Kim Christiansen has been a 9News employee since 1985.
Kim Christiansen has been a 9News employee since 1985.
9News

9News's Kim Christiansen on Ed, Adele and Life After Taking the Top Anchor Slot

In June 2017, when Kim Christiansen was named the latest lead anchor of 9News following the retirement of Adele Arakawa, media types wondered if she would be able to maintain the station's ratings supremacy, which dates back to the 1970s. Turns out she could. But after a year in the outlet's most prominent role, she remains exceedingly modest and incredibly honest about her accomplishments, as well as her insecurities, as she makes clear in the following in-depth interview.

Christiansen admits that the outlines of her story seem too perfect to be true. She came of age in Arvada and was named Miss Colorado in 1980 in part because of a skill she hasn't had much of an opportunity to show off lately: baton twirling. Five years later, after earning a journalism degree from the University of Colorado Boulder, she was hired by 9News and has been there ever since.

Dig deeper, though, and you'll find a tale of perseverance that reveals the grit beneath the glamorous exterior. Christiansen was hired as a writer, not an on-camera personality, and it took years of effort, and a willingness to battle for each step up the ladder, before she was finally allowed to become a regular on the anchor desk. She credits former 9News anchor Ed Sardella, who became a mentor (and tough taskmaster) while she was still at CU Boulder, with helping her along the way, even though she was strong enough to ignore his advice at the outset of her career.

In addition, Christiansen talks about her advocacy for breast cancer self-exams via the Buddy Check9 program and the subsequent diagnosis of her beloved younger sister, Keri, plus the changes in the TV news business, her personal style and her doubts that "the Colorado girl," as she refers to herself, would have a chance to be Arakawa's successor, not to mention her willingness to step aside if her bosses think the new gig isn't working.

Fat chance of that happening. Get to know Kim Christiansen better below.

Kim and Keri with their mom.
Kim and Keri with their mom.
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Westword: You're a Colorado native, correct?

Kim Christiansen: This is a little bit of a myth. I was actually born in Omaha, but my parents moved here when I was eighteen months old. That has come into discussion in the past, where people will say, "Colorado native!" And I'm one of those people who wouldn't really correct them, like if someone misspells my last name. I grew up here, in Arvada. I don't remember living anywhere else. But my sister was the one who was born here.

What was growing up in Arvada like for you?

I can't imagine a more idyllic environment to grow up in. Arvada was very much a small town when I grew up there, and I still feel like it's a small town in a lot of ways. You knew every single neighbor, and I still remember the neighbors I grew up with. Ironically, I still bump into some of the people I grew up with. We always say that the people who grew up on the west side of town — Arvada, Golden, that whole area — might leave for a while, and I did. I lived in Denver for, I don't know, fifteen years at least. But you always come back. And there you are in the King Soopers, where you push the buggies and see them and say, "Hi!"

I love that side of town. I think the older you get, the more you appreciate it. And the fact that it's sort of still a small town and you see the mountains every day is wonderful. There are some good, hardworking people there, and I remember all kinds of crazy things about growing up there, like every kid does. Having water fights, playing hide and seek. I was a baton twirler, and people will tell you they saw me twirling my batons in front of my parents' house every single day of the year. They will all remind you of me out there practicing, because that's what I did. I thought it was going to be a long-term career [laughs].

All of the references online to you having been Miss Colorado and having participated in the Miss America pageant talk about you winning a special talent award. Was that special talent baton twirling?

It was. I juggled one, two, three and four batons — and by the way, if you watched the [Miss America] finals last year, they had a really good twirler — and that is more of what I did back then. I wasn't a majorette who stands there and marches in the high boots. That isn't really what I did. It was really competitive at the time, and it's coming back — it's undergoing a resurgence.

I twirled at CU. I twirled for the Denver Gold. I twirled occasionally at a Broncos game or a Nuggets game. Things like that.

How long has it been since you twirled? And could you manage four batons today?

I could not manage four, I can promise. I could probably do three. It's more of a juggling thing, and it's been a long, long time. I got them out for fun in the driveway five or ten years ago, when no one was around, and tried it [laughs]. Some of it did come back. But back then, when I was younger, I really did practice every day, like a good hour or two a day.

