If you listened to radio and heard concrete news from a Black perspective, then you are of the Black Information Network. Digital and Radio Facts sat down with the President of BIN, Tony Coles. As the first and only 24×7 comprehensive national audio news service dedicated to providing an objective, accurate and trusted source of continual news coverage with a Black voice and perspective, BIN has become a mainstay for iHeartMedia and other companies.
Coles, who also serves as Division President of the iHeartMedia Markets Group talked about everything from the importance of news, BIN being a voice for Black people, how to find talent in the market, doing business during a global pandemic, expanding news throughout various markets, the expense of news, and so much more.
Kevin Ross: So I’ve been listening to the Black Information Network, and it kind of reminds me, I don’t know if you remember. I know you’ve been in the industry for a couple of decades, but of the Sheridan broadcasting network. Do you remember that?
Tony Coles: Yeah, absolutely.
Kevin Ross: Okay, and I was always impressed. I mean, even as a teenager in school, how professional it was and, just, you know, how it was, it definitely catered to the black community. That’s something that we’ve been missing for quite some time. And of course the timing is perfect, but am I to understand that this was planned before this year, before everything happened?
Tony Coles: Oh yeah. I mean, you know, and by the way, thank you for the compliment and thank you for listening. You know, but something, hopefully you can tell that something this well put together, you can’t pull off in just a couple of days. We actually started working on this last year. It’s been a conversation for a while now.
And just for various reasons, it was something that we just weren’t able to start putting together because it’s such a significant undertaking and of all the formats that are out there, news is certainly one of the most expensive. But last year, as a team, we just felt like it was something that needed to happen and we had finally put together the right collection of assets and resources to be able to do it.
So we started doing the research and our homework and planning for it, and then at the beginning of the year, we had our budget set, we had kind of an outline of what we wanted to do, and I was actually in New York. Gosh, I can’t even remember how many times between January and March, just finalizing everything, because we wanted to launch for Memorial Day weekend.
And so I remember my last meeting when we were starting to do the interviews for staff, I was in New York March 9th through the 13th. And I just remember sitting in LaGuardia that 13th of March, looking around and realizing that there was no one in that airport and I’m like, “this is not going to be good”. And then obviously, you know, when everything started shutting down due to COVID, we temporarily hit pause. But we were thinking, you know, this will be a couple of months and we’ll go on.
And what was interesting was, in those first few weeks, just anecdotally, we started seeing the data and hearing about the disproportionate impact that COVID was having on the black community. And that, you know, really kind of reaffirmed for our team the need to do this and the importance of doing this. And so, Bob Pittman, who’s our CEO at the time, he said, let’s keep working on it with everything except for hiring additional people, because we just don’t know the economic impact that COVID is going to have.
And so we continued designing logos and building out clocks and all of the things that you would do for a typical launch. And then, you know, on what should have been the weekend that we were launching, was when George Floyd was killed. And so in that moment, as a team, we were like, we should have been on the air by now.
And if it hadn’t been for COVID, we would have been on the air telling the story, but Bob went to our board of directors and he said, look, you know, we understand the dynamics of launching something new during a pandemic, but you know, we believed in this a year ago, we knew that this was the right thing to do six months ago. And, you know, more than ever, we believe in this moment, we need to launch the network and we need to launch now.
So thankfully, because we had done so much work in advance, at that point it was literally, two things, making the hires, you know, making the offers to the people that we’ve been interviewing, but the bigger hurdle and the thing that took us the most amount of time, was figuring out how to get everyone to do it remotely because our original plan was to build out a facility in Atlanta and we had actually started doing that pre pandemic.
But we couldn’t do that, so we had to figure out, how do you launch a network with a team of people who aren’t moving to Atlanta, but are working from home and that’s what took us more time than anything. But our engineers were fantastic, we shipped equipment to people’s homes, we tested it out and that’s the only way that we were able to launch as quickly as we did, because we had put so much work in.
Kevin Ross: Okay. And then what, you know, there was a time when black stations, or, you know, when there were the mom and pops, complained about a lack of support whenever they leaned black; whether that be news or political statements or the hip hop at one time, it was just, there was like anything that was appealing to blacks, was an issue with advertisers at one time. Now, iHeart is a different kind of accompany, but I’m just curious, how have advertisers responded to this?
Tony Coles: Well, I think what makes it different for us, is the fact that from day one, we had always determined that we were going to have a different ad model. So, we don’t rely on the traditional advertising that comes with ratings and you know, spots and dots approach. We, from day one said that we would never have more than 10 national advertisers as founding partners and so the clients who are on the air with us have committed to the mission of what the network is about.
