Starks clear on role, roots

November 17, 2018 | 3:00 am

Updated November 18, 2018 | 2:32 am

Photo courtesy of Kelsey Starks

Kelsey Kirkpatrick Starks seemed destined to be involved in broadcast journalism from the first time she entered the newly-created TV studio at Owensboro High School.

“I think it was my sophomore year when the daily news began,” Starks said. “I loved it.”

She worked all jobs for the daily news — even going in early for video production, producing the show and starring as a newscaster. So, when she graduated high school and continued in broadcast journalism at the University of Kentucky, it was a natural fit for her to work at the college radio station.

After undergrad, where several professors gave her the advice to start small — and to think small town for her start — Starks did the exact opposite.

“Being ambitious — and 22-years-old — I moved to New York City,” Starks said.

And she proved to those professors she had the chops for the big town by becoming an associate producer for the now off-air “Court TV” and at MSNBC. After a couple of years, she decided to return to college and received her Master’s in Journalism from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. After graduation, Starks moved to Charleston. This move was only because Chicago was too cold, Starks said. She began recording and producing for the ABC-affiliate in Charleston.

Starks soon married and she and her husband, Chris, began thinking of kids — and her husband’s travel schedule with work.

“Since he could work from most locations, he followed my job,” Starks said.

Thinking the next location would be a “stepping stone,” the Starkses narrowed it to three cities: Knoxville, Nashville and Louisville, settling on Louisville.

“We fell in love — with the people, the city our college friends who were here — everything,” Starks said.

And the love of her city was highlighted by her being the morning personality on WHAS’s morning news show “Good Morning, Kentuckiana” from 2008 to 2016.

“After our third kid and getting up at 2 a.m. — and my husband traveling for work Monday through Friday –I began to think ‘this is just too much,’” Starks said.

She was asked to sign another 3-year contract at WHAS and, at that point, she made what she said was the hardest decision of her life — she did not renew.

“Kids will only be little for so long,” Starks said.

She stayed at home with her children for a while, but felt fortunate when the “folks” at Kentucky Educational Television (KET) got in touch with her.

“I was kind of unfamiliar with News Quiz,” Stark said, noting that her kids weren’t old enough for the in-school current events program.

Starks quickly learned this would be a great opportunity for her as well as the rest of her family. Every Tuesday, Starks goes to the Louisville KET studio to tape the show that goes to classrooms on Fridays.

“I do get a lot of requests from schools to speak on career day and to journalism classes and I enjoy it,” Starks said.

Within her schedule, Starks is able to do other freelance work for KET and fills in or does segments when needed at WHAS. An unexpected outcome from her career is that she now also does media training for companies such as Brown Forman in Louisville and KET.

“I teach attendees how to speak, how to look in the camera,” Starks said.

And, just like her father Kirk Kirkpatrick, Starks has gotten into emceeing events.

“It is the perfect little balance for now,” Starks said. “I keep my toe in things, keep my business going and I can still be there for the kids.”

Starks’ husband has noticed a major change in the way people respond to his wife when they are out in the public. When she was working for WHAS’ morning show, her husband would say, “The older people love you,” because that was who was coming up to the table or recognizing her.

“Because that is who was up from 5 to 7 a.m., when I was on,” Starks said with a laugh.

But now when they go out, kids often come up to her and say, “You’re the News Quiz lady.”

Kelsey Starks with Avery, John and Reiss. | Photo courtesy of Kelsey Starks

Starks’ children, Reiss, Avery and John are not old enough for News Quiz in their classes, but they do like to do it online with her at home. Reiss is in fourth grade, and the fifth-graders at Reiss’ school watch News Quiz and often recognize Starks when she comes for lunch or to volunteer.

“She might be a little embarrassed,” Starks said.

Starks has created a familial community as well in Louisville. Her mom moved there and lives in her neighborhood, along with her aunt and uncle and now, two cousins.

“It’s like the Kennedy compound,” Starks said.

One of the things Starks loves most about her new found happiness in Louisville is the fact that she is still so close to “home” [Owensboro].

November 17, 2018 | 3:00 am

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