A more recent photo of Kim Christiansen with her mom.
A more recent photo of Kim Christiansen with her mom.
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What were your experiences like in the pageant world? And what do you think of the Miss America pageant deciding to forgo the swimsuit competition? Is that a good move, in your view?

I need to read up and learn a little bit more. I'm a huge fan of Gretchen Carlson [chairwoman of the Miss America board of directors]. I think she has done what I think they tried to do for decades, which is a Miss America pageant focused on women achieving success — getting scholarships and going on to have wonderful careers. And I'm here to tell you, it's never not been that.

By the way, I'm really close to Becky Dreman [a Miss Colorado who became Miss America in 1974 under her maiden name, Rebecca Ann King]. I always go to her for her views on these things, because she's stayed really active in the Miss America program. She likes the idea a lot, so I kind of go with her. And she's worked closely with Gretchen for a long, long time.

I also understand the critics who say, "Really, no one's going to watch if you're not standing there in a swimsuit. The ratings are going to go down." And let's be honest: It's still a pageant, even though they've tried to get away from calling it that for decades. I absolutely understand that. But I will tell you, back in the day when I did it, there weren't multiple opportunities for women to earn scholarship money. And for me, it was an opportunity to do what I did every single day, which was twirl batons, and to present myself in an interview experience that was really challenging. I was the second-youngest person in Miss America that year. I was surrounded by women who were in their mid-twenties, who were getting their MBAs or headed off to law school, going to medical school. I look back at those women and see the emails that say, "So-and-so is now a district attorney in North Carolina, and someone else is now finishing up her medical degree." And they really did. They really did follow up and do all of that. So I saw that perspective, and for me, being eighteen or nineteen years old, it was an awesome experience. Where else was I going to be challenged like that and be put in front of people like that? And once you win [the Miss Colorado crown], you get an opportunity to be in appearances across the state — and I even did appearances out of the state a few times.

I thought I wanted to go into this profession, but I wasn't 100 percent sure — and that was complete, on-the-job training in many ways. Getting to speak off the cuff, doing some ad-libbing, getting to know a little bit about reporters, understanding the expectations of being on stage, if you will, and being a public figure in some respects. So it was a really great experience for me, and I'm glad I did it when I was really young, because I think going back to college was really important for me — getting back into the college experience. But having some real-life experience in the middle of it was really important. If I had won the title at 23 or 24 years old, I would have thought, "Wow, that's great. I'm going to get that big-time job and really move into it right away." But you really don't do that. It's on you to try to pursue your dreams. And believe me, working the overnight job at 9News was certainly not the glamorous job of my future that I dreamed about when I was eighteen or nineteen years old. But that's what I did, because that's what I wanted to do. I had my dream and my passion.

What is it that drew you to journalism? Was it something specific? Or were you a news junkie who just loved the idea of working in the profession?

It was a little of both. I was interested, certainly, in news. But I loved my high school English writing teacher, and she always said, "Find something you really enjoy on some level." And I just got fortunate. Besides having some really good professors, some of whom are still there, I also got to take a class with Ed Sardella my senior year — and he really became a mentor for me. It was a very small class, and it was the hardest class I'd ever taken. It was like he didn't think we took any other classes [laughs]. The workload was unbelievable.

You know how you are in college. Like, "This man is teaching me journalism, and if I don't earn an A in this class, that means I'm an epic failure." One of my classmates said that: "If you don't get an A in this class, you're never going to make it in this business! You're never going to make it!" And only one girl in the class got an A, and we both got Bs. But he went into the business, and so did I.

Ed Sardella, left, with Kim Christiansen and Mark Koebrich.
Ed Sardella, left, with Kim Christiansen and Mark Koebrich.
Courtesy of Kim Christiansen

Ed offered to change my grade to an A after I was his writer behind the scenes for many years. He went back to try to change it, and the university wouldn't change it [laughs]. He said, "I feel terrible. I went back and said, 'She had a high B+ and I feel like I should have given her an A. She worked with me for years and put up with me and I want to give her an A. And they wouldn't do it." However, as he closed in on retirement day, Steve Jones, a dean and a former professor of mine, actually did change the grade, and we announced it during our 4 p.m. newscast.