And we specifically and intentionally approached advertisers and had discussions with people who have a long standing commitment in the black community who understand what we’re about and are proud to be a part of the community. So, for the first time in my career, I’ve had discussions with clients, where, you know, they weren’t the right fit for the network, but at the same time, it’s been incredibly rewarding to have conversations with partners who are buying this network, because they believe in the importance of quality journalism.
They believe in making an investment to the black community and they have a track record of it. And so, it takes us into a completely different discussion than if we were just relying solely on who was buying the network. I was going to say, and one of the other things that we couldn’t have anticipated when we were starting the design of this, was the number of businesses and organizations that would take a sudden interest in the black community after the death of George Floyd.
And so, that has also been interesting, in that there are certain advertisers that we haven’t had discussions with, and we won’t have discussions with because it’s not in…. their mission is not in alignment with our mission, shall we say.
Kevin Ross: Okay. And then how exactly do you plan…? I mean, I don’t know if you can reveal this, but in the future, I know that you’re a network. How do you incorporate the news into the iHeart stations? Do you do segments during the day, or I know that you have the network by itself, but how are you going to spread this out?
Tony Coles: Yeah, so literally from day one, BIN is the news source for all of our hip hop, R and B and gospel stations. So, we provide…. And that’s not just iHeart. Through premiere, in September we launched BIN News, which is a separate product, it falls under our umbrella, but that’s available to other broadcasters as well. So a perfect example is election night. In addition to our 91 stations, we also provided hourly updates on election night for any other station that wanted to pick up BIN news for the election as well. So, it’s a great relationship and it’s also a two way relationship.
So for example, you know, I look at whether it’s an Angela Watson in New Orleans, or I look at our staff at JLB in Detroit, when anything is happening in the black community, our stations in those markets are often where civic leaders, community leaders turn to. And so, it’s not uncommon for someone to be interviewed at one of those radio stations, and then they share the interview with BIN and we’re able to put that audio out on the network for everyone to listen to.
Kevin Ross: Okay. And how have…. I know that you’ve been doing this for, you know, remotely at this point, how has that been working out?
Tony Coles: It’s been surprisingly effective. I think if you would talk to us a year ago while we were in the planning stages and said, “Hey, why don’t you try doing the network a hundred percent work from home?” You know, we would have laughed at you and said, “Look, there’s no way”. Now, the question quite honestly, is when the pandemic is over, what will we do then?
And I honestly don’t even have the answer for you on that because, you know, we’ve just realized that we can do it differently. And so many of our reporters now are spread all across the country, and we’re seeing true value in that versus the traditional news hub. So, that’s something that we’re continuing to evaluate, but it’s been surprisingly effective. We certainly miss being able to walk the halls with people and, and have face-to-face conversations, but the technology, whether it’s a Zoom or a Teams meeting, you know, we’ve found work arounds that have made it possible.
Kevin Ross: Okay. And then do you generally hire journalists from other radio corporations or is it just… are they outside of doing anything at this point? How do you find your talent, I guess is my question?
Tony Coles: It’s really kind of ran the gamut. You know, first and foremost, iHeart as a company provides news and information on a daily basis for hundreds of stations across the U.S, we have a pretty robust news division. And so some of our reporters said, you know, that we’re a part of that news networks, said, hey, I want to be a part of BIN and so, we’ve hired from there.
We’ve hired TV anchors to come in, who have a broadcast or news background for radio, they’ve joined us, and we’re actually having conversations now with some HBCU students. So really it’s kind of running the gamut of where the reporters are coming to coming to us from. And that’s also been a really exciting part because our news team is much more dynamic, because they do come from inside the company, from other broadcast groups, from other industries, from other networks and it’s given us just a really diverse collection of opinions.
Kevin Ross: Why do you think news on black stations or urban stations or hip hop and R and B, whatever it’s called today, why do you think that that pretty much disappeared for so long?
Tony Coles: I think that a lot of it really boiled down to economics. I think over the years as companies have become leaner and operated more efficiently, news was one of the first, you know, I hate to use the word ‘luxuries’, but it was one of those things that, you know, if you’re a hip hop station and you have to operate more efficiently and cut your budget, too often the newsroom was the first thing to go. And so, you know, I’ve had a lot of conversations with people about the fact that, you know, people made the assumption that there was a lack of interest in news, and it was really just, they couldn’t afford it.
