Best Of 2008

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'These folks are different' 

When talking TV news, Indy readers agree with KOAA news director Cindy Aubrey

COURTESY KOAA
  • Courtesy KOAA

Local TV Newscast

KOAA-TV NBC 5/30

koaa.com

Local TV Anchor

Lisa Lyden, KOAA

koaa.com

Local TV Weatherperson

Mike Daniels, KOAA

koaa.com

Local TV Sportscaster

Lee Douglas, KOAA

koaa.com

By now, many people know how successful KOAA Channels 5/30 has been in keeping familiar faces throughout its news operation, morning and night, year after year.

Local viewers have come to depend on Lisa Lyden and Rob Quirk for their evening news, just as they count on Georgiann Lymberopoulos and Craig Eliot for their sunrise headlines and weather. At night, they also appreciate Lee Douglas doing sports, and the weather tandem of Mike Daniels and Mike Madson.

Too much continuity can be dangerous in the media world, where nobody wants to be viewed as stale or out-of-date. Yet KOAA's news operation has succeeded in being both durable and popular.

It has led to news director Cindy Aubrey filling a wall with framed honors from the station's many Best Of victories. This year, she'll have to make more room. Much more room.

Lyden won the best anchor category for the sixth time, while Daniels prevailed as best weatherperson (Madson won last year), Douglas took first in the sportscaster group and the station as a whole took first for best newscast. Add three additional second places and one third, and it's clear which local station rates highest with the Indy's audience.

"It's always such a great honor, and you guys also have really smart readers," Aubrey says. "But I have to tell you, we never take it for granted. For us, it's always been about getting better and serving our viewers better."

Aubrey has worked 20 years in the business, the past 15 at KOAA, and she's been news director since January 2003. She has the perfect roots for a station that divides its identity between Colorado Springs and Pueblo, because she was born in Pueblo and moved with her family to the Springs when she was 7.

"There's a value in knowing the history here," Aubrey says. "But I also love this place."

Her local knowledge, of course, puts her on the same plane with the on-air staff, many of whom have worked in this market for well more than a decade. When Lyden, Quirk, Daniels and Douglas are on the set together, that's more than 80 years combined just at KOAA.

"These folks are different from other TV news people," Aubrey says of the news department, which, with reporters and studio people, numbers 41. "They're humble, smart and they work really hard. And as we add to our staff, each time it's an upgrade."

KOAA also earned the distinction of breaking the biggest local news story of 2008, showing District Attorney John Newsome's drinking-and-driving exploits, which led to Newsome's defeat in the August Republican primary. Aubrey felt intense pressure for months, deciding on how to approach and investigate the story; what interviews for reporter James Jarman to pursue; and which details to report and when.

She and the station took some heat for having a secret camera follow Newsome, but she has no regrets about the strategy or reporting.

"That was the type of story that had such a huge impact on the entire community, so we had to be extremely careful to ensure we were doing the story with the greatest integrity and ethical standards," Aubrey says. "Everyone saw it as a great responsibility to do it right. It's a burden, and it's a privilege. In hindsight, we have a responsibility to make public officials be accountable, as unpleasant as it can be and it was, at times."

Then there's technology. Aubrey's just as proud of KOAA for spending upward of $750,000 on a new Doppler weather radar, the only truly live radar on any of the region's TV stations.

"It's huge for us," Aubrey says. "I didn't appreciate it until a friend at a station in Lexington, Ky., was covering a tornado. They were the only station with this radar, and they were able to warn people 20 minutes before anybody else, which saved lives. It's a remarkable tool to have."

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