At age fifteen, Jake Sasseville was running a local cable access show in his hometown of Lewiston, Maine. What started as a small-time operation—talking with local celebrities after school—quickly turned into an impressive success. At seventeen, after interviewing the cast of Will and Grace, he pursued and landed airtime for his show on Fox affiliates throughout the Northeast. Everything built from there, and at twenty-one, Sasseville’s talk-show-meets-reality-show, The Edge with Jake Sasseville, is on after Jimmy Kimmell Live on 45 major ABC affiliates.
When The Edge began airing on ABC affiliates, the ratings were good—they tripled in three weeks. But, like many new shows, Jake ran into monetary and managerial problems. Now he’s back with a brand new management team, including Producer Robert Morton (Letterman’s producer during the 1980’s).
His new team of managers landed Jake interviews with various executives at different networks. Jake says, “This was what any eighteen or nineteen year old who wants to be on TV would dream of, walking into these networks and talking to some people about doing a show or maybe doing a guest spot on some other shows, but to be honest I wasn’t really feeling it. I didn’t want to just be someone else’s talking head. I really was planning on creating a multimedia empire. And so what I realized was … if I’m going to do this I’m really just going to have to adopt my ‘Screw it, Lets do it’ attitude, and do it myself, which is what I did. So I realized that in the better part of 70% of ABC affiliates markets, there’s nothing on after Jimmy Kimmel Live. So I said, ‘Why can’t I be on after Kimmel?’”
And that is exactly what he did. He implemented a “pay to play” model. “I knew I’d have to get sponsors on board, and I knew some of the sponsors that I wanted involved. Basically I was just paying my way on air. And it was going to have to be a constant rebranding of The Edge with Jake Sasseville,” says Jake.
“In terms of ad deals and sponsorships we work with: Fuze, AirTran Airways, Overstock.com, Denny’s, Ford—each of these company’s has a bunch of different opportunities, they don’t need this show, but what they do need is a personality, and that’s what we’re giving them, we’re giving them the Jake personality. I know that sounds kind of awkward, but if people looked at this show on a strictly numbers basis, they’re not gonna buy the show, because we’re not reaching the number of people that they require. We are, however, reaching a very targeted demographic, and they’re involved with a brand that’s cool and fun. And that’s what gets people motivated.”
“For those five sponsors it took hundreds of calls, we had to talk to hundreds of people, and there were hundreds of ‘no’s’ from other people. We try to find sponsors that are some way aligned with our brand. We found a specific niche for each advertiser; we’re not just targeting anyone for their money. I’ve said no to people before because I just don’t want their money.”
Jake has managed to do what many people only dream about. He has started building his own media empire piece-by-piece. With his terrific energy and never-quit attitude, he’s sure to become a household name.
The Edge with Jake Sasseville is on ABC affiliates after Jimmy Kimmell Live. Check local listings for times and channels. .
Zach Kaufmann is a freelance writer and music critic at Splice Today, an alternative online publication.