And as I have conversations, not only with our own stations, but we have ongoing dialogue with NABOB stations, from the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters. You know, they’re excited about the opportunity to reintroduce news and information to their stations.
Kevin Ross: It appears that with some corporations, I’m not saying any names… that the Jocks are really not prepared to talk about the politics or, you know, the racial disparities or certain situations that happen nationally or even locally and it, it could end up being an embarrassment to the station more or less. Has iHeart ever thought about maybe training some of the morning Jocks a little bit more to work in conjunction with news people or is there any comradery or is it just a straight shot; they do the morning show and they go right to the news?
Tony Coles: Hmm. Yeah, that’s a really interesting question. I can’t say that anyone’s asked me that question before, but what I would say is, you know, the introduction of the network has been a great opportunity for us to have a lot of dialogue internally with talent from across the company.
And so, I think that there are definitely a lot more conversations happening, not only just with talent, but with employees, with clients, it’s just been a great opportunity for us to have those conversations. And I also think that just what you’re seeing in the world right now, and definitely in America, more conversations are happening than ever before.
You know, it’s unfortunate that it’s taken this long for those discussions to happen, but I’m more excited about the fact that we’re having those conversations. And they’re not easy, whether it’s talent or a salesperson, or you know, a manager in a building. They’re definitely not easy conversations, but the team at BIN, we’ve been a part of so many, whether it’s market town halls or employee town halls… I just did a rally for leaders in Detroit, and we had the chief of police from the city of Detroit and some other organizations, and for us to be able to have an open dialogue about race with people in the community there, was an exciting… it was truly an exciting moment.
Kevin Ross: Right. Let me be a little more specific with that question. If you have a hip hop show in the morning and something very serious is happening in the market…
Let me stress that question a bit more. It’s like, if you have a hip hop station and something very serious has happened in the market, I guess what I’m saying is that, how has the relationship between the morning show, which is generally a lot of fun and, you know, jokes and whatever else, I’m saying, how do you marry that with the news?
So one, if they go off to the news, you know, and are they able to promote the news? Because I think listeners are a little savvier than people think. So, I guess what I’m asking is, do you work it into the show where they promote what’s coming up with the news and they have some knowledge, actual knowledge of it?
Tony Coles: Oh, okay. I see what you’re saying. So, from the Black Information Network standpoint, we don’t have talent based in those specific stations are a part of those specific shows. So we make our news available to them, but when it comes to, you know, talent, if you have talent on a hip hop station, they can reach out to our reporters and our journalists if they want to have those conversations on the air, but that hasn’t been something that’s been an active or a consistent part of what we’re doing, but I see where you’re going, or I think I see where you’re going.
And I do think that that would be a great thing because in so many of our markets, you know, they do stop down. Milwaukee was a perfect example before the election, they stopped down for an hour one night and just talked about the importance of the election. And that’s something that I think is happening more on hip-hop stations than it used to, but from a network, we haven’t been a part of that, but I’d certainly be open to it. That’s for sure.
Kevin Ross: Okay. Now, how many reporters do you currently have?
Tony Coles: You know what, and this is not me trying to avoid the question. I honestly don’t know at this particular moment. One of the things that we’ve been doing is, as we add more stations to the network, we are adding more reporters. And so, the plan is, you know, as we continue to expand the number of markets that we’re in, is to continue to expand the number of reporters.
Kevin Ross: Why do you think any none of the other corporations have come up with this concept before you, or before iHeart?
Tony Coles: Well, that was one of the first questions that we ask ourselves when we were doing this, because, you know, based on the research and the intelligence that we had available to us, there was clearly a need for this and clearly an interest for this. But I do, you know, as I said before, it’s an incredibly expensive format to get into. And fortunately for us, even though we’re our own separate business unit, we’re part of the iHeart media ecosystem.
And so, we have the advantage of a news infrastructure, you know, we have news gathering operations throughout the United States. We have resources that make it economically, something that we were able to take on. And I think unfortunately for a lot of other organizations, without that backbone and an infrastructure, it’s much more challenging to jump into a spoken word arena because of the expense associated with it.
Kevin Ross: Right. Now, I don’t know if you’re able to reveal this, but I I’m sensing that some sort of a TV connection is coming up.
Tony Coles: Hmm, no. I mean….
Kevin Ross: Well, there’s a need for it on TV too.
