A major problem in this, the 45th largest TV news market, is the seemingly constant turnover in the reporter ranks. Just when a reporter starts to learn how to pronounce our street names and towns and begins to have a feel for the important issues and personalities in the news, he/she is on the move to seemingly greener pastures.
When they first move here, all news reporters rave about how much they love Austin, its quality of life, its beautiful views, its live music and great people. Eventually, however, that’s not enough, and if they are any good, off they go.
Why? An obvious guess has to be a relatively low pay scale. We can only hope that ownership and top management think about correcting that if we are ever to get the reporting levels we deserve. Until then, with a few exceptions, we have to endure while the kids from West Texas, East Texas and Waco learn the ropes here.
While all the stations have their reporter turnover moments, this week it’s KVUE’s turn, with one leaving and two joining. Morgan Chesky, who joined KVUE in April 2011 and who had become one of the station’s better reporters and fill-in anchors, has landed a weekend anchor job at KOCO, the ABC affiliate in Oklahoma City. His last day at KVUE will be December 19.
Chesky moved here after two years at KLTV, Tyler. While there, he earned a “best reporter” award from the Texas Associated Press Broadcasters. Like a certain Heisman Trophy winner, Chesky is a graduate of Kerrville Tivy High School.
Chesky says he was not looking to leave, but that KOCO contacted him because of the experience and guidance he gained at KVUE.
“Terri Gruca, Tyler Sieswerda and our news director, Frank Volpicella, took me under their wing and taught me the skills I needed,” Chesky told me. “It’s no secret that KVUE is a great place to work, so anchor turnover doesn’t happen often.”
In Oklahoma City, Chesky will be anchoring five shows a weekend, three on Saturday and two on Sunday, and will report nightside on three weekdays. He says the market never has a dull moment. “It’s a very competitive market and a lot more people watch news there than in Austin,” Chesky said. “I feel confident my time at KVUE has given me the tools to do well and earn their trust in Oklahoma City.”
Reversing the trend in both geography and age is KVUE’s new sports reporter/fill-in sports anchor, Shawn Clynch, 39, who has begun work at KVUE. For almost six years, Clynch has been a sports reporter, anchor, producer and sports photographer at KOKH, the Fox station in Oklahoma City. He’s an Austin native and graduate of Anderson High School.
“I always said that Oklahoma is one place I will never work or live, but it turned out to be a great place,” Clynch said. “Still, you can’t get Austin out of your blood. The opportunity to cover the Horns and work for such a solid station is just a great opportunity. I’m a firm believer that things happen for a reason.”
Before Oklahoma City, Clynch worked at KACB, San Angelo, and KTRE Lufkin-Nacogdoches, where he was sports director for four years. While there, he worked with current KVUE anchor Bryan Mays and photographer Scott McKenney, both of whom were in his wedding. Clynch earned a Bachelor of Arts in Geography and Communications degree from Stephen F. Austin State University.
Finally, replacing Chesky in early January will be Shannon Murray, a Dallas native and broadcast journalism graduate of the University of Texas. She has been a reporter and fill-in anchor at KOSA, Midland-Odessa for two-and-a-half years and also a radio correspondent for KCRS, Odessa.
“I lived in Austin for four years and most of my friends are there, so it was always my goal to get back there,” Murray said. “I’ve had a great experience here in Midland-Odessa and I’m sad to leave everybody here, but I could see myself building a life in Austin. I love the town.”
Murray interned for a summer for the Ellen DeGeneres Show and also served an internship with KXAN news.