The “Midday Kentucky” crew is resetting the stage during a commercial break, but maybe it’s not going quite fast enough, considering the deliciousness about to be put on the table by Gluten Free Miracles.
“I want fooooood,” show host Troy Thompson says in his distinct accent that is definitely not Kentucky or homogenized Midwestern reporter voice.
There are ways the WTVQ-TV 36 (Spectrum Ch. 10) noon show looks like the ones on other stations in the market. There’s a pair of hosts, local content, and the conversation usually turns to lifestyle and community topics. But there are also major differences in “Midday” that only start with the host’s Australian accent.
“It is a lifestyles show,” Thompson says. “It has been developed by me to invite the local businesses in so we can understand more about them — the story of the businesses, the history of how they all started. But just remember, the whole purpose of this TV show is to encourage people to go into that business and spend dollars.
“But it’s a fun show. Think of ‘The View,’ think of ‘The Chew,’ think of ‘The Talk.’ It’s all of those things in one show.”
If it sounds a bit like advertising, in a sense, it is.
Most of the businesses that appear on “Midday Kentucky” are paying advertising clients of the station, particularly digital clients, and their appearances on the show are part of their agreement.
“You very rarely get a TV host, an executive producer and a salesman all in one,” Thompson says. “That’s what I do.
“I sell content within my show, and I enjoy that. I love nothing more than going out to all the businesses and discussing ideas with them; how I can help them, what I call put bums on seats.“
Thompson says when he works with a business, they make a plan that includes digital marketing and websites, in addition to appearances on the show, which usually run around four-and-a-half minutes, though the show frequently goes on location for its full hour to visit with clients. The show segments become part of the marketing, re-shared in social media pages and elsewhere.
“The clients and folks we bring in are very pleased with the results they’ve had from the show,” says WTVQ General Manager Chris Aldridge, who says he was initially drawn to Thompson’s digital marketing skills when he was hired in 2016.
Those segments are couched within a show that starts off with chatter about events of the day, though it rarely gets too newsy. The day after the election, Thompson and guest co-host Cicely Dore glance over the results quickly before moving on to a lager dose of pop culture.
While paid advertisers make up a good portion of the show, there are segments on community not-for-profit groups that are free for the interviewee. The post election episode, for instance, Thompson devoted two segments to an organization working to stop gender-based violence.
Thompson’s role at the ABC affiliate will grow in January when it premiers “The Younger You,” based on a show Thompson created in Utah, at 7 p.m. Saturdays.
Thompson’s career started with purely business roots, opening his first salon in Australia at 21, he said. After an initial failure, he opened several salons and then found his way to TV as a hair and makeup commentator, parlaying that success into reality TV, radio, and publishing.
Over Christmas in 2011, he decided to check out the United States, visiting New York and other marquee destinations. While here, he met an immigration lawyer who told him he should move to the United States. At that moment, he laughed the idea off.
But when he got back to Australia, Thompson learned his radio show was canceled, he says because of a format change in the company. But he felt like a failure, and called up the immigration lawyer. With surprising speed, he got a three-year visa to work in the United States, sold his shops and moved.
First he went skiing and eventually found himself on-air for several daytime shows at the ABC affiliate in Salt Lake City.
There, he had a bit of an awakening about being an openly gay man in a conservative state. When the 2013 Utah court decision came down legalizing gay marriage, Thompson was told by his co-hosts they would not talk about the topic on air because no one wanted to hear it.
“It was the first time in my life that I had to defend who I was, and I hated it,” Thompson says. “I hated the fact that I stood here in a Mormon state, not judging them as being Mormon and hating gay people or having issues with other people of the Mormon faith — I didn’t judge them, so why should they judge me.”
It was a sobering moment that has inspired Thompson to be more up front about his identity and presenting LGBTQ issues on his show. He was also profiled this month in Linq, a magazine for the Central Kentucky “LGBTQ+ Community,” which Thompson says is the first time he has had a article written that focused on his sexuality.
But the focus of his show is the guests, and presenting them in the best light. Thompson initially came to Lexington to work in digital sales, not on air. It was a conversation with Aldridge that led to scrapping a noon news format, like network affiliates WKYT (CBS) and WLEX (NBC) present, in favor of the revenue-generating lifestyles show.
Thompson was drawn to Kentucky through a mutual associate of his and Aldridge, while he was in a brief stop in Anchorage, Alaska.
“I thought, if I’m going to change up everything in my life and move from Australia, which I did ... I’m not going to sit in one spot,” Thompson said. “I want to experience America.”
He does say this will not be his last move, physically or vocationally. While he appears to relish being an on-air personality, he sees a time when that will come to an end.
“It’s the business that I love,” Thompson says. “I want to be a GM of a station one day. I don’t want to be on-air talent forever.”
But for right now, he’s enjoying working both sides of the camera, which seems as surprisingly good as a gluten free piece of cheesecake.
Noon and 4 p.m. Mondays-Fridays on WTVQ-TV 36 (Spectrum Ch. 10).