By Mae Lee Sun, for Inside Tucson Business
Published on Saturday, November 01, 2008
For what many may consider to be a one (free-range) horse town, Tucson has managed to grow more than it’s share of green media venues. The growth mirrors the national green scene that’s continuing to blossom on the Web and TV, in newspapers and on the radio.
The local sampling includes Tucson Green Times (formerly Tucson Green Magazine), “Mrs. Green Goes Mainstream” radio program at 12:05 p.m. Saturdays on KNST 790-AM, “Green Tuesdays on The Mountain KWMT 92.9-FM and regular green living segments on KGUN 9 News.
Nationally, there’s the daily e-news source GreenBiz.com, Discovery TVs Planet Green channel, and National Public Radio’s “Living on Earth” that airs weekly on 300 stations (though not in Tucson).
Are these media forways substantive? And what impact do they really have on changing sponsors, viewers or listeners’ habits of heart and mind? Does having a ‘green’ special section in a newspaper generate revenue for both the outlet and advertisers seeking to reach across the aisle? So much green, so little time.
Gina Murphy-Darling, host of “Mrs. Green Goes Mainstream,” says of her 10- month-old entrepreneurial endeavor, that it’s for the long-haul and not just jumping on the bandwagon.
With a vision of being the “Oprah of Green,” Murphy-Darling may be on to something given that the show has gone from a half-hour time slot to a full hour within the past six months on a talk radio station that prominently features the conservative voices of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.
But Murphy-Darling says it has nothing to do with politics as much as it has to do with the persona of Mrs. Green who is able to deliver her environmental message in a fun and interesting way.
Without being prompted, she rattles off statistics about the number of disposable plastic bottles per year found in landfills and exhibits her deep knowledge of green acronyms such as GMOs (genetically modified organisms as in genetically modified foods), talks of what books to read, and expresses her concern about the millions of pounds of pharmaceutical drugs dumped into municipal water systems.
“This is fun (having a radio show) but there’s a real side to Mrs. Green. I feature and partner with businesses who understand that it’s about creating systemic changes from within-which will cost money, but will serve everyone in the end,” she said. “It’s a question of asking themselves how green can they honestly be?”
As an example, Murphy-Darling, the gregarious, business savvy chair for Angel Charities and former founder and president of social services provider, Providence Service Corporation, has personally approached some of the bigger companies in Tucson, such as Wells Fargo and Chapman Automotive, as potential show sponsors.
Wells Fargo was the only financial services company in 2007 to receive the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Partner Award. Chapman Automotive is becoming a certified compressed natural gas vehicle repair facility. Murphy-Darling is also starting to attract unsolicited attention from other business, including Cox Communications and El Charro Café restaurants.
“We’re barely scratching the surface,” she says. “Everything we do as leaders is an opportunity to be that truth – from the inside out.”
Mikaela Quinn, editor and publisher of the Tucson Green Times shares that view.
Quinn and her husband Jim Ricker are partners in the Times. In October, they celebrated the publication’s first anniversary.
“Green media is growing and trying to raise awareness of the issues really going on and are giving people the resources and information to change their lives and reduce their carbon footprint,” Mikaela Quinn says. “Our focus is local because there are a lot of individuals and businesses doing fabulous things, coming up with creative and innovative solutions to problems…as a community, we need to look at it as the whole pie.”
If you break that juicy green pie down, the response has been positive for Tucson Green Times. Printed on 100 percent post-consumer paper, and distributed to over 300 locations, the publication has more than doubled since it’s inception with the goal of doubling that again next year. The individual slices amount to a monthly circulation of 45,000. That’s within about 10,000 of the circulation of the DesertLeaf in the Catalina Foothills so it appears readers are paying attention.
Although technically still a barely profiting start-up, Tucson Green Times has maintained a 70 percent monthly renewal rate with advertisers – most of whom are service providers such as water harvesting companies and photovoltaic installers.
According to Quinn, and as Murphy-Darling also asserts, the response rate for advertisers in each of their respective venues is significant. Both “Mrs. Green Goes Mainstream” and Tucson Green Times offer Web-based versions, packed like a bushel of GMO-free, organic Granny Smith apples, full of practical consumer information and links to products and services.
“Advertisers like Jason Tankersly, the owner of Fairfax Companies, a construction waste company, are absolutely thrilled,” says Murphy-Darling. “They’re getting emailed by people who are listening to the show who didn’t know that things like landscaping waste can be recycled…landscaping waste…that is so cool.”
Quinn and Murphy-Darling agree the time could not be riper. The public is hungry for these resources and they supply what they want, as “sort of a clearinghouse.”
It’s not just from our ads, it is also from businesses we write about in articles — and they are not paid editorials,” says Quinn, who along with Murphy-Darling says she’s put out the possibility of attracting investors, not just any, but ones who really understand that this is a good business investment.