A Different Kind of Interview with Local Traveler host, Amy Hess
Article: Lisa R. Kindel / Photography: Shaun Ring
AAF: How did you come up with Local Traveler?
Amy Hess: I had recently moved back to Kentucky, after being in Los Angeles for over a decade, when a major economic recession hit. As people were losing jobs and times were tough, I wanted to give my business to the people in my own community. As I started to support local businesses, it dawned on me that I could use my professional skills to showcase them. I had previous experience with producing, writing, and hosting so it seemed like a good fit. I was fortunate enough to assemble a great team and get a pilot episode, entitled Go Local, funded by The Kentucky Department of Tourism and The Kentucky Department of Agriculture. The pilot earned a regional Emmy and was picked up as a series by Gray Television. The Local Traveler, now in it’s 3rd season, airs regionally on WKYT, WYMT and WVLT. I am very thankful to Wayne Martin and Chris Mossman, from WKYT, for believing in my series enough to dedicate the resources to make it a reality. We now have a total of 8 Regional Emmy nominations and 3 Regional Emmys for the series.
AAF: How do you decide on what and where to shoot for Local Traveler?
Amy Hess: As a self-proclaimed Internet sleuth, I love researching online. Sometimes it can be difficult if a particular place does not have a robust online presence but usually I can find what I need. I actually honed my researching skills while working on a talk show for Paramount Pictures and have thoroughly enjoyed researching story ideas ever since.
AAF: Do you find your show more advertorial or editorial?
Amy Hess: The content that I produce for The Local Traveler is editorial since I choose the stories based on how compelling they are and what I think will work on the show. However, in addition to producing high quality content, I also feel that part of my job is to secure strong ratings for advertising purposes. I asked about switching time slots at one point but we were beating SNL in the ratings so we stayed put. Bringing engaged viewers to the show is very important to me.
AAF: What does your show say about the Lexington creative community?
Amy Hess: Lexington’s creative community is growing and I think viewers will recognize the diversity in creative arts expressed on the show. We have showcased musicians, actors, and artists. However, I think it also takes a huge amount of creativity and courage to start a new business. It’s not an easy thing to do and they need our support to thrive. The more we can support Lexington and the creative community here, the more financial gain the city will experience. Recently, I’ve meet several individuals who have come from marketing backgrounds but who are now starting businesses that feature local products. It takes a lot of creative savvy to launch a new product and these marketing gurus know how to do it and are taking a chance. I love that! That is why The Local Traveler champions them and I like doing my part to help them succeed.
AAF: So what was your first concert?
Amy Hess: Billy Joel!