Although he’s an employee benefits consultant Monday through Friday, on Saturday afternoons, Scott Stafford dons his media persona as the host of “Business Initiative,” a 1460 KZNT talk-radio show.
The hour-long radio show, sponsored by Stafford’s employer, Van Gilder Insurance Corp., has been on the air every Saturday starting at 2 p.m. since Jan. 7. Each week, Stafford and his guests of the day talk about specific issues affecting Colorado Springs and the surrounding areas. Many of those sharing the radio spotlight with Stafford have been involved in one of the hottest issues in every community: health care.
Stafford has blended his passion for health care and his background in radio to create an avenue for educating the public about health care issues.
He worked in radio as a producer for Denver stations 850 KOA, 630 KHOW and 760 KTLK, and then started his own company, Auxiliary Media – a company that helped manage and build Internet radio stations. He and his auxiliary team helped Kurt Hanson, owner of ACCU Radio (accuradio.com), build the station to what its Web site touts as the “fifth largest multi-channel Webcaster in the world, serving 1 million listeners per month.”
Although successful, Stafford said he opted out of Internet radio as rates skyrocketed when the CARP (Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panel) system recommended royalties on a per-listener, per-song basis.
Stafford decided to follow in his father’s footsteps as an employee benefits consultant. He eventually went to work for Van Gilder, an independent insurance brokerage firm that was looking for ways to reach out to the community. Stafford’s background presented the opportunity for a radio show.
Since its inception, the show has centered many of its programs around health care issues – a focus Stafford would like to continue. “Health care has been a constant theme,” he said. “It seems that consumers are always thinking about health care.”
Almost everyone is thinking about health care; some are talking about it, and others are waiting for solutions.
C.J. Moore, public affairs coordinator for Kaiser Permanente, tackled health care issues with Stafford and representatives from Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, Rocky Mountain Health Plans and Sun Life on one of the Saturday shows.
Although they didn’t solve the problems, Stafford said, Moore and other panel members agreed that the ultimate responsibility for decreasing the rising costs of health care is at the hands of each individual.
“The biggest cause of rising costs in health care is the uninsured,” Moore said. “All of us with insurance are paying for care for those who don’t have it. Emergency department costs contribute unbelievably to the costs … it makes hospital costs rise … health insurance costs rise. We’ve got to do something about it.”
Doing something also means educating the public, said both Moore and Stafford.
But what’s it going to take to get the message out?
The radio show is a start, but Moore wants to see a different time slot. She said a morning or evening drive-time radio show would catch more of an audience.
Moore also suggested that the news media needs to take a different slant on the issues: “We need some really good stuff on the cable news networks … real talk about issues other than abortion or contraception … what about not using the ER as your primary source (of health care) … or a real program to address covering health care for the uninsured and underinsured.”
She said more health care panels that speak to a larger audience are necessary as well, and the print media needs to approach health care issues with articles that are “hard hitting and really truthful” – consumer oriented as well as business oriented.
Stafford plans to do his part to keep the subject in the forefront. He also featured a radio show on Medicare, wellness issues and is planning an alternative medicine program in the near future.
“Awareness and education is key,” Stafford said. Creating a healthier America, starting with the work force, is imperative to health cost reductions, he added. “It’s a good investment to help employees stay on a healthy path,” he said. “If employees are healthy, they are happier and more productive.”