May 17, 2014
(DALLAS-FT. WORTH, TX) Consumer advocacy journalist Pete Thomson started his consumer radio program over 10 years ago with a goal of connecting radio listeners with reputable businesses. Back then Thomson worked with around a dozen North Texas area sponsors who he called his “A-List” best-of-the-best. Today Thomson’s program, The Consumer Team, is broadcast on CBS Radio’s KRLD in Dallas/Ft. Worth, the top news station in DFW and one of the biggest in the nation. Even with the success his program has experienced, Thomson says his vision for the program is unchanged. As he puts it, “The purpose of The Consumer Team is to bring our listeners the truth in a marketplace that is full of deception. Every week we strive to connect educated consumers with best-in-class businesses in North Texas.”
Thomson says The Consumer Team sponsor team continues to be a small, select group. “It’s not a big list, but it is a very good list”, Thomson said, “Since we’ve been successful in Dallas-Ft. Worth, many believe the next step is to grow The Consumer Team into a huge, multi-market machine. So, do what we’ve done in DFW in a bunch of other markets. I think doing that would undermine what we’ve accomplished and ultimately damage one of our biggest assets, which is listener trust. The Consumer Team works for our listeners because it’s a small group, a select group and a very good group of businesses. It works because I know every sponsor and guest very well.”
Indeed, other consumer advocacy and user rating platforms are bigger, and endorse thousands of businesses in hundreds of consumer categories. Thomson, who personally vets and approves all businesses that join The Consumer Team, says a big footprint won’t work for his program. He added, “In consumer advocacy and referral, the bigger you get the less effective you become. Just look at Yelp and Angie’s List. Both services started out with great intentions but are now less effective, viable and trustworthy because of their size. And the Angie’s List model doesn’t make sense to me. The best businesses are not always getting top ratings because of the pay-for-placement system that Angie’s List uses.”
So, Thomson says, he’ll continue with his very exclusive team of consumer advocacy experts and sponsors that he carefully selects. Thomson added, “The fact that I must know, personally, every sponsor on The Consumer Team will limit our expansion potential, I’m certain. But unlike other consumer advocacy programs and services out there, I’m not doing this for the money or to grow some huge nationwide advertising platform. For The Consumer Team everything we do is driven by a pursuit of the truth. Every week we present consumer news and information you can’t get anywhere else, along with a sponsor team that is extraordinary. These are not just people I’ve met once or twice who have signed some document saying that they’ll treat people fairly. Every one of our sponsors I know very, very well. I know their managers and employees. I know their business model and I know how their customers are treated. It’s only because of this deep relationship that I can endorse them on The Consumer Team. And this is the model that makes our program work.”
The Consumer Team’s standard for sponsors, according to Thomson, is the reason the sponsor team has grown slowly. He added, “We don’t add sponsors quickly. I guess you could say we date for quite a while before getting married. It took me 3 years to find a car dealer that we could endorse. It took about 2 years to find a roofing company that fit my criteria. We could certainly get bigger faster but then we’d become like the other programs that put profit ahead of the truth.
Thomson says that the truth will drive any expansion plans for his programs. “Anything I do in the future will have the common denominator of truth. The truth is more important than money and profit. It’s more important than taking The Consumer Team to other markets. And while money and fame might be very attractive to some, staying focused on the absolute truth every day is what I’m all about. The truth is my competitive advantage.”