WGN's Marcus Leshock Visits SJMC
Marcus Leshock, a four-time Emmy Award-winning journalist and television host for WGN-TV, visited the University of Iowa School of Journalism and Mass Communication October 6-9.
Leshock engaged with faculty and students across SJMC during his visit. He spoke to multiple classes and attended lunch with SJMC Internship Placement Coordinator Paul Jensen and two lucky students in addition to participating in our Speed Networking event, which allows students to meet with media professionals.
Networking is vital to career growth, and taking chances is something Leshock believes in. While he was in college, Leshock worked for Northern Illinois University’s student newspaper as an editor for the entertainment section. While in grad school, he asked if he could go on-air to broadcast movie reviews and instantly fell in love.
Following his first few years at WGN, Leshock decided he wanted to try anchoring the news. After testing well at CLTV, a sister network of WGN where Leshock started his career, he became the main fill-in anchor for the morning news.
“If I hadn’t approached the guy in the hallway about doing that stuff on TV [at NIU], my career wouldn’t have happened,” Leshock said. “It’s about being assertive; thinking about broadening and expanding your comfort zone.”
In the evolving world of journalism, Leshock believes it’s important for students to constantly expand their skill-sets, as being able to fulfill duties like writing stories and editing video only makes for a more valuable asset.
“As long as you have the fundamental cores of journalism, you call tell a story, you have curiosity to research the story and you can do it fairly, objectively, and with enthusiasm...that’s what you want,” Leshock said. “You want to be curious with everything so when something is new, you can be the person that investigates and dabbles in it.”
Alongside feature reporting and anchoring the morning news from 4-9 a.m., Leshock is an adjunct professor at Northwestern University teaching multimedia journalism and news production. He also travels the country riding roller coasters for his podcast, “Coastin’ the Country”. With the traffic the podcast has brought, Leshock has noticed that enthusiasm will attract people to watch things, even if they aren’t coaster enthusiasts.
Although news consumption is changing, Leshock thinks multimedia storytelling is vital as ever and journalists who know how to accurately and fairly tell a story will always be necessary.
“It’s an exciting time to be in journalism because there’s so much happening in the world, there’s so much happening in communities, it’s a changing time,” Leshock said. “I think a lot of people are scared about it now because TV viewership is shrinking, but I think people’s thirst for news and knowledge is as strong or more than it’s ever been.”
Leshock is always open for students to contact him and schedule tours of the WGN Studio in Chicago.
Story by Jack Martin, SJMC Student