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Published April 26 2012

Morast: Ranking most interesting Fargo-Moorhead TV newshounds

Since canceling my cable TV last year, I’ve noticed two things about myself:

1. I still watch the same amount of TV I did before cutting the cable – thanks, Hulu Plus.

2. I’ve become much more interested in the local TV news reports.

Part of this is because watching the news is better than tuning into another “Three and a Half Men” rerun.

But it’s also for the simple fact that the more I watch the local TV news personalities, the more obsessed I become with these de facto celebrities beamed into our homes every night.

I wonder about their nightly fashion choices. I try to predict who will get the night’s “big story.” And, lately, I find myself keeping lists of which of these photogenic newshounds are my favorites.

In the interest of sharing, here’s my top 10 Fargo-Moorhead TV news personalities.

Keep in mind, I don’t think these are necessarily the best TV personalities in town – though, I’m confident my No. 1 pick is the best in Fargo-Moorhead. But they are the 10 whom I find the most interesting. They’re the 10 who make me want to watch their stations’ respective newscasts, even when the night’s top story is a fundraiser for somebody with a very common ailment.

1. Yvonne Man

Valley News Live loves promoting Stephanie Goetz, and it should – the anchor and one-time F-M It Girl is quite popular. But if Goetz is the station’s most popular part of the news team, Man is its most talented. She’s smart, striking, has the presence of someone from the national networks and always has engaging reports – even when the topics are dry as dirt.

2. John Wheeler

I’m not sure anyone in F-M walks more than WDAY’s chief meteorologist. Wheeler’s pounding the pavement every day of the year, yet I’ve never seen him wear a stocking hat. Ever. In my mind, this is proof he doesn’t fear weather. At all. That’s the kind of irreverence I want in my meteorologist.

3. Mick Kjar

Valley News’ morning weather man smiles more than anyone I know, regardless of his weather forecasts. He smiles when he’s telling us we’re going have a high of 43 degrees below zero. He smiles when he’s forecasting 38 inches of snow before midnight. Somehow, his cheery perspective actually makes the mornings easier for me.

4. Kelsey Roseth

The WDAY reporter/anchor seems up for anything, even when it involves being submerged into ice cold water or doing standing one-shots in wind that would blow a hog’s house down. Such dedication makes me believe she’ll do anything for the story, which is why I watch her work.

5. Todd Kurtz

WDAY’s latest blond guy is very good at his job. At the anchor’s desk, his words flow freely, his transitions are smooth and he always seems relaxed – even during weekend newscasts when there’s almost no “real news” happening. If Kurtz was 10 years older, he’d be the best anchor in town. Go ahead, call me an ageist.

6. Andrea Larson

I like her. I don’t really know why. And I usually forget to watch Fox’s 9 p.m. newscast. But I dig her whenever I catch it.

7. Amy Unrau

Unrau has quickly become my favorite TV newsperson in Fargo-Moorhead. This is mostly because she doesn’t always appear comfortable on air. While that might read like I’m trying to be a jerk, understand that I think there’s a great deal of charm in being who you are. And Unrau never seems like she’s trying to be “the perfect female news reporter.” That’s a good thing. So is the fact that Unrau doesn’t try to hide her Midwestern accent and she’s cool with animated arm expressions.

8. Robert Hahn

Hahn is so good at his job that he’s kind of boring. The guy with the salt-and-pepper hair doesn’t mess up. He chases interesting story angles. And he’s excited about everything without being too eager.

9. Kevin Wallevand

Frankly, WDAY’s ace reporter is too serious too much of the time – I’d love to see him do more tongue-in-cheek work. But he’s good at his job, and he knows how to pull at people’s heartstrings like few in this city. Even my black-coal heart can appreciate the intent, and the quality of his work.

10. Travis Skonseng

I can’t figure this WDAY guy out. His body language and voice suggest a disinterest in whatever he’s doing, but the dude reports every story like it’s the most important thing on the planet. That odd juxtaposition makes him quite compelling.

Disclaimer: You’ll notice there are no 10 p.m. weeknight anchors on this list. That surprised me, but not really. They’re all very good at their jobs, but I see them so much they begin to feel like background noise to me.

Disclaimer II: My list is also free of any local sports reporters. There’s a good reason for this; I never make it to the sports segments of any local newscasts.

As always, I’m curious what our readers think on this topic, and I’d love to see your own lists of our TV personalities. If you feel like sharing, my email address is below.

And, to our F-M TV journalists, please don’t take this column as an irreverent diss at what you do. I love watching your work.


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Readers can reach Forum Features Editor Robert Morast at (701) 241-5518 or rmorast@forumcomm.com