Local duo has healthy interest in radio
It's not the heart-pounding beats of top 40, the soft syrup of easy listening or the acid reflux of news and open-line rants.
But husband-wife team Steve and Donna Herringer's homegrown brand of radio just may be a lot better for listeners' health.
The White Rock empty nesters – Steve, a veteran broadcaster with a stunning array of cross-country hosting credits and ongoing international voice-over work, and Donna, with years of experience in the natural health and supplements industries – joined forces three years ago for the Natural Health Show, a theme-driven format billed as "real health for real people."
"We are now the most-listened-to health show in the country, with 75,000 dedicated listeners," said Donna, while the couple notes they have settled into regular broadcast time slots at opposite ends of the country: 5 p.m. Pacific Time Sundays on Vancouver's AM 980; and 11 a.m. (Eastern Time) Saturdays at Toronto's AM 740 (Zoomer Radio).
They also produce brief video information spots on City TV, and they're working on finding the right formula of sponsorship/advertising for pushing open the door to even more markets across Canada.
This being the 21st century, of course, the show, which originates from a home studio adjacent to their living room, can be caught any time online at thenaturalhealthshow.ca – and the website can be searched for specific themes of interest, such as shows on men's health and women's health, or specials on such health conditions such as Crohn's disease and colitis.
"Our show has a specific index," Steve said, adding with a chuckle., "We don't expect everybody to be sitting there listening to what's on the show today."
Not that that's a particularly bad idea; as Donna notes, the show has a built-in audience among the boomer and post-boomer demographic for whom health and travel are the two top priorities.
"We offer alternatives," she said. "People are already motivated to feel better and live longer."
And there's an appetite among listeners for information that is not simply geared to the consumption of pharmaceuticals or the prospect of surgery, they say, although they stress they are merely providers of information – individuals must judge for themselves, ultimately, what is right for their own health.
The key to the success of the format, they said, has been securing expert opinion – not hard with Donna's contacts as former president and CEO of the Canadian Health Food Association and using Steve's radio experience to help interpret it for non-experts.
"Instead of an expert interviewing an expert, this is Steve Herringer asking questions a man on the street would ask," Steve said.
Finding the right approach was an important factor in overcoming their initial resistance to doing a health-oriented show, they said.
"Starting out, about three years ago, an old friend of ours from my CFUN days – who also knew Donna – said 'why don't you come and do a health show," Steve said.
"It was not on our radar – we said 'what a terrible idea; we thought of that 10 years ago'. But we slept on it, and came up with the current approach, made a demo and that's what we presented. Donna took it to the natural-health people and said if you're willing to support this, we can do it."
The show, originally launched on Richmond's CISL AM 650, had some growing pains – among them a realization that most of the manufacturers and suppliers of health foods and supplements are based in the East.
With some regrouping with contacts in Toronto – both of the Herringers have worked there before – they were able to come up with the current station and sponsor recipe.
"It's so perfect," Steve said. "We never really go into the radio stations; it's pre-recorded on MP3s, which we email to Toronto and CKNW every Thursday. We really only go down to CKNW when there's an interview down there."
But they're proud that the product not only works for their lifestyle, but makes a meaningful contribution to the lifestyle of others.
"We're developed an environment where people can talk about health without being lost among a lot of other commercials," Donna said.