It’s somewhere between carrying on the family trade and the arrival of royalty.
Jonathan Ketz walked into the WQAD-TV studios two weeks ago as the third generation of his family to work for the Moline-based station.
Ketz’ dad, Kris, worked for the station from 1981 to ’83, and his mother, Jan Lewis, was a producer. From WQAD, Kris Ketz moved to Kansas City, where he’s been an anchor at KMBC-TV, now on a 4 1/2-hour morning show seen on two stations.
Grandpa — or, as Jonathan calls him, “Papa” — was Jim King, who changed his name from Ketz before starting a 35-year career at WQAD as anchor and sometime-news director. He died in early 1999, and the station’s news studio and the street leading to it both are named for Jim King.
So, any pressure, Jonathan?
“A little bit, maybe. Not really,” the 21-year-old said. “It’s not pressure that anybody’s put on me. If there’s any pressure, I feel like I put it on myself to do well just because my grandfather was so well-known.”
Quite a few people in the news department were working when King was in place. Ketz has heard some stories from some of them already and wants to hear more.
Ketz, one of four sons in his family, graduated from the University of Missouri after 3 1/2 years. In a rare setup, the college’s TV station, KOMU, is the NBC affiliate in Columbia, with a full, real-world newsroom.
The only adjustment, he said, was getting used to a new editing system.
Ketz got the call for an interview from news director Alan Baker while Ketz was visiting Branson, Mo., with his girlfriend.
Baker said Jonathan was not hired because of his last name.
“Jonathan was a very strong candidate in my pool of applicants who applied for the opening. His writing, storytelling and live shots are very good for where he is at in his career, and they are only going to get better with experience,” Baker wrote in an email to the Quad-City Times.
“He is an eager journalist who is willing to do what it takes to one day be an exceptional reporter. That kind of drive is hard to find nowadays,” Baker said, adding:
“The Ketz name is only a bonus for us. He comes from a very well-respected and successful family of journalists.”
An immediate bonus for Ketz is that he gets to live with his grandmother Gloria. He said his memories of visits to the Quad-Cities are highlighted by River Bandits baseball and Whitey’s Ice Cream, both of which he’s pining for.
Ketz said he’s hoping to follow in his father’s footsteps and work for a Kansas City TV station someday, but he’s ready to prove himself in the meantime.
“I kind of want to show everybody that I’m here for the right reasons, that I can work hard,” he said, “and not that my grandfather was Jim King.”
Speaking of TV news types, we’ve been remiss in not mentioning Steve Long, the new co-anchor at WHBF-TV.
Long has worked for stations in Minnesota and North Dakota, and he most recently spent 5 1/2 years at TV stations in Sioux City, Iowa.
The press release of the week is hype from Las Vegas about the opening of Flavor Flav’s House of Flavor, which opens Thursday.
His previous endeavor’s three-month stay in the Quad-City region last year was left for the bottom of the release, specifying that the House of Flavor “is not associated with the former Clinton, Iowa, licensing deal.” Flav’s Fried Chicken ended in acrimony with his former business partner and at least one lawsuit.
The reality-TV personality (do we even need to call him a rapper anymore?) will serve fried chicken, fried shrimp and “Flavor Flav’s signature Red Velvet Waffle, indulgent and delicious” in Vegas.