A Rare Kind of Storyteller 

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Josh Kerns

There’s no nonsense with Josh Kerns. He will set you straight. He’s passionate about getting the story right and making you care about it. This former TV and radio journalist has worked for KIRO 97.3FM, KOMO 4 TV, KOMO News Radio in Seattle, Potomac Radio News in Washington, D.C. and KMMS in Bozeman, Montana, where he got his start in broadcasting in 1990. Kerns received his Masters in Journalism and Public Affairs at American University in Washington, D.C. in 1995 after graduating from Montana State University in 1991.

It’s rare that a storyteller can jump back and forth from journalism to public relations and back again but that’s exactly what Josh Kerns did when he joined KIRO Radio and MyNorthwest.com as an anchor and reporter in 2007. Ten years later, he left KIRO to become the principal at Cypress Point Strategic. Josh has won several Emmy and Edward R. Murrow Awards. He’s spent several years meeting a daily deadline as well as serving as a strategic communications consultant, multi-media producer and account manager for top public relations firm, Waggener Edstrom, where he handled communications campaigns for Microsoft, Victoria Secret SAP and others, securing coverage on CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, BBC and National Public Radio. You can read all that on his Linked In profile page but what links all those experiences together is that Josh Kerns has always been a storyteller. Today, he tells physicians’ stories as Director of Communications and Marketing for the King County Medical Society.

I sat down recently with Josh Kerns to talk about his career and finding purpose after life in the newsroom.

Kerns interviewing Dr. Josh Liao/UW Medicine for DocsTalk podcast

Josh Kerns: I am officially the Director of Marketing and Communications. I have a twofold mandate. One is to give voice to the thousands of physicians and retired physicians in King County and the other is to grow our membership, to create as much value so that people will join.

John Yeager: What does that entail?

Kerns: Everything from external communications, traditional PR, I produce a podcast, I do media relations, placing our doctor’s stories in radio, TV, newspaper. I help our physicians put together op-eds. I work with other partner organizations that our doctors are passionate about. For example, one of our docs, a primary care doc up at Evergreen in Kirkland, very passionate about the Clean Air Initiative that was on the ballot this fall. I worked with him and the campaign to help them get more coverage around the medical side of the Clean Air Initiative which ultimately… Clearly, I’m not very good at it because it lost by 20 points.”

“So really all of those things, but then also on the marketing piece, it is raising awareness for physicians to join the organization. There is a huge branding marketing component to it which is, “How do I create as much value through partnerships with organizations, discounts on home loans, car purchases?” Tangible things like that and then creating different marketing vehicles. How do I get the word out to you, John Yeager, (let’s say you’re a pediatrician in Bellevue) that you should be joining this organization? So, there is a sales component, a marketing component to it which may involve storytelling, my journalistic background. But at the end of the day, it is still very much separated from my public information officer role, if you will.

Yeager: I started The Repurposed Journalist a few years ago, and I’ve talked to so many different people, the blog is basically to describe life after the newsroom. So, what’s your purpose now? You talked about what part of the job entails and you headed that way, but what would you describe as your purpose?

Kerns: I think my purpose, John, at the end of the day is not that much different from when I went into this and got my master’s in Journalism. That’s a plug for American University. My purpose is to raise awareness, to shine a spotlight on things of importance to me and the world and the community. I would like to make the world a better place. So therefore, I would say that my mission is to do that, just depending on who hires me. As a Repurposed Journalist, maybe I didn’t have a specific constituency other than the general public. Now I have doctors in this role. But before it was Microsoft over the last few years and the UW Medical Center and the Mariners, when I do work for them. So, it’s always to give voice to tell the best possible story on behalf of whoever it is that I’m looking to shine a light on. Much like you, it’s still… At the end of the day, it’s about finding the story and telling the story.

Yeager: Alright, so I can look on LinkedIn and see the highlights of your career. What do you like to emphasize? You were a journalist, you met a daily deadline for many years. How many years? In and out of journalism. As I recall, you were in the local journalism scene, then you went to PR and then you went back to journalism. Unlike many people, you’ve been on both sides of that divide. How would you describe your career?

The Liberal Media?

Kerns: I would say that I always had a short attention span and always was interested in a lot of things. Whenever people talk about… This is my soapbox for a second. When people talk about the liberal media, I proudly wear that badge not from a political standpoint, but from the true sense of liberal, broad. Think of a liberal arts education. I’ve always been interested in so many things. And so, I would characterize my career as a constant curiosity and a constant desire to do a lot of different things. Which is why I bounced from… I started in college radio playing punk rock. Somebody handed me a copy one day because the news guy didn’t show up and I liked doing the news. And then I liked telling stories. But I also loved the visual side of television news. One of the things you did so incredibly, marrying those two and then figuring out how to do it. But I also wanted to do serious and I wanted to do sports and I wanted to do music and I had a music show on KIRO. So, my career I would characterize is, before it was cool to have 50 jobs, I wanted to have 50 jobs because I didn’t want to do the same thing over and over and over again.