Tony Coles: Well. Oh yeah, there is. And obviously there’s the Black News Channel, which also got it started this year and, you know, and again, there’s another interesting venture that they started their work as well way before the events of this year. But it is interesting that both they launched this year and we launched this year. So we’ve had definite conversations with different TV partners about how we can use our resources together, but no formal TV partnership.
What do you think is missing? I know that you’ve worked various formats. What do you think is missing in radio/ commercial radio across the board or that could be improved?
Tony Coles: I would say, more from an improvement standpoint, I think that stations need to continue listening to the listeners, and adapting as the environment changes. Someone asked me the other day about the work from home standpoint. And I said, you know, in many ways, this has been a …while it’s a tragic reason that people are working from home.
It’s been interesting, in that this is the first time as a collective group, listeners and personalities are going through a shared common experience. You know, listeners are not able to go to their favorite places.
They’re not able to connect with their families. They’re not able to do the things that they’ve always done. And at the exact same moment, the people who are on the air are in that exact same position. And so we always talk about personalities being companions to the listeners, and I think now more than ever, they really have become those true companions. And so I think, you know, if there’s a lesson to take out of this, it’s that radio stations more than ever need to find ways to connect and be true companions with the listeners in any format. And I think that that’s something that we’ve learned, and we need to always remember and continue to do moving forward.
Kevin Ross: I know that iHeart is an extremely progressive company. You have so many different products that make you more than just a radio corporation, of course. When you look at the other, and I’m asking this for a specific reason, but when you look at the other radio corporations, there seems to be a void when it comes to not just doing what the listeners want, but also being connected to social media and digital concepts. Is it too late for some radio corporations to do that, to make the connection or for the people who think that radio is done, it’s over? What would you say to them?
Tony Coles: It’s not, it’s not, it’s absolutely not too late for other companies to, to jump into that space and to spend more time and focus. And I think that it’s absolutely necessary.
You know, we want to be everywhere our listeners are, and whether that’s listening on a smart speaker, whether that’s engaging with a social media account, or being at an event. And I think that, you know, not just radio, you know, you’re seeing that with so many other industries right now, that you just have to have that connection and you have to live up to the expectation of listeners. You know, they expect that now they expect their favorite radio station to be a part of their world in multiple places. And so, for those who aren’t doing that, I think that, you know, they’re missing a great opportunity,
Kevin Ross: Right. And revenue, leaving money on the table. Let me also ask you, so your background, like I said, is mostly with music stations. How has the transformation been, I mean, is there a big difference in programming, news stations over music stations?
Tony Coles: Well, as the network president, I’m much more focused on the business and the operational side of it. But I mean, I talked to our programming team on a daily basis, and sometimes, to their disappointment on an hourly basis.
So, it’s been, I would say the biggest difference for me, is I’m so used to having my hands on all of the details of every little thing that comes out of the speakers. And now, it’s been much more about trusting others to do that and to have those conversations. And in many ways it’s actually been really exciting to have a conversation.
And I think I know what something’s going to sound like and then I hear it come out of the speakers and it sounds totally different, but quite often much better than anything that I would have come up with myself. And so, that’s been the excitement for me. I love working with people. I love growing and developing talent and I’m fortunate and blessed that I’m surrounded with some really smart programmers, who bring a lot of different perspectives to news.
Kevin Ross: You actually raised an important point. I understand that you’re the president, but a lot of times when we are accustomed to managing a company, like as a program director, we become so accustomed to that, that it’s extremely hard to let go. You’ve mentioned that you have to trust people to do their job. How did you get to that point?
Tony Coles: People trusted me and let me make a lot of mistakes. And you know, along the way they have always reminded me that if you’re going to continue to grow and develop in your own career, the first part of that is trusting and developing other people.
And like I said, you know, I was blessed with the opportunity to try some things, to make some mistakes, to succeed, to make some more mistakes. And I just try to remember that people are going to do things differently than I would, but the only way that they’re going to grow and succeed is for me to step back and let them do things.
Kevin Ross: Are you still, even as the president, when you get home is it still a part of your life, I mean, are you able to break away and watch TV or something? Or, I mean, is it something that you’re, because it’s fairly new that you’re 24/7?
Tony Coles: I mean, it’s certainly not an easy thing right now and you know, kind of the running joke is, you know, right now, no one is working from home.
They’re living where they work and so, you know, I do my best to disconnect and separate it, but you know, especially a year like this, when your personal life, not just myself, but anyone else, you know, is really influenced so greatly by the news, whether it’s coronavirus and the impact that it has on you and your family, or the election cycle and everything that surrounds that, when the news really is what everyone is living through right now, and then you’re running a news network, it’s definitely more challenging to separate the two.
