Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Chris Hernandez signs off at KSHB Channel 41 today, heading to Unicorn Theatre

Posted By on Tue, Aug 7, 2012 at 2:04 PM

Chris Hernandez
  • Scripps Media, Inc.
  • Chris Hernandez
After at least two decades as a broadcast news reporter — "More years than I'll ever admit in print," he says — Chris Hernandez completes his 8-year run as political and City Hall reporter for KSHB Channel 41 today by driving to St. Louis to cover tonight's elections. He'll return tomorrow, pack up things from his desk and start his new job at the Unicorn Theatre on Thursday. Hernandez will become the theater's new marketing director. His first project will be creating the publicity buzz for the first show of the 2012-13 season, The Motherf**ker with the Hat by Stephen Adly Guirgis.

"It's a little daunting," Hernandez says, "to take on a show with such a controversial title, but that's what makes this new job so interesting."

Hernandez, a native of Shawnee, worked at WDAF Channel 4 for most of the 1990s before taking jobs at Cleveland's WEWS and, later, Chicago's WBBM-TV. He returned to Kansas City for the job at KSHB in 2004.

"I wasn't really looking to leave TV news," Hernandez says, "but the idea of making a complete career change had certainly crossed my mind. I wasn't sure if I wanted to stay in TV news for my entire professional career."

Hernandez says he interviewed for the marketing position — his predecessor, Justin Shaw, left the Unicorn Theatre to become the executive director of the Kansas City Anti-Violence Project — without a marketing background. "But I have a lot of great ideas," he says.

The theater's longtime artistic director, Cynthia Levin, is thrilled with the hire: "Never in my wildest dream did I think Chris Hernandez would make a move like this. He's really an excellent choice. He knows everyone, is a respected member of the Kansas City media, is a terrific diplomat, and has been involved in the community for years."

But gaining Hernandez as an employee means losing a member of the Unicorn Theatre board of directors. Paul Monteil, a Hallmark employee, will have to step down from the board; he's Hernandez's partner, and the connection would have created a conflict of interest.

"Paul's been a wonderful board member. We'll hate losing him," Levin says, "but the opportunity to add Chris to our staff was too great to pass up."

Will Hernandez miss the adrenaline buzz of the deadlines of TV news?

"That's a good question," he says. "But ask me next week. I haven't even left Channel 41 yet."

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