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Kerns at T-Mobile Park Producing His Weekly Feature for Mariners Magazine/Mariners Radio Network

Kerns: And I think it has been reflected in that I’ve been a TV sports anchor. I’ve been a TV news reporter. I’ve been a radio host. I have produced stories for the Mariners, but then I also did, like you said. I left, got Hat Hunter now, went to Microsoft and did PR and came back because I found that I liked being around real information and not being… Trying to sell you on Windows Vista as the next great operating system, which we all know what happened with that. So that’s, I would characterize, as a very diverse career, constantly looking for something new, interesting that keeps me going. And I always encourage you. At the core, it’s still journalism. I write stories on a regular basis for our newsletter. I help others tell their stories. So, the story is still the core of it and it’s that innate curiosity about the world.

Yeager: My next question was going to be, “Define a journalist”, but I think you sort of just did with that answer. You have a natural curiosity to tell stories.

Kerns: Shining a light on those things that I feel the world needs to know about. And it doesn’t have to be just a politician’s peccadillos, financial malfeasance, but it is those things. It’s providing information to people that they wouldn’t otherwise have and maybe enriching their lives. So that to me at its core is what a journalist is, is somebody who wants to help. I don’t want to say… I hate the term “truth.” I know I have a strong feeling about what is the truth. Facts are the truth. You can argue whether or not you believe in the politics behind climate change, but you can’t argue with 40 years of data, I don’t think. So, me as a journalist, my role is to provide you that information and hopefully will empower somebody else to do something, whatever that may be.

Yeager: Do you miss the daily deadline at all?

Kerns: No. And it’s funny… The adrenaline… You know what? I miss the adrenaline when stuff is actually going on. I don’t miss the deadline of, “You’ve got to get something on the air at 3 o’clock no matter what, come hell or high water,” because it was always compromised. What I do miss is the excitement of when something is really going on, being at election night as the votes are being tallied. Of course, that doesn’t happen anymore. You gotta wait for the fourth drop six weeks from now. But I miss breaking news especially. I loved being in the middle of that. I miss being out there every day in just the throes of whatever is going on and being right there on the front row of history being made on a daily basis. So that I miss. And I miss the people.

Kerns: You know this. I miss not knowing what my day was gonna be like and at the end of the day it was rarely what you thought it was going to be. And whether that is an explosion, whatever, or just simply you went to the City Council meeting and you met this person and something happened and this vote… Just being plugged into everything. I miss the sort of energy and adrenaline of that. But I think Twitter and social media has satisfied a lot of that. I seem to get maybe… It’s sort of like though… I think like real sugar versus… Yeah, it’s a drug. Because that desire to know everything that’s going on and be right there plugged in, you can do it a lot more without having to be out on the streets. I don’t have to go to City Hall in order to know what’s going on.

Yeager: I’m always fascinated by the answer that people give me to this next question, which is, how has being a journalist helped you do what you’re doing now? Most people say that it’s a muscle that they used as a journalist and now they’re still using that same muscle. So, you get to do the same kind of work that you did when you were a journalist. So, it has helped you do what you’re doing now. I see it every time you print something or your podcast comes out. But it has helped you. Being a repurpose journalist now had a lot to do with being a journalist before.

A World in Need of Context

Kerns: I agree 100%. But I would take it beyond that, John. And that is, go beyond the muscle. But the skills, I think there is… that journalists are undervalued. The broad range of skill sets that are out there. Having to write and communicate effectively is an increasingly lost art. MIT teaches kids, is forcing now their grad students to take improv and speech classes ’cause they cannot communicate. We live in a world increasingly with information overload, but a lack of context. I think the ability to synthesize an idea clearly and somewhat quickly under deadline. But just in the world, to be able to see the world broadly and hone it in to a… Whether that’s for a business in the role of PR or whatever, as a strategic thinker, in any sort of capacity. As a parent. I also think that being exposed to so many people and ideas… Because if you study in a specific academic track, you’re a scientist, you’re around a certain way of thinking that was their dogma, their ideology, whatever, and you sort of get pigeonholed into that and it’s very hard to be exposed to broader ideas.

Kerns: As journalists, we’re exposed every day to different thoughts, to different perspectives, to different ways. So that therefore hopefully you can see the world as a journalist, as a repurpose journalist, with a much wider lens. Now, I would say that the drawback to that is that we see bullshit for what is bullshit. Your bullshit detector is much greater because you know the truth. Not to take stuff for face value. And that’s what’s made these last couple of years so damn hard. Because there’s just… You can’t tell me… The sky is blue. You cannot tell me the sky is not… You can’t tell me you don’t believe that and that I’m a fake news…

Yeager: Yeah. That’s hard when I have friends who voted one way and blamed reporters and blamed the media. They just have a job to do. So, journalists are under attack now and we don’t have to talk about that because… Well, that may be one of the reasons that you don’t miss doing a daily deadline right now.