Kevin Ross: Okay. So I know that you started, I was reading somewhere, or I was listening to a podcast where you were very young and your father told you that you had to have a job by a certain age. I think it was 16 or you had to get out of the house and you were saying that you didn’t fall in love with radio right away.
It’s really interesting from this perspective, because a lot of the people that I’ve talked to over the years, they have that addiction to radio, where it’s just, it’s in their blood. I’ve never had that personally. Do you ever feel like you want to be back on the air even at this point?
Tony Coles: It’s a rare occasion. It’s much more when there’s something going on or, as I mentioned, I’ll have a conversation with a programmer about an idea and then I’ll hear it on the air and it’s not the way I would’ve done it. And in those moments where, I had a very specific like, Oh, I would have said this and this and this.
It’s in those moments that I’m like, man, I wish that it could be, you know, on the air. But, for me, there are just so many other aspects of the job that I enjoy so much now, that I’m okay with letting the professionals be on the air.
You know, when I started and when the bug finally did bite me, and that comment that you had mentioned, radio just wasn’t something that in my mind was ever an idea or a possibility. And so when I started working at that first radio station, and you know, I remember the day that it all clicked for me and I was on the air and I realized that I’m like, wait a minute, people get paid to do this. And then I became fixated with it.
And as I grew and developed, and then I had an interest in programming, what I found was that my entire air shift, all I was thinking about was the stuff that I could do in the station, as soon as my air shift was over.
And I had a mentor at the time that said, you know, when you find something that you’re really passionate about and you’re doing that, then that’s what you should do. And you should find a way to make that what your career is.
And for me, in that moment, I realized, I enjoyed everything that surrounds the radio station more than I did personally being on the air. And, you know, I needed to find air personalities that loved being on the air as much as I love being off the air. And I think that that’s ultimately when you can become most successful, whether it’s radio or another industry, when you’re doing the thing that you’re the most passionate about, that’s when you’re going to have the most success.
Kevin Ross: That’s exactly the way I feel, but I would even say a broader range to cover the entire industry. I love music, so it’s music, radio, anything that’s involved, but another question that I have for you is, if that is the case, what is…? How can I ask you this? You’ve been in a situation or situations where a lot of black men and women have not, or have complained about not being able to get into, with some of the formats that you’ve worked; what do you say about that?
Tony Coles: Oh. I’ve literally worked in all of them at this point.
Kevin Ross: Okay. So you’ve heard, I’m sure, African-Americans, black people complain about the racist or racism in the industry where they can’t get to certain formats outside of urban. How did you accomplish that? And what do you think of that?
Tony Coles: I mean, it’s challenging, it’s frustrating. You know, one of those stories that I share with people quite often, is the fact that there’s a radio station years ago that I had multiple over the phone interviews for, and they were all excited to hire me and to bring me into town.
And they’re like, you know, you can come in, you can look for an apartment. We want you to talk to everybody. And I remembered, you know, being in the airport and the general manager who was going to pick me up, and I saw this guy walking by me multiple times. And I finally stopped him and I said, “Hey, are you from the station?”
And he stood there and looked at me and he said, “Yeah”. And I said, “I’m Tony Coles”. And he’s like, “Oh, great, nice to meet you”. And, so he started talking to me there in the airport and I said, “Hey, you know, it would be easier if we just, you know, went over to the station now”. And he’s like, “no”, he goes, “I know that there’s another flight that returns in about an hour and a half, is like, you know, let’s, let’s just do the interview here”.
And I said, “Oh, but I, I thought, you know, there was the opportunity”. And he’s like, “well, no, you know, the interview process is about getting to know one another”. And I knew in that moment, they weren’t expecting a black guy and they had zero interest in hiring me. And I literally never heard from them again, never got a return phone call, nothing
And, and I think, you know, if you talk to a lot of black people, that’s been our experience or something very similar. And it’s frustrating, it’s enraging, but I think that we all recognize that it happens, but the difference is there are some who give up, and there are some who just continue on and that’s what I did.
You know, my goal was to show them, you know, for lack of a better phrase. And I think that’s what a lot of us have as a shared experience, is that we all hit that wall and, you know, sometimes those who deny us opportunities, are the motivation that we need to succeed in spite of that.
Kevin Ross: If you can keep going.
Tony Coles: If you can keep going.
Kevin Ross: Right. If that happens enough.
