It’s likely a common dream for many young girls — imagining growing up to be a professional singer, maybe even an actress on Broadway.
And for many young girls, reality gets in the way of those plans, and the current of life flows in another direction entirely. Yet Chivon Kloepfer wasn’t going to let those waters take her completely adrift from her dream. She still conveys compelling and informative stories through her work, and she certainly has won a dedicated audience as the 5:30 p.m. news anchor for WLNS-TV 6.
“I was born in Guelph, Ontario, so I grew up in Canada and came over on a softball scholarship to play at Central Michigan University,” Kloepfer said. “I took some acting classes while I was there, but I really couldn’t fully jump into it because I was playing on the softball team, and it would have clashed with my softball schedule. At the same time, I really got into journalism and broadcast journalism at school, and I grew to love it. There’s still a performance element to my job, so it satisfies me in a lot of different ways.”
Kloepfer came to WLNS from 9&10 News in Cadillac over a decade ago and has become a trusted mainstay at the Lansing station for viewers who have come to rely on her for fairness, accuracy and dependability as she grew from weekend reporter to morning anchor to her current anchor position.
“I think that the trust comes from just doing the job every day the right way,” Kloepfer said. “It’s attention to detail. Sometimes you have to ask uncomfortable questions, but it’s about getting all of the sides. It’s about accurate reporting, good news judgment and never mailing it in. Those are the fundamentals of good journalism; and if you’re delivering those things, people are going to start trusting you.
“There’s also the human element to it. You have to be someone who people can connect with,” she added. “I think that goes along with going out and meeting people and showing them that, ‘Hey, I’m like you. I live in this community. These issues are important to me, and that’s why we bring them to you.’ That all plays a big role in it.”
That’s not to say it was automatically easy. “Terrifying” is how she described the first on-air experience of her career.
“I didn’t get to go live on location for a long time. They work you in slow, so your first on-air experience is literally reading two sentences. Then you throw to your story that you’ve worked on all day, then you say your one sentence at the end. That’s basically it: three sentences on camera,” Kloepfer said. “I could not put my makeup on before the shot because my hand was shaking so bad. I was so nervous. Everyone was trying to calm me down. ‘It’s just two sentences. Just read the prompter, you’ll be fine.’ I was terrified, but it was fine. Then the next time you’re a little less nervous; and you’re a little less nervous the time after that. Before you know it, you’re OK and comfortable.”
The human element and being part of the community Kloepfer mentioned are part of the reason she has remained at WLNS for so long in an industry that often sees news personalities moving on to larger markets once they’ve established a name and reputation for themselves.
“When I was on the morning show, there’s a special thing that happens because it’s longer and there’s more time for the viewers to really get to know you as a person. You have a lot more time to express yourself and engage with the community because you’re not so rushed to get to the next story,” she said. “I just felt the love with this community when I was working on the morning show. It was wonderful. I got to meet so many cool people, and I just fell in love with the people here at the station and in the community. I felt like I fit right in here.”
That sense of belonging also helped spur Kloepfer’s dedication to actively contributing to the community, whether it was delivering for Meals on Wheels, serving as a board member for Highfields Inc., or working with breast cancer awareness organization Susan G. Komen for the Cure or supporting organ-donation nonprofit Gift of Life Michigan. Although she has scaled back on her duties at the station as well as in the community to focus on her duties as a mother to three small children ages 5, 3 and 1, Kloepfer said she’s anxious to get back to her personal outreach efforts.
“I would say the last six years have sort of been a family blur, because I didn’t have the easiest pregnancies,” Kloepfer said. “Everything’s been so family focused the past six years. But the kids are a little bit older, and I feel like I’m starting to get a little bit more of myself back again to where I can participate.”
Participating, being an agent for progress and improvement, is what Kloepfer cited as the best part of her job at WLNS.
“If you asked me that years ago, when I first started in this business, it would be a very different answer. But right now, it’s knowing that what I do is important — that I am making a difference and am impacting, hopefully, positive change. I’m telling stories that are tugging at people’s heartstrings and encouraging them to do differently and maybe do better in their communities.”
And what would she have said was the best part of her job when she was first starting out? Well … obviously.
“You get to be on TV,” she laughed. “You know, it’s cool. It’s a cool job. What I do is pretty neat. Every day is different.
I mean, I still feel that ‘wow.’ It’s hard work — and it’s a lot of work — but you get to meet a lot of cool people.”