A job she loves

Jul 15, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Suzanne Black, 32, said her job as the news director at Tribune-owned WB affiliate KSWB-TV in San Diego makes her feel like the luckiest person in the world.
“Every day I am thankful I have a good place to come and work at a job I love,” she said.
Ms. Black was KSWB’s interim news director in the fall of 2000, when the station conducted its nationwide search. She officially got the gig in November of that year.
KSWB only has one newscast-a half-hour 10 p.m. show anchored by Brooke Wagner and Jeff Powers. That broadcast goes up against two stations that have hour-long 10 p.m. newscasts-Fox affiliate XETV and independent station KUSI-TV.
For the May book, KSWB’s news saw the most growth. It was in second place with a 2.2 Nielsen Media Research rating and 4 share Monday through Sunday, up 19 percent from the previous year (1.9/3). For Monday through Friday, it got a 2.5/4, up 33 percent from a year ago (1.9/3). Year to year, ratings continue to grow for the 10 p.m. newscast, which was launched in September 1999.
When Ms. Black took the helm she brought in weekend anchor Adriana Alcaraz, who was a reporter at rival CBS affiliate KFMB-TV. “We’ve not made any dramatic changes, but our focus has stayed the same since we launched-and that’s good storytelling,” Ms. Black said. “What goes on inside the newsroom is as important as what’s on the air. I believe when people are happy in their work they want to work toward a better product.”
Ms. Black was born and raised in Palestine, Texas, population 18,000. She grew up watching Dallas TV stations, and journalism is in her blood. Her father was a newspaper man at the Tyler Courier Times and her great-grandfather worked in the newspaper business, too.
“I grew up going with my dad to the paper. He did everything from selling advertising to shooting photos to writing articles,” Ms. Black said. “But I was always drawn to TV. I love the fast-paced news. I loved the pictures, I loved the sound.”
After she graduated from the University of Arkansas with a major in journalism, her first job was running the cameras and TelePrompTer at ABC affiliate KHOG-TV in Fayetteville, Ark. After four years, she left the station as an evening news producer and went to CBS affiliate KTHV-TV in Little Rock, where she worked as a news producer from 1996 to 1999.
In October 1999, she moved to San Diego with her husband, Bryan Black, who became a reporter at KSWB and who still works there and reports to KSWB General Manager Bob Ramsey. When she moved to San Diego there were no producing positions available, so she worked part time on the KSWB assignment desk while she waited for a producer job to open at one of the other stations in town. KSWB was just launching its newscast in September 1999, and Ms. Black became part of the original crew to launch the show.
Tribune’s corporate news director Steve Ramsey (no relation to KSWB’s Bob Ramsey) was running the newsroom for a few months back then. “He said, `Come here, work in the meantime, and I promise you’re going to love the station and you’ll never want to leave,”’ Ms. Black said. “I thought, `Yeah, right.’ And he was right.” Within a week she was named weekend news producer, and a few months later she became executive producer.
“One thing that makes it different is most everyone here started together on this start-up, so there was a certain amount of bonding here from Day One,” Ms. Black said. “I’m the third news director in three years, and I’m doing this job because of the people in this newsroom. They supported me in the interim period.”
Ms. Black said even though the station has the smallest news staff, “When it comes to the breaking news and the big stories of the day, we’re capable of doing what everyone else in town does-with fewer people.”
She also loves her adopted town. “People love San Diego,” Ms. Black said. “I don’t want to leave.”