Focus on Business

Tom Martin’s “Focus on Business” reports air Mondays at 7:35 a.m. during Morning Edition, repeated on Mondays at 5:45 p.m. during All Things Considered. 

The segments, which will each run approximately four minutes, are excerpts from Martin’s new bi-weekly Q-and-A series in the Lexington Herald-Leader’s Business Monday section. The audio from the interviews is then edited for presentation as a podcast for and for broadcast on WEKU.

Martin, who grew up in Morehead, has enjoyed a long career in broadcast journalism, serving as news anchor for KQV Radio in Pittsburgh, for AP Radio Network News, the RKO Radio Network and at WABC in New York. While serving with the AP in Washington, he won a Peabody Award for best radio news documentary.

For a number of years, Martin was a substitute for Paul Harvey on Harvey’s nationally syndicated broadcast. From 2005 until earlier this year, he was the founding editor in chief for Business Lexington.

He is also an accomplished musician.

If you go online to ArtsCouncil-dot-ky-dot-gov, you’ll find a trove of information about programs and resources available to anybody interested in participating in Kentucky’s creative industry.  In 2014, the Kentucky Arts Council produced an in-depth report on this sector of our economy and the report has served as a roadmap for Lori Meadows in her role as executive director of the Kentucky Arts Council.  She spoke with Tom Martin.

The Breeder’s Cup takes over Lexington beginning next weekend. It’s a huge event for the city but especially so for Keeneland, Lexington’s classic thoroughbred race track and host of this year’s Breeder’s Cup World Championships. In this week’s Focus on Business, Tom Martin talks with the man who is overseeing all the planning and preparations, Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason.

With only 22% of the public expressing a positive impression of the thoroughbred racing industry, the 2011 Jockey Club report on the state of the industry strongly suggested a new direction. One strategy is to open the horse farms of the Bluegrass to tourism.  Tom Martin talks with Anne Sabatino-Hardy, executive director of “Horse Country, Inc.“ the not-for-profit created to make that happen.

The former Buster’s music venue on Manchester Street in Lexington recently was sold for $1.1 million dollars to a trio of Pikeville businessmen who plan to keep it as an entertainment venue and are in the process of opening the doors in late September.  Adam Hatton will be in charge of the new Manchester Music Hall.  He shared his plans with Tom Martin.

Ian Mooers is former director of the Center for Economic Development, Entrepreneurship and Technology at Eastern Kentucky University, and a member of the East Kentucky Workforce Innovation Board. His focus has been on Southeastern Kentucky, a region facing many serious socio-economic challenges, but now receiving the attention of such initiatives as Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR), and the Promise Zone program which has identified more than $200 million in funding for the region in the next 5 to 7 years.

Kip Cornett chairs the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Keeneland Host Committee. In this week’s Focus on Business, he talks with Tom Martin about what’s in store for Lexington during the week leading up to the racing at Keeneland on October 30th and 31st.

When he made the transition last year from Lexington’s Chief of Police to Public Safety Commissioner, Ronnie Bastin left some big shoes to fill. So, it was quite a statement about his chosen successor when a search committee – including representatives of the criminal justice community, local businesses and the Urban County council - voted unanimously to recommend 28-year veteran Mark Barnard.

Focus On Business: Joe Montgomery on App Technology

Jul 27, 2015

Joe Montgomery is chief executive officer of Omveria (ahm-VAIR-ee-uh), a Lexington-based tech company on the verge of launching new app technology for mobile devices.  The company website features the tagline, “One Download, One Touch, Millions of Businesses.”  Tom Martin asked Joe to explain what Omveria is about.

When you hear that a new entrepreneurial business is coming to town, what comes to mind? How about a theater company with the aim of pairing Broadway and national touring talent with aspiring local and regional talents? That’s the aim of The Lexington Theater Company, set to stage its first production, 42nd Street, at the Lexington Opera House later this month. Tom Martin looked into the business side with co-founders and former Broadway professionals Lyndy and Jeromy Smith.

Greg Walker, along with his father, Randy, and his brother, Chad, has worked for years to rehabilitate and renovate what has been a nondescript collection of small industrial office and warehouse buildings bounded by Walton, National and North Ashland Avenues in Lexington. Lately though, the 13-acre “Warehouse Block” as it’s now called, has been springing to life with a growing collection of interesting entrepreneurial businesses. Tom Martin’s conversation with Greg Walker took place in a studio, Dynamix Productions, that is now into its 11th year on National Avenue.

In March of this year, the Pueblo Chemical Depot in Colorado began destroying the United States’ largest remaining stockpile of chemical weapons, leaving Blue Grass Army Depot in Richmond, Kentucky holding the remaining inventory.  Bechtel Parsons Blue Grass holds the Defense Department contract to operate and close a facility to destroy these weapons. Tom Martin talked with the man responsible, site project manager, Jeff Brubaker.

Focus On Business: Alison Davis on Rural Hospitals

Jul 24, 2015

A recent state audit found that 34 percent of rural hospitals were considered to be in poor financial health. According to the Kentucky Hospital Association, 70 of the state's hospitals have laid off more than 7,700 employees in the past two years. What’s happening to rural hospitals and the communities that depend on them? Tom Martin raised those questions with Dr. Alison Davis, University of Kentucky Professor and Executive Director of the Community and Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky and President of the National Association of Community Development Extension Professionals.


The minimum wage debate will once again be before Lexington city leaders. The Lexington council Tuesday reversed a two week old committee decision.

