106: John Stehr | Journalism & Empathy

john stehr wthr journalist

After more than 40 years in TV broadcasting, Indianapolis NBC nightly news legend John Stehr (@JohnWTHR) announced his retirement. At the time of recording, and pushing 60 years old, John has been reflecting on his career, the impact he's had in the community and what he's planning on doing after his part of the show is over.

“There I was sitting in the newsroom and the General Manager came in and said 'well, how about that kid?'... I would NEVER give a 21 year old that kind of responsibility, but, thankfully, he did." – John Stehr, WTHR Lead Anchor

What We Discuss with John Stehr:

  • How John got into television broadcasting as a 21 year old in Erie, PA.
  • John's career, the right place at the right time with the right attitude.
  • Creating a #1 show for more than two decades straight.
  • John's strategy for connecting with viewers on a one-to-one level.
  • Advice for the 25 year old aspiring journalist.
  • How he loss of his first son has shaped John's perspective in life.
  • What is John going to do with his newfound time in his retirement?

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More About This Show

John Stehr knew from an early age that he was going to be a TV journalist. Now nearing his 60s (but still looking great!), John has had some time to reflect on the events have helped shape his career, and what it's meant to him and the communities he's served for 40+ years.

"The News was very important to my family when I was a kid," John says. "We made sure to have dinner before 6 o'clock, so we could watch the local news from 6 to 6:30. Then, at 6:30, it was Walter Cronkite with the CBS Nightly News... I knew from 5 years old that that was what I was going to do."

As a student at Gannon University in Erie, Pennsylvania, John studied Communications, and by the time he graduated, he was the solo anchor for the 6 & 11 o'clock news for local CBS affiliate WSEE, just 21 years old.

From there, John would go on to work for several other stations throughout the country, including a founding anchor at CNBC.  John has since risen to what some might call local stardom leading the Indianapolis NBC-affiliate WTHR Channel 13 news team.

At the time he joined, the station struggled with viewership. "I came here we were number 4 in the market... reruns of Punky Brewster did better than we did at," he says.

Rather than accept the status quo, John saw an opportunity to connect with the viewers. "We were able to turn that around, and for more than 20 years we've been #1 in the market."

It also earned him multiple Emmy awards and the station the Edward R. Murrow Award for Overall Excellence in 2011.

While his career has been a shining example of what it looks like to do it right, his life has not been without trials, including the loss of his first born, and recently, an aortic aneurysm that required emergency open-heart surgery in the summer 2017.

Although John has since made a full recovery, he is quick to point out he has taken this as a sign that he needs to stop and focus on his health, his family, and giving back more in the community.

You can still expect to see John make a guest appearance for special events, such as the Indy 500.

THANKS, John Stehr!

If you enjoyed this session with TV journalist John Stehr, let him know by clicking on the link below and sending him a quick shout out on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

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