Tag Archive | jim reding

Good Work

So I’ve mentioned I want to write a book..

So very many of the stories I’ve covered are inspiring, emotional and powerful… often because they reflect something incredibly positive, born out of something terrible and tragic.

January 5, 2011.  I was 8 months pregnant, sluggish and FOREVER late.  That day I was running behind as usual, hoping to stop at Subway on my way to work.  I was at the stoplight at 144th and Q and one, then two, then three Omaha Police cruisers flew past me with lights and sirens blaring.  I called the KETV assignment desk to let them know something was going on, and my managing editor, Jim Reding, responded, ‘Yeah, we’ve got a shooting at Millard South, we need you here right away.’

I immediately turned my car around and sped to KETV as quickly as I could.  Within minutes, I was on the anchor desk and on air, sharing what we knew with our viewers. A young man had walked into the front office and opened fire, shooting two principals.  One of them was dead, another was critically hurt.  The teenager drove a few miles away, then shot and killed himself.


Millard South student Kyler Erickson heard and saw it all.  He hid in a bathroom, called 911, and waited.  No one should be witness to a nightmare like this; Kyler was as a teenager.  Still, he refused to let that horror take him down, despite the nightmares and grief that followed.  With therapy and sheer inner strength, Kyler healed emotionally and grew physically, attending the University of Nebraska Omaha to play Division 1 Basketball.  He began to share his story, meeting with everyone from veterans suffering from PTSD to other students.  This year, Kyler was named to the National Association of Basketball Coaches Good Works Team, recognized at the 2016 Final Four tournament, one of only five student athletes nationwide.  This dude is simply AWESOME.

CLICK HERE to learn more about Kyler’s incredible journey from KETV’s Matt Lothrop.

Kyler’s loved ones are among those most proud of this young man, including his longtime friends from Millard South…


..friends who were there in full force at Kyler’s final game with UNO.  The girl in the beige and black sweater is LaRissa McKean.

“He’s so inspiring,” LaRissa told me recently.  She too was at Millard South that day, in AP Economics class.  And much like her friend Kyler, she’s devoted much of her time and focus on simply trying to make the world a better place.


Photo courtesy Jenn Cady Photography

“The best compliment I received was from a sorority sister.  She anonymously left me a note saying ‘you make people feel good about themselves,'” said LaRissa.  “That statement is what motivates me daily to make an impact on someone’s life.”

I first met LaRissa last summer at the Miss Nebraska Pageant; she left her mark on most, if not all of the audience and her fellow contestants.  This girl is SHEER JOY.. she lights up a room with her smile and personality, and radiates energy and glee the second she steps on stage. LaRissa was also voted Miss Congeniality by her fellow contestants.


That beautiful smile shows LaRissa’s inner spirit… but so does THIS.

Hilarious.  Carefree.  So many women in pageants, business and LIFE are afraid to let their guard down, so afraid of what people will think about them.  LaRissa knows who she is and OWNS it.  You can just tell she LOVES life, and everyone around her smiles and lets THEIR guard down because of it.

LaRissa will compete at Miss Nebraska again this year as Miss Gering 2016.  Her personal platform of service is called ‘Feel The Difference: Empowerment Through Communication.’

“[It’s] based on Maya Angelou’s quote, ‘I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’  I will leave a legacy where I make people feel inspired and willing to take the act of listening through conversation to better the lives around them.”

LaRissa has all kinds of opportunities to communicate.. the girl is surrounded by people CONSTANTLY.  A University of Kansas graduate specialized in Accounting and Human Resources, LaRissa currently works three jobs; she’s a Head Instructor of summer high school/college dance camps with Universal Dance Association, she’s a full-time educator with Lululemon, and she’s a substitute paraprofessional in the district where she grew up, Millard Public Schools.  She volunteers every week with local 4th graders, helping them catch up on homework and answering questions.  LaRissa also takes part frequently at charity events, doing what she can to help as Miss Gering.

THEN.. there’s dance, a constant in LaRissa’s life for many years.

“I have judged the State Dance Competition for the last three years along with other local high school competitions and college regional competitions for the NAIA Nationals,” said LaRissa, who learned at and competed with Kitty Lee Dance, a place she still practices and volunteers.  “One of my biggest role models was Miss Kitty.  Not only did she instill my love for dance, she taught me to be stronger and never think you can’t improve.  She raised me in the studio and I can’t thank her enough for whacking my leg with a ruler to get my knees straight.  She was the first one to correct me in every dance class but also the first to congratulate me on a performance well done.  Even with her gone, I know she is watching every class and performance, smiling that her passion lives inside of me.”


Talent is LaRissa’s favorite part of the Miss Nebraska Pageant; she plans to combine her love of comedy and dance to present a musical theater piece with ‘an element of surprise’ this year.

“Not only does [talent] set our system apart from others, it is truly beautiful to see all the contestants show their art to the world,” said LaRissa.  “I love watching the contestants light up the floor with their interests and show a piece of themselves to everyone.  The emotion that can be portrayed in 90 seconds gives me goosebumps and really shows the uniqueness of every competitor.”