Kerns: Well, it’s funny that you say that. In my last few years, and this is not exclusive to the right, I came under attack multiple times from the far left, from Kshama Sawant and some of these people who basically want… Who told me in no uncertain terms, I should report it their way. That I didn’t have a right as a male, as a white, whatever… Facts are still facts, information. And it is an industry under sought. I think we need it more than ever. I think it’s misunderstood. And I would say, if I was gonna issue a challenge to this generation… Who stay within the industry. They have to be much more… They have to almost do a PR campaign around journalism to inform, “What does a journalist actually do? What does that mean?” Because we have ideals and people sort of subscribe to these generalized notions that they saw in broadcasting just 25 years ago, whatever. But they’re wrong and they’re not true. And the people who are out there every day dedicating their lives to doing this, I think it’s incumbent on them and their employers to tell the world, “What does journalists actually do?” Because maybe we can rebuild some of the trust that the public should have in them.

What’s Next After Life in The Newsroom?

Yeager: One of the reasons that I started doing this is that when I got my masters at the UW in 2013, they said, “Well, start a blog. Write about what you know.” And it was like, at that point I had just left the business and I was trying to repurpose myself. And Hanson Hosein, the head of the MCDM, said, “Well, that’s your topic. That’s your title. That’s it.” That’s what it is, it’s the Repurposed Journalist and my audience is the people who are in the business who don’t think they have any options. Once they’re done, they feel like they’re gonna be, “Oh my God… ” What advice do you have to somebody who’s looking at a transition out of the newsroom? What would you tell them about life after the newsroom?

Kerns: There is tremendous opportunity. The skills you develop that you have to exercise at a high level every day as a journalist, and whether that is print or broadcast. And the notion of, “I’m a writer only.” No, we’re all writers. At its core, we’re all writers, first and foremost. But I believe that the industry, the culture of journalism, was always such that it denigrated over the last, say, 25 years. The value… The self-worth of journalists to think that they couldn’t do anything else. The opposite is true. The skills you have as a writer, as a communicator, as a critical thinker, as a project manager, as an organizer, as a nimble actor, are all so incredibly vital to business. Whether directly in PR, marketing, advertising. In so many ways, in project management. And I think that the biggest advice I would give people is to start to network outside of the industry and figure out, “How do you translate those skills? How do you first identify them?” And I’ve had this conversation, John, with you and with many other people.

Kerns: The first step is being able to self-identify. What am I good at? What are those things? And then being able to translate maybe the verbiage for the industry or the field that you’re interested in. Whether it is advertising, marketing, PR, something unrelated, non-profit work. And then start to network and begin to plug yourself in. And what you will find is, a, that you can take a lunch break and that you can actually have weekends and holidays off. B, that people will pay you way more than they pay in the news business for these skills that you have acquired, that you have rightfully earned. And, c, that you will bring such an incredible value that is missing from so many organizations. I will tell you, I’ve worked with Steve Ballmer, Bill Gates, Phil Kahn. I have been around top-level CEOs in this community for 20 plus years, both as a news person, but as a strategic communicator. Your comfort with being able to be around those people, all of my work with the Mariners and the Seahawks in the locker room, translates directly to my ability to sit down with the CEO.

Kerns: You as a journalist, you can do that too. And I would say start to build that network outside of it. Get out of the bubble and don’t listen to the boss say, “You can’t do anything else,” or, “You’re lucky just to have this job,” because that’s bullshit. There are a lot of people in Seattle specifically who would kill to have you if only they knew you were out there.

Yeager: Anything I didn’t ask you? I mean we could talk for hours and hours.

Kerns: Where did my hair go? Why did I get out of TV? People say, “Why did you stop doing TV?” I said, “I was 40 pounds lighter and a lot more hair.” No, I think we got it.”

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Bold for Blood

The idea behind “Bold for Blood” was simple enough. Donate a pint of blood, take a picture with a #BoldforBlood sign, challenge three friends to donate. Post it on social media. Done. But it wasn’t that easy.

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John Yeager – Bloodworks Northwest

When I came in July 24th to donate at the Central Donation Center on Seattle’s First Hill, my blood pressure was too high. They call it white lab coat syndrome, defined as “exhibiting heightened blood pressure in a clinical setting.” But the next day, it was back to normal. My phlebotomist, Jeffrey Rhubottom had calmed me right down. Within a few minutes, the donation was done. I had the picture taken, issued the challenge to three friends and posted it to social media.

This might be a good time to tell you that I used to be a TV news reporter for KIRO 7, KCTS 9 Seattle Channel, KCTV and KCPQ13 here in Seattle. In the two decades I spent as a journalist, I was lucky enough to win more than 30 national, regional and local awards for excellence in journalism including 17 Emmys. In that time you meet a lot of people so that’s the community of friends from which I decided to appeal. Within a few hours of my donation, a former Q13 colleague, Harry Higgins had accepted my challenge and made an appointment to donate. A couple of days later, long-time donor and reporter Denise Whitaker from KOMO 4 TV accepted the #Bold for Blood challenge.