Tony Coles: Yeah. I’m not saying that it’s an easy thing. You know, and that is a disappointment. I do get encouraged though, that I think that more and more people are recognizing that it’s a problem. More and more people are willing to take chances that they wouldn’t have been. And you know, the, the most important thing, and this is what I spend a lot of my time with now, is the more diversity we can promote and inspire in leadership, the more opportunities that that will be created.
You know, I’m not going to hold you too much longer, but the really interesting thing is to your point, is from this perspective and doing this for 25 years, I do see people who give up and I also see people who become… what’s the word I want to use? Who don’t give up, but who don’t try anymore. So they kind of have a, let me get the next job that pays me the exact same thing, or let me wait until I get fired and then I’ll just go and look for the same thing again. So I see a lot of people on the black side who they kind of just, I don’t want to say give up, but they just, they’re not looking for anything greater after a while.
Tony Coles: And that’s heartbreaking. You know, someone said to me years ago, and I really believe that it’s true, is that we all need to find champions and we need to find people who are doing the thing that we want to do for guidance.
You know, I think… I won’t call it a mistake, but I think something that I know I certainly did in the early years of my career and I think it’s common for a lot of people, is that they surround themselves with mentors who are very well intentioned.
And I think that everyone should have a mentor at all points of their life. But what one of the best mentors that I ever had, said to me was, “it’s time for you to find someone new”. And I said, why? And he said, “Because you and I are now doing the exact same job, so I can give you advice and I can give you a opinions, but I can’t be a mentor to help you get to the next level of your career, because I don’t have an aspiration to get to the next level”. He is like, “I’m very happy where I am”. And he’s like, “so, you need to find someone who can help take you to where you want to go”.
And that was such a powerful lesson for me. And I think, you know, to the point that you’re talking about the people who haven’t necessarily given up, but have just accepted and said, well, this is it. I’ll take the next lateral move. Quite often it’s because someone hasn’t pushed them to get to that next level or someone hasn’t helped them with the advice they need to pull them along. And I think that we should always be reaching out and looking for people who can help us get to where we want to go.
Kevin Ross: Ultimately, they also have to have the desire to move forward, because there’s nothing worse than leading a horse to water that, you know, that doesn’t want to drink.
So it’s, you know, if you’re trying to help somebody who doesn’t want it, then that drains your energy. And I also wanted to share something with you before I let you go. When you talk about the experience in the airport, I had an experience and you’re absolutely right. We’re either motivated by it or we surrender to it. And I had an experience early on when I was selling ads, when I started the magazine.
And it’s ironic, because I just saw this guy’s name as one of the leaders in hip hop and R and B and billboards lists. But, I called him and he just managed to catch him on the phone for some reason. And he said, “I can’t believe you have the nerve to call me”. And I just laughed, you know, I mean, because I was like, “well, I just want to know if you wanted to buy an ad from us”, but I can’t believe you have the nerve to call me.
And I never forgot that line, but it definitely motivated me to keep going. So I think that, you know, we all have one of those experiences where we reached out to someone, especially, you know, somebody who’s heading a hip hop label. You know, that was… I laughed it off because sometimes you have to laugh before you go crazy and figure out a way to turn that into some kind of motivation. So we’re on the same page with that.
Was there anything else that you’d like to add Tony, that you might be working on or you want other people to know about in the industry?
Tony Coles: You know, I think the only other thing that I would say is, we are constantly looking for journalists. You know, as I mentioned, as the network expands, we’re continuing to grow and develop and one of the things that has been interesting is, you know, there are people who used to be in news, who have done other things because they couldn’t find the opportunities. There are those opportunities out, and I spend a lot of time just getting the word out, that we’re looking for reporters and people who are serious about journalism and also encouraging young people who have an interest in getting into journalism.
And I think that, you know, we want to create opportunities, and so I just can’t put that out there enough that, you know, there are still great careers to be had in journalism. And I think honestly, now more than ever, it’s important that we have people who are passionate about telling the stories that either don’t get told about in our community or even worse, get good told and don’t get told factually. And so, I’m always eager to connect with people who want to make a difference and want to tell these stories.
Kevin Ross: Tony, I so greatly appreciate you taking the time to talk to me today. I know that you have a very busy schedule and I just wanted to, you know, honor you and your efforts and your work over the years, and also talk about the network. I’m really into looking at the shining stars that we definitely have to promote. Especially when they’re doing something like you’re doing.
Tony Coles: Thank you, I appreciate that. I really do.