Giving back makes it all worthwhile for Eisner

May 13, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Many reporters enjoy giving back, but some may think KCOP-TV reporter Hal Eisner is stretched too thin. He doesn’t think so, though his extracurricular activities sound exhausting.
Mr. Eisner is on the board of governors of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, and he is in his sixth year as executive producer of the Los Angeles Emmy Awards, which will take place on June 29. This month marks the first anniversary of his Web site, www.haleisner.com. He is VP of the Associated Press Television and Radio Association for this year and will be its president next year.
Two years ago Mr. Eisner founded the APTRA Academy. The two-day workshop for aspiring broadcasters is held annually in October at the Cottontail Ranch in Malibu, Calif., in partnership with Pepperdine University. There is a limit of 24 students per class, and more than 50 professional journalists such as KCBS-TV reporter/anchor Jonathan Elias, KCOP anchor Rick Chambers and KTLA-TV reporter Ted Garcia volunteer their time to teach.
News stories in the class are simulated. Each student leaves with a tape of his or her completed story.
“It’s an immersion process,” Mr. Eisner said. “We’ve had five students who are now on TV in small markets in the United States. To get a job you need to have the tape. Three of those students had a tape with only the APTRA academy piece on it. So we have success stories.”
Last year the program added an “anchor academy” using the TV studio at Pepperdine University. This year a radio news academy will be offered as well.
Mr. Eisner has been working in the Los Angeles television market for 21 years, starting with a job at the CNN bureau there. He later worked at Fox-owned KTTV and took on some free-lance gigs.
Originally from Texas, he once worked as an anchor/reporter at a Houston radio station where current KTTV anchor Steve Edwards was the program director. He said Mr. Edwards was one of the many people who were supportive of his career. “There were a lot of people who made a difference in my life,” Mr. Eisner said.
KTTV and KCOP are now sister stations, both owned by News Corp. Mr. Eisner, who is married with three kids, works on KCOP’s 10 p.m. newscast. Things could change when KCOP moves into the KTTV building, which is expected to occur some time this year.
After work Mr. Eisner sits down at his computer to work on his Web site. He recently hired a webmaster and has put his own money into the site, which has become a popular destination for people in the news business. “There are a lot of news sites out there, but a lot were gossip sites,” he said. “There wasn’t a site that encompasses what I was interested in-the high road for professional journalists. People say nice things about it, and I’m very proud of it.”