(1961 – )
Alan Gionet was born and raised in the Berkshires – Pittsfield, Massachusetts – where he began working for a local radio station out of high school, conducting interviews. One of his first was with singer Arlo Guthrie.
Although he’d aspired to attend Emerson College in Boston for a career in radio, he wasn’t initially accepted to the college devoted to the field of communication and the performing arts. Over a period of eight years, he worked as a DJ at a nightclub in Boston and took classes part-time at Emerson, the University of Massachusetts (Boston and Amherst), as well as through Harvard University’s Extension program, becoming a full-time student at Emerson his senior year.
“I loved newspapers,” he recalled. “My kitchen table was piled high with copies of the Boston Globe and the New York Times. And I loved Johnny Carson.” A counselor at Emerson recognized his interest in the news and encouraged him to pursue broadcast journalism.
Although speech and journalism teachers advised his best career opportunities would be in New England, his eagerness to get going caused him to take the first job he was offered, which happened to be in Tupelo, Mississippi where he WAS the weekend news. There he did it all – investigating, writing, filming, editing, and designing the entire newscast, even the weather. He then served as the anchor that night, delivering it all. That was 1987.
One incident he remembers well from that first job is filming a protestor who pulled out a gun and began shooting at people. While capturing the news with his weighty video camera, he realized everyone else had run for cover, leaving him the only one left in sight. He scrambled behind a truck and could see through his viewfinder that the man was pointing the gun right at him. He never knew whether the man never pulled the trigger or the gun mis-fired, but the footage garnered attention nationally, generating a job offer from a TV station in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
It was a huge jump to have gone from a market rated somewhere in the 130s to one ranked Number 36, he noted. After 5 ½ years in Michigan, he had a yen to return to the East Coast, winding up in Providence, RI, where the highlights of the job included reporting on the Mob.
He’d learned along the way that Denver was known for its quality of television news. “If Denver calls, you listen,” was the saying, according to Alan. So, when the call came in 1994, he accepted a position doing weekend news in Denver with Channel 4, then an NBC affiliate. During this period he lived in Evergreen – on Chestnut Drive in El Pinal.
From 1998 to 2006 he was the main anchor for weeknight news in Jacksonville.
In 2006 he returned to CBS4 in Denver when his wife was offered a job in public relations at Coors. “I missed it,” he admitted, referring to the Denver market and the opportunity to enjoy all that Colorado has to offer. Alan and his wife, Kim DeVigil, and four kids returned to Evergreen where they continue to live.
“I’ve learned so much going around the country,” Alan reflects. He feels his experiences throughout the US – from the educational center of the country (the Northeast) to the functionality of living and working in the South, to learning to appreciate the sensibility of the blue-collar Midwest, to having rented an apartment in Five Points years ago – have made him a better news journalist.
While Alan has seen many changes in television broadcasting, including watching many of his generation pushed out, he’s been a survivor in the newsroom for 26 years.
“I don’t wear my opinions on my sleeve,” he says in response to a compliment about his ability to stay impartial when delivering the news, an ethic that seems difficult for many to uphold nowadays. “Intelligence is the ability to look at both sides.”
Co-anchoring the morning show and news at noon, Alan arrives at the station at 4 am and leaves at 1 pm. “Morning shows control your life and limit what you can do,” he says. But Alan is quite visible around town, often helping charitable groups such as Drive Smart Evergreen-Conifer, the Special Needs Group at Evergreen Park and Recreation, and Outdoor Lab.
With a younger brother who’s profoundly autistic and living in an adult group home in Massachusetts, Alan has a special place in his heart for those who do for others with special needs, applying his talents wherever he can to assist with fundraisers. He traditionally emcees the Evergreen Lake Plunge on New Year’s Day and sometimes even takes the plunge himself.
During warm weather Alan can be seen running the trails through Elk Meadow; and during the winter he’s frequently on Evergreen Lake, skating and playing hockey. “I’m an old hockey player,” he says, explaining that he played the sport growing up in New England. He’s put together a team for Pond Hockey, winning in the “Over 35 Division” one year.
What keeps him here? He likes the open spaces and open minds of Colorado.
Sources: Alan Gionet, CBS4