Everybody knows Ed was great. But he really helped me open my eyes to what it's like in a newsroom every single day. He put us in breaking-news situations every single day and asked us to update scripts every single day and told us to rewrite things and ask the right questions. We were saying, "Whoa! What? It can't happen that fast!" But it can. And it does.

Was 9News your first professional job? Have you only worked for 9News during your career?

Yes. Put me in the circus for that. That just doesn't happen. I started with the idea that I would be going to a small market, like most people. And I had done an internship the summer before my senior year and talked to a lot of people about it. But it was the influence of Ed and that class that shifted my ideas. I got to the end of my senior year and called him and said, "My idea is that I don't go to a smaller market. My idea is that I go to a large market. I get a behind-the-scenes job in Denver and be surrounded by people who really know the business and I can go from there." And Ed was really honest with me. He said, "I think you can get that behind-the-scenes job, but I don't think you're going to transition into an on-the-air job in that market. You're going to invest x number of years behind the scenes and then you'll still have to move to a smaller market to get your on-the-air experience."

He said, "It's up to you. If you don't feel like you're wasting your time, start applying for jobs behind the scenes and see what happens." And he was right. This stuff normally doesn't happen.

I spent, gosh, three and a half years or maybe even more behind the scenes. I applied everywhere. It wasn't like I only applied for 9News. But the first job I was able to get was the writer for the 6 a.m. news here, and they technically considered it a part-time job, even though you worked full-time hours — and you didn't get benefits [laughs]. So I would come to work at 11 or 11:30. Sometimes I'd push it until midnight. And then I'd work until 8 in the morning. And I think I made close to $800 or $900 a month.

I was on that for about nine months, and then I was promoted to writer for the late shows — for the 5 and the 10, because we only had those two newscasts at the time. And then I worked directly with Ed every night. So I got promoted and was given benefits and had a full-time job for the next three years. And it was very, very hard, but very, very rewarding.

This 1990s-era photo finds Kim Christiansen and former 9News morning anchor Kyle Dyer posing with ex-station executive Steve Carter.
This 1990s-era photo finds Kim Christiansen and former 9News morning anchor Kyle Dyer posing with ex-station executive Steve Carter.
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What were the positives for you of spending such a long stretch behind the scenes? What didn't you know when you started those jobs that you learned along the way? And what do you draw from to this day from those experiences?

I feel like I learned everything. First of all, like a lot of people, I was fairly naive about how this business worked. And Ed can be one of the most demanding people and journalists that have ever been in this building. What he taught me — and they're certainly things I think about every day — are all kinds of stylistic things. He'd say, "If you don't understand everything that's written in the script, then don't expect anybody else to understand it. I don't care if science isn't your thing. If the shuttle blows up, you'd better figure out what a rocket booster is and what a rocket booster does." And this was before the age of Google, so you actually had to do a lot of research and read a lot. His expectation was that you had read every single newspaper when you came into work and you'd listened to KOA or whatever and you had ideas about what the news was about.

When you wrote your scripts, he would copy-edit the scripts. And I can honestly say during that whole time, I think there might have been two scripts that went by Ed that he didn't change one word.

There are so many things he taught me, and some of it was really simple stuff — dumb stuff, maybe, to some people. But he didn't believe in saying, "An Arvada woman." He'd say "a woman from Arvada." And he didn't like "death toll." He'd say, "If you see your friend down the street, would you say, 'The death toll is whatever'? And if you're talking about investigators, talk about who and where and what department." He challenged me to think every day about those things. He was all about writing to your video, which is what TV is — a visual medium. So write to your video, update scripts, make sure you have the lead as the lead of the story. And do not repeat what a reporter is going to say ten seconds later. That would send him over the edge.

The bottom line is, if I made a mistake, it wasn't me who people blamed. It was him. It was his name, his face, his reputation if I made a mistake. And that was hugely valuable to learn. If I made a terrible mistake and somehow it got past Ed, it wasn't Kim Christiansen hanging out in the newsroom writing scripts who made the mistake. It was Ed.