That’s one of the things LaRissa hopes to share with pageant naysayers.. to learn more about the women who take part before forming an opinion.

“I remember going to pageants as a young girl and telling my mom I couldn’t wait to be as pretty or as talented as the women that compete for Miss Nebraska,” said LaRissa.  “The majority of people who compete are varsity athletes in their schools, Honor Roll recipients, and leaders in their community.  They are some of the most respected people and receive more credit for being mentors to people all across the nation.”


LaRissa adds that every woman she knows who’s taken part in this system has made a difference in someone’s life.. and that she became a leader because of it.  She describes the title of Miss Nebraska as a job she’s applying for that could give her a year of memories she can only imagine.  BUT.. in the swirl of glamour and costumes and performances, LaRissa hasn’t lost focus of her values and priorities; her family, including grandparents Pampy and Nana who she spends several hours with every week.  Education, through both mentoring students and planning ahead to obtain a Masters Degree.  Love, and her love of people.. simply spending time with those who matter most, friends like Kyler Erickson.

No one would have faulted Kyler for never talking about that day again, for withdrawing from everything to process what happened, for moving thousands of miles away from Omaha to escape everything and start fresh.  Instead, this guy confronted his demons, defeated them, then stayed and shared his journey to help others still battling.  LaRissa McKean’s story doesn’t stem from tragedy and horror but is inspiring nonetheless.. a young woman using her gifts and positive attitude to simply do good work in our world.

Loren winkler

Photo courtesy  Loren C Winkler Images

“At the end of the day, I look in the mirror, washing off my makeup and think it would be amazing to be Miss Nebraska 2016, but I would rather be known as LaRissa who became Miss Nebraska because of the person I am,” said LaRissa.  “I’m an honest person, who gives my opinion respectively.  I won’t change my values or morals because of a title, I will continue to grow and live a life I treasure.  At the end of the day, I will still be LaRissa McKean forever.”

I think they call this perspective.  Maybe it’s what she saw Kyler go through.  Maybe it’s been the lesser challenges she, like the rest of us, go through.  No matter where the drive comes from.. imagine what life could be like if we all strived to do good work to help each other, and in turn, found peace and joy within ourselves.

Kyler Erickson is available to speak at events; CLICK HERE for details and to learn more about his story.


Click on each link below to follow Miss Gering 2016 LaRissa McKean

on FACEBOOK and on INSTAGRAM.  You an also email LaRissa for appearances and events at larissamckean@gmail.com.


2015 * Sleepless Beauty

For more information about the Miss Gering/Miss Western Nebraska Pageant, CLICK HERE to visit their Facebook page.  For information on becoming a contestant, contact Director Heather Hayes by phone at 307-340-0601, or by email at Heather.Hayes@chartercom.com.


The 2016 Miss Nebraska Scholarship Pageant takes place June 8-11 in North Platte, Nebraska.  Learn more on THEIR WEBSITE, FACEBOOK PAGE, or follow ON TWITTER and ON INSTAGRAM.


PREVIOUS.. Miss Gering’s Outstanding Teen 2016 Ashlynn Haun!

NEXT.. Miss Panhandle’s Outstanding Teen 2016 Shaniah Freeseman!

To read more about this year’s contestants, or the Miss Nebraska/Miss Nebraska’s OT classes of 2015 & 2014, click the THERE SHE IS link at the top of the page!

Witnessing History

One of my favorite things about being a journalist is what we get to see, hear, WITNESS.  As a student of history, this is invaluable to me.  You can read about things in books, you can watch things on TV, but only a few get to be there as history happens and share those stories.  Sometimes, though, as journalists we witness events so remarkable, tragic and overwhelming, the moments never really leave us. We close our eyes and can still see and feel what happened the day we covered the story.

For KETV’s Managing Editor Jim Reding, those moments happened on July 19, 1989, when United Flight 232 crashed in Sioux City, Iowa.

jim photo

 25 years ago this month, Jim watched with his own eyes as that plane and the hundreds of people aboard cartwheeled down the runway.  His coworker captured the crash on camera, video that was later seen by millions and endlessly analyzed by aviation experts.  Jim shared the stories of the survivors, the heroes, and the 112 people who died that day.

Here is Jim’s account of Flight 232.


Summer of ’89, Jim Reding was the 10pm producer at KTIV in Sioux City and on July 19, had just started his shift.  The news broke around 2 or 2:30 of an Alert 3.

“We knew the plane had lost all hydraulics somewhere near Storm Lake, Iowa,” said Jim.  “Our assignment editor at the time sent Dave Boxum, a reporter/photographer, straight to the airport.  I got in a van with Cathy Egan, a reporter, and we were heading to Highway 20 east of Sioux City.  We were told the plane was going to try and land on Highway 20.”

Within minutes, Jim and Cathy got word that the pilot was going to try and land at the Sioux Gateway Airport.  The two took the first exit they could and headed that way.

