He’s the affable Welsh-born host with the distinctive voice who is able to effortlessly transition from KCPT’s prime time public affairs program “Kansas City Week in Review” to the sometimes raucous weekly “Ruckus” program. Nick Haines, KCPT’s award-winning Executive Producer of Public Affairs, handles those and a multitude of other tasks at the public radio station flawlessly.
He graciously agreed to answer our questions and provide a unique insight into his career and life.
Name: Nick Haines
Title: KCPT Executive Producer Public Affairs/News
How long have you been in your current position? 13 years
How did you get into your chosen field?
Every year, the British Broadcasting Corporation hires 12 people in their radio news training program. I was one of the fortunate dozen. After graduating from the University of Essex with a degree in government I went straight to work for the BBC.
I met my Kansas City-born wife while at college and worked for the BBC for three years before I moved to the US in 1991.
But when I arrived in KC, nobody wanted to hire me. Not one phone call was returned. Not one bite on any of the dozens of resumes I submitted. Just to acquire health benefits, I took a job taking phone orders for the Disney catalog company in Overland Park. Then later, I worked the graveyard shift as a long-distance phone operator at Sprint.
Soon, a full-time job opened at KCUR radio, which I applied for, but didn’t get. But, they liked me and offered me a part-time position making on-air announcements and reading newscasts during a brand new program called, “Talk of the Nation.” No sooner did I start working there, I was getting calls from other radio stations.
I quickly landed a full-time gig at the public radio station in Lawrence. First as a healthcare reporter where I traveled the length and breadth of Kansas filing healthcare stories. Then later, I covered the Kansas legislature, as statehouse bureau chief for Kansas Public Radio. It was during that time that I first appeared on KCPT’s Kansas City Week in Review program as a reporter.
Later, I would become the news director of the NPR station in Lawrence, KANU. I joined KCPT full time in 1998.
2011 – EMMY AWARD
Public/Current Affairs Special (Mid America)
“The Local Show: Mental Health”
2010 – EMMY AWARD
Best TV News Feature (Mid America)
“Evicted, Foreclosed, Homeless”
2008 – HEADLINE AWARD
For Excellence in Journalism
Johnson County Community College
2007 – Outstanding Enterprise Coverage
Kansas City Association of Black Journalists
2006 – Best TV Host
The Pitch Newspaper
‘THE 50 PEOPLE YOU OUGHT TO KNOW IN KANSAS CITY ‘
Kansas City Magazine, July 2005
How has your chosen field changed over the years?
Journalists are expected to do far more with fewer resources. At the same time, they face a more cynical, polarized audience with shorter attention spans.
Port Talbot, a steel town in south Wales, UK. It is the same hometown as Richard Burton and Anthony Hopkins.
Marital Status (Children?)
My wife Dawn grew up in Overland Park. We have four children. Lauren 15, Adam 13, Ethan 11 and Caroline 9.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
As Executive Producer of Public Affairs programs, having the opportunity to “green light” really important stories of community need, such as our recent four-part series on suicide and depression.
Constantly having to identify pockets of funding to try and get projects off the ground.
Did you ever consider another career?
Prison warden, attorney, missionary, tour guide and game show host were all options at one point or the other.
Do you have a mentor?
What a remarkable concept. I was fortunate to have mentors early in my radio career. But not since I transitioned to television.
I have a degree in Government from the University of Essex, Colchester, England. I graduated in 1989. I went to a Catholic Comprehensive School. Catholic schools in Britain are part of the state system and are paid for by the government.
What is your favorite thing to do in Kansas City?
I like nothing better than taking a trip back in time at the Renaissance Festival on a crisp, fall day.
What do you do in your free time? Hobbies?
I’m currently addicted to the music service, ‘Spotify.’ So my kids will tell you that playing strange British music at full blast is one of the things I like to do in my free time. Taking my four kids from one place to another by automobile is how I spend 84% of the rest of my spare time.
I love escaping on weekends to the Overland Park Arboretum. Even many people in Johnson County are unaware of this free treasure in their midst. A gorgeous 300-acre wooded oasis where even on the hottest of summer days you can walk or run on the trails and be completely shaded by the trees.
“People might be surprised to know that you …”
People might be surprised to know that I attend WWE wrestling events at Sprint Center with my two sons and I am first in line at Kansas City’s Haunted Houses when they open in the fall.
What is your favorite TV show?
Who was the biggest celebrity you ever interviewed?
I never seek out celebrities. When Lance Armstrong was coming to town, KCPT was asked whether we’d be interested in interviewing him. I asked, why? What possibly would we ask him that he hasn’t been asked in a hundred national interview shows?
I see little value in trying to localize national stories just to insert myself in the action.
Who is the most interesting person you have interviewed or met?
There are so many interesting people we are privileged to meet in this line of work. I remember being flown to Germany to spend a week on board a Royal Naval frigate to do a fly-on-the-wall series for the BBC on life inside the Royal Navy. I remember the vivid stories of despair and pain shared to me by a British man who had just been released after being held captive as a “human shield” inside one of Saddam Hussein’s Royal Palace’s. And then, captured the enormous jubilation as we interviewed him on tape as he was reunited with his wife.
Moments after leaving the studio, he returned to his home, and then blew his brains out in the garage. My news director at the time, wanted me to then return to the home to interview the wife. Believing no public good could be achieved by invading her terrible grief, I simply reported back that no one had answered the door.
Who do you follow on Twitter?
I try to follow as many local reporters as I can. I am constantly trying to seek out new reporters to book on Kansas City Week in Review and I am always interested to know what’s on the minds of my fellow journalists.
What is the strangest thing you have come across in your job?
While I worked for the BBC, I was in court covering a case involving a “prostitution ring.” When I left the courtroom to file a live report, one of the defendants followed me out and threatened to bite my “b**ls” off if I made the call.
Did a young Nick Haines make the call?
The answer to that mystery is only available when you pledge your support to KCPT at the $1000 level and above.