Did you have an experience like that that you can remember?

I think there were tons of little ones. Nothing catastrophic, praise the Lord, because he caught everything. He was the most meticulous copy editor you can imagine. We are so close. We don't get to talk as often as I'd like, but we try to have lunch a couple of times a year, and he often jokes about how the business left him when we went to multiple newscasts. He says, "I can't do that," and I understand him in that respect in every way. I'm doing four newscasts, and he says, "I could never copy-edit that way. I couldn't copy-edit through a news break and someone else's story. That's when I said, 'Thank goodness I retired.'" Two newscasts is more than enough to have that kind of demand for copy-editing, but once you get to as many newscasts as we're doing now, it's a new challenge.

Very few people are like Kyle Clark, who's a brainiac and can multi-task like no one I know. But it's tough. It's tough to do that. So I have empathy and understanding for all the newbies who come into this business and a lot of the young writers and reporters and photographers who were once like me. I think that's what this experience taught me. As a mother, you always think, "I really am a mother — I'm the mother in the newsroom." But I want them to know not to give up. Yes, I understand if you're discouraged if you made a mistake and people jumped on you for it. But we've all been there, and now it's my opportunity to be a mentor and pass that on and encourage them to find their own passion, their own voice, to be authentic and true to who they are in this profession.

When I wanted to make the transition to reporting, I offered to come in on the weekends, on my days off, whatever they were at the time, and work with a photographer and put together a story the way a reporter would. Even though you wouldn't see me or hear me on the story. I'd hand it off to a real reporter to basically voice my work. And the photographers, the photojournalists, they're really the best journalists I've ever met. I've learned more about journalism from the photojournalists in this building than from anybody else, and more than I could ever learn in a classroom. This place is just blessed with amazing photojournalists. That has evolved over the years, but they still teach me something every day. Every chance I get to go out and do a story, I go, "Wow, I get to work with this person. They're incredible." They've taught me so much about writing and reporting and journalism and just listening. I can't say enough about all of them. And that was all part of the behind-the-scenes experience.

Kyle Dyer, Kim Christiansen, Adele Arakawa and Kathy Sabine in a shot from earlier this decade.
Kyle Dyer, Kim Christiansen, Adele Arakawa and Kathy Sabine in a shot from earlier this decade.
9News

So in order to get in the air, you had to talk your supervisors into letting you put together stories for other people more or less anonymously?

Yes. For many, many weeks, I would come in on my days off and help produce a story, put it together. And even though there were arguably twice as many people in the newsroom as there are today, because it was a different economic time in this business, there were still people taking off on holidays, and still not people eager to say, "I'd love to work on Labor Day." I'd been doing that for a long time, and then they finally came to me and said, "Listen, we've been listening" — because I would voice my version of a story and show it to my boss. And it got to the point where they finally said, "Okay, enough. Taste of Colorado, Labor Day weekend, we don't have that many people. Do you think you can handle it?"

It was obviously a heavy-hitting assignment [laughs]. But they let me be on the air. I was going, "Yes!" And that parlayed into a few more opportunities on Saturdays or Sundays.

I spent Christmas Eve at the airport during a snowstorm — all night long. I think it was probably on the 6 a.m. newscast on Christmas Day, which probably two people saw, but I did it. It wasn't a monster snowstorm, but it was a pretty big one; it must have been in the late ’80s. But once I became a general-assignment reporter, people would say, "We can't put Kim on Sundays, because something giant is going to happen." The fuel tank farm at Stapleton caught fire on Thanksgiving weekend. I still remember that. It was massive; they basically had to let it burn itself out, and it burned for days — and I was on-call. After that, a few months went by and a plane [United Airlines Flight 585] crashed into a lake bed in Colorado Springs with twenty-some people on board [in March 1991]. There was so much controversy about what caused it, which basically turned out to be wind shear — and that was a Sunday, too. A few months later, the United Bank murders happened on Father's Day, on a Sunday — and I was on-call for every one of them.

