BEST TV NEWSCASTER - 2001
Julie Nelson's rise to the top slot at KSTP sure was quick. After a two-year stint at Louisville's WAVE, Nelson arrived at Channel 5 in the summer of 1998 with little fanfare, initially anchoring the dreaded 5:30 to 7:00 a.m. morning show. Barely a year later, she was regularly filling in for the leave-taking Colleen Needles on the station's flagship 10:00 p.m. broadcast. Following Needles's resignation a few months later (and a slight upward bump in the ratings), the Eau Claire native officially ascended to A-team status. In addition to co-anchoring the 6:00 and 10:00 p.m. shows, Nelson holds down a solo broadcast on the market's only 6:30 p.m. show. Like almost all newscasters on commercial television these days, Nelson isn't above the occasional flourishes of happy talk. But she keeps the cheap stunts to a minimum (unlike, say, WCCO-TV anchor Amelia Santaniello, who allowed sonogram images of her unborn child to be used as sweeps-weeks fodder last spring). Nelson's smart, no-nonsense demeanor fits in nicely with news director Scott Libin's emphasis on hard news--and KSTP, despite its continuing third-place finish in the ratings, is the most journalistically palatable commercial-TV news outfit in the local market. In the 2000 regional Emmys, the newcomer Nelson tied for first place with KARE-11's Paul Magers, a perennial favorite, in the best-anchor category. Magers got the nod because he anchors the market's top-rated newscast. Nelson got the nod because she's good.