Political TV show intentionally moves from non-union shop
to have experienced union talent make its show sparkle
By ED FINKELSTEIN
“It’s the first time in my career, but it happened; a new TV production company opening shop in St. Louis came to us and asked to be unionized.”
Broadcast Engineers IBEW Local 4 Business Manager Mike Pendergast said at first he couldn’t believe it. But it was no accident, rather the determination of a veteran IBEW Local 4 member – Rob Glessner – who had just been hired by a fledgling new production company to get them up and running. He simply explained to the owner that it needed to be a union operation to get the best talent and produce a really quality product.
And so the owners of the new company, Pelopidas LLC, accepted the sage advice of their first employee and asked Local 4 for a contract to cover their new broadcast division, First Rule. Pelopidas is best known for its lobbying efforts as the Gateway Group.
Today, First Rule has four employees, modern up-to-date studios in the University Towers on Brentwood Blvd. and a cheerleader in Glessner who is the shop steward and the company’s Director of Broadcast.
And as a result of being a union shop, a pro-union conservative Republican decided to move his fledgling television show to First Rule.
A pro-union conservative Republican? In today’s heated political climate in Missouri, wouldn’t that be considered the epitome of an oxymoron?
Meet Scott Faughn, newspaper publisher, TV political host and a former outstate Missouri mayor who moved his fledgling television show – This Week in Missouri Politics — from a non-union production facility to First Rule because he wanted to be in a union shop where he feels he gets top quality and professional talent to make his show standup to his expectations.
“We understand that labor unions are actually good for business, they really help business so we felt it would be to our benefit to be in a union shop,” Faughn said, adding, “Not that I had anything against our former production house, but as a newcomer to the industry, I simply had no idea of what was appropriate and what to expect. When I learned of First Rule from my friend at Pelopidas, I realized their First Rule had real TV pros in their union employees, that they could take our new program concept and make it great. And they have.
“I can say without hesitation that Rob and his crew are amazing partners,” Faughn added.
And while Pelopidas is known for its conservative Republican-oriented lobbying (it has noted Republican supporter Rex Sinquefield as a client), Faughn was quick to emphasize that they have made no attempt to influence his show, something that was of initial concern to many.
“They usually have two Republicans and two Democrats talking to their respective viewpoints on issues the show highlights,” Pendergast pointed out. “You don’t always see that on many news shows.”
Faughn made the point that since the Republicans control the Missouri House and Senate and the state’s political agenda, there are more Republican issues covered on the show.
“While people know I share conservative values, they also know I’m pretty pro-union, so I feel strongly that This Week in Missouri Politics needs to be a balanced show. We have an audience that’s serious about their politics so it’s important that they have all viewpoints,” Faughn stressed.
UNION SIDE OF RTW
That was true in the recent right-to-work fight. Whenever the issue was the show’s topic, there were two Democrats on the four-panel group to counter the two Republican proponents.
On that issue, Faughn minces no words: the right-to-work issue injects more government into the business of business, telling business owners what they can and can’t do. That’s not the Republican value of less government interference with business, he pointed out.
He said that in the debates on the issue, he didn’t see any union companies standing up supporting the proposed law because they wanted to get rid of their unions. The promoters of right-to-work were non-union companies (Editor’s note: and out-of-state special interests) wanting to tell government they wanted more restrictions on the unions.
Then he made intriguing predictions about next year’s fall elections:
• If Democrat Chris Koster is NOT elected, right-to-work will be law in 2016.
• If Koster IS elected, the issue will be on a future state-wide ballot.
• If the unions don’t get behind the 20 Republicans who faced down their party to prevent the override of the governor’s right-to-work veto, it will send a strong message that Labor is only for Democrats as a party rather than supporting their friends no matter which side of the isle they reside.
This Week in Missouri Politics airs Sunday mornings at 11 a.m. on KDNL Channel 30 following This Week with George Stephanopoulos, a leader in the Sunday show ratings in the St. Louis market.
The show is also seen in the Jefferson City/Columbia area, Kirksville and Cape Girardeau. Faughn expects to broaden its reach throughout the state.’