Buzz check from Dan Pearson, please

Dan Pearson at KWQC TV in September of 2006.
There are only few people like Dan Pearson.

Now that I think about it, I don’t know many others that come close to DP.

Dann-o is the now former KWQC sports anchor. The creator of the Highlight Zone has hung up his “Big Game” shoes and started a new chapter in his life.

For 29 years, Dan has called television sports his career. Now, he’ll move into a more involved role with Fellowship of Christian Athletes. (a great tribute here by John Marx of the Argus/Dispatch) (here’s a nice page on KWQC.com about his departure) (and a note from Bill Wundrum of the QC Times)

Many of you know Dan as the Friday and Saturday night sports anchor/reporter/photographer on KWQC-TV 6. He’s the man responsible for the Emmy-award winning Highlight Zone. There are few high school football and basketball shows like it.

To Dan, every game was a big game. Even if the teams were 2-6 and 1-7, that game meant something to those kids, parents and community. We know through the book/movie/TV show “Friday Night Lights” how big high school football can be for the above mentioned items. For him, Friday night’s were big and he had the staff to make them that way.

Sure, he spent a little bit of the company’s overtime budget on paying photographers to drive to two or games in far-flung locales to cover the Pretzels, greyhounds and Tigers. But he was trying to get the highlights edited and fed back, many times 25 seconds before they aired. The photogs were the glue of the Zone. The St. Ambrose or Augustana students were learning the craft the best way possible, by scorching hot deadlines.

The Zone Intern was responsible for the Wacky (I’ll get to that in a bit), logging the big plays as they happened complete with time code and cut-a-way options and then writing the script that would be fed back to the Grand pu-bah Zone Intern Brian Stocking. Stockpile would take the scripts, put the plays into the computer if time and then get that to the set for not just Dan to read, but Gary, Sharon and even Terry.

This was just another Friday night for Dan. Teaching college, sometimes high school students, the ropes of TV news and sports at a fast and in a fun environment.

Dan would create a theme for the Zone each week, write about 6-9 intros to fit inside the theme, usually about one for each intern. That crew would go into the stands, find some willing volunteers and record their wacky. This gave the intern some face time and a chance for the crew to mix with the locals. Those interns would move on to permanent jobs at TV6 or somewhere else, but would always have that foundation.

Pearson embraced the intern, taught them and stayed in contact with many of them.

If you stay in TV long enough, you will know everyone. Especially if you work in the market you grew up in.

Dan and his 56 brothers were Geneseo guys. Dan lived there himself, often launching his day from his Henry County home well before his shift should start and pick up a cross country meet or volleyball tourney before 11 AM. A 12-hour day was a light day for Mr. Pearson. His drive made competitors cuss because they had to do the same or they’d be left behind.

Paul Yeager and Dan Pearson going over a script. You can see the weekend anchor wardrobe is in full effect, ties and shorts.
I got to sit next to Dan for 6 years on Saturday nights. It was always fun and you always had to pay attention. You never knew who would pop up on-screen or what phrase would come out of his mouth. I could count on the Wartburg football score in the fall and the Cardinals highlights in baseball season.

“Dan’s in next with sporrrrrrrrrttttttttttsssssssssss,” was my favorite part of the week.

He’s professional, uplifting, inspiring and most of all, humble.

Somehow how he maintained an excellent family, raising two wonderful girls. I think a lot of the credit goes to Gina, but Dan did everything he could to see as much as he could of his family.

Dan did what I think local television should do, he put as many local kids on the news as possible. There’s local stories, then there’s every local team. Dan covered them all.

I know many consultants don’t like all that high school stuff. Fine. Give ’em more Hawkeyes, Cyclones or Illini is the the usual marching orders now. He could do that, but also give coverage to HS bowling, wrestling and track and not just lip service. He did stories on all the teams, all the time.

Kris Oetzmann, Paul Yeager and Dan Pearson on the old KWQC TV set.
For that Quad Cities, I’m sorry. I hope you get another anchor like him. His disciples are out there, Kory Kuffler and Matt Randazzo being two of them at WQAD. Kuff spent a lot of time with Dan and now is trying to replicate that. The sports office atmosphere was the place the cool kids would hang out and share one whopper of a story on top of another.

So, when you google, “Where is Dan Pearson?” or “What happened to Dan Pearson?” You can answer it this way: The Bradley graduate who’s been in the TV biz since 1987 is ready to lead young men and women in their journey of faith and sports. Sounds like a winning combination.

Best of luck, boys.

Here’s a link to his final goodbye package on air that is now on KWQC.com.

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One thought on “Buzz check from Dan Pearson, please

  1. Very nice and well written article Paul. Dan touched many lives working at KWQC including me & my daughter Mindi. Dan really encouraged & mentored Mindi during her short stint at KWQC.
    Hope you’re doing well in Des Moines Paul.
    John Hegeman
    Retired KWQC Director of Eng/Operations
    (happy to be retired)

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