As a native Minnesotan, I have watched local news my entire life and have always been dedicated to KARE 11. I happen to be also very easily star-struck, and since news anchors are like local celebrities to me, they make me slightly nervous and excited. So when Rick Kupchella, a 20-year veteran of investigative broadcasting on KARE 11 news, spoke at Master’s Pub last Friday night, I thought to myself, be cool, Alex. He is a businessman with interesting things to say. But I quickly became very distracted and wrote notes such as, “quite handsome,” “surprisingly tall,” and over and over, “very charming.” I will get to what exactly Rick talked about in a second, but I think it needs to be said that Rick Kupchella is an extremely charming, approachable, and down to earth speaker. Now that I have that out there, I can move on to what he actually came to discuss.
After being at KARE 11 for so many years (and really enjoying it, much to my relief. I was worried he would say it was horrible and my image of local news would be shattered), he was offered a 3-year contract renewal in 2006. At this point, Rick could see that media was changing and he wanted to be prepared to change with it, so he agreed to the contract as long as he could also work independently on the side. Apparently, this is a huge no-no in broadcasting, so his request was denied. Rick quickly shopped around for other offers, and after receiving many, KARE wisely changed their minds, and their contract.
In 2009, Rick’s contract was up for renewal again, but after much consideration, and listening to Oprah’s advice (who he doesn’t even like – blasphemy!!) to pay attention and “listen to that voice in your head” Rick left KARE to build BringMeTheNews.com, a website and radio network that gathers pertinent local news from across all media and distributes it in real time. The radio network features a number of talented reporters, including the beloved Don Shelby. (Seriously, who doesn’t love Don Shelby? He is like the Prince of local news anchors).
For the website, Rick has a large staff that manually filters through news articles to write succinct pieces that are relevant for its readers. According to Rick, it’s a similar format to the Huffington Post, except that it’s all local and there is no political leaning. And every article is no more than 120 words, so for those of us with little attention span (READ: me), we won’t get bored. This post is already over 400 words, so thank you for making it this far, if you’re still reading.
To return to the charming part of this, Rick answered a number of questions from the crowd, gave some great advice, and stuck around for quite a while afterwards to chat with students. I was hoping to get some time to pick his brain, but since my question was “tell me what Paul Magers was really like,” I opted to let others speak to him instead. Next time!