BY STARRLA CRAY
LESTER PRAIRIE, MN Jason Thiel, a 1999 graduate of Lester Prairie High School, was one of 12 people from the WCCO morning newscast to win a 2015 Upper Midwest Regional Emmy Award Oct. 3.
“The Emmy was a team award, and not something that I earned on my own,” Thiel noted. “The other people listed with the award were responsible for the content; I was only responsible for the show’s execution.”
The award-winning show was from late this summer, and focused on the suspension of Minnesota Vikings player Adrian Peterson.
Thiel often works during the morning show, which airs from 4:30 to 7 a.m.
“We have two directors who do the show,” Thiel said, explaining that one starts the broadcast, and the other finishes.
In order to have time to prepare, that means Thiel is either at the station by 2:30 a.m. or 3:45 a.m.
“It is early,” he admits, but adds that he has a great group of coworkers who make the job interesting.
“We have just as much fun behind the scenes as the people you see on the air,” he said. “People are always playing little pranks on each other and having a good time.”
Years ago, Thiel considered becoming a TV news anchor, but discovered that he enjoyed the production side even more.
Thiel said he’s always been interested in TV, and remembers helping with his senior class video in Lester Prairie.
After high school, he attended St. Cloud State University, where he earned a degree in mass communications with an emphasis in production.
His first job was at KSAX-TV in Alexandria, which is a sister station to KSTP-TV 5.
He then took a job at WCCO-TV, where he’s been for the past 11 years.
He started out in the taping room, then rolled tape for newscasts. From there, he moved to camera work, then audio, and later became a technical director.
“There used to be a director calling the shots, and the technical director would execute them,” he said. “Now, they’ve kind of transitioned the position, so the director is also doing the technical director’s job. It’s all combined, and the tape person doesn’t exist anymore.”
Thiel aims to be as creative as possible with each broadcast, while keeping a clean appearance that limits the potential for error.
His work at WCCO-TV is part time, and he’s also employed part time for the FOX sports pre- and post-game shows.
“In that case, I fall back to more of a technical director role,” he said.
When he’s not at work, Thiel can sometimes be found traveling with his father, Chuck, in the Jolly Ramblers band. At least once a month, Thiel comes back to his hometown of Lester Prairie to perform at One Eyed Willy’s.
Thiel and his wife, Mary (who works as a nurse), currently live in Bloomington with their three boys Jacob, 7; Noah, 5; and Ben, 3.
Thiel serves as president of Westwood Elementary’s PTA, and Mary is the treasurer.
“We have very busy schedules, but it all balances out,” Thiel said. “I don’t really consider any of it work.”
The team of winners
In addition to director Jason Thiel, the following people were listed on the 2015 Upper Midwest Regional Emmy® Award for WCCO This Morning:
Michael J Caputa, news director
Bess Ellenson, executive producer
Nikki Muehlhausen, producer
Mike Verlo, producer
Jason DeRusha, anchor
Jamie Yuccas, anchor
Matt Brickman, meteorologist
Kim Johnson, reporter
Nina Moini, reporter
Sandra Lind, producer
Mike Haberman, producer