Posts Tagged ‘Greg Kerr’
As my subscribers know because of an inadvertent early post of a rough draft last week, after much consideration your humble proprietor has decided to close down the Listening Post. It’s been fun and I’m happy that some of you liked it and found it worthwhile, but it’s time to move on.
Writing the blog has become too much like a job, an unpaid job at that. To do this blog right means spending way too many hours in research, handling technical problems, developing relationships and writing several posts a week, not to mention watching lots of local TV news. I’ll do that anyway, but I would rather be free to watch what I want, when I want.
One of the reasons I started the blog was my belief that the Austin American-Statesman was not doing a very good job covering Austin TV news. Its media reporter/blogger has his hands more than full covering radio, retail and various and sundry other business and city desk stories. I know times are tough in newspapering, but I hope his editors will give the guy time to do some original reporting and in-depth analysis on the local TV news scene. I haven’t even been trying to compete with the Statesman, but I have consistently beaten them to stories they should have had. That’s no great credit to me, but it should be a concern to the Statesman. I fear it is not.
With that, I thank all of you who have read this blog regularly over the past 17 months and wish you news junkies happy viewing. I’m sure I’ll continue to have some thoughts on the local TV news scene on Twitter, so please follow me @billrr.
Ranking the Newscasts and On-Air Professionals
Before I go, a number of you have asked me from time to time to offer my opinion on Austin’s best newscast, best anchors, reporters, etc. I have refrained from doing so because I felt it would taint various stories I might write. I did not want to appear to be coming down on the side of those I had identified as my favorites or criticizing those I had left off my lists. Now, with no future stories to write and with 2013 upon us, it seems like the appropriate time to do a report card.
These choices are just my personal opinion, based on what I have seen on the air. I have no axes to grind or personal vendettas or anything like that to influence these choices. Almost everyone in Austin TV has treated me wonderfully and I am truly grateful.
For all of you who did not make my lists, I am in no way saying you are bad or that I do not like your work. I simply chose my favorites and in many cases it was a very close call between making the list and just missing.
Judging TV newscasts and TV news talent is a very subjective topic, and I’m sure most of you would choose differently if you put together similar lists. No rights or wrongs here, just differences of opinion. I’ll leave the site up for awhile so that those of you who feel strongly can comment on this post and make your case for why anchor “X” or weatherperson “Y” should have made my list. Please, no obscenities, especially about me.
I based my opinion purely on journalism and on-air performance over the long haul–those I think have the best chances for success in TV news for the foreseeable future.
Best Overall News Coverage
1. KVUE (Tie)
1. KXAN (Tie)
Comment–OK, I punted on the big one. Sorry, couldn’t choose between them.
Best on-set team
1. Tyler Sieswerda, Terri Gruca, Mark Murray, Mike Barnes, KVUE Prime Time
2. Robert Hadlock, Leslie Rhode, Jim Spencer, Roger Wallace, KXAN Prime Time
3. Bryan Mays, Yvonne Nava, Albert Ramon, KVUE Mornings
4. Brian Sanders, Sally Hernandez, Mark Monstrola, Amanda Dugan, KXAN Mornings
5. Greg Kerr, Katherine Kisiel, Keri Bellacosa, Zach Shields, FOX 7 Mornings
Comment–These are the teams that both deliver professional newscasts while also seeming to genuinely enjoy each other’s company. They are comfortable with each other and as a result, we are comfortable watching them.
Best Male Anchor
1. Tyler Sieswerda, KVUE Prime Time
2. Robert Hadlock, KXAN Prime Time
3. David Scott, KXAN Weekends
4. Mike Warren, FOX 7 Prime Time
5. Robert Maxwell, KXAN/KNVA Prime Time
Comment—While for me, Sieswerda is the best, KXAN seems to have cornered the market on male anchors. I could have added that station’s Brian Sanders, but I elected to put him on my top up-and-comers list (below) as he begins new duties on the KXAN weekday morning team.
Best Female Anchor
1. Katherine Stolp, KEYE Weekends
2. Sally Hernandez, KXAN Mornings
3. Yvonne Nava, KVUE Mornings
4. Terri Gruca, KVUE Prime Time
5. Leslie Rhode, KXAN Prime Time
6. Shannon Wolfson, KXAN/KNVA Prime Time
Comment–I have ranked three “secondary” anchors ahead of the prime time stars. For me, Stolp, Hernandez and Nava are essentially tied for first. Because of families and ties to Austin, I’m assuming Hernandez, Nava, Gruca and Rhode will be around for awhile, which is good. Wolfson has already announced she will be leaving in March in search of greener pastures and I fully expect Stolp to land a better job in a bigger market at some point, if she chooses. Still, this is her hometown, so we may keep her, too.
1. Jim Spencer, KXAN Prime Time
2. Mark Murray, KVUE Prime Time
3. Scott Fisher, FOX 7 Prime Time
4. Burton Fitzsimmons, YNN Mornings
5. Zach Shields, FOX 7 Mornings
Comment–Spencer and Murray are tied for first in my opinion, and obviously Troy Kimmel would have made it a three-way tie had he remained at KEYE. This is probably Austin’s strongest category and we will be blessed indeed if these gentlemen continue in their roles.