That's how we remember life events, and I remember so many of them that way. Like when people talk about wildfire season, I think, don't tell me it's just a season. Because I remember standing in Boulder in November with raging winds and a huge wildfire [1990's Olde Stage Fire], and it was Thanksgiving.

How long did you work the general-assignment beat?

A long time; I don't remember how long. The first newscast I anchored was the Saturday morning newscast, when we started that. I think that was in the early Nineties. It was only Saturday, and I'd report for four days a week. Then I transitioned to the weekend nights, and I would still report three days a week. And then the four o'clock news, which has changed a lot over the years — but that was the show I was on the longest, and I think I joined in ’95 or ’96.

Adele Arakawa and Kim Christiansen at the 2016 Parade of Lights.
Adele Arakawa and Kim Christiansen at the 2016 Parade of Lights.
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What did you like most about anchoring? Or did it take a while to warm to, given how much you enjoyed reporting from the field?

They both present different challenges. I would not still be in this profession and in this job if I didn't still have the opportunity to go out and report, because I love to meet people, I love to hear their stories. I'm still blown away that they're willing to share their stories with us and trust us with the opportunity to tell it and produce it and give honor to it. That part I still love. But I enjoyed anchoring more because of the people I work with. I don't have that experience of working in another market, but I do have the experience of working with people who've come from other markets every single day, and they're the ones who tell me, "You have no idea how fortunate you are." And I am. I've worked with extraordinary people who've made me look so much smarter and more interesting. There's a little bit of magic and a little bit of luck when they put together a new team. But I can't imagine anyone being more fortunate than me. I've had the chance to work with Mark Koebrich, who was the brother I never had growing up, and with Ward Lucas, who was a really funny and interesting guy. I've worked with people who've become dear, dear friends over the years. I've worked with Kyle, I've worked with Tom [Green]. I'm winning. Who can I work with who's any better? Every day, I work with a lot of smart, interesting, funny people who make me better. And this is exactly what we are every day: a team. I could not imagine being on TV just by myself every day. It's the team that makes you good. It's the person who's next to you, the one who points something out or challenges you to be a little better, a little smarter, to study up a little more.

9News has had one of the most remarkable runs atop the ratings of any station across the country. It's been number one for decade after decade. Do you have an idea about why that's been the case?

I think it's a combination of things. I definitely think you have to put good journalism at the very, very top: being accurate, being reliable, covering breaking news. But I do believe outstanding photojournalism and storytelling make a difference. That also loops in investigative work. And that really makes a difference. And the third thing — I almost view it as a triangle — is community involvement. It's not just, "The station is going to sponsor this parade. Y'all drop by." It's passion for your community and knowing and understanding what your community cares about and being involved because you choose to. Maybe this economy doesn't remind you how fortunate you are to have a job, but I know that years ago, I was reminded every day how fortunate I was to have a job. And it's even better to have a job where you feel like you're making a difference and getting to know people and having the opportunity to use what you do to give back. It's like a megaphone in some respects, where we're able to raise awareness. We recently did a whole week where almost every show, we did something different related to Alzheimer's in light of Annabel Bowlen's announcement. And it makes me feel good, because there are so many families in this community living with Alzheimer's every day who are feeling that nobody knows what they're going through. And we've tried to say, "We do. Let's offer you some resources. Here are some things we can do."

Certainly, my passion has been the fight against breast cancer and some other issues as well. But I really think all those things work together. And it's so important to have great people, without question. Ed Sardella, Mike Landess, Stormy Rottman, Mike Nolan — they kind of set the bar. Then the station had to slowly change and evolve. Adelle is my mentor, my goddess; she was my best friend in this newsroom. I miss her so much, in so many ways. But when Adele came in here, she rocked this place, and for a lot of good reasons. First of all, nobody was used to seeing a woman on the set, which was crazy, but I'm old enough to remember that. And she could do live reports from the scene like no one ever. People would go, "Wow. She's not just reading the words in front of her." That's what she established. I think the bar's set high, and that's the case for every generation that comes in. We've got so many new, bright young people, and that's really exciting. Once Kyle came, I thought right away, "This guy's got it." I think he's an old man trapped in a young man's body, but without question, the smartest person I've ever worked with.

