A Closer Look: Brian Sather
President and general manager of KCCI
Friday, June 13, 2014 6:00 AM
Brian Sather was named president and general manager of KCCI Channel 8 in Des Moines, after working his way through several roles in the television industry, ranging from photography to local and national sales. He came to Des Moines after nearly four years leading KHBS/KHOG-TV, a Hearst Television station and ABC/CW affiliate in Fayetteville, Ark.. Sather, originally from Fairfax, Minn., replaced longtime KCCI general manager Paul Fredericksen, who retired late last year.
Hometown: Fairfax, MN
Education: Bachelor of Arts in mass communications, Augustana College, Sioux Falls, SD.
Family: Wife, Lori, and three adult daughters.
Sather said he developed a love for media in college and originally wanted to be in radio, but a job at a television station helped him to realize that “radio with pictures” was an even better career path.
“There is nothing about the business that I’m not fascinated by,” Sather said. “I think what we do to serve the public interest and our clients is so important, and the power we have to distribute messages is incredible. We have an ability to do really great things for our community, and that’s what I love about what we do.”
You came to KCCI from Arkansas. Where were you before?
I spent several years in South Dakota at a couple different television stations. I started as a news photographer, working in a newsroom for six years, then from that point, I moved on to a sales position at a Fox station in Sioux Falls. From there, I spent the better part of 13 years at the Hearst ABC affiliate in Omaha, Neb., in various roles before moving to Fayetteville.
How did you learn about this role at KCCI?
It was an internally-advertised position. Like I told the staff when I got here, KCCI is one of America’s great television stations and certainly one of the greatest within the Hearst group. When an opportunity like that becomes available and you’re a general manager with this company, you have to raise your hand, because it’s a coveted station and position. And frankly, my roots are in the Midwest and it was a great opportunity to move back a little closer to family.
What responsibilities do you have as part of your job?
In general, I provide leadership and direction to our folks. The great thing about KCCI is we have incredibly gifted leaders throughout the building. Here, my job is more about helping us think about the next chapter of KCCI and how we continue to go forward and do great things, and how we continue to use the mantle of being Iowa’s news leader to really be not only great journalists but great community citizens. As a leader, it’s about finding ways to better serve the viewers and be the steady hand that moves the station in the right direction.
What’s a day in the life like for you here?
I was introduced to the staff here on Dec. 4, and I officially started in January. The best days are the days I can spend more time outside my office, either inside the building engaging with staff, or outside engaging with community leaders and our clients.
What’s been your focus these first months?
It’s been getting to know our people. Of our 120-plus staff, I’ve met with about 80 of them individually. It’s helped me learn about what we do really well and what’s on the mind of our people and where they’d like to see us grow and advance. It also helped me learn a lot about Des Moines and what I need to know about the city. My focus has been to immerse myself in the KCCI culture and the Des Moines community. Then I can really start to cast a vision of where I’d like to take the station in the next five to 10 years.
Have you set any short-term goals since starting?
We had an incredible February. We were the most-watched newscast in all of the company, and our short-term goal is to maintain that leadership position, continue to grow it, and obviously capitalize on it through our work with marketing and advertisers. The next two things on that list would be to capitalize on Thursday Night Football, which is new to CBS, and our acquisition of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” which will launch on this station in September. It’s making sure it all happens effectively.
Any long-term goals?
We are right around the corner from the Iowa caucuses. As we turn the page to 2015, they’re going to be here before we know it. The next thing we see on our radar is how we can lead our coverage of that.
What else do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I used to run years ago, then I started again right after the first of year. I’m not quite to the addicted part yet, but I love it, and the trails system in Des Moines is amazing. I love to bike. My wife, Lori, and I like to boat, so that’s on our minds as well. That’s how we’re getting out and enjoying the community.
What’s been the most surprising thing for you being here?
How incredibly vibrant, alive and eclectic this city is. It such an exciting place. I hear from others about this renaissance that Des Moines has gone through, and while I wasn’t here for it, I can see the results of what they’re talking about. Des Moines has a lot of cool, big-city amenities, but it still feels like a town where everyone knows everyone. It’s made my time here really enjoyable.
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