REGULAR VIEWERS OF LOCAL television news are well aware of, or at least somewhat interested in, the career arc of the reporters and anchors they’ve gotten to know from their many hours of watching them on the flat screen.
Since WLUC-TV came on the air some 67 or so years ago, a fair number of their broadcasters have gone on to bigger, and occasionally, better things in that very competitive industry. Of course, TV6 isn’t the only local station where ambitious television journalists get their start, but the other stations on our dial don’t have quite the same history.
To be sure, not all of the fresh faces we see at 6 and 11 have bigger stars in their eyes. Plenty of those who spend the majority of their careers in our small market, without regularly sending out job apps and reels of their work, do so with intent. Some, like those we’ve gotten to know over the years… the Steve Asplunds of the world, have stayed here seemingly because they like it here. Who knew?
Turnover in local markets similar in size to Marquette is an accepted part of the deal. Eager newbies take on whatever assignments will get them some airtime and, if they’re good, the possibility of climbing the ladder with job offers at stations with much bigger audiences.
One such example is that of a reporter we knew as Kym Bankier. Blonde, attractive, and ambitious, Kym came to Marquette from the Detroit area to begin her career in television at TV6. Whether it was the long winter drives to remote U.P. outposts to cover stories even the locals didn’t care about… or she had bigger plans from the get-go, Kym went for it, and made it!
A trip to Las Vegas for a telethon meeting is where Kym met future husband Jerry Douglas. Douglas was a bona fide celebrity known mostly for his 25 years on the popular soap opera The Young and the Restless. Possibly employing a little of the old saw… “it’s not what you know but who you know,” Kim launched her own successful career as a Hollywood “beauty expert.” You’ve possibly seen her frequently hawking various cosmetic products in a number of ads and infomercials.
Kym became a regular on Home & Family, a talk show true to its name which ran for nine years on the Hallmark Channel. Not a bad gig if you’re trying to establish your credibility in the crowded world of TV personalities.
Fans of the The Ellen DeGeneres Show would also be familiar with Kym’s many appearances on that program. Always bubbly and willing to give or take a joke, Kym became one of Ellen’s favorite regulars.
Home & Family and Ellen both ended their runs in the past couple of years, and then Kym’s husband Jerry passed away in 2021. Time to pack it in and focus on your son Hunter’s career, right? Uh… no.
As well as surviving all those endings, Kym’s a cancer survivor too. So if you thought you’d seen the last of her, you’d be very wrong. They say women of a certain age no longer get calls for work in L.A., so why expect anything more from one in her sixties?
Well, in fact, she didn’t get a call from L.A. She got one from New York! Attentive Fox viewers may have noticed her recently on the set of the network’s popular one-hour noon show, Outnumbered. She’s pictured above, on the set.
Holding her own with the leggy talking-heads on the Fox set, Kym might be in the process of reversing course and getting back to her news journalist roots. Will we see her become a regular on the conservative couch? You’d have to think her guest appearances are some sort of trial balloon to see if she can go toe-to-toe with the seasoned commentators on one of television’s undeniably biggest stages.
Of course, Kym’s not the only one to parlay their training tapes into bigger things. Marquette’s own George Graphos joined the TV6 weather team back in the early 80’s when he was, much to his surprise, forced into on-air duty on his first day at the station. Donning Steve Asplund’s ill-fitting sport coat, his meteorological career got off to the kind of start he wasn’t expecting. Once he found his footing he got a gig in Phoenix, and then ultimately ended up as a longtime, and beloved, meteorologist at Green Bay’s WBAY. His career there ended with his retirement in 2017.
Negaunee native Mike Gleason left the sports desk at TV6 back in the early 80’s, and, after stints in Fresno, California and Columbus, Ohio, ended up working for a number of ESPN properties, primarily on the east coast.
Ishpeming’s Carol Anderson used her TV6 experience and very capable anchor abilities to launch an award-winning career at NBC affiliate WYFF in Greenville, South Carolina.
Tony Miller, who recently visited the area, left the U.P. to be closer to family and became a freelance reporter for KPLR News in St. Louis.
And more recently the talented Sophie Erber took a step up the ladder and is now an anchor at KCAU 9 News in Sioux City, Iowa.
Surely there are others. But for every one of those who left and reached their goal of soaring with the eagles, there are dozens who found out exactly how good they are, and ended up in a cubicle somewhere… talking turkey.
A fun, though somewhat dark, game is to see if you can predict who among the current crop will end up on a network… or just networking for a gig at the next Business After Hours. Any ideas?