University of Delaware
Office of Public Relations
The Messenger
Vol. 5, No. 3/1996
Birth of a Salesman

     On the set of the QVC cable television shopping network in
West Chester, Pa., Bob Bowersox, Delaware '91, promises quality,
value and convenience to millions of shop-at-home viewers, while
selling everything from screwdrivers to Kenny Rogers CDs.
     Bowersox takes calls from viewers, making them feel at home
in his living room set. From the eye of this marketing storm, his
voice assures the consumer that a great new product is only a
phone call away.
     "It's a very high-stress gig, but the key is
to make it look like it's easygoing," says Bowersox. Even after
years of experience in broadcasting and the entertainment
industry, there is a special challenge involved in his position
as QVC senior program host-a job he's held since 1986 when QVC
first went on the air.
     "How often do you get a chance to get in on the ground floor
of a new company?" he asks. "Not very often. How often do you get
to be in on the beginning of a whole new industry? It's been a
rocket ship since day one. We're breaking ground here."
     Before each live broadcast, Bowersox makes sure he has
carefully researched all of the products he will sell in a three-
hour show. His experience as host of his own radio program on
WSTW-FM in Wilmington, Del., and as anchor of a news show on WNS-
TV, New Castle County, Del., cable, allows him to make the most
out of his camera time. In an industry where thousands of dollars
are made or lost each minute, there is not a second to lose.
     "I'm talking to 52 million households at any one time," he
says, "but, in reality, I'm talking to you. I never talk in
plurals, I always talk in the singular. 'How would you like to
have this?' When I first started here, I pretended I was talking
to my mom or my sister. Every time you mention a feature of a
product, you have to paint a picture of how that feature benefits
someone. Everything you say should sell the product somehow.
     "I'm the perfect example of a multicareer person," Bowersox
says. During the late '60s, he dropped out of UD to pursue a
career in music, recording one album for Columbia Records and
touring the country. Then, his interest in the business side of
music led him to a degree in audio engineering/studio technology.
Subsequently, he returned to Delaware, where he apprenticed with
a top chef and opened his own restaurant, the Crepe Chalet.
     In 1975, Bowersox returned to the University to study for a
B.A. in journalism, a degree that took him 16 years to complete.
He also started Fine Times Magazine, a pop music magazine for the
Delaware/Philadelphia area, and wrote an entertainment column for
The News Journal newspaper in Wilmington.
     But, his love of cooking and performance brought Bowersox
his biggest success. He combines both interests for a winning
recipe on QVC, where his "In The Kitchen With Bob" cooking
program is the top-rated cable show in its time slot. The
companion cookbook also set an industry record, selling 156,000
copies on its first day. " I'm just a guy who likes to cook and
talks while he cooks," he says.
     With the opportunity and audience QVC provides him, Bowersox
says he believes he's found his niche. "I'm a performer, always
have been," he says. "But, there's a lot of planning that goes
into making something look natural. A lot of people say I'm an
overnight sensation on QVC. I've been doing this since I was 16
years old. I'd given up on being a professional performer in any
way, but since QVC, I've been in three movies and a bunch of
commercials. It's funny how things happen."
     Up next for Bowersox may be a return to serious writing. He
recently completed a novel and has been asked to write a book
about QVC. For now, though, he says he plans to continue selling
and cooking at the television shopping network.
     "It's a very odd gig," he says. "I don't think I've ever
worked harder anywhere in my life. It's very intense, but there's
something that's keeping me here. I think it's the electricity."
                                                   -Martin Duncan