My first job at the age of 16 involved selling hot dogs at Brooklyn Dodger games, which was a lot of fun. Later I earned a masters degree in economics from Stockholm University, where I learned to speak Swedish. I worked on Wall Street for a year as a financial analyst, but found it boring, so I went back to school and got a masters degree in journalism from Columbia University. I began in the television news business at the CBS station in San Francisco, where I learned that luck and timing were very important. In that first job interview, the news director asked me, "Do you think you can fill the shoes of William Randolph Hearst III?"
"I don't understand the question," I replied.
He explained that the grandson of William Randolph Hearst, founder of the Hearst newspaper chain, had just resigned his position as a news writer that morning. And I was the first guy in the door applying for the position. I took it immediately and began a career in broadcast news that lasted 40 years.
My first reporting job was eight months later at the CBS station in Sacramento, that also involved a famous name. The news director who hired me, Tom Capra, was the son of famed film director Frank Capra. This was a big come-down for Tom. After all, his father worked with Clark Gable. Tom was stuck with me. (Actually, he's a good friend.)
In Sacramento, I covered Ronald Reagan's second term as governor of California and the rise of Jerry Brown as a major political figure. That experience helped me land a job as KNBC's state capital bureau chief. We were the last Los Angeles station to have a bureau in Sacramento.
When they closed the state capital bureau, I was told the station would take the savings from the closure to buy a helicopter. Hearing that, one of my colleagues laughed and said, "They've decided that covering car chases is more important than politics and state government."
Still, working at KNBC for 31 years was a wonderful experience. I got to meet thousands of people whom I will never forget. I just happened to be on a golf and fishing trip in New York when the World Trade Center was attacked. I was the first Los Angeles television journalist to report live from Manhattan on Sept.11, 2001.
Now I'm moving into the online news world by working as the Local Editor for Sherman Oaks Patch. For years, I've been hearing people say, "How come you don't cover news in my neighborhood?" Now Patch is going to cover neighborhood news in communities across the country.
Last time I saw Jerry Brown, he was on his way to serving a second time as governor of California. He looked at me and said, "Kriegel, are you still in business?"
"Yeah," I replied, "and so are you."