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by David Halbrook
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Alum Takes Lead on Bill Bennett’s Latest Book

Among the many surreal moments that Chris Beach can recall while working as a full-time producer for Bill Bennett’s Morning in America, one stands out. The former Secretary of Education had just finished an interview with FOX Business Network, and he and Beach stood outside of FOX’s New York City studios. A stretch limousine pulled up, a tinted window rolled down, and a voice inside belted, “Is that Bill Bennett?”

Courtesy of PHC
PHC graduate Chris Beach, chief producer of Morning in America, with his boss Bill Bennett.

Out stepped Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain. “The next thing I knew I was standing in New York City listening to Bill and Herman Cain laughing and talking about politics,” Beach recalls. “I’m thinking, What am I doing here?

That notion creeps into Beach’s thinking most days. Whether it’s hiking trails with the well-known conservative in Aspen, bunking in swanky hotels on a recent book tour, or simply bantering with his boss about news and politics on air at Morning’s D.C. studio, Beach feels as if he’s living a dream.

“I have to pinch myself on a daily basis,” he confides, “just waking up and going to work for Bill Bennett. He’s a man of great faith and one of the intellectual giants of the conservative movement. Working one-on-one with a man I consider the Benjamin Franklin of our times seems pretty surreal on a moment-to-moment basis.”

One “pinch me” moment came on a recent tour for Bennett’s new book, The Book of Man, exploring the notable lives of honorable men. Bennett’s high regard for his “right-hand man” had placed Beach in the enviable and demanding position of leading a research team comprised primarily of present and former PHC students who researched, organized, and wrote content for much of the 600-page manuscript.

“It was a huge job,” says Beach of the project that began more than a year and a half ago. “Hannah Rosin’s article, ‘The End of Men,’ had just been published, with statistics about how men are falling behind women in education and success. Bill saw a data trend suggesting problems with boys and men.”

Beach’s team included PHC grad Nathan Martin (a former associate producer for Bennett), alumni David Carver and Shane Ayers, and current PHC literature majors Olivia Linde and Brian Dutze.

“The book is very classically oriented,” says Beach, who conducted interviews and wrote profiles for many chapters. “We used lots of source materials from Plato, Aristotle, and Homer, which came naturally from our PHC education. I knew [the students], brought them in, and they did an amazing job.”

In his acknowledgments, Bennett wrote: “To my new team of researchers who provided invaluable contributions to this book: Olivia Linde, Brian Dutze, Shane Ayers and David Carver. The future looks better in your capable hands. And also to David Nathan Martin, whose creativity and skill inspired and created many of the fascinating profiles in this book. And special thanks to the leader of this team—Christopher Beach—chief engineer of this project, who put many of the pieces together.”

Beach began working full-time for Morning in America as a junior journalism student in 2008. He’d get up at 4:00 a.m., drive an hour and a half to Salem’s studios, and start the day as a call screener. Skills learned producing broadcast features for his PHC radio class equipped him to step directly into Bennett’s editing booth, and soon his humble manner and diverse skill set won Bennett’s trust. Today, a year and a half after being promoted as Bennett’s chief producer, the relationship has taken Beach to places he never imagined.

“He’s the most gracious boss I’ve ever worked for,” Beach says. “His style is to take people under his wing. I’m fortunate to be in the inner circle of the close team he relies on. I don’t take any of it for granted, not for a minute.”

David Halbrook is PHC’s director of communications. A version of this article originally appeared on the PHC website on November 21, 2011.