Small Town Big Deal – The Book

Wow, what an opportunity.

My wife, Rhonda, and I recently made a trip to Ocilla, Georgia, to meet with Rodney Miller, the president and Co-host of the TV Show, Small Town Big Deal.

We finalized our plans to begin a wonderful writing project, telling the story behind the show.

We really enjoyed the trip, as we used to live in Georgia. The first place we lived while there, and where our oldest daughter was born, is just about an hour and-a-half north of Ocilla, and the second place we lived, where the other three children were born, is just about an hour and-a-half north of there. So, we truly got to combine business with pleasure.

It was great to see old friends and to get a start on this project. It will be a collaborative work. I will serve as the coordinating author. The co-hosts, Rodney Miller, and Jann Carl will serve as collaborative authors.

America’s TV Program

The first program aired in 2012 on RFD Network. It still airs there, but it also appears in many major markets as a syndicated program. It is one of the fovorite things for us to record on our DVR through our satellite provider.

Since many of America’s small towns or rural communities are often overlooked by the main-stream media outlets, Small Town Big Deal focuses on the small communities that sometimes house some of America’s best-kept secrets. Many outlets focus on the huge metropolitan areas like New York and Los Angeles, and that is OK, but we have here the stories from many areas that are sometimes referred to as “the forgotten America.”

As such, this truly has been dubbed, “America’s TV Program.”

Rodney started working on the program in 2010 by shooting a pilot with a proposed co-host. After a while, the arrangement did not work out, and he had to shoot another one by himself.

He started the first season as just the single host, but something unusual happened on the day they aired their first episode of that season in Septemeber of 2012. They received an email from a former Entertainment Tonight weekend anchor expressing interest in the show.

That is where Jann Carl came in. Roger, Rodney’s friend from church who later became the executive producer, read the email first. He thought it might be a prank, but then he showed it to Rodney.

Jann loved the idea of the show. She said that she “always wanted to be Charles Kuralt.” You may remember some of his segments entitle “On the Road with Charles Kuralt.” She also said, “I promise you I am not a stalker.”

Rodney contacted her and, after several conversations, she became the co-host and part owner of the program.

Rodney says this brought instant credibility and helped a great deal with the attempt to gain sponsors for the show.

Rhonda and I were able to meet with Jann when she visited her family in the St. Louis area in early December. We were able to talk for a couple of hours.

Rhonda and JannRhonda’s complement was: “Jann is just as sweet as she appears to be on TV.

Though we don’t have a picture, we were able to meet her mother too.

Many of you will remember Jann’s 14 years with Entertainment Tonight where she became the weekend anchor for the show.

Not to be outdone, I really want to get my picture in here too.

The book shares about both Rodney’s and Jann’s pre-Small Town Big Deal life.


Jann Carl and Randy CarneyI consider it a great privilege to work with both Jann and Rodney, and I look forward to meeting some of the members of the production team.

From Despair to Success

While the show enjoys a good deal of success today, getting there was not always easy. After all, if it were easy, everybody would be doing it.

Rodney shares his setbacks and times of despair. He especially recalls a time, after show had been in production for a few years. The show seemingly was about to go under. Either they were going to have to raise more money or get the show in the black on their own. They had to make some hard decisions, and to inform all those involved in production of those decisions. Fortunately many stuck with the project, and they weathered through the storm. Then the program became profitable on its own.

The Dreams

Rodney’s company asked him to do a TV commercial when he was CEO. He was reluctant to do that. In fact, he tells of how he was really shy as a young boy and how one of the happiest days of his life came when his high-school guidance counselor told him that speech was no longer required for him to graduate. Yet, he agreed to do the commercial. He said he fell in love with the camera.

Then a few years later, he had the idea for a TV show. Not knowing anything about TV, he really didn’t think anything would come of. Then one day at church he found out that his friend, Roger, had great experience and knew very much about TV production.

They started talking and finally decided they could try such a venture. Rodney wanted programming that was family friendly and that could highlight the great strengths of small-town and rural life.

The Incredible Journey, Beating Overwhelming Odds

As mentioned earlier, there were many ups and downs, and there were many times they could have quit and thrown in the towel. There were many discouragements. The great thing about the team came in the timing of the discouragements. They were never all down at the same time. They and members of their families encouraged each other.

Jann’s friend told her they “had created a unicorn.” Small Town Big Deal is a one of a kind almost mythical and legendary creature like a unicorn.

Most TV programs are owned by big production companies with a lot of financial backing before the projects get started. Jann, Rodney, and their investors own the program.

One sponsor turned them down for a sponsorship, but they would not let them leave either because they were intrigued by their business model

There came some turning points where they could have gone under, but they remember the red-letter day when they could cover all costs with their present capital and sponsorships.


