Tuesday, October 10, 2006

They kept the right guy

Austin television station KXAN and reporter Jim Swift are staying together, reports Diane Holloway of the Austin American-Statesman, and this blog is glad to hear it -- even if his reports are not seen regularly down here in Laredo.

Jim and I worked together back in the mid-1970s at Radio Central in Brenham, Texas when his appearance was much more conservative, but his keen eye for the story wherever and however it might be was a learning tool for me.

Most of Holloway's story follows --

By Diane Holloway
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Jim Swift is still here, but his trademark "On the Porch" features for KXAN's news are gone.
For nearly a quarter century, Swift has been spinning out yarns about offbeat, inspiring, tragic and just plain weird people and happenings in Central Texas. From attack squirrels to zombie musicals and disabled artists, Swift has capped off KXAN's 10 p.m. news several times a week with the two-minute features designed to smooth the rough edges of the day's news.
"On the Porch" departed without an official goodbye. After a four-week medical leave, Swift learned that his "Porch," which had been cut back to a Sunday-night-only schedule, was closed.
"It wasn't my idea, but I'm not broken up over it at all," said Swift, 58. "Life changes, and you can either fight it and get tired of swimming upstream, or you can relax and stay off the rocks."
Swift, who joined KXAN in 1977 as a news reporter, has chosen to go with the flow. He will redirect his energy toward general news, with a focus on South Austin. He also will continue to do "perspective pieces" about the broader issues surrounding daily stories.
"I'm totally OK with that," the laid-back reporter said. "They want to concentrate more on hard news and less on features."
Bill Seitzler, KXAN's news director, says the change should not be interpreted as a slap at Swift.
"We just don't want to use that 'On the Porch' title anymore," Seitzler said. "Jim's work is fabulous. He's got his own unique storytelling ways that we're not about to change. We just want to change the focus a bit."
Swift, who grew up in Dallas and has a degree in intellectual history from Southwestern University in Georgetown, said he has signed a new contract and received "nothing but positive comments" about his future at KXAN. In fact, he's hoping to retire from the station with a full pension at 65.
"That just doesn't happen any more, especially in TV, and I'd very much like to do it," he said.


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