News Articles

In a Flyover State: The Minneapolis NBC Station's Close, Comfortable Shave

KARE's Randy Shaver moves over front and center as the "new" coanchor for evening news 7/16/2012 12:01:00 AM Eastern

On Monday evening, July 16, Randy Shaver will sit down on
the news set of KARE-11, the NBC affiliate in my hometown of
Minneapolis, Minn.—something he has been doing for nearly
three decades. However, this Monday night is different. He will
not be off to the side of the set, delivering his customary sports
report, for which he has literally become an institution in the
Twin Cities. Instead, he will slide on over, front and center,
as the “new” coanchor of the news at 5, 6 and 10 p.m.

And this is “third time's the charm” for Shaver,
who was twice passed over for the job previously;
the first time came back in 2003, after
Paul Magers made like the NBA’s Lakers of
long ago and left Minneapolis for Los Angeles.
But this time, when anchor Mike Pomeranz
left to take a broadcasting job with the San
Diego Padres, KARE finally got it right.

Shaver deserves the gig and is the right guy.
In fact, I can only think of one bad decision
he has ever made in 30 years: He gave me my
first-ever break in the business.

During the fall of my freshman year at
Boston University, where I studied broadcast
journalism (and girls who were out of my
league…not a very exclusive club), I knew I
was headed back home to Minnesota for the
summer. So I lobbed a call that September into
the sports director at KARE, Randy Shaver.
He took my cold call, and when I explained
to him who I was (or, more accurately, wasn’t)
and that I wanted a summer
internship, he told
me it sounded good and
to call back—you know,
when the job wasn’t 10
months away.

So I stayed on him—
or more like borderline
stalked via phone.
Shaver held to his word,
and that summer I was
a sports intern at KARE.
For a 19-year-old who
was dying to get into the
business, it was a dream
job. I watched games
during nights and logged
highlights and wrote up
“shot sheets” for the anchors
to use. Problem
was, I never wanted to
leave. So I quit my summer
day job picking up trash and mowing
lawns for the city (I know, huge sacrifi ce) in
order to basically hang around in the sports
department all afternoon, too.

Shaver and his crew rewarded my hunger,
letting me go out on some shoots. I will never
forget the first time my voice made it onto the
air, when I interviewed a high school tennis
player (my triumphant, eloquent question,
captured on local NBC air during the network’s
halcyon days: “And the pressure…?”).
Eventually, they started letting me tag along
with a cameraman to interview pro baseball
players before and after Minnesota Twins
games. That didn’t start out so hot. The first
time I eagerly asked a (stupid) question of
curmudgeonly Twins manager Tom Kelly in
a press gaggle, his curt, dismissive answer in
front of everyone was the pro sports equivalent
of what the girls back at Boston University
used to say to other inquiries.

One of my other Edward R. Murrow-esque
moments came when I was trying to interview
a few Twins players after a win, and a
topless Twins first baseman Kent Hrbek—
who was built like a professional
wrestler and
smelled my rookie blood
in the water—kept following
us around, flexing
his muscles and grunting
behind every teammate I
tried to interview, which
basically rendered our
footage useless.

Nevertheless, I learned
a ton that summer and it
launched my career, all
thanks to Randy Shaver
giving me a chance.

So forgive me if I am
biased, but I couldn’t
have been happier when
I heard the news that
KARE was shifting Shaver
over. Well, almost as happy
as the news that he has
logged 12 years of being cancer-free after being
diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma (Shaver
has raised nearly $5 million for cancer research,
according to a local newspaper).

It will be strange not seeing him do the sports
when I am home in Minneapolis. (Hey, wait
a second: Do you guys at KARE need a new
sports director? Call me!) But I can’t wait to flip
on the evening news and see the guy who gave
me my first shot deservedly getting his.

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on Twitter: @BCBenGrossman