My longest job ever was just under four years. It's hard for me to fathom working in the same place for ten years. It is a rarity these days to find someone who has stayed in the same job for more than a decade. This week's guest on Thinking Out Loud has worked for 53 years in the mid-Missouri television market. Forty-seven of those years he has spent with one organization. This week on Thinking Out Loud, we talk with KRCG Anchor and News Producer Dick Preston.
A St. Louis-area native, Preston attended Webster Groves High School. Born Richard Kettenbrinck, Preston had to create an air-name when he started in commercial radio in Columbia in the 1960s.
I'm from that generation that grew up on TV. Actually, a lot of the kids my age didn't have TV until a few years later. I watched TV news from the beginning, from its infancy. I always wanted to write as well. I made a little newspaper that I delivered to a couple of people in the neighborhood. Eventually, I became managing editor of the high school paper. Public speaking was something that came easy for me. I knew I wanted to go to journalism school from the work I did on the paper and I came to MU.
Columbia had about 35,000 citizens when Dick Preston arrived here in 1965. Over the years he has seen the population triple. During his time in Mid-Missouri, Preston has worked in news departments at local AM radio and two local TV stations, KOMU and KRCG.
Now that I do the morning news, it's a totally different beast than it was I did the ten o'clock news, which I did for twenty-some years. You go out in the public and you were kind of a - I don't want to say freak - but people would stare at you and kind of stayed away. When I do the morning news and the News at Noon, people feel like they know [me] and they'll just come up and start talking... and that didn't happen when I did the five and ten o'clock news. It's a different kind of broadcast that we show more a part of our personality.
During over 50 years working with young journalists, the veteran KRCG anchor has collaborated with numerous news staff. He doesn't hover over his junior colleagues, he says. He notes that he'll share feedback with collegaues when asked.
Consultants have tried to change Dick Preston's on-air persona, but often with little success. Preston recalls one consultant at KRCG who tried to get him to use more hand gestures on-air.
He says 'Tell me an exciting story! And I'd tell him one and he said 'No, tell me a more exciting story! Tell me the time you were maddest.' He kept waiting for me to use my hands and make a big gesture and I never did it and he rolls his eyes and says 'This isn't working.'
After some time the consultants stopped trying to change his mannerism. Preston says he ultimately became his own best critic: "I have to feel like I am grinning like and idiot to have a good smile. The consultants don't really bother with older anchors."
Listen to new episodes of Thinking Out Loud each Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. on 91.3FM KBIA.