Sunday, January 19, 2014

10 Years Later

10 Years go by fast
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

January 19, 2004 I started a new journey in my career.  After spending nearly four and a half years in West Lafayette, Indiana at WLFI, it was time to move on to something new.  I grew up near St. Louis and went to school at Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau, so moving to the region had always been a goal of mine.  I had talked with past news directors at all three TV stations in the market on more than one occasion.  

Finally, in October 2003 I had a chance to interview with the news director at WSIL, Mike Snuffer.  There was no formal interview set up, I just called and said I'd be in the area and wanted a few minutes to meet with him.  I had a couple of co-worker friends from WLFI working at WSIL at the time, so they kept me in the loop.  I thought the interview went well, but about a month later Mike emailed me and told me he'd hired someone else for the position.  He encouraged me to stay in touch, as he anticipated more openings after the first of the year.  

Then in early December, Mike emailed me again, telling me the woman he offered the job to accepted an offer elsewhere.  He wanted to see an updated tape, which I sent it to him immediately.  On December 26, 2003, he called me to offer me the job (general assignment reporter).  

Covering a big fire in Carterville
When I joined the team, I had no idea what life would be like for me here at WSIL.  I was given the opportunity to fill in on the anchor desk, and by August 2004, the news gods were on my side and I was asked to become the co anchor of News 3 This Morning.  

I've had so many amazing co workers and friends here.  In my nearly ten years on the morning show, I've had six different "permanent" co anchors and countless fill-in anchors.  There have been four weather people, nine producers, five directors, three graphics operators, and 33 associate producers.  I promise they haven't all left because of me.  

Besides have great co workers and friends, I've met some of the most inspirational people while sharing their stories with the public.  Some of the moments that stick out in my memory include meeting Sean and Natalie DeMello.  Their young son Evan was in need of a heart.  The four year old finally got the organ transplant, but sadly died from complications of the surgery.  I remember talking with his parents before the operation and after, and their optimism and upbeat attitude, even after losing their son made an impression on me.  

I met the DeMellos because at the time I was also the health reporter at WSIL.  That position allowed me to meet many people with a variety of medical conditions.  Some of those people are no longer with us, but their stories were important to tell and may have saved other lives in the process.  Bobbi West, Cheryl Collins, and Deanna Heal are just a few of those who have passed away.  I appreciate their families staying in touch and allowing me to share their stories with the region.
Wyatt Eisenhauser
An American Hero
In 2005, I interviewed the family of Wyatt Eisenhauer, shortly after the Perry County native was killed in Iraq while serving our country.  His family's strength that afternoon as they recalled their hero was truly inspiring.  I've stayed in touch with them, as they continue to honor and pay tribute to others who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.  The Eisenhauers remind us all that freedom isn't free.

There are have been plenty of fun moments too over the last decade.  I've interviewed "Happy Days" star Marion Ross, "The Incredible Hulk" Lou Ferrigno, and more professional wrestlers than you can shake a stick at.  

My job also led me to getting into the ring and having a match.  I've whacked a grown man with a metal folding chair live on the air.  I've been the sparring partner for an MMA fighter, and I've been zapped with a taser.  People still ask me about the tasering incident, and honestly, it hurt in a way I can't really describe other than to say it was shocking.  

This is just the tip of the iceberg.  I could go on forever here, but people would get bored.  I know I'm forgetting people and stories too, and if that I'm sorry if I left you out.  Thank you all who have watched and supported the last decade here.  Words can't express what it means to me and my family.

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