BY ADAM CAILLER
TELEVISION presenter Jeff Rossen is not well-known outside America.
But the 40-year-old New Yorker is one of the most recognisable faces when it comes to news and investigative journalism.
His show Rossen Reports is one of the most popular segments on NBC Nightly News. It is so popular that he has now turned it into a book, published yesterday, Rossen to the Rescue: Secrets to Avoiding Scams, Everyday Dangers, and Major Catastrophes (Flat Iron Books).
The national investigative correspondent for NBC told me: “For the show we investigate wrongdoing, handle survival on safety issues — from surviving a plane crash to surviving an avalanche — to every day problems such as avoiding rip-offs and scams.
“It’s everything you need in your life on your television screens — and now on your coffee tables.”
He added: “Once you do a story on TV, you hope people absorb it, but with the book, we thought it would be a great reference guide.
“It’s for those who need to know what to do right now when certain situations arise. It’s not just a book of tips.
“It includes personal anecdotes and embarrassing stories where I have fallen victim to some of these things.
“It shows the reader that they are not alone in falling victim to some of these things.”
More than five million people tune in to watch Rossen Reports, also shown as part of the famed Today Show.
Having covered thousands of topics over the years, it wasn’t easy to pick ones for the book.
He explained: “A lot of the segments only work on television, but there are a lot that do lend themselves to a literary piece of work.
“We’ve bunched things into different topics, such as protecting your home.
“This one was personal to me as I experienced it when I was just 10.”
The book begins with Jeff’s home invasion story. He details how his father took on a would-be invader.
He wrote: “I heard my parent’s bedroom door swing open, and my father raced from his room and flicked on the lights.
“He suddenly transformed into an action-movie hero.
“‘We’re home and I have a bat!’ my father screamed, charging downstairs. My dad’s heroics worked.
“He scared the would-be robber away, as we crept downstairs into the kitchen.
“I saw something terrifying.
“The bang, bang, bang had come from the thief kicking the dead bolt on our back door.
“One more kick and he would have been inside, and then . . .who knows what.”
For Jeff, telling personal stories was not a difficult decision to make.
He said: “Being a consumer myself,when these experts come on the television, they can make you feel dumb — like I’m supposed to know all of that.
“I want people to know that I’m just like you; Jeff Rossen the dad, husband and schlub who is sitting at home trying not to get ripped off as well!
“We are all in this together, except I have done the leg work for you. Otherwise I’m just a preacher . . . and that is not me.”
Jeff’s on-screen career has spanned nearly 20 years.
He began his broadcasting career in radio and then made the transition to local television as reporter.
He won an Emmy Award for Deadline News Writing and also received an award from the US Justice Department for his special report on crime victims.
He joined NBC News as a New York-based correspondent in September, 2008, and contributes to all NBC News programmes and platforms including Today, NBC Nightly News, MSNBC, NBCNews.com and NBC News Radio, in addition to reporting for WNBC.
He recalled: “I did normal news stories for a few years, but started gravitating to what I do now during my free-time.
“Between my regular assignments I started to investigate things and it turned out that people really loved it.
“People would come up to me on the streets and ask me for advice.
“I realised that there was this untapped genre, which became a passion of mine.”
Jeff, who can fly a plane, is even stopped for advice while he’s out with his family.
“We had done this story a few weeks ago about being stranded on the side of the road to see if anyone would know how to get themselves back to safety,” he explained.
“We parked up at a gas station and asked people if they could change a flat tyre — only one person could.
“So this woman walked up to me while I was out with my kids and thanked me for it.
“She told me that she had just got a flat tyre and, thanks to my show, knew what to do. Something like that makes it all worthwhile.”
Jeff’s Judaism is at the core of everything he does, in the book and on television.
The Syracuse University graduate said: “Everything I think and do is based on Judaism.
“I went to Hebrew school on Long Island and was barmitzvah.
“My parents instilled the greatest Jewish values into me.
“I do see the world through the prism of growing up as a Jewish boy on Long Island.”