Dream Job | Alan Krashesky
Naperville resident Alan Krashesky was recently promoted to the main anchor duties at ABC 7 Chicago following the retirement of long-time Chicago news anchor Ron Magers. Krashesky shares his thoughts about the broadcast news business and what makes his job a dream job.
How did you become interested in journalism?
Back in high school, I became involved in our student-published magazine. My first broadcast experience was on my college radio station (Ithaca College, Ithaca, NY). Later in college, I auditioned for a news reporting/anchoring position on the college TV station. I was hooked! I think I’ve always had an innate curiosity regarding significant events as well as their causes and effects. When I was much younger, I was captivated by the sight of broadcast transmission towers, twinkling at night. Even now, when I drive into downtown at night—and I see those beacons atop the Willis Tower and Hancock Tower—it amazes me to think that we can communicate with millions of people instantly using technology.
What’s the most amazing experience you’ve had so far in your career?
It has to be witnessing the conclave elections of two Roman Catholic Popes. There is so much suspense and mystery surrounding the process. Then, when the white smoke drifts from the chimney above the Sistine Chapel, the world waits for the big announcement. When Pope Francis was chosen, in March 2013, my crew and I were at the front of St. Peter’s Square, below the loggia, when Jorge Bergoglio stepped out onto that famous balcony. The cheering crowd was deafening and people crushed forward, straining for a better look. “Who is it? Who is it?” We quickly captured the excitement around us. Just about then, I realized that I would need to get back through that huge crowd, with my photographer and producer, in order to get to our live transmission location. I turned around, partially covered my mouth with my hand and—feigning an upset stomach—struggled back through the crowd while pleading, “Scusi! Permesso! Sorry!” Not great Italian, but the three of us waded through the masses and made it out to our live location just in time.
How has the broadcasting industry changed since you started in the business?
My business has changed tremendously in the past 20 years—and at an even more furious pace in the last 10. Much of this is the result of technological advancements and consumers adopting these new technologies. When I began, broadcasting was our sole responsibility, utilizing field cameras tethered to a videocassette recorder “box” and live reports were done “via satellite.” Yes, we used typewriters in the newsroom, with carbon copy paper for our scripts. Our wire service reports were printed on a teletype machine.
Now, broadcasting is still our primary platform, but we have many others: our abc7chicago.com website, mobile apps, Facebook, twitter, and other forms of social media. This requires journalists to approach their work in a new way, thinking of how their stories might be presented on all of our platforms. For instance, while covering Pope Francis in Mexico City earlier this year, I was streaming live video on Facebook of the Popemobile going by, then conducting interviews for later broadcast use, and preparing to go live on our Sunday morning newscast using broadband cellular technology that’s extremely portable (about the size of a briefcase). I write my field reports on my iPad. This requires today’s journalists to be versatile in different formats and also adaptable for the rapidly evolving technology. The fact is, consumers are dictating where and how and on which devices they receive their news, information, and entertainment. They’re also deciding when they want to view it. This is a radical shift for those providing the content—and a major change in the economics of the business.
What motivates you to start your day?
First of all, I truly believe that every day we get is a gift. I’m blessed to have a beautiful wife, a great family, a roof over our heads and a job, which I enjoy.
Every day on my job is a bit different. I love witnessing history. I enjoy meeting and speaking with people that I would likely never have the opportunity to speak with otherwise. There’s excitement in trying to do the best you can, in real time, regardless of the situation. I very much appreciate the fact that viewers are inviting us into their homes, on their TV’s, on their laptops, their tablets, or smartphones. There’s a friendship-connection there—actually, it’s even stronger—we’re a Chicago family.