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Harry Higgins Former Q13 News Photographer

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Denise Whitaker KOMO (left) Ron Lim Bloodworks NW (right)

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John Fisher The Sound 94.1 FM

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next day, another friend, radio announcer John Fisher from The Sound 94.1FM accepted the challenge. I was there with him when he came in and donated. He was in and out in 45 minutes. #BoldforBlood was designed to respond the shortage of blood that centers like Bloodworks Northwest encounter every summer. This campaign for blood surprised me, in a good way. It became personal. I realized when John was sitting there getting a needle stuck in his arm, he did it because I asked him to do it. He told me he was “uncomfortable” around needles. Tryphanophobia, they call it, the fear of needles. But he overcame that because he was thinking to something bigger than himself and because a friend had asked him to do it.

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Marc Nowak – Aegis Living

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Gregg Hersholt – KOMO NewsRadio

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Yeager & Eric Riddle KING 5 “Evening Magazine”

 

 

 

 

 

A couple of days later, Aegis Living’s radio voice Marc Nowak accepted my challenge. Then another former KIRO colleague Gregg Hersholt, now the morning drive host for KOMO News Radio stepped up. Then another colleague, KING 5 Evening Magazine producer Eric Riddle rolled up his sleeve and made a donation. “That was some guilt trip you laid on me, Yeager,” he joked.

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Chris Cashman – KING 5 “Take Five”

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Chris Cashman – KING 5 “Take Five”

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Brian Callanan – Seattle Channel & Phlebotomist, Jeffrey Rhubottom

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reporter Chris Cashman from KING 5’s “Take Five” show, who’d done work with my daughter, Kate on KING 5’s “The 206”, also accepted my challenge. Chris did a humorous and compelling first-person story on how easy his donation was despite his trypanophobia. He in turn, challenged KING 5 morning news anchor Mark Wright who I’d worked with at Q13.

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Mark Wright – KING 5 Anchor/Reporter

The next day, another former Q13 colleague, Seattle Channel’s Brian Callanan said yes and came in to donate. On September 4th, KING 5’s Mark Wright answered Chris Cashman’s challenge and donated his pint. In almost every instance, I was able to be on hand when they donated. It’s a humbling feeling watching your friends and former colleagues get a needle stuck in the arm for a cause you asked them to embrace. But with #BoldforBlood that’s exactly what happened.

It’s a challenging time for journalists today. Many feel under attack by people from all over the political spectrum on every level. “Fake news,” is the rallying cry among the haters. Journalists are yelled at, threatened and in some cases even killed simply for trying to report the facts. That’s disturbingly short-sighted and alarmingly misguided. Because I can testify that what I saw in the past four weeks was a genuine willingness to do something to make our community better and answer the call to replenish our blood supply. In instance after instance, I saw journalists and broadcasters take a few minutes out of their day, overcome their white lab syndrome, their trypanophobia and roll up their sleeves to literally Be Bold for Blood. Nothing fake about this news. Real blood. Real people who simply answered a challenge.

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Brian Callanan – Seattle Channel

So how bold are you? All you have to do is book an appointment, challenge three people you know to donate and post the picture on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Done. See who shows up. It might just surprise you. But it’s got to start with you. Help make a positive difference.

 

 

 

 

John Yeager is Bloodworks Northwest’s Senior Media Content Strategist

 

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Ron Rutherford – Liquor Manager/Beverage Steward

I bumped into him quite by accident. I was in the Gilman Street Safeway in Issaquah looking for a hearty red wine to go with the steak we were having that evening. As I turned from the wine rack, my coat caught on a bottle on one of the lower shelves. It fell, landing on the thick glass of the bottom of the bottle. Amazingly, when it hit the floor, it bounced up and landed upright. I was lucky but the noise shocked me. Hearing the commotion, the wine department manager rushed around the wine shelf to see what had happened. I recognized him immediately.

Ron Rutherford.

I knew Ron from my days as a feature reporter at KIRO 7 in the mid-90’s. He started there as a weekend producer, 7pm producer and filled in at 5pm, which is where I met him. Then he went on to produce the morning show. Rutherford was in the news business as a producer or director from 1985 to 1997. After a few years at CRISTA Ministries, he took a job at SearchEase.com, writing editing and managing content for a monthly newsletter that reached more than 65,000 subscribers to TAOnline.com, which helps veterans find employment once their tour of duty is over. Then Rutherford took a job as the wine steward at Auburn Wine & Caviar. Today, while his business card reads Safeway Liquor Manager and Beverage Steward, he’s another Repurposed Journalist, telling stories.

He says, “We’ve got more than a thousand different bottles of wine on our shelves. A lot of people … they’re looking for something. So there’s always a story behind every bottle and telling that story, we’ve got probably 35 different Cabernets on the shelf, but you can find a different story that will help ‘sell’ that because people can engage that story and feel what you’re talking about and they’re willing to try that bottle because of it.”

In 2014, he was hired as Liquor Manager and Beverage Steward for Safeway. But Ron still smiles when he thinks back on his days chasing news, meeting a daily deadline.

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At KIRO, “I was a producer. I started out as the weekend producer and then,” he chuckles. “When KIRO went through the metamorphosis where Belo bought us,” he says, “I was actually laid off for about three months and then I got a call from the station asking, “Can you come in and help us out in the morning?” and I did. And then my return actually was the day of the Oklahoma City bombing (in 1995). I saw that was happening, I called. I said, “Do you guys need help?” and I just stayed.”

