Over the last half decade, the cherubic face of a Las Vegan named Bob Fisher has become increasingly familiar to northern Nevadans. That’s because he is the moderator of an interview program, Observations, that airs on five northern television stations. He is also CEO of the Nevada Broadcasters Association, which pays for production of the program and makes it available to stations. We caught up with him on the train to D.C. where he was headed for the presidential inauguration. Information on when and where the program appears can be found at www.nevadabroadcasters.org/observations.
How long have you been doing Observations?
Radio has been on the air for 14 years and TV has been on the air now—we’ll be starting our sixth year.
Why do you do the program—both the broadcasters association and you yourself?
Well, first of all, I love it because it’s given me the opportunity over the years to get to know the non-profit communities, really throughout the state. One of the things I love to do is to find those people who are special in their own way and made a difference in their own way and be able to spend a half hour and really let the listening audience or the viewers get to know them.
And why does the broadcasting association do it?
I think that the broadcasting association felt very strongly that it was important to do public awareness, to do a community affairs program. There’s actually two associations that do public affairs programming. One of them is the Minnesota Broadcasters Association. The other is the Nevada Broadcasters Association. But we’re the only one that really—we produce it, we do all the various things that are involved in making it work.
They don’t see it in Las Vegas?
No. Well, let’s put it this way—not yet. We just felt it was important to have a television program that really aimed at Northern Nevada.
Have you ever gotten complaints about the program?
Only once. Only once. They didn’t like the topic that we did on Mother’s Day many, many years ago, and they made some kind of a sarcastic comment about what we were going to carry on Father’s Day. I think the thing that separates us from a lot of programs, especially the radio program, it’s very positive-oriented. It’s not get-the-guest. It’s not a negative kind of thing. My ego doesn’t need for me to always do the talking. I like the guest to have the opportunity really to do the talking. … I used to spend a week a month in Northern Nevada [taping interviews]. And then when budgets became tight, I used to spend a week every other month. And I think in 2009, because we’re running a bare-bones budget, I’ll be coming up a week every quarter, every three months. It’s just hard financially.
What plans are there for that program in the future?
You have to understand, one of the reasons why we established the radio show was the kind of guests that I’m able to get—and keep in mind that I tape in Reno and in Las Vegas—but the kind of guests that I get would be very difficult for the small rural stations to be able to have those kind of guests on an ongoing basis. So one of the reasons we do it is especially to get the voice of some of the non-profits we do. Like we have a show coming up on cancer advocacy, health care advocacy and it’s equally as important in the rural areas as it in Las Vegas or Reno. … As far as the TV show, we’re up to five [stations]. I know that there is interest for stations in Las Vegas to carry it.
So these programs are made available for free to the stations?
For free, yes. And as a matter of fact, I’ve been doing the radio show for 14 years, and I do not get a penny for doing it. It’s done out of a love for what we’re doing.