One of the most recognizable faces in the Lehigh Valley, Ashley Russo is president and founder of ASR Media Productions, a video and television production company based in Hellertown.
As host of the ASR produced The PEAK TV, a lifestyle talk show which airs on YouTube and WFMZ-TV, Russo has received multiple Emmy awards. She also hosts and produces St. Luke’s HealthNOW, which explores news related to the St. Luke’s University Health Network.
Through these popular video broadcasts and multiple other endeavors, Russo, a twenty-year media veteran, has played a key part in revolutionizing the media industry in the Lehigh Valley.
LVB recently sat down with Russo to learn more about ASR Media and the Valley’s changing media landscape.
How has journalism changed in recent years and how does ASR Media fit into those changes?
I recognized that the market was changing. Journalism had started to meld with marketing. Everyone was becoming their own brand, whether an individual or a business. And the public wasn’t as dependent on traditional news outlets to get their information anymore.
Social media allows for this. It opens up space for different types of news and storytelling. I saw a perfect time to start a business where people can share their stories in a new way.
We have ridden this new wave in the past 10 years with ASR Media. We aren’t a traditional PR or marketing agency or a news outlet. We are something new and a little of each.
You’ve been a producer on NBC’s Today Show, for Bloomberg TV and at the Weather Channel. What made you decide to take the leap and go out on your own?
I made the jump out of a desire to start a family and continue to be a part of television while having a life outside of it. Once I had children, I continued to use my skill set as a fundraiser and a journalist to do work that benefited my community. That’s when I was approached with the opportunity to work with St. Luke’s on The PEAK TV.
It was the right time to do it. I had the opportunity to grow professionally while still raising my family.
Tell us about a project you are working on with ASR that you are particularly excited about?
We are working with Moravian College on their new online graduate program, an M.S. in Predictive Analytics. This is a whole new way for us to reach and teach people. We are creating the video content that goes along with the course content for the students at home. It’s very intensive and a truly fascinating field.
It’s been so rewarding to see what we are known for being translated to this new medium.
Do you feel that female entrepreneurs face particular challenges because of their gender? (Sexism, a lack of respect, etc…)
It hasn’t been an issue for me really but it would be naive for me to say that sexism doesn’t exist. We need to empower women and young women in particular to feel competent and worthy and to own that they are competent and worthy.
Things are changing. I see women getting more respect. There are a lot more women leading the charge in business than ever before.
What is your vision for the future of ASR Media?
I see us as a company of people growing in the same direction who are doing meaningful work. We will continue to use our skill sets as storytellers to positively influence businesses and our community.
I love being a part of the conversation with a client. I love helping them realize their vision. I want to continue to do even more of that.