Emmy Award Winning Anchor Bids Oskaloosa Farewell
Oskaloosa, Iowa – He’s been a familiar face to many Oskaloosa residents, either bringing them the news weekly from CRI, running a camera, or interviewing someone for the next big story in Oskaloosa.
But this week is the last Jonathan Gregg will be at CRI, as he prepares to move on to Green Bay, Wisconsin and the NBC affiliate there.
For the last three years following his move from KCRG TV-9 to Oskaloosa and CRI, Jonathon has helped to bring a level of professionalism to journalism to Oskaloosa. His abilities have grown during his time at CRI and he says the ability to attend workshops and the diversity of his work has helped him grow professionally, even winning a Regional Emmy back in September of 2010.
Jonathan has focused a lot of time on local government, and says that he has grown in his understanding of how local governments operate, “I’ve spent a lot of time covering city council and some county supervisors and a lot of covering school board.”
“I’m going to a place where there’s going to be larger communities, but then also, towns just the same size as Oskaloosa in the coverage area,” and says that his experiences gained here will apply to his new position.
“One of the hardest things about leaving is that, right now, my job is easier than its ever been because I’ve spent three years trying to do a good job, and I think that people in town that I’ve worked with recognize that and they help me when I’m looking for stories.”
“It’s not hard for me to get interviews anymore because people know me. Hardest part is I’m literally starting from scratch some place else and that’s one of the big challenges.”
Many reporters remember those big stories, Jonathan says, “Obviously the VanWeelden trial in January was one of the more interesting.” The trial helped add extra depth to his courtroom experiences where he had previously ran a pool camera. “That was really the only experience I had with covering courts. So when I had the opportunity to cover the VanWeelden trial,” he says it was completely different than his previous court experiences.
“To cover something people were honestly invested in, taxpayers were invested in, residents, family members put a lot of pressure on me, but I enjoy doing it.”
One of those special memories that Jonathan will take from his time in Oskaloosa is the opportunity to film Chuck Russell with CRI documentary specialist Jacob Rosdail. “I really enjoyed Chuck. He was a very funny man, very smart man, a very gentle man.”
During my interview with Jonathan, I had chosen the balcony spot to chat, nearly the same spot where they had interviewed Russell and Jonathan was running camera, and believes the subject involved Oskaloosa’s Police Department being the first municipality to fingerprint its citizens. “That was one of my first introductions in Oskaloosa.”
Jonathan went on to say, “I wish I had done more interviews with Chuck,” but was glad his co-worker Rosdail had the opportunity to do extensive interviews with Russell. “It was kind of a fleeting interview, but just that experience is one of the neatest things I’ve ever done here, getting to know him.”
Jonathan knew from a young age he wanted to be in journalism, and used to spend a lot of time watching the news with his father who, according to Jonathan, watched a whole lot of news. “Evening news, newspaper every morning like so many other people. And I would try to stay up with Dad to watch the ten o’clock. It almost never happened. I was maybe 9 or 10 years old.”
“We could watch the five, then the five thirty nightly news with Tom Brokaw and then six o’clock local news, that would be KWQC TV-6 in Davenport, the NBC there. I’d get up in the morning, Dad would be watching the morning news. But the thing about his watching it, he would always criticize people when he thought they were doing a bad job.”
“I remember this, watching the morning news and this was when news teams first started having laptops on the news desk in the mornings. They had the cup of coffee which they always had, but then they started putting laptops on the news desk during the show and they would say ‘Hey this is just coming in, or just read this off of Quad City Times website, and this is happening right now’.”
“And my Dad would go, ‘that’s stupid. I’ll just go use a computer and I’ll turn the TV off and I’ll get my news that way. You make yourself irrelevant’.”
Jonathan said that his Dad’s critiquing always motivated him. “If I go into the news business he’ll probably be pretty critical of my work, so I better do a good job so he’s not critical.”
“I just wanted to always do well by my Dad.”
Jonathan says he has no particular place in mind where he would like to end up. If he’s like most ambitious journalists, they eventually seek a larger market or the opportunity to be at the anchor desk, and I believe he has the ability and the drive to achieve anything, including network news.
“I want to be working in news. If I’m working in news, I’ll probably be OK,” Jonathan says humbly.
Something tells me that Jonathon will be just fine in his career. His tenacity to understand a story and to educate and inform himself about it so he can help others understand it better is a skill that I take away from my time observing and learning from him to help make me better.