Meet James Reid, producer of KPIX TV’s “Eye on the Bay”
For the Record is your weekly inside media scoop. Enjoy this week’s focus on James Reid, producer of KPIX TV’s “Eye on the Bay.”
Tell us about your dream assignment.
I’ve had a few that involve islands abroad…isn’t that what everyone says? But the best tales that beat out sand and blue water, are the ones that are rich with history, archival footage, rich characters. I get the greatest rise out of stories that are great stories. When someone tells me a tale about something that makes my “inner story teller” go ga ga, and then I tell someone else and you can tell they’re enthralled, I know I’ve hooked the giant bass!
Last year, I told the tale of six Bay Area couples that have been married for 60 years each. The husbands were all school chums from Balboa High School in San Francisco. In the early forties, all six of the friends went into WW2 service and when they returned, a young local priest, a few years their senior, held a social club to reacclimate the gents back into society. He held dances and socials, and little did the guys know, he was also an unknowing matchmaker. So the six guys meet six girls, they marry, raise families and all still live in the Bay Area. They’re all best friends, and although they’re in their 80’s, they still make time to get together. The story unraveled layer by layer, offering viewers a look at rare home video of their courtship years, their stories of innocent dating and their memories of the priest, who was responsible for getting them all together. When they talked about how much they missed “Father John”, whom they’d lost contact with, well, we had to see if he was still with us. After a long search full of closed doors, and rerouted hopes, we found the 90 year old clergyman in a retirement home in the Central Valley. Enter our producer brains for an unforgettable payoff. We held a party for the couples at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco, the spot where many of them shared their honeymoons. The purpose of the party they believed, was to celebrate their long-wedded accomplishments! We had them standing in front of 55 family members we’d gathered. When our host asked them to bow their heads in a moment of silence to reflect on the man responsible for what they had, the doors parted and in we strolled Father John. It was a right turn for them and the audience as well. Tears! Big tears! A year later, we were nominated for an Emmy for the program, and the “gang” (as they’re called) all wanted to be there to cheer us on. I was a little uneasy, a little superstitious about what a letdown it would be if they witnessed defeat. But somehow the stars were aligned. (we won).. It was a wild moment that put these great people into the spotlight yet again. It was made even more magical for all, because the Emmy Awards, which for years and years, were held at the Palace of Fine Arts, were held, for that and only that year…. at the Palace Hotel. A story that had great meaning all around! Beating that will be next to impossible!
Describe the wackiest story you’ve written.
There was a time before we launched Eye on the Bay (now, a more focused, single topic half hour) when all we sought was “Bay Area wacky”. During our Evening Magazine years, a few producers, myself included, would battle to get the wackier, quirkier story. One day I came in and pitched a story about a clown who marches in local parades. Boring? I’ll keep going! “Flasher the Clown” has a gimmick… he flashes parade watchers, and there sitting in his pants, is a little Yorkshire Terrier. It was harmless for years, until a parent found it obscene. When police approached him and told him to leave the parade, he refused, then he was removed. We took a page out of the 60 Minutes ripoff book, and put together an “all too serious” expose, with hard-hitting tongue and cheek look. Emmy judges eventually gave us gold. Along comes another producer the next day with a tale about an adult diaper-wearing club. Then I try and top it with the man who makes music with his nostrils. While these people were real and their stories worth a giggle, we were in the business of college creative writing. It all started going downhill when our hosts were inseminating dairy cows by hand and soon, we went with a new style, chock full of information people could actually make use of. (ended in a preposition).
What is your PR pet peeve?
When someone pitches you and leaves the name of someone from KGO on the form letter. Instant delete! It’s also hard to stomach the email from an agency that wants to bring their psychic client from New York into the studio for an interview. Since we’re a field show and never shoot in studio… delete! It’s not only important to get the show/station correct, but dagnabbit, know the show you’re pitching!
Top trend in the industry you’re currently covering or are interested in.
As always, travel, food travel, history travel….we try to be the best teachers of everything Bay Area.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I was born here, raised here, and love learning and prophesizing about “here”! I come from an early background in PR and Marketing, so I’ve been on the other side. (Therefore I handle well meaning PR folks with more care than the guy answering the phones on a news assignment desk… although we’ve got great assignment editors who love a good story). I love getting story ideas, and love to flush out ideas that need a little extra “something” to turn it into…a great story!