At the end of my latest podcast interview, with my former co-worker and dean of Buffalo sportscasters Ed Kilgore, the former WGRZ-TV sports anchor reminded me of a conversation we once had during a slow moment at work.
Apparently (and I vaguely remember this), I asked Kilgore — in all sincerity — if he felt Tommy Lee Jones had underachieved.
And then, he recalls, we seriously discussed this topic for several minutes.
Such is the spirit of Ed Kilgore. He is a man who enjoys discussion, no matter what the topic. I shared a cubicle with Kilgore during my time at WGRZ-TV, the NBC affiliate in Buffalo, and I always knew I could rope him into a deep conversation if I so desired. Kilgore, like myself, enjoys thinking about and dissecting topics — even a topic as seemingly silly as Tommy Lee Jones’ movie career.
Kilgore joined me for Episode #2 of the Telling the Story podcast. A quick bio: he worked at WGRZ-TV for 40 years before retiring last month. He covered four Super Bowls, the Miracle on Ice, and pretty much every big recent sporting event involving the city of Buffalo. He was inducted in 2010 to the Buffalo Broadcasting Hall of Fame, and he is by far the most famous sports anchor to have graced Western New York.
In the podcast, we touched on very little of this, because the last decade of Kilgore’s broadcasting career was arguably the most interesting in the context of storytelling. He saw his role change, learning how to edit highlights and becoming a force on social media, and experienced a much darker period in Buffalo sports (the NFL’s Bills have not made the playoffs in more than a decade, and the NHL’s Sabres have not played in a Stanley Cup since 1999).
Amidst it all, Kilgore always seemed on-air like he was enjoying himself. Simply put, he looked like he was having fun. And in some ways, that’s what sportscasting is all about.
Taken in a larger scope, that’s what journalism is all about: not necessarily having fun, but remembering your audience and communicating with them.
“Sports, I have always said, is the sandbox of life,” Kilgore said on the podcast. “And I think there are times where it does warrant being serious … but I always would rather just roll with it.”
Among the other topics we discuss on the podcast:
- On becoming a player in social media: “Both Facebook and Twitter, I sort of went into kicking and screaming. I thought they were kind of silly until I realized it was a great way to reach people.”
- On the interplay between the media and sports teams: “There is a certain segment of the media that is becoming more and more adversarial. It’s becoming like a mini-Philadelphia. It’s the worst I have ever seen.”
- On the advice he got as a young sportscaster: “Trust yourself. Always trust yourself, that you can look at that camera and whatever information you need is going to be there. You don’t have to panic and look at your notes. Just eyeball it and trust yourself.”
Listen to the podcast at the top of the page or download it and listen to it later. And subscribe to the podcast on iTunes!
Matt Pearl is the author of the Telling the Story blog and podcast. Feel free to comment below or e-mail Matt at firstname.lastname@example.org.