June 27, 1999. A TV show called “Talk Business” debuted on a low power television station in west Little Rock.
Created and hosted by Roby Brock, this fledgling, startup news program aired once a week on Sunday nights on KKYK, the WB network. It was created to fill a niche in the market where business newsmakers were mostly quoted in print – the Internet and web sites weren’t affordable or prolific options in 1999. And, there wasn’t any regular TV or radio programming that interviewed or showcased business newsmakers in Arkansas.
Over the last two decades, the TV show moved to KLRT-Fox 16 and later to KATV-Ch. 7, its current flagship base. “Talk Business” morphed into “Talk Business & Politics” and now airs Sunday mornings on KATV in central and south Arkansas, KFSM in Northwest and western Arkansas, and KAIT’s NBC affiliate in Jonesboro and Northeast Arkansas.
The weekly TV program has expanded to include airings on NPR member stations across the state, including KUAR, KUAF, and KASU as well as ED88 in southwest Arkansas. With the advent of user-friendly web content management products, a web site was launched in the early 2000’s. TalkBusiness.net has been a staple of daily news for roughly 15 years, and a robust suite of local market e-mail newsletters has grown over time to include tens of thousands of subscribers. Of course, the proliferation of social media has expanded the distribution of news content across Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Ten years ago in 2009, Talk Business & Politics partnered with Hendrix College to develop a series of regular voter surveys that captured the sea change in Arkansas politics as Republicans overtook Democrats for statewide dominance. Though many were skeptical of the poll results at first, the election cycles of 2010, 2012, 2014 and beyond have established the benchmarks as a gold standard for trend-setting accuracy.
In October 2015, Fort Smith-based The City Wire and Talk Business & Politics merged into a new holding company, Natural State Media. A year later, Natural State Media acquired The Northwest Arkansas Business Journal and expanded into a broader print, digital and special events footprint. Both mergers have added depth to Talk Business & Politics coverage in rapidly-growing Northwest Arkansas. They also brought in several new investors and managers in the company including executive editor Michael Tilley, publisher Rob Gutterridge, and owners Bennie Westphal and Chester Koprovic.
Over the years, we’ve experimented with a number of other platforms, including our annual magazine, “State of the State,” bi-weekly and monthly newspapers, and a series of videocasts and podcasts to capitalize on new technologies and growing audiences.
To celebrate our 20th anniversary, Talk Business & Politics will roll out our “20 for 20” list of new products and programs we’ll be bringing readers, viewers and listeners starting in July. You can follow the updated “20 for 20” list this week at this link.