1. Dave Cody, FOX 7
2. Roger Wallace, KXAN
3. Bob Ballou, KEYE
4. Mike Barnes, KVUE
5. Ricky Doyle, YNN
Comment–Again, tough call. Veterans all who seem to love Austin sports. We are the winners.
Best Male Reporter—Non-Regular Anchor
1. Chris Willis, KXAN
2. Chris Sadeghi, KXAN
3. Mark Wiggins, KVUE
4. Rudi Koski, FOX 7
5. Jim Swift, KXAN
6. Shelton Green, KVUE
Comment–For day-to-day, on-the-street coverage of any story, Sadeghi is the best in this market. You can argue that Willis does not belong here since he was a long time anchor and still fills occasionally on the desk, but as KXAN’s chief investigative reporter, he has assumed that role as his main job. He has become the face of KXAN’s branding efforts with frequent on-air promotions. You can also argue that Swift is more a story teller than a regular news reporter, but that’s quibbling. I love his work and it’s my blog.
Best Female Reporter—Non-Anchor
1. Heather Kovar, KVUE
2. Jessica Holloway, KVUE
3. Noelle Newton, FOX 7
4. Erin Cargile, KXAN
5. Jessica Vess, KVUE
6. Karen Kiley, KEYE
Comment–These women all do a good job. Kovar’s experience shows. Holloway has brought a real skill to sensitive interviews.
Up and Comers to Keep an Eye On
1. Brian Sanders, KXAN anchor
2. Mark Monstrola, KXAN meteorologist
3. Angie Beavin, KXAN reporter
4. Amanda Dugan, KXAN traffic
5. Shawn Clynch, KVUE sportscaster
6. Adam Bennett, KEYE reporter
Comment–I guess there’s not too much doubt about which station I think has a bright future.
It’s tough to follow a legend. Happily for new FOX 7 morning co-anchor Greg Kerr, management has assured him he need not be another Joe Bickett.
“They told me to do my own thing, mesh with my team and make it good television,” Kerr told me this week.
Bickett left in May after 18 years for a return to Reno, Nevada, his hometown. Now in his third week in Austin, Kerr, 52, says his adjustment to morning news is going well. He likes the camaraderie with co-anchors Katherine Kisiel and Keri Bellacosa and meteorologist Zach Shields, but says he’s still getting used to the format.
“I’m used to writing my own copy, so I’m learning that our four morning producers do most of the writing,” Kerr said. “I can make some changes when I first get in at 3:30 a.m., but after that we really have no chance to read through copy since there is no break from 4:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. It’s a mental marathon and you have to keep your head in the game.”
Kerr is in the midst of adjustments on several fronts. First are the hours, going to bed at 7 p.m. and getting up at 2:30 a.m. Second is the change from his longtime career in sports broadcasting to the news side. Like Bryan Mays at KVUE-TV and Brian Sanders at KXAN-TV who also switched from sports to news in the past year, Kerr saw the writing on the wall several years ago as sports departments around the country cut staff and air minutes.
“I was sports director at WFMY-TV in Greensboro-Winston Salem, North Carolina and the station cut a fantastic four-person sports department down to just me,” Kerr said. “I made up my mind I was going to make the move to news, so I began filling in when the news anchors were off.”
Kerr grew up in Dallas and won a basketball scholarship to Weatherford College, 30 miles west of the Metroplex. After two years, he took his basketball skills to the University of North Texas for a year, did some radio work and changed his major from physical education to broadcasting. He then accepted a basketball scholarship to the University of Central Oklahoma, where he earned his broadcasting degree.
Kerr landed his first TV job in San Angelo before moving to Austin for his first tour of duty with the then CBS affiliate, KTBC-TV, now FOX 7. He was a sports reporter and weekend sports anchor.
“I remember driving in from San Angelo and thinking how much I liked this place with its great scenery,” Kerr said. “I’m a cyclist and love to get out on the roads. I didn’t do enough the first time I was in Austin, so now I want to get out and enjoy my time here, which I hope is until I retire.”
In 1986, Kerr jumped to KFDM-TV Beaumont where he covered Super Bowls, did play-by-play on Lamar University sports and worked his way up to sports director. He then took his sports skills to stations in Springfield-Decatur-Champaign, Illinois and Oklahoma City before landing in Greensboro in 2001.
Tough economic times caught up with the station and Kerr, along with the prime news anchor, were let go. He has been working in Dallas as a freelancer for Fox Sports Southwest, covering the major Dallas sports teams. He also spent some time working for Conference USA as director of sports services for men’s basketball.
Kerr missed TV, however, so when he saw the posting for FOX 7’s morning anchor job he jumped at it.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity,” Kerr said. “When I was here before, Austin’s explosive growth was just starting. It’s a big city now—small town charm with a big city feel, which is even more of a draw for me, coming from Dallas. I shouldn’t have left in the first place.”
Kerr and his wife, Lori, were married in Austin 26 years ago. They have two daughters, one in college and one in high school.