Saturday, June 25, 2016

My path to the anchor desk

My work ID 20 years ago
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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Earlier this week I realized today (June 25) marks my 20 year anniversary in the news business. I had graduated college six months earlier and was working as an assistant manager at Chuck E. Cheese Pizza in Cape Girardeau. I finally decided it was time to get serious about my career search so I moved back to St. Louis. I had a freelance writing gig for a local newspaper and was substitute teaching until summer break started. 

Then I started working for a division of McDonnell Douglas changing out hardware on employee computers. It was the furthest thing in the world I wanted to do, but with a wedding one year away and no other source of income I happily showed up to work each day.


One night I saw an opening in the paper (the internet was still pretty new) for a Broadcast Assistant at KMOV. Basically it was a person who separated scripts for the anchors, producer and director and ran the Teleprompter during the 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts. I knew I was not going to land a reporting job in a top 25 market right out of school so at least getting my foot in the door could help me start networking with other journalists. I applied and got a call a short time later that the job had been filled. It was a 13 week position and I'd be added to the list of interested candidates for the next cycle. 

I was getting ready to leave to cover a city council meeting for the paper when my phone rang. On the other end was Aleta Harris, the executive producer at KMOV. She informed me the person they hired didn't show up and if I wanted the job it was mine. I eagerly accepted and was told I'd start the next day.

Julius Hunter & Larry Conners
That day was the first time I'd ever been inside a newsroom. I remember it like it was yesterday. It was 3 p.m. and there was a hustle and bustle going on with reporters, producers and photographers moving around the room. Copies of scripts were being printed. Writers were typing away feverishly at their desks. Anchors asked questions about content and what the plan was for the night.

Margie Ellisor
Courtesy: Fox 2 News
I was in awe. I soaked it in while trying not to be a fan boy. I had grown up in St. Louis and seeing the likes of Julius Hunter and Larry Conners in person was a nerdy news fan's grew come true. I also had a chance that evening to meet Margie Ellisor, someone who would become a mentor to me once I transitioned into a permanent job at KMOV. My 13 weeks ended and I was hired on as a production assistant. 

A tough assignment as KMOV
Arm wrestling the Honky Tonk Man
I worked any and all shifts, but primarily was on the morning show, where I bonded with Margie and her co anchor Marc Cox and reporter Kathryn Jamboretz. The three offered me so much advice and encouragement during my year long stint that I'll be forever grateful. They'd take me out on stories with them, help me shoot stand ups and do whatever it took to prepare my own resume tape. Margie also took me out for my first wrestler meeting with the Honky Tonk Man (another fanboy moment).

20 years later with the News 3 This Morning on air team
Fast forward to today and I would have never in a million years imagined I'd still be in the business and anchoring the morning news. I started here at WSIL in 2004 and have been given some amazing opportunities. I can only sum up the last 20 years with one word: grateful. Thanks to all who have influenced and been a part of this journey.

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