WVC Graduate Kent Emmons is Ultimate Entrepreneur
Even though it has been many years since Kent Emmons was a student at Wabash Valley College, this highly successful entrepreneur continues to credit Wabash Valley College for equipping him with the necessary ingredients for becoming successful.
According to Emmons, “Every tool you need to become successful is waiting for you at Wabash Valley College!”
Continuing with his accolades for his alma mater, he goes on to say…. “As a serial entrepreneur, I give big credit to Wabash Valley College for teaching me the ‘essentials’ for starting a business…. because every hairbrained business idea that I have thought up and launched over the years had to be financed, which means I had to be able to create a business model that made sense, and articulate it on paper in a format and writing style that would capture the attention and fascination of bankers and investment funds. I learned each and every one of these basics at WVC.”
Kent Emmons started in the entertainment business when he was 14, promoting poolside dances at the local swimming pool’s recreation hall. “I hired a band for $50, charged $2 to get in, and hoped that at least 25 people showed up! They always did.” Those earnings along with the money he earned mowing lawns allowed him to save enough money to acquire his first of several oil and gas leases at the age of 18. In 1986, with the price of oil below $10 per barrel, the oil business got tough, and Emmons, through a group of his oil investors, was given an opportunity to get into the entertainment business and never looked back. Kent managed his first “Top 40” act, Bertie Higgins. Higgins had several major international hits, Key Largo, Casablanca, and Just Another Day In Paradise.
During the 1980’s and 1990’s, Emmons worked closely with the Lowery Music Group, where he served as V.P./Producer, COO then CEO of its Atlantis Entertainment division which, until its sale to Sony, was one of the largest independent music publishing companies in the world. While at Lowrey/Atlantis, Emmons structured and managed production, publishing and management deals for several “Top 40” recording artists by signing acts, including Edwin McCain and Mark Wills, produced Bob Eubanks’ $25,000 Game Show, and, in partnership with Bob Eubanks Productions and Sony’s Columbia Tristar Television, produced Wheel of Fortune – Live! – the touring version of the hit television game show.
In 1995 Emmons created the “Vacation Radio” format in Branson, MO and extended the brand into Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg, TN and Myrtle Beach, SC. In 1998, Emmons pioneered the 24/7 comedy radio format by starting the first 24/7 “All Comedy, All the Time” radio network using a vast library of recorded stand-up comedy which he licensed from Universal, Warner Bros, and other major and niche record labels. In 2003, Emmons founded National Lampoon Radio Networks (NLR). Among the network’s shareholders and close advisors are: Barry Levinson (producer), Budd Friedman (Improv Chairman/Founder), Richard Belzer (comic/actor), and Laugh-in producer George Schlatter.
Owning radio and television stations over the years, Emmons discovered early on that there were bucks to be made by running ad spots for products that sold directly to consumers. By having a good eye for products that would sell well, he started dedicating a substantial portion of his media outlet’s ad inventory to direct response. As he says, “It was a relatively easy way to increase revenue considering I didn’t have any product development, inventory, or collection risk. And, the best part, it didn’t require an ad sales staff or having to deal with those greedy Madison Avenue ad agencies.” “I loved it from day one!” Emmons said in a 2004 Radio and Records interview. In 2000, Emmons founded hit-driven Kent Direct, Inc., an international direct response firm that, together with its affiliated partners, is responsible for over $1 billion in sales. Through his connections in the product sourcing side of the infomercial business, Kent Direct has expanded into the international business development field. Emmons’ Kent Direct International focuses on international business development by setting up business opportunities for both American and foreign businesses. With a presence in Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Manila, and Bangkok, Kent Direct International has become a leader in the international business development space, focusing on media, brand licensing, manufacturing, and real estate. Emmons remains an active real estate investor and continues to serve on select corporate and philanthropic boards and currently chairs the board for Daily Media, Inc., the parent company for the start-up Dating Channel and Daily Dater website – set to launch nationally in mid-2015.
Emmons, who had been influential in the unconventional launch of several self-published books, has, himself, entered the world of authorship having just co-authored “Generation Entrepreneur” (2012 for Entrepreneurial Seminars) and “Hook-Up” (2014) and as the sole author of “The Common Sense 80%” (2015), a factual but funny book and documentary pointing out the ridiculousness of Washington politics and policy and offering some seemingly common-sense solutions from respected business and civic leaders from the heartland of America.
Kent also donates his time as a “celebrity auctioneer” to fundraisers around the world that benefit mostly children and senior causes which has included emceeing and auctioning at a fundraiser co-hosted with Ed Asner and for the Motion Picture Home at the home of Diane Ladd and has become increasingly involved in auctioning and fundraising for Kidsave.org in New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., the Unstoppable Foundation, and the Revlon/UCLA Breast Cancer Research Center in Los Angeles.
Emmons enjoys extreme activities like heli-boarding (snowboarding from helicopters), hang gliding, and wakeboarding, but is fast to say his favorite thing in the world is to hang out at the ranch and travel with his 7-year-old daughter Aubrey – who is also in the entertainment business, playing the character “Lily” on ABC’s hit show “Modern Family.” Emmons is an accomplished, humorous public speaker and an active member of the New York Friars’ Clubs, The Reagan Library Foundation, and The Museum of Television and Radio in Beverly Hills. Emmons divides his time between southern California, Gatlinburg, TN, and Hong Kong.