Bloomberg via Getty Images

Officials have broken ground on an expansion at the Four Roses Distillery in Lawrenceburg and announced an expansion of warehouse facilities in Bullitt County.

What is Kentucky’s leading export industry? If I told you that it’s manufacturers of products for the aviation and aerospace industry, would you be surprised?  In 2014, Kentucky Aerospace exports quietly surpassed far better known industries such as automotive and bourbon.  Robert Riggs is founder and current board member of the Kentucky Aviation Association.  He spoke with Tom Martin.

As a child growing up in Georgia, notions of someday becoming an engineer never occurred to Dianne Leveridge.  But the girl who didn’t think she was good at math went on to earn first a master’s degree, and then a PhD in civil engineering and is now guiding other smart young women to act on their true professional talents and ambitions. Dr. Leveridge is now Director of Technical Programs for the Kentucky Community and Technical College System.  She shared her journey with Tom Martin.

Rich Ord is CEO of iEntry, a Lexington-based company that serves online newsletter and internet advertising.  Rich has been in the business long enough to have witnessed firsthand a great deal of growth and development, as well as some pivotal technological innovations.

Area grocery stores were crowded over the weekend as people shopped for food and supplies in preparation for the snowstorm. And now, grocery stores are continuing efforts to keep the shelves stocked.

Phil Holoubek’s downtown-Lexington projects have included Main & Rose and the Nunn Lofts. He is now leading an effort to redevelop the eastern end of downtown Lexington along Midland Avenue, from Vine to Third Streets. Phil joined Tom Martin for a conversation about the project.

Education, economic development, and tax policy are among the focus issues of Commerce Lexington’s 2015 local, state and national Public Policy Agenda.  Tom Martin’s conversation with the Chamber’s public policy committee chair Carla Blanton deals with matters before the 2015 session of the Kentucky General Assembly.

LaShana Harris is a mother, a lawyer, a business professional, and an award winning entrepreneur. She’s the founder of Babylocity, a Frankfort-based company that is developing innovative baby products for on-the-go moms.

Tom Martin talked with LaShana about the challenges and the rewards of having an idea for a business and then shaping and preparing that idea for the marketplace.

Focus On Business: Michael Hartman on Online Gaming

Dec 2, 2014

Frogdice is an independent game development studio in Lexington, Kentucky.  Founded in 1996 by Michael Hartman, Frogdice creates online and digital download games of the role-playing or "RPG" variety.  Tom Martin talked with Michael about his company and about gaming.

Kentucky Retailers Aim for 'Cyber Week'

Dec 1, 2014

Some businesses in Kentucky are working to extend cyber Monday through the end of the week.  A number of advertisements this past weekend promoted an e-commerce focus for the entire week. 

Charles Martin is Director of Lexington’s Division of Air and Water Quality.  He manages the city’s settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency to bring Lexington into compliance with the Federal Clean Water Act.  In essence, when it rains hard, the city’s storm sewers flow into its sanitary sewers. The resulting overflows have not been pretty.

The city is now well into the process of fixing this.  Tom Martin spoke with Mr. Martin (no relation) about this enormous project in November, 2013.  Now, one year later, time for an update.

November 17th begins a week of focus on innovation and entrepreneurial inspiration during the 4th Annual Lexington Global Entrepreneurship Week.  In his role as director of the Lexington office of the Kentucky Innovation Network, Warren Nash is one of those overseeing the event.  He sat down with Tom Martin.

Bobby Clark is founder and president of Sustainable Business Ventures, a non-profit working to develop businesses, social enterprises, environmental literacy training and entrepreneurial training.  In part one of his conversation with Tom Martin, Clark discusses his work to help a Kentucky community overcome tragedy.

Focus on Business: Kip Cornett on Breeder's Cup 2015

Oct 13, 2014

The Breeders’ Cup will take place in 2015 at Lexington, Kentucky’s Keeneland Race Course - the spot where this prestigious international thoroughbred racing event was conceived - but before now, has never been held.

The horse racing will take place on Friday and Saturday, October 30th and 31st of next year. But planning is now underway to begin the party well before October 30th.

Kip Cornett chairs the 2015 Breeders’ Cup/Keeneland Host Committee and he spoke with Tom Martin.

Focus on Business: Deirdre Lyons on Innovation and Jobs

Sep 24, 2014

Deirdre Lyons is, with her husband Pearse, co-founder of the international animal nutrition and health company Alltech, based in Nicholasville, Kentucky and operating in 128 countries.  She talked with Tom Martin about the company’s creative efforts to deliver innovation and jobs to Eastern Kentucky through brewing and distilling, as well as poultry and fish production.


In 1982, Hospice of the Bluegrass was known as Community Hospice of Lexington serving up to eighteen patients in Fayette County with a staff of five plus several dozen volunteers.

Today, Hospice of the Bluegrass serves nearly 700 patients in 32 Kentucky counties with a staff of more than 400 and a volunteer-base of nearly 1,000. This growth and expansion has occurred on the watch of Gretchen Brown, regarded one of the most successful, innovative, and respected leaders of the American hospice movement.

Going from finding herself a 20-year old unwed mother with only a 2nd grade education - who had just received custody of her six younger siblings - to earning a spot among the 20 winners of USA Today’s 2013 All-USA Community College Academic Team, as well as a Coca Cola New Century Scholar, and graduating this year from Bluegrass Community and Technical College with a 4.0 GPA and associate degrees in Science and the Arts. Intrigued? This is the story of Ebony Nava.  She spoke with Tom Martin.