Rutherford tells me really doesn’t miss the news business. “No, I don’t. Because, John, it’s changed so much from when we were there. The news is not what it was. I was brought up that you gather the facts and then you presented it and let people decide what the story was. Now, it’s like there’s a preconceived notion of what the story is going to be and we try to filter the facts to make that story.”

JY:  But what did you get out of being a producer? Because you may not miss it, but I think it helped you in what you’re doing now.

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RR: “Well, I started my day with absolutely nothing and within eight hours I helped build an hour’s worth of news for the day and then once that’s all done then I have nothing again. And that’s what I feel here is that it gives you great organizational skills. It helps you in crisis management. Seriously, people here know that if there is a crisis going on that I’m one of the greatest people they can turn to because it’s just what I do. So those are things that I felt really good about.”

 

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JY: I talk to other former journalists and they tell me that they just learned how to do things faster. They developed storytelling muscle. They know how to identify what’s important and how to distill it and I think that you still have that.

RR: “Well, you do because … everything is based upon hours, minutes, and seconds and anytime that you can save time by doing something, that means you’re gonna have more time to do something else. So, it’s not always about how fast you can get it done but getting it done right so you don’t have to redo it the second time too. So it’s that combination of making sure that you know how to manage your time well and that is one of the things that I know has been… that was a big help for me.

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JY: What’s your favorite bottle of wine?

RR: “The one in my hand. I’ve had super expensive bottles of wine and I’ve had really inexpensive bottles of wine. Notice I didn’t say cheap. But I’ve had great bottles of wine and price doesn’t dictate what’s a great bottle. Sometimes it is the story. I look for what went into this bottle that makes it so good.”

JY: Do you still watch TV news?

RR: “When I used to be in the business, my wife never got to see an entire newscast because when I wasn’t working I was flipping channels to see where everything was. So now I get to actually sit back and enjoy it, if enjoy is the right word.”

RR: “There’s still some great productions that I see. There’s some great storytelling and I think that that part of it is still there, and that’s the part that I really enjoy seeing. What I believe that we sometimes miss is that… Well for me this is my personal opinion, the other night, we had Seattle Mariner pitcher, James Paxton, the man throws a no-hitter and by the way the team’s doing fairly well and so, to me that’s what people are talking about, and that’s what news should be, is that what are people talking about? But the lead story on one of the TV stations wasn’t Paxton, wasn’t anything to do with that. It was some sort of random attack where someone got hurt, and violence, and the police blotter and yada, yada, yada, yada. And I don’t think people are talking about that.”

RR: “I don’t know if we’re necessarily always looking at what people are interested in and what they want to hear. We’re feeding them what we think they want to hear, and we’re giving more doom and gloom. So, I try to look at life as glass being half-full instead of half-empty.”

 

JY: So, what’s your purpose now?

RR: “When I’m sitting in this department and I have someone come in, and they go, “Wow. I’m so glad you’re here. I need your help.” Because there are people who come in and search for my experience and expertise here. And that’s really a lot of fun, because it gives you a great sense of purpose in that they enjoy having you help them because they trust you. And I think that’s maybe my purpose, is gaining that trust and keeping that trust with people.”

JY: And a good finish, right?

RR: “Absolutely. A long finish.”

Repurposed Journalist Ron RutherfordRon Rutherford

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Brad Goode – Washington Federal

Try keeping up with Brad Goode. It’ll leave you out of breath. He’s part man on a mission, part kid in the candy store. For the past year and a half, the former TV anchor (KOMO 4, CNBC, KING 5) has been Senior Vice President & Director of Marketing/ Communications at Washington Federal in Seattle. And while for some, the September, 2016 transition to life after the newsroom could have been tough, for this repurposed journalist, the career move to the finance industry is paying big dividends. Brad Goode is still using the same storytelling muscles he did when he met a daily deadline and got up before the crack of dawn to deliver the morning news.

In an energetic, non-stop interview at Washington Federal headquarters in downtown Seattle Goode talked about making the leap from journalism to banking.

BG: “It’s a little bizarre, I’d been looking to transition for maybe six, eight months, just saying, “I love business. I’ve covered business for years in news.” And I just thought the time was right to jump to a business that may need the skill set of a 30-year broadcaster, in terms of marketing, communications, community relations with the time that I’d spent here in Seattle. And after interviewing with about a dozen companies with their executive teams, lo and behold, I come to find that this bank, Washington Federal, that’s been around 100 years, had not done much marketing or promotion of itself or its products. And I come walking through the door saying, “Hey, I’m looking to do something like this. I’ve got an affinity for covering business news.” And they said, “Well, we’d like you to help us out.” And after about six or seven interviews and lunches and I was starting to wonder, “When do you get a job offer in this banking business if things are going so well and you’re meeting with the CEO?” And then finally they said, “No, we would like you to run our marketing communications department.” I thought, “Wow. Well, that’s a big step.” But they embraced what I was able to bring. I’m unlike anybody else in the building, obviously.”

