College-journalism professors teaching ethics could build entire classes around the career of Tom Martino.
The co-owner of a rundown homeless hangout dubbed "Hotel Martino" in a recent Westword feature article, Martino acts as a de facto journalist on Channel 31, taking on sleazy businesses and scam artists under his "Troubleshooter" moniker. At the same time, he presents himself as a consumer champion on his KHOW radio show, exhibiting a fondness for "drama," "hyperbolic language" and "heated controversy" that tends to "reduce the audience's expectation of learning an objective fact," according to a recent San Francisco court ruling. He also runs a website, ReferralList.com, in which he essentially charges companies to receive his endorsement. (He says he only takes on businesses after they pass his stringent quality-control assessment -- but problems can still crop up, as the 2005 Message columns "Target: Tom" and "Tom Redux" detail.) And now, he plans to do the same thing on Martino TV, a new program slated to begin airing on both Channel 31 and its sister station, Channel 2 in the near future.
Martino TV follows the model of Channel 9's Colorado & Company, profiled in this October 2004 column. It's essentially a magazine-style infomercial, with firms paying to be featured in assorted spots and segments. Hence, Martino is yet again monetizing the reputation he earned while working in a journalistic mode. (He denies that he's a journalist in what's essentially a game of semantics designed to keep the Cash Express rolling.) And if everything goes as planned, he could be fattening his bank account in a significant way.
Westword has obtained several pages of a Martino TV pitch package aimed at potential advertisers. The material spells out charges for virtually every chunk of airtime, including a "Consumer Segment" only available to buyers of an "Annual Package" (pricetag: just $7,300 per month) in which Martino will "position the sponsor as the expert in the industry," a "Feature Segment" intended to "give consumers compelling reasons to use the products and services offered" (these go for $2,000 a pop when purchased individually), and much, much more. Click here to see the original documents, or read them in their entirety after the jump.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Westword's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Denver's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Martino TV Package Proposal
All segments/commercials run during "Martino TV" on FOX31, Mon.-Fri. (9-10 AM) and on KWGN Channel 2, Mon.-Fri. (10-11). Both shows are proposed to be broadcast live. Rate Card Date March 11, 2009.
Annual Package (1-Year Contract)
Weekly Consumer Segments For Industry Category 4/Mo -- Annual Contract Only Premium Bonus: $0
Weekly 7.5 Min Feature Segments on Fox 31 & KWGN 2 4/Mo -- Rate Card: $2,000 ea. Total: $8,000
Three (3) :30 Sec Commercials/Week on Fox 31 12/Mo -- Rate Card: $200 ea. -- Total: $2,400
Three (3) :30 Sec Commercials/Week on KWGN 2 12/Mo -- Rate Card: $200 ea. -- Total: $2,400
As Available 2.5 Min Power Segments -- Rate Card: $500 -- Total: $300
Inclusion on TV Website & Banners -- Rate Card: $4,800
Rate Card Total: $17,900/mo
ANNUAL PACKAGE: $7,300/MO
-- $10,600 montly discount, 59 percent Off Rate -- Consumer Segments that can't be purchased -- Priority Rotation in Show & Spot Placement -- Deepest Discounts For Segments & Spots -- Complete Connection with Martino TV Audience -- No Charge for Web Listing
Quarterly Package (3-Month Contract)
Two (2) 7.5 Min Feature Segments on Fox 31 & KWGN 2 2/Mo -- Rate Card: $2,000 ea. -- Total: $4,000
Three (3) :30 Sec Commercials/Week on Fox 31 12/Mo -- Rate Card: $200 ea. -- Total -- $2,400
Three (3) :30 Sec Commercials/Week on KWGN 2 12/Mo -- Rate Card: $200 ea. -- Total -- $2,400
As Available 2.5 Min Power Segments -- Rate Card: $500 -- Quarter: $350
Inclusion on TV Website & Banners -- Rate Card: $4,800
Rate Card Total: $13,950/mo
QUARTERLY PACKAGE: $5,950/MO
-- $8,000 monthly discount, 57 percent Off Rate -- Preferred Rotation in Show & Spot Placement -- Discounts For Segments & Spots -- Complete Connection with Martino TV Audience -- No Charge for Web Listing
Combination Package (1-Month Contract)
One (1) 7.5 Min Feature Segment on Fox 31 & KWGN 2 -- Rate Card: $2,000 ea. -- Total: $2,000
Three (3) :30 Sec Commercials/Week on Fox 31 3/Mo -- Rate Card: $200 ea. -- Total: $600
Three (3) :30 Sec Commercials/Week on KWGN 2 3/Mo -- Rate Card: $200 ea. -- Total: $600
As Available 2.5 Min Power Segments -- Rate Card: $500 -- Quarter -- $400
Rate Card Total: $3,600/mo
COMBINATION PACKAGE: $3,200/MO
-- $800 monthly discount, 22 percent Off Rate -- Preferred Rotation in Show & Spot Placement -- Discounts For Segments & Spots
Martino TV Advertising Components
Consumer Segment: A free-flowing segment with Tom discussing industry specific developments and information that the general public may not be aware of. This is content rich and the time of the segment will vary depending on subject matter. The segment is NOT AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE and will only be available to Annual Package sponsors. The Consumer Segment will position the sponsor as the expert in the industry.
Feature Segment: 7½ Minute in show feature with principals of the business discussing their product or service in an in-depth conversation with Tom, live on the set of Martino TV. Product samples and pre-produced videos are incorporated into the segments to give consumers compelling reasons to use the products and services offered. Throughout the segment, your business' competitive advantages will be featured and how to contact you will be prominent.
Power Segment: 2½ Minute pre-produced "mini" version of the Feature Segment. Segment is an "evergreen" (able to air at any time) approach to provide great added value presence in Martino TV at a very affordable rate. These "filler" pieces will be used to round out program timing and will air as time is available. Simply indicate the maximum number of times in a month you'd like to have the Power Segment air. Power Segments are not guaranteed for placement.
:30 Commercials: Traditional TV commercials with a difference. Use your existing spot or have Vision create customized content to target Martino followers.
TV Website & Banners: Martino TV will have a dramatic presence on the internet with customized content for each advertiser. Listings, business descriptions, links to your website, testimonials... virtually anything is possible. Certain to be a high traffic site for consumers interested in working with the best local companies. The perfect complement to putting the power of the Martino brand to work for your business.
7.5 Min Feature Segment On Fox 31 & KWGN 2 -- $2,000 ea. :30 Sec Commercial Rate (Fox 31 or KWGN 2) -- $200 ea. 2.5 Min Power Segment -- $500 ea. Website Listing & Banner Program -- $4,800 Annual