Does the name Thom Beers ring any bells? Try Ice Road Truckers or Deadliest Catch or Storage Wars. Beers is the man behind these shows, two of them Emmy winners, and a slew of others that have redefined reality TV.
His list of credits is a veritable compendium of the shows that turned the Discovery Channel from a repository of old-school science and nature documentaries and recycled European programming to the most widely distributed cable network in the U.S.
By any definition of the word, Beers is a success.
But it’s because of the time he was out of work with a family to support, yet took the risk to start his own production company, that Thom Beers’ is one of the first stories American Dream told on Armed Forces Radio Network. When the show begins its second season later this month, eQuest will be the sponsor.
eQuest? Yes, the job-posting distribution service, is sponsoring the first 26 weekly installments of the show’s new season. Part inspirational and part motivational, the show is intended to help the men and women in uniform look ahead to their own success when their service to the country is done.
If eQuest seems like an odd match, you’re right, and you have company. Founder and CEO John Malone had about the same reaction when Fascination Entertainment first proposed the partnership. The production company, though, did its homework. Having produced videos for eQuest in the past, Fascination knew that veteran outreach was a requirement for any company doing business with the government.
“They put together this show to inspire these guys,” said Malone, using the gender-neutral meaning of guys. “It’s all about showing success is obtainable and it’s going out to something like 180 countries and millions of people are listening to the (Armed Forces Network).”
It didn’t take Malone long to sign-on as the show’s sponsor.
“I was really impressed, and we thought it would be a good way to reach military people and we said (internally) ‘Wouldn’t this also be fun to have as part of our package,'” says Malone, explaining that American Dream is “part of our OFCCP outreach.”
The Office of Contract Compliance Programs enforces federal contract requirements, specifically those parts relating to affirmative action and equal employment opportunity. On its website, the Department of Labor lists some ways federal contractors can meet the outreach requirements of the Jobs for Veterans Act. Sponsoring a program on military radio is above and beyond; obviously not something the government thought of.
“It’s kind of a different way of doing veteran outreach … not something I would have thought of,” Malone agrees. But when he met with the producers and listened to the first shows, “I walked out of there all pumped up.”
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“Whether it translates into jobs or veterans getting hired, I don’t know. I hope so,” he says. “The main thing,” he adds, “is that it’s really about pumping them up; getting them excited about what they can do after the military.”
Four eQuest customers will get sponsorship mentions during the 25-minute broadcasts. The company is including their message without charge. But don’t get the idea these are commercials; they are much more like the sponsorship messages on NPR. It’s branding; not an invitation to apply, although there’s no reason a web address can’t be mentioned, as the Sutter Health message does. (The other three co-sponsors are American Airlines, American Water, and FINRA.)
Malone says since hearing about the program, other eQuest customers have said they want to participate. Interested employers can contact eQuest directly.
In the coming weeks American Dream will air interviews with John Tesh, David Oreck, and Mario Andretti among others who may not be as widely known, but whose stories are no less inspiring.
“It’s not about the money they made,” adds Malone. “It’s about following their dream. That’s the inspirational message.”
That’s precisely the message that Thom Beers delivers. “First and foremost,” he says in closing, “make sure it’s your dream … Then do everything possible to make it happen. Don’t give up… Don’t get discouraged, man. Just keep plugging away.”