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Goode at Washington Federal Downtown Seattle Headquarters

BG: “I say that because I walked in the door saying, “This institution has a great story and somebody needs to tell it. Nobody has told the story of this 100-year institution that survived Wall Street crashes and the recent great recession, and that we’re still here and that we’ve helped keep people in their homes. And we’ve helped build businesses not only here in Seattle but in eight states now.” And they said, “We do need help with someone telling our story.” I said, “I got it.” And then they said, “Can you help us improve our internal communications?” I said, “Well, what do you have? They said, “Well, the CEO just kinda talks into a camera.” And I said, “Well, yeah, give me that, I’ll make that into a weekly newscast.” “Great.” And that thing’s taken off.”

BG: “I fondly call it, “What’s up at Wa Fed?” And so I give shout outs all over the footprint, on what people are doing. In this week’s episode, I showed all of our branch employees from our Yuma, Arizona branch, out in the middle of the desert, taking their part in the highway cleanup, collecting 12 bags of trash in their community to clean up the highway. We just show what everybody’s doing out there in their communities. And it’s been so much fun. And it’s galvanized these 2,000 employees, ’cause they feel all attached, ’cause they get to watch what everybody’s doing within their company thousands of miles away.

JY: “So when you were in the newsroom, your purpose was to put stories on the air and inform the public. What is your purpose now?”

BG: “Well, now the purpose is to communicate and educate our employee base, 2,000 of them, internally. And then outwardly market our brand. Some of that’s community relations, and you understand that ’cause you do some of that. Where can we position what we do? We found financial literacy is a big part of what we do. We have found that supporting low income housing, since we have been doling out home loans for over 100 years, is a big part of what we like to do. And marketing some of our new… Our checking accounts, our credit cards, typical things that banks have, but why you should go with Washington Federal. And a lot of that boils back to our story.”

JY: “Do you miss it at all? I still see that you’re on KOMO TV on a regular basis. You’re still doing things.”

BG: “Now I get to just play in TV. But it’s not the full time gig. And I enjoy going back into KOMO and at least delivering twice a week the franchise (Goode 4 Business) that I developed six years ago now, and which is similar to what I did on CNBC. And now it’s sponsored by us, Washington Federal, so it’s kind of a neat little thing that we get to do, but it’s fun to go do that for TV and radio and then leave. And I feel like I’m more involved in something than I’ve ever been. And I would say that is satisfying. It’s surprised me to a certain degree. This bank and it’s executive team have embraced my madness. [chuckle] And we’re having a lot of fun, and I’ve created things that they never thought they would do before. But we’re seeing some success and results which makes me feel great.

JY: “What kind of muscles as a reporter are you using now?”

BG: “Oh my goodness, every day. Seriously, countless every day. Decision making, timelines, communicating with people, deadlines of course. Nobody understands deadlines, I believe, in the corporate world like we did in the media world. ‘Cause we were up sometimes (meeting deadlines) several a day. Here deadlines are a week, two, a month, six months out, which kinda drives me crazy a little bit. [chuckles] So I find I’ve had to manage time differently, but I found that what I learned in reporting and anchoring and being part of a news team really helped me transition into this team a lot easier than I thought it would be, even though it was a completely different industry. But I find that it certainly helps to know how to ask questions and dig a little bit deeper, and you have to be humble in saying, “I don’t understand that, I need to hear that again.” Because as we learned in news, if I don’t understand, how can I communicate it to the greater public? So now it’s just a different thing where I have to understand it, because now I have to make sure that what I’m marketing and communicating out, our clients and costumers will understand and adopt.”

JY: “Is there a cause now that you might have? I mean, just set aside the commercial part of this organization, which I can tell from your passion it is. But where is the cause now?”

BG: “Well, I think because we’ve committed so long ago that, as you point out, most people are not financially literate, unless they went to school and studied that, or they’ve worked on Wall Street or become a banker, they don’t understand it. So we said, “Well, how can we be a conduit, if you will, to education for financial literacy?” Because I think, as most people know, financial stress is a huge problem throughout the world and here in this country. In fact, it’s one of the leading causes of suicide, I’ve come to learn, is financial stress. It didn’t just happen in the Depression or the Great Recession. People are stressed out about finances. Why? Because they don’t have a clear understanding of what they should be doing. So as a bank, we made the decision decades ago that we need to be a partner with people whether they bank with us or not. What we can give back to the community is some financial literacy.”

JY: “Why are you so passionate about it?”

BG: “Jeez. I really need to get on the decaf. I mean, I really needed. I needed my little peanut butter bar to get me through the day, just ’cause I needed some more energy.”

JY: “No, you are so passionate about this, Brad. I mean, that’s what’s fun to see. It’s just like you really enjoy your place in the universe. It feels like you’ve landed at the right place, and you don’t have any problem being passionate about this organization.”

