Jacob Kittilstad was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in a sterile room under fluorescent lights.
As a young child, his parents threw him into the water to race other children thrown into the water by their own parents. He learned to read at age 7 and really learned to read at age 32. He got good grades because he was told it was important. He swam faster and faster because it felt good to win. Coaches gave him a roster spot on the swim team at the University of Minnesota where he chose to pursue journalism as an afterthought.
Hindsight taught him three important lessons:
- Sports are not life.
- Where you end up is not solely based on how hard you work.
- Collaboration is the most powerful force in humanity.
Jacob secured his first journalism job as an intern at Swimming World Magazine. That line on his resume got him an early web-internship at KSTP TV in Saint Paul, Minnesota. A producer at the station acted as a strong reference, allowing Jacob to secure a job at FOX 21 News in Duluth, Minnesota. He made $21,500 his first year.
These job titles and connections say nothing about Jacob’s qualifications or abilities as a journalist. He entered the workforce wanting to be a cool guy on TV. He would learn that mindset is like trying to paint a house with a guitar. It does not make sense. It also avoids the most creative usage of the instrument.
Jacob’s true mentors and teachers have always been the peers and partners willing to share insight about storytelling, history, and the power of empathy. These people are photographers, production assistants, and station problem-solvers.
Jacob’s paranormal abilities emerged at age 22. He discovered that if he sincerely listened to people while staying open-minded yet focused – he could harness the sheer power of luck. When using this power, every story became an opportunity to share the human experience.
WJTV News Channel in Jackson, Mississippi put these burgeoning abilities to the test. Jacob discovered cracks in the veneer of what he thought he knew about history. He witnessed extreme poverty. He saw over-and-over the effects of slavery in modern life. He experienced the grace of hospitality given to an outsider struggling to comprehend anything around him.
When it comes to Mississippi, Jacob feels uplifted in his recognition that its people are obviously kindred to the people outside of its borders. He also feels distressed by the fact that its challenges – politically and spiritually, which are the same thing – are not unique to the state.
Jacob returned to his home state as a cyborg augmented with the capability to shoot and edit his own video. He took a job at CBS 58 WDJT which is technically in West Allis, Wisconsin – not Milwaukee. He regrets the reality of the mercenary lifestyle but needed to conform to the economic reality of helping his wife through the Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law.
He would start as a weekend Multi-media journalist and work his way up to being a nightside reporter, later a weekend anchor, and finally the host of the public affairs program Racine & Me. But that list of ladder-climbing is boring. The resume lines do not convey the reality that Jacob capitalized on luck and opportunity in the same way he would when rolling dice from a Yahtzee Shaker.
In Kansas City, Jacob would like to become a member of the community. He would like to raise a family. He would like to share the voice of the people. He would like to be a part of a wider movement of empathy and understanding. As a part of this process, Jacob is willing to ride the wave of cathartic highs and gutting lows. Jacob Kittilstad’s greatest goal is to find happiness.
Jacob also has a furry gray cat named Hinckley.