By Kim Stephens
- Where have you worked before coming (back) to Fresno as ND?
I began my television career as an associate producer here in Fresno at KMPH FOX26. Like many new Journalists just starting out in the business, I figured I would be here two years, learn, work my way up, then move to a larger market. I stayed ten years! I worked my way up to one of the greatest jobs in the business – Executive Producer of Great Day. I spent 8 years in that role before being recruited by KUSI News in San Diego. There, I had the privilege of being Steve Cohen’s assistant news director. He is a brilliant Journalist who taught me so much about the business, leadership and localism. After 3 ½ years in that beautiful city I was presented with the opportunity to go home to Colorado. I accepted the executive producer job at Denver7 so I could be close to my young niece and nephew as well as the rest of my family. It was wonderful being near family, but I am not a cold weather girl! When the offer came to return to Fresno, I jumped at it. I now have one of the other best jobs in the business as the news director at KSEE24/CBS47 in a city I love and believe in.
- You came in to the newsroom with the daunting task of a huge new set unveil. I know you love projects …. how’s it been preparing and unveiling?
I do love projects! Lucky for me, this project was well underway by the time I arrived. The new set was designed by our very talented Creative Services Director, Matt Damore. It is his baby. Not only did he take the lead on the design, he really shepherded the launch. My role was to figure out how we were going to use the beautiful new set and give our teams ample opportunity to get comfortable with it prior to the debut. This required great teamwork with our production and news teams, lots of trial and error and, most of all, patience! By the time Launch Day arrived, the team was ready. The launch was clean across all day parts. It was a success! We continue to make tweaks and are enjoying all the opportunity it lends to improve our storytelling.
- What do you love most about being a news director?
I love my team. I love seeing them grow. I love when they get so good a bigger market wants them! I love that we have the opportunity every single day to make a difference. I take seriously the responsibility that comes with that opportunity. As Journalists we have a megaphone. We have to be very careful how we chose to use it. I love having those conversations with the team. Sometimes I wish the public could see the deliberation that goes into reporting certain stories. We are their eyes and ears and we don’t take that role lightly. I love serving the community, giving a voice to the voiceless. I love knowing we have a big scoop and feeling the excitement in the room when the story goes live. I love the digital evolution we are undergoing as an industry and am excited for all the possibilities it presents.
- What advice do you have for professionals who want to follow your path?
The most valuable tool in a news director’s toolbox is their gut. Work on building confidence in your gut. There are so many decisions you have to make in a day and you don’t always have time to deliberate. Building confidence in your instincts is a must. You also have to know that it is OK not to know sometimes. Accept that you won’t always have all the answers and learn to ask for input from others. Collaboration and team building skills are vital when you suddenly find yourself in charge of a 60-person newsroom!
The other advice I would offer is to accept that you may have to move away in order to move up. It is hard to leave your family, friends and comfort zone, but if you are lucky like me, you may get to come back! Make coming back your goal and chart a course, geographically and professionally, to achieve it.
- Brag for a sec….. How many Emmy® nominations and statues? Didn’t you just win one this summer?
I have two large-market nominations, but no wins yet. I was nominated this year for Best Evening Newscast-Large Market and Breaking News-Large Market for work I did with my team at Denver7. I will say the nominations were truly a huge honor. In the category of Best Evening Newscast there were 25 entries and only four nominations. The winner was the other Denver7 entry. Two producers I worked with everyday took home that trophy and I was so proud of them!
- Anything else you’d like to share about 2 stations under 1 roof, or this news market or your news team?
Running a news department at a duopoly is a huge challenge. I am lucky to have an extraordinary assignment manager in Brian Difuira. He immediately took me under his wing and helped me navigate the potential landmines. I have a great management team I am leaning on a lot. It is a real comfort knowing I have strong EP’s that can run the room when I am in meetings or knee-deep in corporate projects. Fresno is a great news town! We have breaking news every day. It is also one of the few places left in California that is still affordable. Anyone looking to make their next move should consider working in Fresno. It’s a great place to live but be careful…you might discover you want to stay longer than two years!