B+C Station Awards: KSHB GM Kathleen Choal Stays Cool Under Pressure

Kathleen Choal of KSHB Kansas City
Kathleen Choal (Image credit: Scripps)

Kathleen Choal, VP and general manager of KSHB Kansas City, has an unusual entry in her LinkedIn profile. In between news director jobs at WGCL Atlanta and KVOA Tucson, she spent two years as a police officer in Surprise, Arizona.

“At the end of the day, both journalists and cops want to make their community a better place,” Choal, B+C's GM of the Year for markets 26-50, said. 

E.W. Scripps Co. VP of operations Ed Fernandez, who hired Choal to be GM at NBC affiliate KSHB, said the composure she developed as an officer contributed to her performance at Scripps’ San Luis Obispo station KSBY.  “She never loses her cool,” Fernandez said.

KSHB’s staff follows her lead. “She’s helped bring a calm and a direction and a fortitude to the station,” Fernandez said. “She has a strong mind and a good heart. She always credits the team, even though I know she’s the one who led the effort.”

Choal faced a tough task at KSHB, which had been sued for race discrimination by Black news staffers. She had to rebuild the station’s culture and improve its performance in the community. Now it’s a model for Scripps stations, Fernandez said.

“There were good people who work here and we had to utilize their strengths and get them moving in the same direction,” Choal said. 

The station had openings at news director, creative services director and sales director. She also added a community relations director. After making those hires, they focused on what kind of news station they wanted to be. KSHB replaced its decades-old Action News branding with simply KSHB 41 News and a tagline of “KHSB 41: A Voice for Everyone.” 

“Our focus became depth, community and positivity,” Choal said. 

Choal also spearheaded community programs, notably the Gift of Sole Gala, which invites viewers to donate money to buy sneakers for children whose families are struggling. 

KSHB’s local content does a better job these days of reflecting its community. “We wanted to be that station that had real authentic people on the anchor desk who were out in the field reporting,” Choal said. “The goal is to help our community be a better place by shining a light on problems but also on the people who are doing good things.” ▪️

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.