Vancouver Airport hosting Anderson Cooper wannabe for 80 days

Wednesday was move-in day for Jaeger Mah at Vancouver International Airport.

The 29-year-old Vancouver, B.C. resident won the Live@YVR contest to be an in-residence citizen reporter at the airport and, armed with a video camera and his skateboard, he’ll spend the next 80 days – and nights – right there on Sea Island, the airport’s home.

Mah will get to sleep, swim and, we hope, do his laundry at the on-site Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel and will have $50 a day for snacks and meals. He’ll also be paid about $15,000 when he moves out. In return, he’ll prepare regular video reports about what goes on at the airport, including behind the scenes, and share his observations on Facebook and Twitter.

I interviewed Mah before he moved in for msnbc.com’s Overhead Bin:

Q. What did your friends say when they found out you’d be doing this?

A. At first they were worried I’d be lonely at the airport, but I don’t think that will be an issue at all. There will be thousands of people around 24/7. They also thought I’d be bored, but I don’t think I’ll have time. I’ll have to shoot, edit and produce the videos and it will be quite a bit of work to get the right shots and do the stories.

Q. What will you bring with you?

A. A picture of my girlfriend. Some Hawaiian shirts and a nice suit. Binoculars. My skateboard. And some wigs.

Q. Wigs?

A. Yes, some of my interviews are going to be heartfelt, but we’re going to have fun. I’m going to give away prizes for games such as ‘Guess what’s in the suitcase’ and ‘How fast can you put on the clothes in this suitcase.’ I may also give prizes for the best travel tips.

Q. What types of stories are you planning to do?

A. I had a pocket-knife that had sentimental value taken away from me at an airport, so I want to do a story about what happens to things that get confiscated. I also want to go behind the scenes and see how airplanes get fueled and how the windshields get cleaned.
And I want to see where the airplane food is made – and do some taste tests.

Q. What about meals?

A. That’s going to be a big thing. I only get $50 a day for meals and we all know airport food can be expensive. I like to have a good dinner, so maybe I’ll go to Tim Horton’s for breakfast, snack on a few things during the day and save $25 each day for dinner. It will also help that my girlfriend, who has her own cooking blog, is going to bring some dinners.

Q. Will you get to leave the airport?

A. I can leave the terminal, but must stay on Sea Island, which has a beach I haven’t been to yet, an elementary school, and a fire hall staffed by an emergency response team. There’s also a pub in the South Terminal that has live music on Saturday nights and, supposedly, the best nachos. I’m definitely going there.

I’m also going to visit the plane spotters who hang out near the airport. I hear it’s a pretty tight knit group and I will try to win their hearts over. I’ve been told in order to do that I’ll need aviator sunglasses, a Dodge minivan, binoculars and a mustache.

Q. In your contest entry video you said you’d be “the Anderson Cooper of YVR.” What does that mean?

A. Anderson Cooper brings a lot of personality to his interviews, has a charismatic approach and a certain level of ethics to his reporting style. That’s what I’m all about. Also, if there’s a big event in the world, he’s the one covering it. And during the 80 days I’m at YVR, if there’s a big event at the airport, I will be there to cover it. If it means getting up at 3 a.m. in the morning or staying up for two nights, I’ll do it. I want the story.

Good luck, Jaeger!