Kim and Keri Christiansen.
Kim and Keri Christiansen.
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You mentioned your breast cancer advocacy, and if I've got the chronology right, you actually started working on behalf of the cause prior to your sister being diagnosed.

That's right. The station had sponsored the first couple years of the [Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure], and a sister station in Florida had started the concept of breast self-exam. I went to my bosses at the time and said, "We should do that, because we're sponsors of the race." And I did have a reason to do that. My mom had multiple scares; they just weren't cancer diagnoses. But nobody talked about it. It was like our private little family thing. You'd talk to your family or your pastor. But nobody discussed that kind of thing outside of your home. You didn't say, "Hey, have you done a breast self-exam today?" That just wasn't in our mindset. So when I heard about that, I said, "We should do that. We should tie it in to the Buddy Check program." And they said, "Sure, if you feel passionate about it, feel free."

So we started telling different survivor stories and talking to doctors and other people and doing some things on research about breast cancer. And then, three years later, my sister was diagnosed, and it was mind-boggling. It was completely out of the blue. Despite my mom's scares, there was no family history. It just rocked my world. She's my best friend; we were roommates for years and years and years. And she was the one who said, after two or three months, "I'm good with talking about it if you need to tell people." So we did, and the response was overwhelming. It was wonderful. People understood what it was like to be the sister. She's just so important to me, and she was willing to share it. We still occasionally do speaking engagements together, and when we do, we talk about how we're really two very different people. I would have gone with the very first doctors they gave me — the first surgeon and the first oncologist. And she said, "Nope. I'm going to visit two or three." Just different people, different approaches, and how we dealt with it differently. It was really rewarding, and she's doing great.

She's a really good example of how important early detection is.

One hundred percent. This was something she caught at the earliest stages. She'd had a mammogram a month before and it hadn't shown up. So it showed how important it is to check everything. She just went in for a routine checkup, and afterward, everyone from her surgeon to her oncologist said it's amazing that it was found in a clinical exam, because it was so small. But it made every bit of difference. And that's the message. That's the message we try to get out with Buddy Check9.

You alluded earlier to how there are fewer folks at 9News than there used to be in the context of the changes in the broadcast-news business. How challenging is it to try to do more than you used to with half as many people?

It's really a culture change and a mindset change. Some things are easier and some things are more difficult. If we have a wildfire, we don't have the staff to send three or four crews to different areas. But on Twitter, we can probably gather more information from the agencies involved than we ever could have with all of that staff. How you gather your information has changed in many ways. And now reporters are photographers, photographers are reporters. People take on all jobs, which is good and bad, because it makes it challenging with the number of newscasts we put on every day. But it's also great, because you have all those skill sets. Everybody has been taught they're a journalist in this building. If you're working behind the scenes, you're a journalist. If you're working on the assignment desk, you're a journalist. If you're working on the digital end of things, you're a journalist. Everybody can contribute because people get their news from us now in so many more ways. That's a positive. But the hard part is, sometimes you look around and think, "That's all we've got?" Like on primary night: "That's our staff? We're bringing in extra resources, and that's it?"

So it's not the volume of people we used to have. But there's just as much of a focus on quality and the fact that everybody can be a journalist — how we do that, how we approach it, and how we can teach others. And the other really critical part of it is that you can't be trapped into making a mistake when you're part of this, when you're part of a breaking-news situation. It's how things have evolved in so many ways.

I'm one of the two or three people who was here when Columbine happened. I'm one of the two or three people who can tell you those students didn't have cell phones — and they didn't. And they didn't have social media. Things have changed so much, and how we approach that and what we've learned — we learned a lot through that experience. We learned about shooters and how we use their names and the kind of images and video we use in the moments after something like that. It's good that there are some people who have been here a long time who can say, "Let's not do this. Hold on. Hold back." But there are also new people who bring a fresh approach.

Doing so many newscasts with fewer people is interesting. But technology has helped us. The equipment has changed. That's good. We're lighter. We can do things with GoPro cameras. We can do a lot of things we couldn't do before.