BG: “I talk to my wife (former TV anchor Dina Napoli, President of Napoli Communications) about this all the time. I feel pretty lucky that I landed here. It was like it was meant to be. I’d been interviewing with a lot of cool companies. I met with the leadership teams at Zillow and Alaska and Holland America and Tommy Bahama. A lot of cool companies, right? I never thought I’d be at a bank. But once I got to know these folks and what they were doing, and learned their story and how they kept 3,000 families in their home during the Great Recession, ’cause we owned the loans for everyone, we re-modified them for people. I was blown away. I was like, “That’s a real business story.” For some, that’s a life-and-death story. And we know in news, we’ve covered our share of those. And it just seemed like they had the need, I was ready for that, and it was a perfect puzzle-piece fit, if you will. So I feel… They’ve said to me in the past, they said, “Jeez, thanks for taking a chance on us, Brad.” And I said, “Well, I’d argue you took the chance on me, I never thought I would have this much fun at the bank.”

JY: “Is there anything I haven’t asked you that you feel like you’d like to include?”

BG: “My gosh. No, but you sure make this fun. Yeah, I think it’s just like anything else. Find what you love to do and throw yourself into it. It is still telling a different story every day, it’s just kinda managed differently.”

JY: “And there’s a bottom line.”

BG: “Oh, that’s right. There’s a bottom line. [laughter]”

 

 

 

Rebecca Hale 31903c3

For Rebecca Hale, the biggest difference between life in the newsroom and her Repurposed Life as Director of Public Information for The Seattle Mariners is time.

“You have time to plan. Things aren’t always tied to a deadline. In a newsroom, every minute’s your next deadline.”

 

Seattle is where Rebecca Hale made the Big Leagues.

Rebecca Hale Dan Leach and other KIRO coleagues

(Hale center, pictured with KIRO colleagues, among them Dan Leach, Sharon Vale, Molly Watkins, Tim Haeck, Tom Glasgow and Donn Moyer)

It’s been 24 years since Rebecca Hale worked in a newsroom. But this Idaho native and Oregon State University grad earned her solid reputation as an anchor and reporter from 1984 to 1993 at KIRO news radio (CBS Seattle). After leaving KIRO, she took a job as Public Information Officer at the Seattle Public Library. “I had a soft landing.” After that, Hale served as Assistant Communication Director and Speechwriter and then as Director of Communications for Mayor Norm Rice.. Nineteen years ago, she joined the Mariners. Hale says, “It feels like it’s gone by in a flash. 20 years. Blink and it’s over –  Almost 20 years. “

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The biggest change she says, No breaking news. “It was a different pace.” At the Seattle Public Library you won’t get called out for an emergency literacy story,” she says. “There’s a schedule.”

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And now Rebecca Hale works mainly behind the scenes. If anyone has a microphone in front of them it’s usually not her. “I don’t do a lot of interviews. I try to have other people do the interviews. And that’s ok by me,” she said during our conversation between pitches at a recent game between the Philadelphia Phillies and the M’s.

“My family moved around a lot but Idaho’s always been home base.” After broadcasting stints in Vancouver, Washington and Boise, a former co-worker, Dan Leach called her from KIRO News radio to say the overnight gig was available. She jumped at the chance.

Hale made her mark as a reporter and anchor at KIRO FM, moving from overnights to weekend morning anchor and general assignment reporter before finally moving to weekend afternoons. She can’t remember all the awards she won. “A few,” she’ll tell you. One in particular was a UPI National Award for Use of Sound in a feature she did on Bo Jackson. Hale says she also got to meet White House correspondent Helen Thomas once.

Some nice highlights. But they all seem to blur through the lens of time. It all goes by so fast. Or maybe former journalists only notice how fast it is when they leave the newsroom.

“Journalism is being able to do things fast.” Rebecca Hale says that’s served her well in her professional life after her news career. “In newsrooms, you don’t have the luxury of time. You have to be able to work fast and juggle things. In the job I have here, when it gets hectic, I’m able to manage it without feeling overwhelmed.”

“You have to figure stuff out. And I’m not worried when I don’t know about a subject. I just keep digging around until I find out. I was in a newsroom for 12 years.” That’s a lot of experience digging.

And Hale still writes. “In my current job, I get to write a lot and spend time on each piece. For one story, I can talk to a dozen people. I write press releases and blog posts.” And Hale writes for Mariners Magazine (see below). “I get to interview people all the time.”

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What’s it like to work with reporters today? Rebecca Hale says some (one man bands) are being asked to do way too much and they don’t ever have any time. Hale says there seem to be more in broadcasting than in print. She adds, “They have jobs with more demands.” Very often, I’ll come away from an interview and I’ll wonder, “Why didn’t they ask this question, or that question?” It feels sometimes like I have to spoon feed reporters today.” And sadly, she says, all too often, there’s a herd mentality. “If you can help one of them to go on a story, it seems like everybody wants to jump on it.” But Hale says, “I still really like my job. It’s been 19 plus years out of the newsroom but I still really never know from day to day, what‘s going to happen and I like that.” And she likes the energy of her co-workers. “We have so many young people who work here.”

