Q&A with WHO TV’s Keith Murphy and Dan Winters

Keith Murphy

What made you want to get into journalism?

Somehow when I arrived in college-long time ago-it hadn’t occurred to me I could do this for a living. When I was injured playing football, a friend suggested I stay close to the game by working for the campus television station. I did, and loved it, though I was terrible.

Do you recall any interesting stories from when you were just starting?

One that comes to mind is my interview with Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker. It was a big deal at the station where I worked in Georgia. I was a one-man-band, now called multi-media journalist. When I got back to the station, nothing had recorded. I went back to the private airport, caught Hershel on the tarmac, and he did the interview again. I’ll always love him for that, and it made me more careful when nervous.

Can you share any “rookie mistakes” you made?

So many that I could go for a long time, but won’t. The anecdote above with Herschel Walker is one. I had jumpcuts in stories. I started giggling on the air and couldn’t stop; they had to go to commercial. I was a one-person department, so I had to learn on my own, and I learned more from my failures than my successes.

What advice would you give a student studying journalism or thinking of studying journalism?

Don’t let anyone discourage you if it’s what you want. I love it. It can be hard to break in, so take any practical experience you can. Work late, work early, volunteer, do the shifts no one wants. Just get experience. Nothing beats reps. It’s how you get better.

Do you have a yearly event that you enjoy covering? What makes that event so exciting for you?

RVTV tour of Iowa. We go to small and medium towns, and show what the Cy-Hawk rivalry means to the people of Iowa. It’s a lot of work, but it’s fun, and it reminds me of why sports can be so awesome, and how no people are nicer than the people in Iowa.

Dan Winters

What made you want to get into journalism?

I’ve always loved the idea that I could be one of the first people to learn something, and then get to tell everyone.  Journalism is truly a front-row seat to history.

Do you recall any interesting stories from when you were just starting?
If you’re interested in people, then each story is interesting.  I’m fascinated by why things happen, and why people do what they do.  Some stories have no explanation.  For example, I was covering a tornado early in my career.  It sucked up the waste water from a hog lagoon.  The twister carried the sewage a quarter mile.  Then, it spray painted a picturesque white farmhouse with hog waste.  It was certainly bizarre.  But people’s reactions were what made it an entertaining story.

Can you share any “rookie mistakes” you made?

I still make mistakes.  It’s how we grow.  If you’re not making mistakes you’re not pushing yourself, and you’ve likely become complacent.  The point is:  I don’t make the same mistakes.  My first job out of college was anchoring the Saturday morning news.  One morning, I overslept and my co-anchor had to do the show by herself.  I was suspended for two weeks without pay.  I was young and stupid, and I deserved it.  That got my attention.

What advice would you give a student studying journalism or thinking of studying journalism?

Get really good at the basics:  Grammar, spelling, and punctuation.  Refine those skills in school so you can focus on learning the nuances of news gathering and how to present it.  People have a really hard time practicing good journalism if they’re still trying to learn English.

Do you have a yearly event that you enjoy covering? What makes that event so exciting for you?

I most enjoy the annual events I volunteer at.  I emcee the YESS Duck Derby, the Iowa State University Alumni Assoc. Cardinal & Gold Gala, and the ARL Raise Your Paw Auction.  It’s a privilege to raise money to help kids, first-generation college students, and animals.  The people who work for these organizations inspire me.

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