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Credit: Peter Holst

Jill Krop returns to morning television with AM/BC

Global's Jill Krop brings British Columbians a new kind of morning talk show with AM/BC

Jill Krop becomes visibly excited when she starts talking about two recent guests of her morning talk show, AM/BC: the biracial parents of a 10-year-old, who realized six years earlier that their son wanted to be a girl.

“One of the fascinating things is, how many years ago would they have been gawked at just for being biracial?” Krop said. “Thirty years ago? Not that long ago. And the way they’ve risen to the occasion — instead of saying, ‘We can’t deal with it, we’re not going to let it happen,’ they dug deep inside and asked, ‘What do we want for our child?’ ”

The segment is the kind of human-interest story Krop sees as a high-water mark, if not a defining moment, of her still-nascent talk show.

Jill Krop in the Morning

Krop has been hosting AM/BC since mid-March, and the hourlong 9 a.m. weekday broadcast is one of two talk shows (along with 30-minute primetime Top Story) created for Global News: BC1, a new 24-hour news channel focusing specifically on local British Columbia news.

A B.C.-centric 24-hour news channel “is great for breaking news,” says Krop. She cites the 2011 hockey riot as an example of how the channel’s news department has been constrained in the past.

The Global programming chiefs in Toronto “wouldn’t let us go wall-to-wall with the riot coverage because the Bones rerun had to run,” Krop said. “I remember [somebody saying], ‘It’s just one pickup truck on fire.’ ”

AM/BC also fills a gap that Krop feels is lacking in local talk shows. “I’m excited about this opportunity, and grateful they [Global] wanted to try this out. It feels like the right evolution for my career, after having anchored for years and years and years. It’s nice to be able to sit and talk to people, and to offer up some opinion.”

Krop’s first news job was in 1987 at a station in Prince George, followed by on-air positions in Regina and Halifax. In 1994 she returned to B.C. and worked at CHEK TV in Victoria for a few years before moving to Vancouver for a job at BCTV (which ultimately became Global BC). After hosting the Global morning show and then the weekend news reports, she moved to News Hour Final until November 2012.

Determining the lineup of each broadcast is a collaborative process between Krop and AM/BC producers Karen Jouhal and Aidan Buckley, who work together to determine who Krop will be interviewing and which stories will be covered.

Ultimately, says Jouhal, the show represents Krop. “She’s very invested in it. She doesn’t take off early — she’s sitting there with us working on the content for the next day, on the technical aspects, on how we can make the show better.”

“I’ve never worked with a host who’s so invested in the show,” Buckley says. “And that motivates us as well.”

Krop’s enthusiasm for the show, admit the producers, is infectious, evident as soon as she comes bursting through the doors of Global’s Burnaby studios at 5 a.m.

Jill Krop

Krop has adapted as digital and social media have changed the way viewers consume news (Image: Peter Holst)

“When she comes in in the morning, she’s always excited about the show,” Jouhal says. “She has more energy than anyone else I’ve worked with.”

As Krop points out, her producers may be young — both are in their late 20s — but they bring a wealth of news and talk-show experience to the table. In fact, Buckley had helped launch a couple of shows back in his native Ireland, while Jouhal’s experience includes stints at CKNW and CTV in Vancouver, as well as CBC in Toronto.

“Initially when we came in she probably thought, ‘Oh, I have these juniors with me now,’ ” Jouhal says. “But she’s never made us feel that way. We’ve been a good team from the beginning.”

Buckley agrees. “Having been involved in shows like this, I realize it’s hugely important to be able to turn to someone and say, ‘You know, I don’t think that’s going to work for the show,’ and for that person to not be offended. We got that dynamic very early, where literally you could turn to the person and say, ‘No, it’s not for us,’ and it was decided, ‘OK, that’s it, it’s done.’ ”

A New Type of News

One of the things Krop wanted for the show was a fresh political panel to cover the run-up to the recent provincial election, and Krop asked each party to send a representative under the age of 30. The goal, Krop points out, wasn’t necessarily to attract younger viewers but to introduce some new faces to the B.C. airwaves.

“Every party offered up at least one person,” says Krop. “And they’re on fire. It’s so much fun because they’re fresh.”

Krop is also savvy when it comes to social media, and has worked extensively with Global’s online team to creating a link between the station’s conventional TV reporters and its web presence. This, she believes, is crucial in reaching a younger demographic than news broadcasts typically receive, always a challenge in the too-much-information age.

“They’re viewing news differently,” Krop says of people who get their breaking news updates from Twitter feeds and Facebook pages. “The destination viewing of a noon or six o’clock newscast is waning. Certainly it isn’t as prevalent as it was. And one of the reasons is the digital and mobile world. You’ve got to get your information to where they are, make it easy for them to find.”

As a result, Krop and her producers make a point of including input from viewers through Twitter and other social media channels. In fact, they even toyed with the idea of live-streaming the show so people could watch on mobile devices; indeed, this is a different world than the one Krop entered when she began her broadcasting career.

Jill Krop

Krop is enjoying the freedom AM/BC's format allows her - more opinion and more time to converse (Image: Peter Holst)

Krop grew up in Sidney and went to the University of Victoria for a year (“I excelled at cafeteria,” she jokes) before becoming interested in journalism at 18. Krop wound up in Baltimore, trying to be a nanny — “I lasted three months” — when a TV reporter, a friend of the family for whom she was working, took her to his job at a local station.

“It was fascinating,” Krop reveals. “I was like, ‘You do this, and it’s different every day?’ ” She came back to B.C. and ended up at BCIT, taking the only journalism program offered in the province at the time.

These days, there are more journalism courses (if fewer jobs) offered in B.C., but Krop isn’t seeing a new batch of muckraking reporters. Never mind Woodward or Bernstein, there’s not even a Rex Murphy. 

“Everybody wants to be an entertainment reporter,” she says. “They want to mix with the celebs. They have this disproportionate fascination with celeb culture.”

On this topic, the opinionated Krop comes out. “We’ve mixed it up. We line the pockets of Kim Kardashian and Justin Bieber, and they become our de facto role models. What are we doing? Instead of paying teachers and firefighters, paramedics and policemen and surgeons, game-changers, real-life people, we pay baseball players and race-car drivers.”

AM/BC

With AM/BC, Krop hopes to bring stories that can widen viewers’ perception of the world. Instead of reports on the latest Bieber brouhaha, she wants to introduce her audience to people like Michelle and Garfield, and their transgendered 10-year-old daughter, Tracey.

“Someone said to me before the episode, ‘You know, I thought about it, and I think I’d still have to make my son be a boy,’ ” Krop says. She herself had a son in 2008, with partner Dave Samson, a Burnaby firefighter. “Then Michelle and Garfield and Tracey came on, and after that the person said to me, ‘Oh my gosh, I’d let my child be a girl.’ ”

That, for Krop, is a reporter’s homerun.

“As a journalist, you’re exposed to so many different people and stories and you realize, we are all just human beings, we’re all trying our best to live the life we think is the best for us, and we are imperfect in so many ways,” she says. “I hope if people have a better understanding of people, they’ll also have more empathy.”

Originally published in TVW. For daily programming updates and on-screen Entertainment news, subscribe to the free TVW e-newsletters, or purchase a subscription to the weekly magazine.