Insider's take: Chatting with NY1's Pat Kiernan

 

NY1 anchor Pat Kiernan catches up on his daily newspapers. (Brian Harkin)

When most New Yorkers are fast asleep, NY1 anchor Pat Kiernan is up at 3 a.m. and already at work in the newsroom by 4.

Kiernan has been part of many Gotham-dwellers’ morning routines since 1997, and is particularly known for his “In the Papers” segment, in which he rounds up the news from various publications.

We caught up with Kiernan, 41, to learn more about his background and ask advice for would-be broadcast journalists.

How did you start your career in broadcasting?
I got started by being one of the worst paper boys ever. I was so interested in the news. I would deliver my papers so slowly because I was reading them rather than delivering them.

I was involved in the student newspaper in high school and college and then started working at the campus radio station.

I was lucky enough to get a job at CFRN radio channel, doing the newscast and they were short of reporters on the TV side, so I’d help out.

What made you come to New York?
I came to New York in March of 1996. Everyone was trying to figure out how to get onto the Internet. Time, Inc. started a Web site called Pathfinder, and were taking early steps into interactive television.

How did you end up at NY1?
At Pathfinder, we produced (and I hosted) the Fortune Business Report and shared it with several Time Warner outlets. NY1 was among them. When Time, Inc. shut everything down in December 1996, NY1 invited me to stay on. There was a staff of six producing Fortune Business Report at Time Inc; NY1 asked me to do it myself.

Do you worry that your Canadian background gives you less New York cred?
I think I’m passed worrying about that — partly because of the fact that New York is a city of immigrants.

How would you suggest people break into your industry?
It’s really a difficult time, because there are so many qualified people looking for jobs.

The uncertainty over the business model is a giant question mark hanging over people. Until the questions about that are sorted out, you want to on one hand pursue your dream, and on the other hand, have a plan B.

There are opportunities, they are just much more scarce.

What are some of the challenges the industry faces?
It’s not just the economic cycle, it’s the technological changes. People want to see the content, but the new means of delivery in an on-demand fashion don’t allow for the same revenue opportunities.

What’s the most important qualification for a would-be anchor?
I think initiative is sorely lacking amongst would-be journalists. The one thing that really makes someone stand out is when they show initiative and understand that the job they’re signing up for is not just 9-to-5. That means coming in and staying late when there’s breaking news, and reading and watching news at home. People need to understand the unpredictability of the job.

There are a lot of people who want to see their name in the paper or face on TV, but that’s not what we want. We want people who are really dedicated to news. That’s the number one job qualification, and people need to demonstrate it.

 

More about Pat….

Personal life: Kiernan lives in Manhattan with his wife, Dawn, and daughters Lucy, 8 and Maeve, 5.

Alma mater: He graduated from the University of Alberta with an undergraduate business degree. He didn’t attend journalism school.

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