“We spotted the plane coming over Southern Hills Mall,” said Jim.  “It was flying so low, and it was so strange to see this large plane barely above the buildings and tree tops.  I sped up, and got nervous that I wouldn’t get a shot of it landing.  Just as we were parallel with the airport, the plane was coming right over us.  I remember one of us saying, ‘God, please let the plane land safely’.  As it went over our heads, it then cleared the Air National Guard building and the next thing we saw was the explosion and the plane rolling off the runway.  I know we both yelled or screamed.”

Jim, knowing his coworker, Dave, was already at the airport somewhere, drove as fast as he could from where he was on I-29.  He found Dave directly at the fence south of the runway where the plane had crashed.

“As I got out of the van I asked Dave if he got video of it,” said Jim.  “He said, ‘I think so’.”


A still photo from Dave Boxum’s video, taken as Flight 232 crashed in Sioux City.

Jim, Dave and Cathy immediately got to work, setting up equipment on top of the van to try and see what was going on.

“There was so much debris and parts of the plane strewn all over,” said Jim.  “The airport firefighters were already on the scene and more fire departments and first responders were arriving.  That’s when I saw a Red Cross van driving towards the entrance and recognized the driver.  I told Dave to relieve me on top of the van and I would take his camera gear and try to get access to the crash site.  I distinctly remember the feeling that we wanted to have a camera rolling at all times on the scene.”

sioux City Journal 2

Photo by the Sioux City Journal

 Jim began shooting as he got closer to the crash site, using the same camera and tape that held such an important piece of video.

“The record deck was not working properly.  It was stopping and starting on its own.  All sorts of lights were flashing,” said Jim.  “I started to smack the camera with my hand to see if that helped.  It didn’t.  I tried rewinding the tape and fast forwarding the tape to see if that would make a difference and it didn’t.”

In the chaos that followed, Jim radioed KTIV to tell them what he thought he had and that he was having problems with his gear.

“All this time, I didn’t realize how close I had come to erasing or taping over Dave’s historical video,” said Jim.  “Dave would tell me later that he wasn’t sure he had gotten the video because his deck was acting up.  When the video got back to the station, they had to dub it over to a one-inch reel to play it.  By the end of the day, the whole world would see that video.  Robert Hager, reporter with NBC who covered all the big plane crashes, told me and others at the time that it was one of the most important pieces of video in aviation history.  This was long before cell phone videos and Go Pros; it was so rare to capture a major crash on tape.  I’m sure United and other companies learned a lot by watching that video.”

Jim spent the rest of the day and night there at the airport, shooting interviews and field producing coverage of the crash for KTIV.

Sioux City Journal

Photo by the Sioux City Journal

“We weren’t used to covering a story of such magnitude, and it was a story that kept expanding,” said Jim.  “The survivors, the families, the investigation, the community reaction and endless personal stories of people impacted by the crash.”

Click here to watch KTIV’s look back at Flight 232.

We know now that United Flight 232, originally scheduled from Denver to Chicago, suffered catastrophic failure of its tail-mounted engine, which led to the loss of all flight controls.  296 people were on board; 112 died.  Despite such unimaginable loss, many considered it a miracle 184 people survived.  Many credit the flight crew and captain Alfred Haynes, who essentially landed the plane without conventional control.

The crash changed how we fly today; DC-10’s were modified with hydraulic fuses to prevent catastrophic loss of fluid.  Experts use the flight as evidence why all children should have their own seat and be properly restrained.  Researchers have also studied Flight 232 to see whether computers could control aircraft using the engines alone.
It also forever touched a young journalist who would eventually make his way to Omaha, Nebraska and the news desk at KETV.  In his 28 years in TV News, Jim has covered officer involved shootings, the tragedy at Westroads Mall, tornadoes and mass snowstorms, serial killers and lengthy criminal cases;  you name it, Jim has played a role in 20 years of coverage at KETV.  Still, he says no story has had an impact on him like Flight 232.
jim in background

“The fact that I witnessed the crash and was physically on site to talk with survivors and those involved in the rescue probably has something to do with how I feel,” said Jim.  “I was in the field and felt the real impact of the story.  You have to remember that 112 people died! That’s the greatest loss of life in this region that I know of.  You had Captain Al Haynes, who with the help of his crew, made a miraculous landing, saving 184 people.  An emergency response that would be a model for the world.  An NTSB investigation that would lead them to find a cause to the crash.  And for the first time, video of a DC-10 crashing, that would help educate pilots and engineers in the future.  And of course, you would have a movie made about it, with Hollywood legends.  It was, and still is the biggest story I’ve ever covered.

“There hasn’t been a summer I don’t think about that day and the crash of Flight 232,” said Jim.  “We have family and friends that still live in that area and we drive by the Sioux City Airport on our way.  I know often times my first instinct is to look west at the airport and the location where the plane crashed, but I usually find myself looking east and into the sky at that spot where I saw that plane go over my head.  It was so big and still so clear to me.  It’s hard not to think about all those people on that plane and how just seconds after they went past me so many lives ended and so many other lives changed.  I won’t ever forget it.”