Irwinton native and GMC Prep alum Matthew Langston (Class of 2013) has a job that will blow you away, and you can see for yourself on the National Geographic channel Sunday night.
The 26-year-old now Rochester, Minn. resident works as a wind turbine technician and was featured on the NatGeo reality show “Breaking Bobby Bones.” Bobby Bones is a nationally-syndicated radio DJ and has also been a regular mentor to “American Idol” contestants in addition to winning “Dancing with the Stars” in 2018. Now, he has his own TV series on NatGeo that follows him as he takes on some of the more interesting jobs of everyday Americans, similar to the Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs” starring Mike Rowe. Bones also takes a few minutes out of each episode to interview each subject more on a personal level. “Breaking Bobby Bones” is in its first season of airing, and the upcoming episode featuring Langston — slated for 10 p.m. Sunday — will serve as the inaugural season’s finale.
During his time at GMC Prep, Langston was a member of the golf, soccer and cross country teams and played in the Bulldog Brigade Marching Band. After graduating eight years ago, he bounced around a few different states before landing at Iowa Lakes Community College where he began down the path that led him to his current career. Langston was in an unfamiliar state riding his bike a couple of miles to and from campus each day, but all that has paid off as he now finds himself in a burgeoning industry.
“A wind turbine technician, which is what I am, is one of the fastest-growing jobs if not the fastest-growing job in the nation,” Langston said in a Monday phone interview. “When I was looking at careers I knew I wanted to get into something that was growing and going to be around for a long time. Wind energy just seemed like the best option. It’s worked out pretty well for me so far.”
Wind farms are much more prevalent in the plains states than they are here in the southeast. Turbines spread across open fields in Texas, Iowa, Oklahoma and other states harness the wind and turn it into energy that powers consumers’ homes and businesses.
Workers are of course needed to repair and maintain the gargantuan power producers. Langston graduated from Iowa Lakes, which is regarded for its wind energy program, two years ago and went out into the field as a technician. He obviously made a good impression on the school’s instructors and administrators, because when “Breaking Bobby Bones” show producers called the college back in December looking for someone to partner with the star in an episode about wind turbine techs, Langston was the college’s recommendation. Filming took place over a couple of days in February.
“We met at my former school in Iowa, and I basically taught him how to perform the normal tasks I do in a day,” Langston said. “We did a little preventative maintenance, so I was really just showing him the ropes.”
But the show wouldn’t be all that interesting if the two men remained on ground level just showing how the tools of the trade are used. The reality program famously places the star Bones in some precarious situations he’s unaccustomed to. In previous episodes, he’s climbed and cut down tall trees, trapped unwanted animals, hung out over the Grand Canyon and even trained with a Hollywood stuntwoman.
So to the top of an over 200-foot tall wind turbine, they will go. The propellers sit atop a giant metal tube, inside of which is a ladder that allows technicians like Langston access to make repairs where they are needed. He’ll take Bones with him as they attempt to do some maintenance on a turbine. The show’s star in previous episodes dealing with tall tasks has been quick to say that he and heights do not get along.
“I think he was a little bit out of his comfort zone, which is the point,” Langston said of Bones. “I think most people would be in a situation like that. … There are real dangers when you’re up there, so he was focused on what we were doing. He did not want to be up there any longer than he had to be.”
Height wasn’t the only foe they faced. The wind turbine technician said temperatures while filming outdoors never got above 0 degrees Fahrenheit and actually stayed around -15. It was northern Iowa in the winter, after all.
Langston saw his first on-camera experience as a positive one and hopes that comes across in the Sunday night airing.
“It was fun,” he said. “I’d never seen how a production like that is done. I’m interested to see what the show turns out to be on the other side of the lens. I hope it makes for good TV.”
For those unable to watch or record “Breaking Bobby Bones” Sunday at 10 p.m., National Geographic does stream episodes after they air on its website www.nationalgeographic.com.