With a tweet Tuesday starting with "it's time for something a little different," Kevin Jacobsen was nearly signing off. His last day as KBJR and CBS 3 Duluth news director will be June 4.
“It’s been the honor of my life to serve as your news director,” he tweeted as part of a four-paragraph announcement.
At fellow news station WDIO-TV, a sendoff of its own news director looms at the end of the month, when Mike Schram moves back to television in Michigan, where he’d come from two years ago.
“I’m going to miss this place,” Schram said. “The people here at WDIO have been so amazing, and the Duluth area is just like no other.”
Schram took over for 27-year news director Steve Goodspeed at WDIO in 2019. It would have been a challenge without a pandemic, historic elections and racial injustice within the state of Minnesota.
“You feel that weight, that responsibility to tell the story accurately,” Schram said, sounding every bit the newsroom orchestrator.
Family considerations that were manageable when he moved to Duluth grew difficult during the pandemic, and are drawing him to an as-yet-unidentified television station nearer to family, Schram said.
In the case of Jacobsen, the one-time anchor announced in a tweet he was leaving television news after 13 years in the Twin Ports.
“I figured I would stick it out in this frozen, foreign city for two, three years and move on like many choose to do,” he wrote in his announcement, before describing having found a “gem” of a city along with a wife from town, Annie Harala.
“She sealed the deal,” Jacobsen wrote.
Jacobsen and Harala will launch a video production company aimed at “corporate, business to business, and commercial content.”
It’s time for something a little different... pic.twitter.com/7LwCQyuZik— Kevin Jacobsen (@KevinJacobsen) April 13, 2021
“How time flies rather quickly,” KBJR and CBS 3 vice president and general manager Todd Wentworth, a 37-year station veteran, said. “Kevin is a guy who moved to us from the eastern part of the country, and now he fondly calls Duluth home. I’ll just be honest, I’m sad Kevin is leaving our organization, and I’m happy and excited for this new endeavor he’s taking on.”
Jacobsen had one of the hardest news jobs in Duluth, Wentworth said, describing Jacobsen as juggling newsrooms across the stations, each with its own broadcasts orchestrated by Jacobsen.
"Kevin oversees more people than any other department in this television station," Wentworth said. "He plays a strong role in what our viewers' see as our product."
By the time he arrived in Duluth, Jacobsen said he was on his fourth station, second as a full-timer, and once having worked in his native state of New York. He’ll leave his television news job in Duluth revered for years of hard work and stories and productions to show for it.
"I'll never forget the night the storm moved in," he wrote of the June 2012 flood. "And how quickly things developed between the start of the 10 p.m. news and the end of the show."
In January, KBJR and CBS 3 station began the process for changing ownership after Quincy Media Inc., parent company of CBS 3 and KBJR-TV, accepted a purchase offer from Atlanta-based Gray Television as part of its purchase of several Quincy stations. The purchase is currently in the Federal Communications Commission approval phase.
Wentworth said the stations underwent consistent growth since Jacobson took over as news director in 2017.
"Under Kevin’s leadership our KBJR news product has obtained a leadership position in several local news time periods," he said. "We have also seen consistent growth on our CBS 3 news product under Kevin’s watch."
Both Wentworth and WDIO's Schram said searches have already begun to find news director replacements at the respective stations.
Wentworth said he would not promise to have Jacobsen's replacement by the time of Jacobsen's last show in seven or eight weeks.
“Kevin has built a really strong news team, and they'll be capable in Kevin’s absence,” Wentworth said.
This story was updated at 10:20 a.m. April 14 to reflect that the sale of Quincy Media Inc. properties to Gray Television has not formally taken place and is in the approval phase. It was originally posted at 11:23 p.m. April 13.