Thursday, January 13, 2005

The Phenomenon Of “It”

Karen Hutton is California based talent coach. I doubt she’d remember, but I met her the same weekend I met my former agent, Steve. Over drinks, we discussed “it” with renowned TV headhunter Don Fitzpatrick. The following is an excerpt from a column she wrote about “it” for Shoptalk a few years back.

Then there are exceptional talent who are both competent and possess that
"something extra". Some of the qualities used to describe this "it" factor are
energy, charisma, an ability to "sell" the news and draw us in. We can see it in
the eyes, hear it in the voice, feel it in the energy and focus of the person.
Some say you have to be born with "it", you can't develop it. Most say they know
it when they see it, though they don't always agree on who has it. Sometimes a
talent doesn't seem like they have it at an early stage of their development,
only to show up later with it sparkling through the screen. People wonder what
it is, wonder if they have it, hope they have it, are afraid they don't have it,
can't believe they have it, don't think about it, are confused by it. It doesn't
even have a name, only ... it. One thing it does for sure is get people all
revved up and ready to race - and not necessarily focused on the things that
might actually move them closer to "it".

To this I will add “it” is the ability to break through the camera lens and into people’s living rooms. “It” is being comfortable with a certain part of your inner self and being able to let that out on camera. And “it”, for the purposes of this discussion, has nothing do positively or negatively, with how attractive you are, what kind journalist you are, if everyone likes your style, how you conduct yourself in real life or how much experience you have, although I think experience can help cultivate a certain degree of “it.”

So who has got “it” right now in Peoria? Here are four people (two with a lot of experience and two people who are younger) that I think have “it.” Just my opinion. In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll share how I know these people so no one accuses me of just writing about people I’m friends with.

Liza Danver has “it.” There is a certain strength to her voice and an air of confidence that she exudes. It comes across in the way she voices her packages and in her live shots/on set intros and it’s starting to come through when she fills in on the anchor desk.
Disclosure: I’ve never worked with Liza, but we were both at the same Christmas party last month.

Sandy Gallant has “it.” Sandy just naturally relates to the camera. Although, someone has complained to me about her “winking.” I don’t mind it. Sandy talks with her entire face, the way people do when they’re telling a compelling story to a good friend and that’s what I think you need to shoot for.
Disclosure: Sandy was an intern when I anchored weekends at WEEK and she went full time when my wife left the station to stay home with our son.

Brent Lonteen has “it.” I’ve watched Brent doing a live shot outside an execution that was flawless and mostly unscripted. I’ve seen Brent doing a live remote show that was crashing and burning and it didn’t phase him. In my travels, I’ve seen few people (and this includes larger markets) who are more comfortable than he is in front of the camera in all types of situations.
Disclosure: Before he got married Brent, Jerry Warfield and I shared the TV house on Purtscher in Peoria. We worked together at WMBD.

Jim Mattson has “it.” When I talk about breaking through the lens, Jim is exactly what I mean. He is high energy and you get the passion he has for sports. The same drive he’s got in trying to get to as many games as humanly possible doesn’t slow down when he gets on set.
Disclosure: I’ve never worked with Jim, but on my occasional visits to the WHOI newsroom or when I saw him out in the field he has always said “hello” and been very cordial.

These are not all the people in this market that I think have “it”, but they are very different from each other, which is why I chose to write about them.


Jeff Nau said...

I agree with your observations with all four anchors. By the way, just found your site. Thanks for interesting blogging about market 117 and the link to Peoria Television. By the way... you too were a great reporter and anchor... we need you back!

Edgar said...

Thanks, Jeff. I've just started to let former Peorians know about the blog, so hopefully you'll get their perspective as well.

As for seeing me back, thanks for the complement, but it isn't likely. I love TV news and this market, which is part of the reason I started this blog. However, coming back doesn't exactly fit in with what I'm trying to accomplish in my life outside of work.