HOTSEAT- News junkie: Settle gets serious in the 'sandbox'
Newsplex news director Jeremy Settle displays classic symptoms of a news junkie that go back to childhood, when at age 11 he wired his house and then broadcast the news from his bedroom in Silver Spring, Maryland.
"A scanner?" he replies increduously when asked if he has one. It turns out he has eight– three in his car and five at home.
Other signals of his obsession include the scrapbook he keeps of TV stations he's visited around the country. And then there's that compulsion to watch the news at 1:37am, after a full day of overseeing the news at the Newsplex's three stations.
Settle first became hooked while watching WUSA Channel 9, recording the news everyday. "I said I wanted to work at Channel 9," he says– and he did, first taking over the news at the University of Maryland campus television station.
"That's the one thing I was passionate about," he says. "I never minded ruffling feathers. I had this whole need to run the show."
He interned at WUSA, and eight years later, having advanced to assignment manager, he was ready for a new challenge. News of a fledgling television station in Charlottesville caught his attention.
When Settle took the news director job in January 2005, he fully intended to make Charlottesville a two-year gig. Later, as happens to so many, he got hooked by things such as Fridays After 5 and the Corner– "by all the little things," he says, "that make Charlottesville Charlottesville."
He bought a house 1.8 miles and four minutes from the station. And he's cutting back on the seven-day-a-week work habit from his early days in town.
Under Settle's direction, the Newsplex has been in expansion mode from the early days when there were only the 6 and 11pm news broadcasts on WCAV, the CBS station. He helped launch the 7pm and 11pm news on the ABC station, then the morning news, and most recently, 10 o'clock news on WAHU, the Fox station.
"If anything is like giving birth, it's launching a two-hour morning show," says Settle. "It's really neat to grow this."
Settle's most public persona is his role as anchor on the 7pm and 11pm ABC 16 news. "That's secondary," he says. "That's not really the main part of my job. I don't think a lot of people outside the industry know what a news director does."
He starts the day by calling the station's assignment editor when he wakes up at 9:30am, and he typically stays at the station until midnight or later.
In the remote hope of moving to a more normal life, Settle looks to drop his 11 o'clock anchor duties, but he swears he's not complaining about the long hours at the new station in town.
"It's my sandbox," he says. "[General manager] Roger [Burchette] has given me the keys to the vault. We want the image of an aggressive news team."
Sounds perfect for a news junkie, but there are a few withdrawal pangs.
"I'll always have that breaking news, assignment desk mentality," he says. "Charlottesville isn't really a hot-bed of breaking news."
But there are winter storms on the horizon.
Why here? My job
What's worst about living here? Everything closes early, especially on the weekends.
Favorite hangout? Wild Wing Café
Most overrated virtue? Patience
People would be surprised to know: I have over 1000 VHS tapes of newscasts from across the country dating back to the 1980s.
What would you change about yourself? Be more attentive and focused on other people's needs.
Proudest accomplishment? Becoming a news director
People find most annoying about you: My short attention span
Whom do you admire? People who truly understand freedom of the press
Favorite book? The Runaway Jury (John Grisham)
Subject that causes you to rant? People who aren't passionate about their job
Biggest 21st-century thrill? High Definition TV
Biggest 21st-century creep out? Cameras so small that you can hide them anywhere
What do you drive? Ford Explorer
In your car CD player right now: Under the Table and Dreaming (Dave Matthews Band)
Next journey? I wish I knew.
Most trouble you've ever gotten in? Caught speeding in my car at the beach when I was 18... I was going very fast.
Regret: Not playing baseball in high school
Favorite comfort food: Pizza
Always in your refrigerator: Mountain Dew
Must-see TV (other than the Newsplex): Entourage
Favorite cartoon: Scooby Doo
Describe a perfect day. A 75-degree mostly sunny day cooking out on my deck with my close friends
Walter Mitty fantasy: Drummer in a cover band
Who'd play you in the movie? Tom Hanks
Most embarrassing moment? I played a sheep in a first-grade play.
Best advice you ever got? Stop looking back
Favorite bumper sticker? The Starboard
PHOTO BY JEN FARIELLO