For Pete's Sake

Michael Coleman, out at KCTV, has had a rough six months

Michael Coleman said farewell to viewers on Tuesday.
Michael Coleman said farewell to viewers on Tuesday.

Michael Coleman’s final day as sports director at KCTV (Channel 5) was Tuesday, which came as a surprise to some viewers.

The station didn’t renew his contract, Coleman said, a fact he learned in January. At the time, it was the latest in a string of bad news for Coleman and his wife, Gina.

“Right now,” Coleman joked, “we’re a walking blues song.”

Life was good last Sept. 26 when Michael and Gina got engaged, but on Oct. 27, a biopsy revealed Gina had breast cancer.

Soon after, she learned that her job in the medical field would end in December, Coleman said. So the couple decided to push up their wedding date, which had been set for 2017, to November.

“It was the fastest two days for wedding (planning),” Coleman said.

They intended to get married at the Kansas City Municipal Courthouse, but it was closed for Veteran’s Day.

Instead, KCTV news anchor Ellen McNamara offered to marry the couple.

“She did a fantastic job,” Coleman said. “She’s a good lady.”

Not long after that, KCTV told Coleman that his contract would not be renewed while Gina was receiving treatment.

Gina finished up chemotherapy last month and had surgery on March 28. That’s the beginning of the new chapter of their lives.

“Already that first step is her becoming a cancer survivor,” Coleman said.

His wife’s cancer scare obviously put Coleman’s job loss in perspective. But he admits to being disappointed and hurt by the decision by what he considers one of his hometown stations.

Coleman grew up in Lawrence, where he played high school football. He later played at Coffeyville Community College and Southern Illinois, where he graduated and began work in broadcast journalism.

Coleman was working in New York when he was hired by KCTV in 2010 and charged with revamping the sports department, which at one point had much of its sports coverage outsourced to Metro Sports.

When told he was being let go, Coleman was surprised. But he stayed on the job until his contract ran out.

“They let me stick around for two months and still do my job, so I tried to keep the bar raised, wherever I set it,” Coleman said. “A couple of coworkers said, ‘Wow, I don’t know how you can come to work when your days are numbered.’ Well, that’s just what I do. I’m here to do my job and if there is an end to it eventually, I’m not going to go rogue and not be who I am.

“It was tough, but I had the support of my co-workers. It’s a good group of journalists in that newsroom and they wished me well.”

Coleman doesn’t know what he’ll do next — he joked about selling bow ties, which you could see him wearing on many nights. But he hopes to stay in Kansas City.

“I think it’s a great town if you’re in the media business and you’re from here,” Coleman said. “So that’s what I’m doing, just trying to stay relevant and make some things happen and see how it turns out.”

Landing a job so close to home was a dream come true for Coleman. He never could have envisioned what a blessing it would be to live in Kansas City. Then again, no one ever plans for a cancer diagnosis.

“We’re blessed in having tremendous support in family in friends. I think right now it’s a good time to be home,” Coleman said. “I can’t imagine having this kind of support — not that I wouldn’t — living elsewhere. But being from this area, for this particular fashion, is working out.”

That Coleman sees a positive in all of this is a testament to his outlook.

Coleman and his wife have both lost their jobs and Gina has dealt with a major medical problem. But he expects happier days ahead.

“She’s on the road to recovery, she’s cancer free,” Coleman said. “We’re looking forward to our future. We’re still newlyweds. We’ve been dealing with the sickness part of the marriage first. We’re going to get that out of the way early in our lives and then we can pick up on the fun stuff.”

Coleman posted a farewell to his Facebook page (if you can’t see it, click here):

Pete Grathoff: 816-234-4330, @pgrathoff