Radio show is its own startup story.

Author:Taylor, Mike
Position:SMALL biz

Rob McNealy is a former tech programmer and project manager who went back to school for an MBA after being laid off three times in 12 months at the turn of the millennium.

Yet even when he was a working stiff in corporate America, McNealy moonlighted as an entrepreneur. As far back as 1996 he mined the Internet space with a Web consultancy and an online auction site--two failures the 35-year-old father of three is not reluctant to talk about.

That candidness has proved a valuable trait in McNealy's latest venture, "Startup Story Radio," which he hosts every Saturday from noon to 1 p.m. on KKZN AM 760.

Since launching the show back in July, McNealy has found that lining up guests is a lot easier than lining up advertisers. Guests have included "eMyth" author Michael Gerber, former A1 Gore speech writer and "Free Agent Nation" author Dan Pink, venture capitalist Brad Feld, Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, Hawaiian Tropic founder Ron Rice and a steady stream of area entrepreneurs.

The show evolved from one of McNealy's business successes, Natural Wood Floors LLC, which he launched three years ago to fund yet another startup, a night-vision-system company for yachts.

"I pulled the plug on it about two years ago," McNealy says of the marine-electronics company. "But the flooring business took off."

McNealy started out advertising his flooring business on Tom Martino's "Troubleshooter" radio show on KHOW 630 and landed the job of finishing Martino's hardwood flooring on a house expansion. He became enamored with radio after he saw Martino's home studio, and he approached radio conglomerate Clear Channel with the idea of launching a show dedicated to budding entrepreneurs.

"They said, 'Sure, we'll take your money,'" McNealy says.

He started out at KHOW but quickly decided the $1,200 per hour rate was too much, so he moved to Clear Channel's KKZN in favor of its $600 to $800 hourly rate.

"At this point, I'm shelling out about three grand a month to run the show," he says. "I run my flooring-business ads during my show, so I can justify the write-off." But he adds, "I would rather spend my time running around trying to get good guests rather than spending my time running around trying to get sponsors."

McNealy says the liberal slant of KKZN has helped put him in touch with the Boulder entrepreneurial community, which he...

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