Yesterday I learned that a mentor of mine at the University of Missouri, Greeley Kyle, is leaving after 20 years to take a similar position in Massachusetts.
This is a tremendous loss for the School of Journalism, and the University as a whole. Greeley was the college professor that you feared for the first eight weeks, loved after that, and always respected.
That being said, my fear started well before I set foot in his classroom. No freshman with a dream of making it in the broadcast journalism sequence remained unaware for very long of the stereotypical “weed out” class and the man who ran it: Greeley Kyle. Everyone had a story about a friend of a friend who broke down crying in the middle of class. Rumors abounded about students getting negative grades on their journalism stories, and even though the class was three semesters in my future, I was already afraid of his “quiz every class period” policy.
Unlike most rumors, especially those among 18-21 year olds, the stories about Greeley were (mostly) true. There was indeed a quiz in every class period, either on the assigned reading or current events in local and national news. Students, including myself, did get negative grades on our TV stories. I, however, never saw someone cry in class.
Greeley’s class is called Broadcast Journalism 2, or “B2,” and it forces students to build upon what they learned in the creatively-named Broadcast Journalism 1 in preparation for their work at KOMU, the NBC affiliate owned and operated by the School of Journalism. As a result, he held students to the same standards common in the local television news industry, standards that proved hard for me to meet during the week of my 21st birthday.
That week, Greeley scored my broadcast package a -20. His rubric adds to 100, but each error is subtracted separately. Looking back, I probably deserved a lower grade. Thankfully, it came early in the year and I was able to recover. His lectures were the perfect blend of theory and practice, with plenty of anecdotes from his own time as a local news reporter. The constant grind of packages and quizzes left me wondering where my final grade stood at the end of the semester. When I found out I got a C+, I was proud. My parents, on the other hand, were less pleased.
I’m not sure they believed me then when I told them that I learned more in the class I got a C+ in than several others where I got an A. I would not be the journalist I am today without the crucible of Broadcast Journalism 2, and that is a direct reflection of the standards set early and often by Greeley Kyle.
I tried to pay him back for all he taught me at graduation by naming him my mentor. It’s the least I could have done for the man who turned someone trying to become a play-by-play broadcaster into a TV news producer.
I’m jealous of what the students at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst are gaining. Greeley Kyle is the kind of professor who makes four years of tuition completely worth it. Congratulations, Greeley, and to all current and future Minutemen: good luck.