By Judith Salkin
One thing KESQ TV3 morning anchor Jeff Stahl is sure of is that early day viewers have their favorites when it comes to the news and entertainment shows they watch.
Ever since Stahl, 43 (44 later this month) landed in the Coachella Valley in June 2000 he’s been recognized on the streets.
“It started about two days after I got here,” he said. “I’d walk down the street and I had people coming up to tell me that they watched me on KESQ, which was really nice.” A pretty cool thing for a guy who dreamed of being a newscaster at an early age. “I was fascinated by the fact that people could be a miles away from where you were and you could all share the same news,” he said of childhood fascination with television and radio.
He grew up in Camarillo, Calif., and by the time he was a teen he’d landed a job at a Santa Barbara adult contemporary radio station.
“Mom said I needed to find a summer job between my junior and senior year in high school,” he said. She pushed him into broadcasting by asking what he wanted to do. “I said working in radio or television,” he added. “Then she handed me the phone book.”
Following four years at the University of Southern California’s School of Broadcasting, Stahl went back to radio and tried to land an on-air gig somewhere in SoCal. After USC he spent time working in SoCal radio for a couple of years before he landed his first on-air gig in Idaho Falls, Idaho.
Idaho was a good spot for Stahl, who moved with his cat and ended up loving the area.
“It was a different experience for me,” he said. “It was really beautiful and different from what I was used to.”
While the job didn’t pay much, it gave him a chance to grow in the medium. “I really didn’t need too much at the time,” he said. With only his cat to support and no real bills, “I managed to live a pretty simple life.”
From Idaho, Stahl accepted a job in Green Bay, Wisc., where he weathered three upper Midwest winters. The job was interesting, but the lack of family contact was what wore on Stahl.
“Green Bay really isn’t on the way to anywhere,” he said. “My mom came to see me a couple of times, but that was it.”
When the position at KESQ, which offered more resources for its news staff, came up in 2000 Stahl looked at as a way to get closer to home, he packed up the cat once again, but didn’t plan on staying quite this long.
He hoped to use the valley gig as a possible stepping stone to a larger SoCal market, but his life milestones keep getting in the way of moving on. He was offered an early renewal on his first contract, having a good time living and working in the Coachella Valley, and decided three more years wouldn’t be that bad; the next renewal was just before he was about to marry his wife Marian; the third, when Stahl and Marian were awaiting the birth of his son Joshua, now 4. “My life just keeps happening,” he said. “And this isn’t a bad place to live.”
Stahl takes time on Saturday mornings to play a round of golf with friends and then spends the rest of the weekend with his family. “At this point, I’m basically just a dad,” he said.
Stahl doesn’t mind the days that start with an alarm at 3 a.m. and being at work by 4. Between newscasts and cut-ins from 5 to 9 a.m., writing and editing copy, posting to the station’s website and other social media, and the noon newscast, it keeps Stahl busy.
“But I’m usually off by 1 p.m. which leaves me time to pick Josh up and spend time with him,” he said. “My day is on East Coast time; I just live on the West Coast.”