Chris Hansen investigative journalist – Ep. 164

Chris Hansen investigative journalist podcast interview catch a predator nbc dateline spreaker

I’m thrilled to have a special guest joining us – the incredible Chris Hansen.

Chris is a seasoned, multi-award-winning journalist with decades of experience traveling the world for captivating stories. He started his journey as a local reporter in Michigan and then climbed the ranks, eventually becoming a prominent figure in New York, where his presence was synonymous with significant global events.

Many of us remember Chris from his groundbreaking “Catch a Predator” series, which brought attention to the critical issue of online predators targeting youth. Today, he continues his mission to protect young individuals from harm by reporting on the predators using new digital platforms through his show, “Have a Seat.” Embracing the digital age, Chris launched his own YouTube channel, providing fresh life to his passion for sharing intriguing stories.

As a fellow business traveler, I find it fascinating to hear stories that mirror my own experiences. In this episode, Chris graciously shares how he managed the demanding life of a family man while being prepared to jet off on a moment’s notice for a breaking story. Balancing personal responsibilities with the unpredictable nature of a journalist’s life is no small feat, and I can’t wait to dive into his insights and tips.

So, buckle up for an engaging conversation as we delve into Chris Hansen’s remarkable journey as a journalist, how he adapts to the evolving media landscape, and the wisdom he gained from successfully balancing his family life with a passion for storytelling. Join us as we uncover the exciting adventures and valuable lessons from the world of a true globetrotting journalist. Let’s get started!

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About Chris Hansen

Early life and education

Hansen grew up in West Bloomfield Township and Birmingham, Michigan. He attended Brother Rice High School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. In 1981, Hansen graduated from the Michigan State University College of Communication Arts and Sciences with a bachelor’s degree in telecommunication.

Career with NBC (1981–2013)

In 1981, Hansen became a reporter for NBC affiliate WILX in Lansing, Michigan during his senior year at Michigan State University. He later reported for WFLA in Tampa, Florida, various newspapers and radio stations in Michigan and WXYZ in Detroit. In 1988, he was hired as an investigative reporter and anchor at WDIV in Detroit.  In May 1993, Hansen joined NBC News as a correspondent for the short-lived news magazine Now with Tom Brokaw and Katie Couric.

Dateline NBC

Hansen’s notable work for Dateline includes coverage of the Columbine High School massacre, the Oklahoma City bombing, the Unabomber and the TWA Flight 800 disaster, and investigative reports on Indian child slave labor and counterfeit prescription drug sales in China. Hansen was responsible for most of Dateline’s coverage of the September 11 attacks, as well as stories on terrorist groups and the operations of Al-Qaeda. He also exposed how a group linked to Osama Bin Laden had attempted to buy missiles and nuclear weapons components, and he also worked on an exclusive report on the Air France Flight 8969 hijacking. His series on deficient airport security resulted in the Federal Aviation Administration investigating and ultimately revising its policies.

To Catch a Predator

In conjunction with the website Perverted-Justice, Hansen hosted a series of Dateline NBC reports under the title To Catch a Predator. Volunteers from Perverted-Justice impersonated minor children (usually 13–15 year old) in chat rooms online and agreed to meet with adults for sex. The meeting places were “sting houses”, where camera crews from NBC, and in later episodes local police, awaited potential sexual predators.

Capitalizing on the success of Hansen and his Predator investigations, Dateline NBC created three Tuesday night spin-offs of its original concept; Hansen hosted To Catch a Con Man and To Catch an I.D. Thief. In March 2007, Hansen’s book, To Catch a Predator: Protecting Your Kids from Online Enemies Already in Your Home, was released in the American market.

Post-NBC projects

Killer Instinct

In 2015, Hansen hosted Killer Instinct, a show on Investigation Discovery chronicling homicide cases. The show’s initial 10-episode season premiered on August 17, 2015.

Crime Watch Daily

On August 22, 2016, Hansen was introduced as the new host of the syndicated news program Crime Watch Daily beginning with its second-season premiere on September 12. Hansen anchors the program from New York City, but it will maintain its Los Angeles-based newsroom. The second season also saw the premiere of Hansen vs. Predator, a revival of his previous To Catch a Predator series. Hansen’s entry brought further ratings gains to the program, with household ratings increasing by 20% to 1.0, and a 23% gain among women 18–34. On January 4, 2017, Crime Watch Daily was renewed for a third season. The show ended its run in June 2018. Chris Hansen debut the first episode of Hansen vs. Predator on September 12, 2016, on Crime Watch Daily.

Have a Seat with Chris Hansen

On October 9, 2019, Hansen started a YouTube channel under the name Have a Seat with Chris Hansen, featuring weekly podcasts tackling different topics and interviews with special guests. In 2019, this channel investigated claims of pedophilia and grooming against YouTube creator James Jackson, commonly known as Onision. In January 2020, Hansen visited Jackson’s home in an attempt to interview him. Jackson called the police on Hansen, though the police did not take action against him. Jackson also filed a lawsuit against Hansen, which took place on January 24, 2020. Jackson later requested to dismiss the charges, claiming that he was advised to consider an “alternative, more effective legal action”. This dismissal request was granted.

Unseamly: The Investigation of Peter Nygard

Chris Hansen was named as an executive producer for Unseamly: The Investigation of Peter Nygard, an upcoming Discovery+ show which will examine Peter Nygard’s life from his birth to his downfall and arrest.


Hansen has received eight Emmy Awards, four Edward R. Murrow Awards, three Clarion awards, the Overseas Press Club award, an IRE, the National Press Club award, International Consortium of Investigative Journalists Award; as well as awards for excellence from the Associated Press and United Press International.


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About The Travel Wins

The Travel Wins podcast is hosted by Pete Kotzbach, a 30+ year veteran of sales and sales management, talking to people that also travel for their work. A business traveler speaking with other business travelers sharing ideas, hacks and tips for surviving life on the road and in the air.