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GratiTuesday: Steve & Bonnie Wheeler

Mr. & Mrs. Wsil.

Bonnie & Steve Wheeler Photo courtesy: Larry Hunter

Quick backstory on the Mr & Mrs. Wsil header. Many years ago, not long after starting at WSIL TV, the newsroom received a phone call. On the other end was a telemarketer who had no idea he’d called a TV station. He asked for ‘Mr. or Mrs. Wsil’ (not WSIL). I was confused for a moment before figuring it out and informed him that he was mispronouncing WSIL and thinking it was a person and not a TV station.

Okay, so that brings me to the point of this story. In the early 2000s, I was in a desperate search for a new job. I wanted to move my small family of four closer to our loved ones in St. Louis. My boss at the TV station I was working at told me I would not be going any further monetarily or professionally. My heart sunk as I scrambled to take my career to the next level. I wasn’t being fired but the writing was on the wall that I wasn’t going anywhere else in that newsroom.

In late fall 2003, I made a trip to WSIL. There was no opening but I was close enough to town that I wanted to introduce myself to the news director and staff. Mike Snuffer showed me around the station and spent a couple hours with me, introducing me to key people around the station, including the General Manager and owner Steve Wheeler.

The early days of WSIL for me

When a position finally opened later that year, I was offered the job. It was a general assignment reporting position with a chance to fill-in anchor. I jumped at the chance and quickly learned that Steve and his wife Bonnie were not hands-off owners. They were active not only in the building but in the community. They’re kind-hearted, humble people who have always put others first. See more here.

That community spirit and willingness to give to others inspired me along the way. I’ve always believed in giving back (whether with time or money) and working in an environment like WSIL, that’s always been easy to do. Steve and Bonnie encouraged all of us to be a part of the community and get involved. I pride myself in what I’ve been able to help with over the past 15 years and hope to have inspired others along the way like Bonnie and Steve did for me.

Early anchoring days at WSIL

 

 

Not long after being hired as the co-anchor of News 3 This Morning in Aug. 2004 I had a rough time. I still don’t consider myself a good news anchor; I’m mediocre at best (and no I’m not looking for an ego boost here). In those early days, I sucked. Bonnie took a particular interest in me, meeting with me consistently. Even when she was away in Florida, I’d mail her tapes (yes, it was that long ago) and she’d email or call me back with critiques.

Some people would ask me if I was discouraged and worried about this. Yes, at first I was, but then it clicked that Bonnie would not be dedicating so much time and energy in helping me improve if she didn’t believe in me. I’m forever grateful for those sessions with Bonnie and the fact that she nor Steve never gave up on me and replaced me when it would have been an easy thing to do.

For those who don’t know, Steve and Bonnie recently sold the station. I look forward to new adventures but wanted to take a few minutes to show appreciation to the Wheelers and congratulate them on being so impactful on so many journalists and members of our community. Thank you both!

 

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kevinhunsblogger View All

I am a journalist with more than 20 years of experience and a professional blogger. I have been writing for most of my adult life. I have clients in several states and look forward to writing something for you soon.

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