiple awards, including five ADDYs. He has also been honored by the U.S. Olympic Committee for his fund-raising efforts, and is featured in WHO'S WHO IN AMERICA, WHO'S WHO IN ENTERTAINMENT, and WHO'S WHO IN THE WORLD.


As an INTERNET ENTREPRENEUR, Sams has launched numerous successful online ventures. In late 1999, he created an Internet company that generated over $10,000,000 of revenue in less than 3 months--with only a half-dozen employees and virtually no marketing costs. He was instrumental in launching the .cc domain with Clear Channel Communications, as well as the .tv domain with the dotTV Corporation. Sams' portfolio of online properties continues to grow through both development of original content and acquisitions. He owns thousands of great domain names, which he refers to as his "beach front cyber real estate". Sams also owns dozens of Internet sites including,,,,,,,,,, HollywoodStars.US, and


Sams has been a major force in the growth of "family friendly" entertainment media. In 1995, he brought together eleven major music labels and some 65 recording artists to release a seven CD compilation titled KEEP THE FAITH. Marketed under his own label, TVFirst, at a retail price of $124.95, the collection has been certified PLATINUM by the RIAA, with over 1,000,000 albums sold. Most recently, Sams created music compilations for Time Life and Sony, featuring superstar artists Christina Aguilera, American Idol's Ruben Studdard, Gloria Estefan, Patti LaBelle, Wynonna, and Sarah McLachlan--just to name a few.


Sams has created and produced multiple news magazine programs. In 1991, he created and executive produced TRIAL WATCH, which ran for two seasons on the NBC television network. The daily program covered all of the hot legal battles of the rich and famous and led to the later development of networks such as COURT TV.


Sams also created and executive produced ETC NEWSMAGAZINE, which made national headlines because of its ongoing coverage of underage teenagers getting into violent R-rated movies. Sams' program covered the issue in-depth, including hidden camera footage of kids continuously gaining admission to movies without question from theater ticket sellers. The Clinton White House turned to Sams for his special coverage in an effort to challenge theater owners to change and police their ticket-selling policies to minors. Following a special screening of Sams' ETC Newsmagazine, which also aired in prime time on PAX TV, President Clinton announced pledges by thousands of members of the National Association Theater Owners that they would require photo identification from young people for R-rated movies. This policy is strictly enforced today.


Sams is also very instrumental in raising awareness and money for numerous non-profit organizations. He has been honored by the U.S. Olympic Committee for his fund-raising efforts, made significant contributions to organizations such as MDA, was President of Christian Network Holdings, and is one of the founding members of Operation DVD, an appeal to patriotic Americans to donate their new and used DVDs which are then shipped to our fighting men and women overseas. Safe entertainment is a concept that is difficult at best for our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan. Even baseball and softball games are no longer possible because of snipers, mines, bombs and other terrorist activities.


Sams has strong retail alliances. In 2004 he created and produced a program called DVDWEEKEND that aired on the Tribune stations, including SuperStation WGN. The program enticed people to run to their phones and computers (via to rent and buy their favorite DVDs. Thousands of people did just that, and within weeks Sams' wholly-owned DVDWEEKEND became's #3 online affiliate in the entire world.


Most recently, Sams launched a motion picture company, God and Country Pictures, with the intention of producing multiple movies for the big screen over the next 5 years. In addition, in 2008, he will launch CharityOne, a 24-hour, all-digital charity Television network.


Sams has consulted a vast array of broadcasters and Internet companies including: CBS, Clear Channel, Westinghouse, Motown, Warner Music, Paxson Communications, dotTV Corporation, Time-Life, Integrity Publishers, Sony, and many others. He has worked on behalf of many entertainers, from Michael Jackson to Garth Brooks. Today, he is consulting some of the world's top companies in the development of digital television brand channels.


Sams got into the media business by selling freelance photos of local high school sporting events to a local, Columbus, Ohio newspaper when he was just 13 years old. A year later, the editor of the paper asked him to write an entertainment column for teenage moviegoers. Sams jumped at the idea when he realized that he'd never have to pay for a movie or concert ticket again. The column was so popular that it was syndicated to other papers.


At age 15, Sams moved into radio, hosting a morning radio show for a small station in Columbus, Ohio. He then anchored a local community newscast. Soon thereafter, he moved into commercial TV, creating a magazine show that put him on the list of PEOPLE TO WATCH by COLUMBUS MONTHLY magazine. He went on to create numerous shows throughout Ohio, and became executive producer and head of marketing for WBNS-TV in Columbus, where he drove that station's EYEWITNESS NEWS to a 53 share at 6 p.m., making it the highest-rated local newscast in the entire nation.


Of course, there are those programs in Sams' career that he'll never quite live down. At about age 20, Sams created the very first TABLOID TV show in the world, FRONT PAGE SATURDAY NIGHT, which aired in Ohio. The program became so popular that it actually garnered as high as a 40 share in prime access. He also produced and was color commentator of a national TV show called ROLLERGAMES--where skaters had to maneuver around the Wall of Death, and keep from falling into the live Alligator Pit. After screening the program, one newspaper reviewer wrote that Sams was personally responsible for the decline of the western civilization!



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