If you’ve watched television in Pittsburgh for any length of time, chances are pretty good you’re familiar with Bill Flanagan. These days you’ll find him on WPXI-TV on Sundays as producer and host of Our Region’s Business, a Sunday morning business affairs program. Many people may know Bill for his many years as a reporter for KDKA Television.
Bill is the kind of guy that when you see him on TV you feel like you already know him. He’s a buddy. He has that Pittsburgh friendliness and a demeanor that seems to put his guests at ease talking about the things of which they are most passionate, usually their work.
Our Region’s Business is co-produced by the Allegheny Conference on Community Development and WPXI-TV, and in their own words, the program “aims to play a positive role in the Pittsburgh region by providing business news, information and commentary in a lively and entertaining format.”
When not recording programs at the WPXI studios, Bill spends a lot of time in the community at any number of events, meetings and functions as part of his capacity as Chief Corporate Relations Officer for the Allegheny Conference and its affiliated regional development organizations. These include the Pennsylvania Economy League of Greater Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance and the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce .
On any given Sunday morning, and now at other times on WPXI’s cable station PCNC, you’ll see Bill talking to entrepreneurs, business and civic leaders about topical issues and developments that involve businesses from emerging start-ups to some of the region’s Fortune 500 companies. They talk about issues and challenges – policy matters that influence the economic climate and quality of life in the area.
The show has a solid following. It is with this in mind, we asked Bill a question that may shed some light on why and how the program could be a fit for anyone with a compelling story to tell the region: What is the driver behind Our Region’s Business?
“Our Region’s Business takes a relatively broad view of the impact business has on our region, so we can cover capital investment, finance, job creation, management strategies, economic development, and business climate, all within the context of what’s happening within the regional, national and global economies,” Bill told us. “We like to feature individuals who are having an impact on our region through business activities, whether they are entrepreneurs, innovators, managers or workers, so guests will run the gamut from CEOs to blue collar workers. We cover both for- and not-for-profit organizations, although in the nonprofit space we tend to focus less on social services and more on ‘eds and meds’ and cultural organizations. We only do politics and policy when they affect the region’s economic climate in some way. ‘Our region’ is always the filter — unless the story connects with and affects the future of our region we probably won’t do it. Even where personal finance topics are concerned, we always interview somebody local, not a generic national expert. The idea is to showcase how business shapes our region, economically, culturally, and philanthropically.”
The program seeks guests who can talk about issues and developments that affect the region in some way. As Bill says, “the more direct the impact the better. We focus on guests who are decision-makers, whether they are innovators, entrepreneurs, or private sector for-profit or not-profit leaders. We strive for C-level guests and in general don’t feature communications or PR people. We do feature elected officials from time to time, but it’s usually in the context of some event, regulation, policy or legislation that will affect the ability of for- and not-for-profit employers in the region to be more successful.”
The audience for the program is “decision-makers, business owners and managers, both senior and middle management, people who run organizations, and entrepreneurs.”
From the Board Room to the Deli Counter
“I’ve been stopped on the street by CEOs and in the supermarket by the woman behind the deli counter who also watches the show. What all of them have in common is a strong interest in where the region is and where it’s headed and how they might be able to benefit or contribute to its success. They are definitely interested in our region – Pittsburgh – or they wouldn’t be watching the program.”
From Bill’s perspective, the program is integral to his work at the Allegheny Conference.
“My responsibilities cover three big areas – overall development, fundraising and membership for the conference; strategic communications oversight, with organizational and regional brand and image aspects; and partnerships with other organizations around improving perceptions of the region. The program helps in all respects. It’s one of the most powerful communication channels the Conference has to highlight the issues that we believe are critical to the region’s future and it provides time to talk about them – at least more time than would be available on the evening news. The ability to stream our video online and on-demand expands our reach. Our mission is to improve the economy and quality of life of the Pittsburgh region and Our Region’s Business helps us to achieve those goals.”
Bill notes that the program, which has been sponsored by PNC Bank for the past 25 years, is uncommon on commercial television.
“I don’t think there are many like it on local, commercial TV in the United States. In other markets similar programs associated with a chamber of commerce or membership organization might be on cable or simply online. The partnership with WPXI-TV is unusual as well. It helps to make the program more balanced and broadly representative of ‘our regions’ business’ – not a business program in the traditional sense.”
Our Region’s Business airs on Sundays at 11:00 a.m. on WPXI-TV and is rebroadcast on PCNC-TV at 3:30 and 7:30 p.m. that day, and 3:30 p.m. on the subsequent Monday.
Here is a clip from a recent show.