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Tyler Thompson reflects on working in a small newsroom and his time reporting at KDLG

Tyler Thompson
Izzy Ross
/
KDLG
KDLG reporter Tyler Thompson on his last day at the station.

Tyler Thompson has worked as a reporter and host at KDLG since the spring of 2019. He was one of just three full-time station staff. He talks with News Director Izzy Ross about his time at the radio station, and what's next.

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.

Izzy Ross: Tyler, it is your last day at KDLG. How are you feeling?

Tyler Thompson: I'm feeling — I don't know, it's kind of surreal. Doesn't feel like the end. I guess the feeling is bittersweet. Very bittersweet.

Ross: What is your favorite memory from your time here? Or what are a couple favorite memories that you have?

Thompson: 2020 was probably just overall, I think, a fantastic year, because when you first come up here, it is daunting to try and integrate yourself into a new community with new faces. I've always considered myself very sociable. Especially when I first got up here, I tried to get out and talk to people. And, you know, I'd go down to the Willow and talk with a few folks, and got to meet a lot of cool people that way. And then just different friends, events, things like that.

Even though we kind of had to separate from everybody, I thought that the group that we had that year was really tight, and we got to go out and do really fun things all summer long, alongside the Fish Report.

But that's tough. I mean, there's a lot of great memories. I was just trying to think about how much happens in three years and trying to go back and trying to comprehend all that in such a short amount of time, you're like, 'Well, jeez, I don't know which one.'

I would think a lot of our summer gatherings with friends, and just being able to go out. And you know, out here you are away from the noise of Lower 48 life, and to kind of get that even more, to go out to the lakes or the trails. And to have that privilege to do that. Those are probably some of my favorite memories of those those escapes that you could get, even just from like the hard things here that can stress you out, having that access. So, yeah, it's a loaded question. It's tough.

Ross: A lot does happen in three years. As you mentioned earlier, working at a small newsroom can be very challenging. What were some of the biggest challenges for you?

Thompson: It's a lot to juggle. It really is. It's a lot to try and stay on top of, and you want to do it all really, really well. You want to show people that you are putting your best foot forward. And obviously, personally, I want to do good work, you know, I want to do work that I'm proud of, and I want to do it respectfully, and I want to do it in a timely manner, etc. So I think what was really challenging was trying to do everything at the station that we have to do at a high level.

I think one of the biggest adjustments was if I did screw up, or if I did make a mistake in one area, just trying to be okay with that and understanding that you can't do every job exceedingly well. Like something as simple as saying, you know, the temperature is a few degrees above freezing when you're talking about it being zero degrees and not 32 degrees. And you're like, 'I know that.' But in the moment I'm so scatterbrained because for example, when you're doing a morning newscast, you put it all together. Now, in other places, you have producers and you have a whole team that's putting together these newscasts and so on. Here, nine times out of ten in the morning, you're by yourself. So you're putting that all together, you're trying to get the pronounces down, you're trying to build a cohesive newscast that makes sense. All this before you go live.

Meanwhile, you have technical difficulties, too. You know, our equipment is... old. And so there's been a lot of moments where up until the minute you hit live with local news you're trying to just get clips to go in there. I mean, even today, I had trouble with some clips. And I was like, 'Ah, well, so it goes.'

Ross: The station's saying goodbye to you Tyler.

Tyler: Yeah, exactly. So I mean, it has its charm. But at the same time, you'll have one of those crazy mornings like that. And you get done and you're like, 'What the heck just happened.' So you kind of just learned to take deep breaths, and just accept it for what it is. And I think as long as you put in the effort and the energy, and you try, that's what you can be proud of. As long as you put something together that was good, and you put your best foot forward and you had a little mistake, fine. But you're not going to be perfect. And that's that.

I think just, you know, being a really small team, that's a challenge too, even though we worked so well together. I mean, we really did, and I think we we've done a lot of great work. It's just tough. It's just it is what it is. You can't get to everything you want to, but you can learn how to how to cope with those things.

I really appreciate a lot of the community's patience through those times, too. A lot of people totally understand it. And so that's one thing I'm thankful for, too.

Ross: And if you're listening, we are hiring for Tyler's replacement.

Thompson: Which, yeah, by the way, don't let me discourage you. If you want to really be involved news-wise, this is the job to do it. In a lot of different ways it'll humble you and it'll sharpen your skills. You learn how to handle those shortcomings or those hardships. And it really just helps. It is a great job. I got to learn about so many different things and get to talk to so many different people, awesome people, wonderful people who are really, really passionate about their community and very vocal about it, too. Especially 2020, airing city council meetings and how involved people were, you want to get a sense of community, this is definitely the job for it. There's a lot of great stories to be told. And a lot of people who are willing to work with you, if you're transparent with them, and you're respectful. Yeah, please take my job. Take it. It's great. It really is. It really, really, really is.

Ross: Where are you headed next, Tyler?

Thompson: I'm going home. Well, kind of. So I'm from Northeast Ohio. I grew up in a suburb of Akron, home of LeBron James, that's what I always say, cause some people don't know where Akron is. So Akron has LeBron James and it has Goodyear Tires. And the Black Keys.

Ross: That's not nothing.

Thompson: No, it's not. There's some cool folks. So I'm going home to Ohio. And I'll be living in Columbus, which is a state capitol. I'm going to be working as a reporter for WOSU Public Media. Just as a reporter. So, here at KDLG you're a producer, you're a reporter, you're a host, you are fundraiser, you are phone answer.

Ross: You're the first responder to the overflowing toilet.

Thompson: Yeah, as you experienced. So my duties are shrinking, but just more time towards reporting and getting stories done. And then of course, filling hosting, too. So kind of the same thing as here, just with a little less duties, if you will.

Ross: Tyler, I cannot express how fun and challenging but mostly awesome it has been to work with you over the past three years. We've gone through so much as a team. And I'm going to be so sad when you leave. But I'm so excited for your next step.

Thompson: I said this earlier in our conversation, just talking about how rare it is to work with a really good team. And, you know, truly, I think we made an amazing team. We really did a lot of great things.

Ross: Thank you so much for your work, and we really look forward to hearing what you do next.

Thompson: Thanks, Izzy. It's been a pleasure.

If you're interested in applying to work as a host/reporter at KDLG, send over a letter of interest, a resume, work samples if available, and references to jobs@kucb.org.

Contact the author at izzy@kdlg.org or 907-842-2200.