Andy Kendeigh spent his final day as a member of the WISN 12 sports staff tracking a story about Brett Favre's possible retirement.
In a way, that was fitting.
Kendeigh spent a good portion of his 11 years at the station driving back and forth on I-43 to Green Bay, where he chronicled the exploits of Favre and the Packers. He also covered the Brewers, Bucks, Golden Eagles, Panthers, preps and his alma mater -- the University of Wisconsin.
Kendeigh's run as sports director Dan Needles' right-hand man came to an end Tuesday. Kendeigh is leaving Wisconsin for Omaha, where he will become the new sports director at KETV. In the transient world of TV news, his 11-year run at WISN was rare. Even more rare was the universal respect that Kendeigh garnered among players, coaches, public relations people and even his competitors.
We caught up with Kendeigh for a Milwaukee Talks interview.
OnMilwaukee.com: First off, congratulations on the new job. Tell me about your position in Omaha.
Andy Kendeigh: I am the new sports director at KETV, the ABC affiliate in Omaha. It's also a Hearst station, which is the parent company of WISN, so that makes it a great fit for me and my family. I am really excited to lead a sports department in a terrific sports market. I can not wait to get started.
OMC: Is it difficult for you to leave Milwaukee? What were the factors that went into the decision? Was it the chance to anchor more and get away from Packers travel and weekend work?
AK: Honestly, it was the most difficult decision in my professional life. I will be anchoring more, but I will still look forward to traveling with the Husker football team.
I am leaving a great job at the top-ranked station in town with unbelievably talented co-workers, but the opportunity to take the next step in my career to lead a sports department at a outstanding station in Omaha -- my wife's hometown -- was something I could not pass up. Plus, Nebraska moving to the Big 10 next season made this opportunity even more appealing.
OMC: What do you know about the sports fans in Omaha? I assume you'll be covering Creighton and the College World Series in addition to the Cornhuskers?
AK: I have been to Omaha enough over the years to know Nebraska Cornhusker fans are as passionate as any fan base in the country -- college or pro. The Huskers play football for five months out of the year, but they cover Nebraska football year-round. It's much like how we treat the Packers.
Aside from the teams at Nebraska there's also Creighton University in Omaha, the College World Series which is moving to a new stadium next spring, the Omaha Royals (Kansas City's Triple-A team, also getting a new stadium next spring), the expansion Omaha Nighthawks (led their head coach, West Allis native Jeff Jagodzinkski and former Packers star and Omaha native Ahman Green), and extensive high school sports coverage just to name a few, so I think I will have my hands full adjusting to my new surroundings.
OMC: What will you miss most about Milwaukee?
AK: The people. My co-workers. My friends. My neighbors. I have spent the last 11 years in Milwaukee working at WISN with Dan Needles and the last seven with Stephanie Sutton. We are more like family than co-workers since we have shared the ups and downs of life with each other. I know that sounds cliche' to say but often times in the TV business you spend more weekends and holidays with your co-workers than you do your family. I will miss everyone at WISN. I know I will miss Dan for his guidance, good humor and his steel-trap for a sports mind. Stephanie is one of the nicest, most sincere individuals I have ever come across in local television.
I would like to think I've grown up over my years in Milwaukee. During my time here, my wife and I have gotten married, started a family (we now have three beautiful daughters) and it's been tough on everyone thinking about leaving. But we are excited about our new beginning.
OMC: This is a very competitive TV market and apparently there are a lot of people applying for the job you're leaving. What would you tell those applicants about the gig, the market and the teams in our area?
AK: I would say Milwaukee is one of the best sports markets in the country. We love our Packers, Brewers and Bucks. Wisconsin, Marquette and UWM have huge fan bases and folks here still love their golf, soccer, hockey, racing and they love to have fun.
Milwaukee sports fans know their stuff so make sure you do your homework. Like any TV job, you will work long hours, weekends and holidays but if it's your passion, as it is mine, it won't matter since you will be doing what you love. I still have a tough time calling what I do "work." I would, however, caution to whoever gets the job, when Dan (Needles) tells you to come over to where he's at so he can show/tell you something, don't fall for it! He says (his gas) is a medical condition, but I know better. It's his gift that keeps on giving.
OMC: What are your favorite memories of your time at Channel 12? The biggest stories you covered and most remarkable moments.
AK: This is a tough one. I have been fortunate to cover some incredible sports moments during my time in Milwaukee -- both good and bad. My first year the Badgers won their second straight Rose Bowl and third overall. I was also there when Wisconsin made its incredible run to the Final Four in 2000. I had the pleasure of watching Dwyane Wade rack up a triple-double helping Marquette stun Kentucky to go to the Final Four in 2003. I saw Bud Selig shrug in disbelief when the 2002 All-Star game ended in a tie at Miller Park. I've watched Brett Favre officially retire twice and waffle countless times. I was there for 4th and 26th and for the overtime interception on the frozen tundra in the NFC Championship game. But, I also watched Favre make a press box gasp incredulously with throws only he could make. I covered the "Big 3" and the Bucks amazing run to the NBA's Eastern Conference Finals and come within a Big Dog jump shot from a trip to the NBA Finals. I was there when Ryan Braun hit the home run and CC Sabathia ended 26 years of frustration for Brewer fans. It's been a great ride.
OMC: We are known for cheese and bratwurst and beer, of course. What are the big food and drink items in Omaha?
AK: The steaks! And I will be trading my cheesehead in for a Husker hat and I am ready.
Host of “The Drew Olson Show,” which airs 1-3 p.m. weekdays on The Big 902. Sidekick on “The Mike Heller Show,” airing weekdays on The Big 920 and a statewide network including stations in Madison, Appleton and Wausau. Co-author of Bill Schroeder’s “If These Walls Could Talk: Milwaukee Brewers” on Triumph Books. Co-host of “Big 12 Sports Saturday,” which airs Saturdays during football season on WISN-12. Former senior editor at OnMilwaukee.com. Former reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.