Newsrooms are competitive places. Each news station driven to out-scoop the others and get the big story. When KTVN Sportscaster JK Metzker was killed while crossing the street near UNR, all that flew out the window. "I can't begin to express the gratitude we have for our friends in the local media – television, newspaper and radio," said KTVN News Director Jason Pasco. "It's just incredible how everyone put competition aside to rally together to help us through that difficult time," he continued.
Indeed, competitors Channel 4 and Channel 8 stepped forward and offered to help cover stories for KTVN if necessary, and share the video. Fox 11 and KNPB also offered support. The Reno Gazette Journal stepped forward. And the list goes on. That just never happens in normal times.
The amount of e-mail, flowers and cards that poured into the Channel 2 newsroom is truly amazing. "All of us are overwhelmed by the outpouring of sympathy and support from this community," said Pasco. E-mails came from here and from around the country; from people who never even knew JK personally.
But JK Metzker is the type of person who makes others feel good about themselves. Always had time for a smile, a quick joke or comment– to ease the stress of working in the fast-paced business of news. Friends and co-workers alternated between tears and laughter as they remembered JK, while also trying to do their jobs.
Sports directors from Michigan, and Louisiana sent condolences. Viewers expressed dismay and sympathy. Local casinos, businesses and individuals sent cards and letters. Former co-workers from all the local channels got back in touch to say they were so sorry. Calls and e-mails came from local officials: The Washoe County sheriff, the district attorney, the school district, and even the Governor. Too many to mention, but all appreciated.
Then, on the day of JK's funeral, the Caughlin fire broke out, sending thousands of people out of their homes and into shelters. Suddenly homeowners were wondering if they had lost everything.
The funeral went on as planned, but many at Channel 2 couldn't attend. People needed information about the fire. The news department rushed into action, staying on the air non-stop for 18 hours, with no commercials. And the amazing thing is, some of the people who came to Reno for the funeral offered, instead, to cover the fire and bring much-needed information to the viewers who were in the path of the flames. Shocking! Heartwarming.
It shows you how, when the chips are down and fire is racing down our local canyons, we pull together. When a beloved friend, father and companion dies, people reach out.
It's hard to describe; the feelings of sadnesses, combined with the outpouring of support and concern. "It's what makes Northern Nevada such a great place to call home," says Pasco. And his friends say it all would have made JK smile.