After six years, the “face of Asante” calls it a wrap
Beth Coker can claim a varied career. She was an international speaker on fitness and sports weight training. She helped train Korean Olympics athletes in the 1980s. She lived in Perth, Australia, where her husband designed equipment for a gym mogul. She’s a public speaker and a longtime manager of ARRMC’s Cardiopulmonary Services.
But none of those pursuits brought her the kind of recognition that comes with being on local television.
For six years, Coker has been the face of Asante as host of “Better Health,” KOBI’s public service series that features weekly reports on health and wellness topics. After 320 episodes, she is ready to move on to her next chapter. Her final segment airs this week.
“It’s time for someone fresh to do it,” she says.
For local news watchers, Coker will be remembered as the “face of Asante” – a cheerful presence in a white coat who entered their living rooms weekly to dispense tips on a broad range of health and wellness topics. In fact, she is such a familiar fixture that people stop her in the street or the grocery store.
“I’d be picking up my produce and they’d say, ‘You’re that lady on TV.’ Even when I had a mask on.”
One day, a woman approached her while she was scanning her groceries at a self-checkout-station. “You’re that doctor on TV,” the woman gushed, explaining that a segment on blood pressure had changed her husband’s life. The fan then pulled out her phone to FaceTime her husband. “Hon, this is that doctor on TV.”
Coker isn’t a doctor, a misperception she has tried to correct for years. She is, however, an advocate and expert in health and fitness. It was that knowledge, combined with an engaging presence, that led Communications and Marketing to recruit her for the TV spots in 2017. As the sponsor of “Better Health,” Asante wanted to use the valuable 150 seconds of airtime to help educate the public on health and wellbeing.
Coker dove into this new experience head-first, working with the marketing team to come up with ideas and expert guests from Asante. The topics were far-ranging — from pregnancy to COVID-19, social wellness and heart health.
She researched each subject, then memorized key points for the five episodes that would be done for that day’s shoot.
“She is such a pro,” said Cathy Noah, Asante senior marketing consultant who worked closely with Coker. “She could nail those two-and-a-half minutes on time and on the first take, no matter whom she was interviewing. We’d throw her more work to do at the last minute and she’d just rise to the challenge with a laugh and a willing heart.”
She also learned how to be an on-air personality through trial and error, making sure to use crisp diction and ask brief, direct questions. Sometimes she got tips from her daughter, Courtney Coker, an executive with Lucasfilm.
“Mom,” Courtney told her, “You cannot smile when you’re talking about childhood cancer.”
She learned from her guests, as well. Timothy Uschold, MD, explained the marvel of robotic spine surgery. Nurse Hillary Handelsman shared how Asante is helping babies born with opioid addiction. One of Coker’s favorite guests was cardiologist Brian Gross, MD, an irrepressible font of knowledge on all things heart-related.
“We had him on quite often because he’s just a sound-bite a minute.”
But what she’ll remember most are the relationships she built with the crew at KOBI, and Asante marketing consultants Bonnie Richie, now retired, and Noah.
“They are now lifetime friends. We had a blast doing this.”
To thank her for her years of service, Asante and KOBI executives and producers hosted a reception on Aug. 9, her last day of taping. They presented her with an Asante “Emmy” for best performance, a plaque from KOBI commemorating her 320 episodes and vegan red velvet cupcakes.
“She will be sorely missed as the face of Asante,” Noah said. “She’s just one of those people who always makes your day better.”
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