As for this year’s Mariners? Hale says, “It really feels like this team is going to explode. The first three months we had so many injuries. But this really could be our year to make the playoffs again. Jerry’s so smart and Scott Servais is keeping it even. It’s been fun to watch.” But when the team is hovering around .500 and flirting with another mediocre season, you have to take that fun when you can get it.

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As we were wrapping up the conversation for this piece, at that Phillies, M’s game, I asked Rebecca Hale if I could take her picture with Safeco Filed in the background. I told her it’d be better if she stood and smiled. A picture of her smiling with the sunny expanse of Safeco behind her was what I was looking for. She asked me to wait until everyone’s standing. “I don’t want to block anyone’s view just for a picture.” Just minutes later Seattle Mariner Robinson Cano homered to right field. The crowd stood up. I got my picture. And there was Rebecca Hale, another Repurposed Journalist who’d made the Big Leagues … smiling.

 

Lindsay Cohen - Zillow

Lindsay Cohen – Writer & On Camera Host – Zillow

When she was a rookie reporter, Seattle’s Lindsay Cohen dreamed of a day when one of her stories would air on NBC’s Today Show.  Though every young journalist has similar dreams, no matter how good you are, the odds of that happening are long, the chances – slim. But every journalist seems to start out with a lot of hope. There are so many stories to tell.

Cohen got her undergrad degree in Communications Studies in 2001 from Northwestern and her Master of Science in Journalism from Columbia University in New York in 2002. She went on to land her first job in television news at Albany New York’s WNYT as an anchor-reporter in 2002, moving in 2005 to a similar job at WPEC in West Palm Beach, Florida.  In July of 2009, she started a 7-year stint at Seattle’s KOMO 4 TV  (ABC News) where she won a number of Emmy Awards for reporting excellence. But three months ago, Cohen left the KOMO 4 newsroom to become a Senior Real Estate Writer and On-Camera Host for Zillow, the Seattle-based tech real estate site. Cohen says, “I made the right next step.”

While the move was bittersweet, she says she’s still storytelling. “I still get to work with photographers and editors,” adding, “I still do interviews. And I get to tell people’s stories in a meaningful way.” In a normal week at Zillow, Lindsay Cohen will talk with people living in a tiny home or a re-purposed Airstream; she’ll write a ‘House of the Week’ feature or  look for ways to make your home improvement money go farther or a story about the Most Shared Zillow Listing in 2017. One day she’ll be working on a feature about a home design inspired by Hobbits; the next, she’ll be writing about a celebrity home owned by movie star Jared Leno.  And then there’s the story she produced about a castle for sale just outside New York City entitled, I Spent Two Days in a Castle Just Outside NYC. “I’m amazed at the variety,” she says, “and how I can still tell stories that make a difference.”

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While Cohen says she was sad to leave friends and co-workers at KOMO 4, she’s glad she left TV news when she did. She says she wanted to spend more time with her family. “And I looked at how my friends were getting their news – on their phones.” Cohen adds, “There’s a way to tap into how news consumption is changing.”

 

Lindsay Cohen says she was considering other on-line companies like Amazon and Facebook but then a friend told her about Zillow.  What drew her in, she says, is noticing how Zillow was investing in new types of storytelling. Cohen says, “Zillow is growing the content team as they develop for written and social media.” And as she found out more about Zillow she thought, “There are a lot of happy people here.” In March, Cohen left TV news to join Zillow, where her stories run on Zillow’s site, their partner sites, on social media — and even on televisions. Zillow has an app on Apple TV.

Lindsay Cohen - Former KOMO 4 News ReporterAs for making the transition out of the newsroom, she says, “You never know until you try it. Sometimes you have to make that leap. It’s ok to recognize that the world is changing. I feel lucky that I found a place that lets me explore that.”Cohen is convinced she made the right decision. In fact, for many stories she’s reaching a bigger audience than the one she reached with KOMO 4. She says one recent piece on the Zillow website drew millions of hits.

And then there’s the view from Zillow’s offices near Seattle’s Pike Place Market.

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Elliott Bay View From Zillow Offices in Seattle

Every morning she looks out onto beautiful Elliott Bay, far from the blare of newsroom scanners. Lindsay Cohen sips her morning coffee and thinks, “This isn’t bad at all.” Cohen adds, “Sometimes the best decisions in life are the ones staring you right in the face.”

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On Saturday June 3rd, Lindsay Cohen, a newly repurposed journalist, was among her former KOMO 4 peers at the 54th Annual Northwest Regional Emmy Awards Banquet. A story Cohen did was nominated for yet another Emmy. She’s lost track how many nominations she has.

And remember that kid who always wanted to see her stories on the Today Show? Well a few weeks ago, Lindsay Cohen says one of her posts for Zillow was picked up by none other than NBC Today’s website.

Lindsay Cohen can be reached on Twitter at @lindsaycohen and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ByLindsayCohen/

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Caregiver’s Dream

Posted: October 18, 2016 in employment

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=vr-NPEbnVwk

In my role as Public Relations Director for Aegis Living, a leader in the assisted living field, I got a chance recently to produce this short video about our extraordinary caregivers. They are the heart of this remarkable company.