In January, Kent Adams and Tom McArthur went on the air with a new business-focused radio show, broadcast live from locations around Spokane. Both hosts, who are also the executive producers, have media experience. They also both have large networks of business contacts in the community after long careers here. Nine months later, they have several more shows in production and another on the way. Their secret? Local news with a positive spin.
Business Talks debuted in January and is broadcast live from locations like Scratch restaurant, River Park Square and, most recently, the Greater Spokane Incorporated annual meeting. Guests have included Dr. Franciso Velazquez, CEO of Pathology Associates Medical Laboratories; Rich Cowan, partner and cofounder of North by Northwest; Michael Senske, CEO of Pearson Packaging Systems; Jim Frank, CEO of Greenstone Corp.; and Stacey Cowles, publisher of The Spokesman-Review.
Adams and McArthur approached Tom Read, whose American Christian Network is broadcast from Spokane to Moses Lake and from Wenatchee to Northeast Oregon. Read welcomed them to his programming lineup, they said, and urged them to broadcast on location at area businesses.
Now, they’re producing three more local shows and have a fourth in the works: Landscape architect Clyde Haase hosts House to Home, with home improvement tips; former news anchor Debra Wilde hosts both Wilde about Pets and, coming Oct. 5, Young at Heart, targeted at baby boomers; and Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich hosts Sheriff’s Report.
S-R: What are your backgrounds?
Kent Adams: Most recently, I was at KAYU Fox 28 as a salesperson doing special projects. I actually forget my title. I was at KHQ before that. Now I’m in the position, fortunately, to pick and choose some things that I think bring some real value to the community.
Tom McArthur: I moved to Spokane in 1984 as an anchor at KREM. I was Rep. (George) Nethercutt’s press secretary in Washington D.C. I was hired by the Davenport Hotel to be a consultant and helped them launch that in 2002. (He left the Davenport, wrote a book with Nethercutt and became a full-time marketing consultant in 2010, helping his clients with what he calls “strategic storytelling.”)
S-R: Tell me about Business Talks
Kent Adams: We really focus on the founder of a business or the CEO. We really focus on why does that person get up at 5 to go to their business? Some aren’t familiar names but all are bringing in revenue and jobs (to the community).
S-R: What has been your most surprising revelation from the business people you’ve interviewed?
Tom McArthur: The youngest we’ve had is 18, Jesse Sheldon (of Inland NW Baby). It’s just the enthusiasm he has about inventing his life. I hope that we’re contagious, that the attitude of someone like Jesse would be contagious.
Kent Adams: The thing that has surprised me the most was Lisa Shaffer with Paw Print Genetics (formerly co-founder of Signature Genomics). Her discussion about the fact that this is more than just genetics – this is creating jobs. I bet a third or more of our interviewees said that. (They) spelled out to me that these people are in it for more than the satisfaction of creating something they believe in. They talk about jobs, too.
S-R: What kind of audience do you get?
Tom McArthur: We’re in the top 10 AM radio stations in Spokane. Our audience listens (to ACN) about six hours a week.
Kent Adams: The thing is, the No. 1 AM station is 7 or 8 hours so we’re right there. It’s a very loyal, repetitive audience.
S-R: Do guests and advertisers respond to your positive news approach?
Kent Adams: We’re blasted too much by negative news. I think there is a hunger out there for good news. There are other venues to cover everything else that’s going on.
S-R: What else do you have coming up?
Tom McArthur: We’re talking with another local producer about autos – he’s got some content already produced.
Kent Adams: We are a health community, so we’re talking to a couple potential sponsors for a weekly half-hour health program. We’ve got a recognized host. There’s the potential that programs that aren’t dedicated to Spokane could be syndicated. Health, House to Home and Autos could be marketed to other stations.
S-R: What’s your business model?
Kent Adams: We buy the time from the station – we own the 28 minutes and 50 seconds.
Tom McArthur: The presenting sponsor covers the cost of the show, then Kent and I get to keep anything else in ad sales. (Adams sells the ads).
S-R: Are you making money?
Kent Adams: We’re profitable – just like everybody else, we won’t do this unless we’re making money.
Tom McArthur: It’s how you keep score in business. But the first thing we started with was friendship and that has to be the key in all of this. If we can be friends first, business partners second and be profitable, there’s no better thing.