Many people dream, but, more often than not, many never see their dreams become reality. Small Town Big Deal is the story of the dreams of a farm-boy turned CEO, and a girl from Carthage Missouri turned movie star who says she always wanted to be “Charles Kuralt.” As you follow their incredible journey to beat overwhelming odds to produce a successful TV show, you will be inspired to go for your dreams. You’ll learn to have a dream, to be open to opportunities when they present themselves, to be creative and to regroup when necessary. Most of all, though, you will see the value of hard work and perseverance. Enjoy this great story, and then create one of your own!





12 Replies to “Small Town Big Deal – The Book”

  1. What a fantastic opportunity to be involved in a project like Small Town, Big Deal!  We live in a very small town in northwest Illinois, so I love the idea of seeing someone showcase the wonderful things that you wouldn’t expect to find in a small community.  I’ll be looking for the show now and anxious to watch it–thank you!

    1. Janelle,

      Yes, we think it is a fantastic opportunity. You can go to https://www.smalltownbigdeal.c… and go to the “Contact Us” tab to give them ideas for future programs. Maybe you could have a show about something that stands out for your community.

      Incidentally, I am from southern Illinois myself. 

      They have done some programs in your general area. Jann went to high school in Moline, IL.

      You also can find how to watch in your area too. If you have cable or satellite, you may have the RFD channel. They have a weekly program there.

      Good to hear from you,


  2. That’s an inspiring story of the hosts and their TV show.  What a warm couple and real America on view.  It’s great you know them and get a chance to put their story in writing.

    I hope I didn’t miss it in your post. When will the book be published and where can I find it?

    Best regards,


    1. Thank you, Joe,

      It is an exciting project. The book will be available in Amazon and bookstores. The target publishing date is June 2, 2019 (or before).


  3. Great real life testament. It is true and sad to see many great people are buried at the cemetery with their dreams and visions to achieve greatness in their lives. The thing that distract them from achieving them is discouragement and may be other factors. Story like what you are sharing will encourage and give them confidence to be focused on the path of their life journey toward achieving greatness in future. I like the moral of your article. 


  4. What a wonderful project!  Our small towns are wonderful places and the hearts of America.  Your project and adventures are fascinating!  Good luck!

    Charles Kuralt’s work was some of my favorite moments of television.  His “On the Road” showcased small town America as part of the finest parts of our country.

    1. Thank you for the wishes of good luck.

      Yes, Charles Kuralt’s work was some of Jann’s favorite moments on television too. She has a journalism degree from the University of Missouri.

      Wishing you the best in your projects,


  5. Hi, I must first congratulate you on your success on: ‘Small Town Big Deal’ The areas in which you have lived near the TV small Town allows you some knowledge that you could incooperate in the production of the TV Show. However, the access to the opportunity came because you were at Church the apportune time.

    All of this put together helps you to realise your Dream when the Small Town turns out the Big Deal in the realiety of a successful TV show. 

    Keep on, on the successful trail.


    1. Thank you, Dorcas,

      Rodney was the one at the church at the opportune time. I think this shows that we should be open to opportunities and possibilities when they present themselves.

      Rodney had sent my wife and me an encouraging note, and I turned to her and said, I wonder if anyone has ever written a book about their program. Then I contacted him by email and just asked. It turned out that no one has, and they were very interested in the idea.

      We need to keep our eyes open to opportunities that may present themselves.

      Best wishes,


  6. Wow Randy, how exciting it must have been to meet with the president of a TV show.  I imagine that producers of TV programmes are very important people and that it’s not simple or easy to make contact with them, and more so with a president.  So well done to you and your wife.

    Now, I have to admit that I am not a resident of the United States of America, and consequently am not familiar with the TV show but I was interested to read your post and learn some of the history behind the TV show, Small Town, Big Deal.

    It is natural and quite normal that the average viewer of a TV show, myself for instance, has no idea of the trials and tribulations that could occur behind the creation of a show, be it TV, Theatre, or other events.

    As you say in the conclusion of your post – many people never see their dreams come to reality.  In the case of Rodney , his dream became reality.

    This story is a great example of how anyone can turn their life around with believing that they can succeed.  It may be difficult to change our life all on our own, but in Rodney’s case he found that his friend Roger, would support him.

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading your entire post, Randy. I hope that everyone who is longing for their dreams to come true, discovers your post and takes advantage of reading this true and inspiring story.

    1. Thank you, Valerie Joy. While we may not know the ins and outs of TV, many business owners understand the ups and downs and times of discouragement.

      We are hoping the book will inspire others to go for their dreams.


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