A 2014 portrait of Kim Christiansen.
A 2014 portrait of Kim Christiansen.
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One of the frequent conversations in the journalism business has to do with the number of stories out there that aren't being covered because there are fewer people to cover them. Do you see that as well, and is it frustrating?

It is. You think, if we had a few extra resources to cover this angle of the story or a few more people to go to this important city council meeting or knock on some doors and ask some questions. That part is frustrating. But it's interesting how we gather the stories now that are different than in the past. We have people communicating with us in a different way, and that sometimes opens up stories we might not have been able to get before. It would have required me to go into a neighborhood and ask friends of friends of friends. But still, it's super-frustrating to think, what if we had extra people to snoop around like this — to be able to investigatively cover more stories, or to do more in politics? More boots on the ground, more people saying, "Where's the money coming from?" and devoting the time to that. But we still invest strongly in investigative reporting, and we try to let them do their thing without having to be beholden to the daily grind of so many newscasts. They're able to do what other journalists can't do when they're meeting the needs of newscasts at four, five, six, nine and ten.

When you learned that Adele Arakawa was going to retire, were you immediately interested in stepping into her place, or was there some convincing that needed to be done?

To be really honest, I didn't think I had a chance. I suspected they were doing a long-term search, which I think they did. I don't know; I'm not privy to that information. But I really didn't think I had a chance. I knew I was the longtime person here, and that's it. I'm the Colorado girl who's still here. But I didn't know if they'd consider me. I was pretty surprised; I was shocked, actually. I know this newsroom is really respected around the country, and anytime a job opens up here, people are eager to apply and get their name out and pursue it, or have their agent pursue it. And I don't have one.

You don't have an agent?

No. Why would I need an agent? Why would I want to leave? I'm the girl who got the chance to be on TV after working all night long in my home town. My family's here. Where was I going to go? I didn't need an agent to convince me to move to...Madison [laughs]. I'm happy here.

When you were chosen as the lead anchor, and over the time you've been in that role, what vision have you had about what you want 9News to be today?

To say that I was intimidated would be an understatement, just because of my respect for Adele. And I also know that Adele and I have two very different styles. I was completely intimidated when I first started — and I still am some days.

I feel like we're at a really interesting time. One of the things that makes this place special is that we're always trying new things, and I feel like we've been ahead of the curve on a lot of things. For years, people have said, "Newsrooms are shrinking and we've got to evolve. We've got to build the web team" — and everybody scoffed. But we did it, and all of a sudden, the website became hugely popular. So then it was like, "We've got to build social media, we need to have reporters who can shoot, write and edit. We need to have photographers who can also be reporters." And that didn't happen in a lot of newsrooms — especially large city newsrooms. It was viewed with some disdain by a lot of folks. But we said, "We're trying it. We're doing it anyway." It was the same with Next [with Kyle Clark].

In my heart, I didn't know if people would want me to do the ten o'clock news, because I am that person who wears her emotions on her sleeve sometimes. I have teared up on TV. I also do an afternoon newscast where you can do goofy stuff here and there. So I was concerned about that. But management was really supportive. They said, "All we want you to do is be authentic. Just be you. Be you every day." So I'm getting there, reducing some of the fear. And I'm also gratified that I get to go out and cover the stories I care about — and I've really been trying to flex new muscles in doing those stories. Not doing only certain things. But I'm also trying to remember that I can only be the Kim that people know. And if it doesn't work out, it doesn't work out. We have an outstanding team of journalists here. They brought me up, and if they decide, "You know what, Kim? We're ready to move on," I'm good with that. It's been a great run. I've been so blessed.

Who else can write that story? Okay, you grew up in Arvada, you go to the University of Colorado, you study journalism, you work behind the scenes, you evolve into your dream job, and you're still there thirty-something years later. Nobody writes that storyline. If somebody had told me that story in college, I would have said, "No, you're crazy."

I think we really need to stay close to the audience. We need to stay true to the audience and evolve with what the audience needs and wants, and being the one they go to. The one where they say, "I'm going to tune into the news tonight or I'm going to go onto the website or I'm going to go onto the Facebook page or Twitter, and I'm going to see what these people have to say."

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