Cozy Up To Reality illustrationThis Winter, Cozy Up To Reality

TV, that is.

We all hope the polar vortex spares northern Michigan in 2020. but here at the 45th parallel, a few blizzards are just about guaranteed. so fire up your streaming services and hunker down with shows featuring these NMC alumni, students and faculty. (All four featured shows are available on Amazon Prime Video; all except ‘The Arrangement’ are also on Hulu.)

Jason CrumJason Crum


Show: Forged In Fire, the History Channel, summer 2019

Where he is now: Working at WKLT radio and taking classes online to fit his schedule as a dad.

Why he did it: Crum, 49, started watching YouTube videos on blacksmithing and built his first forge out of a brake rotor. He refined his DIY skills over six years and replied to a show casting call. After a two-month selection process, he was on his way to Connecticut for the filming in June 2018.

What he learned: Crum’s why-not entry into blacksmithing is reflected in his attitude toward returning to school. He’s taking classes online but also volunteers at radio station WNMC and is interested in other student groups like the International Club. “One of my goals was the college experience,” he said. “As I was coming up on 50, I was feeling very regretful that I never pursued college. This one’s for me.”

Find it: (Type “Forged in Fire” into search field. Select Season 6, Episode 28, “Blackbeard’s Cutlass.” Multiple streaming options.

Mark HolleyMark Holley


Show: The Curse of Civil War Gold, the History Channel, spring 2019

Why he did it: Essentially, because he was asked. Filmed in Lake Michigan in summer 2018, the episode is part of a series in which treasure hunters search for a cache of gold rumored to have been smuggled out of the South during the Civil War. While—spoiler alert!—Holley and co. didn’t find gold, he said the film crew did make a cool nautical archaeology find: a turn of the century scow in the waters off of Frankfort.

“It’d make a great project for one of our students,” said Holley, who teaches online and holds an  annual nautical archaeology field school in West Grand Traverse Bay. He’s previously appeared on the National Geographic Channel, Science Channel and Japanese TV.

Fun fact: Holley purchased the side-scan sonar equipment used in the episode with money from the NMC Barbecue.

Find it: (Type “Curse of Civil War Gold” into search field. Navigate to Season 2, Episode 1, “The Return.”) Multiple streaming options.

Aaron SmockAaron Smock


Show: Hell’s Kitchen Season 16, 2016-17

Where he now: Sous chef, Mission Table on Old Mission Peninsula

Why he did it: “It was a really good experience to do it when I was 22, and be able to learn from Gordon Ramsay. I would do it all over again.” Now 28, Smock said he’s glad he didn’t win the prize—head chef at a Las Vegas restaurant. He likes Mission Table’s mission—serving locally sourced, sustainable food. Previously only open in summers, Mission Table is now open for dinner Fridays and Saturdays through the winter. “We can be very creative and change the menu every week,” Smock said.

What he learned: The high intensity of the show prepped him for the intensity of the culinary industry.

Find it: Search for Hell’s Kitchen season 16. Smock is in the first five episodes. Multiple streaming options.

Derek WoodruffDerek Woodruff


Show: The Arrangement, 2010

Where he is now: Owner of the Floral Underground, Traverse City

Why he did it: “I’ve always wanted to be famous,” said Woodruff, now 35. It seems to have worked. The second run- ner-up in the show, Woodruff is now a sought-after speaker and teacher, booking up to 30 engagements a year. He was also contacted by another reality show as a potential host.

What he learned: The importance of credentials, like his accreditation from the American Institute of Floral Design. Time management, “which is also an asset as a business owner.” The importance of pleasing the judges.

Fun fact: This fall, Woodruff was flown to Colorado to serve as florist at a wedding with a $20,000 floral budget.

Find it: Search for The  Arrangement. Woodruff is in eight episodes of season 1. Stream on Amazon Prime.

Mailing List Change Requests

To be added to or removed from NMC mailing lists for print publications like Nexus, or to update your mailing address, please send an email with your name, address and request to, or call (877) 922-1021 or (231) 995-1021.