(FOX 2) - Considering the "giant" status Fox 2's Rob Wolchek has achieved in Detroit, it's hard to picture him wearing any other persona.
But make no doubt, before he verbalized the growling octaves when he's in "gotcha" mode, there was a timid boy, scared of confronting the same criminals that he now looms over.
"Sir, you know, I would like to - and I went up and the dude ate me alive," Wolchek said, mimicking the mousy squeak of a new-hire afraid of the man he was trying to catch in the act. "I mean, he beat me up, I mean he destroyed me. I asked him a bunch of questions, he had great answers to them."
Wolcheck made an appearance on M.L. Elrick's podcast Soul of Detroit, to discuss the legacy he's left on Detroit, and the journey he took before filling those shoes.
Before he was the feared pest of low-end criminals cheating people out of their money, he was a country music disc jockey in California - imagine that for a second. He was also doing feel-good stories for the local radio station. Then, he was assigned a new position:
"I was going to be a scam buster, well I had no interest in doing that whatsoever," said Wolchek.
He was going to take on Uel, a landlord who was billing people living in houses he owned for lighting bills his other businesses were racking up. And when he approached the man - well, you know the rest.
"It was terrible and embarrassing and humiliating and awful and I learned a great lesson," he said. "I watched it and learned 'okay, how am I going to do this better.' I realized I had to prepare. I had to know what was going to happen when 'if he says this, what am I going to say?'"
And the Rob Wolchek we all know and love was born. A matured investigator adept at catching criminals stumbling over the words, he said his first attempt taught him the value of research and knowing the character you're taking on.
"I go in with a plan, knowing if he says 'this' I'm going to ask him 'this.' If he says 'that' I'm going to ask him 'that,'" he said. "You have to think on your feet and I try to be nice to them because I'm trying to get them to talk to me."
Granted, the more research one does, the less likely the person they're interviewing will want to provide their side of the story.
From the physical threats of copper pipes to the pleas of "don't put me on channel 2," Wolchek's storied history is a fitting one. Considering the obscurity of some of his stories, it's one worth remembering.
"Boy, they don't teach you this in broadcast school."