KMOV'S MIKE COLOMBO
From self-described class clown to being one of the most promising, young TV news reporters in our town, Mike Colombo has come a long way. A very long way.
Colombo came to Vianney as a precocious kid from Dogtown’s St. James the Greater parish. He loved to joke, but one day the jokes went too far. He and some classmates found themselves before a disciplinary board fighting to stay in school. His fate as a Griffin came down to convincing the group why Vianney should give him a second chance. Colombo did so, and a year later he went from being on the verge of expulsion to Student Council President.
“My freshman and sophomore years, I was trying to fit in, trying to find myself. I wasn’t as much of a troublemaker as I was a class clown,” said Colombo over a lunch in his native Dogtown. “From where I was, to how I ended my Vianney career, was a pretty big turnaround for me.”
He credits his family, friends, coaches, teachers, and administrators at Vianney for “making it click” and helping him make the most of his second chance.
Mike was a four-year member of Vianney’s basketball and soccer programs. “I played ‘a little’ basketball, and by ‘a little’ I mean I only really saw the court a little bit,” he joked. Soccer success landed Mike athletic and academic scholarships at Quincy University.
At Quincy, Mike started on his broadcasting path.
He began working on a sports talk radio program at WQUB, Quincy University’s radio station. That led him to an internship in the sports department at Quincy’s NBC affiliate station WGEM-TV.
“I covered whatever they didn’t want to, or couldn’t get to,” he said. “As an intern, I learned it all. I got to shoot, write, edit, practice anchor, everything. I would drive those long, dark roads covering local basketball and getting back to the station in enough time to cut highlights and get them on air.”
The internship led to a full-time job after graduation at WGEM and a year and half later, Mike was ready to make the jump to a larger market. He took a job at WHAS 11-TV, the ABC affiliate in Louisville, KY.
“That was a huge jump. I went from Media Market No. 171 to Media Market 48 in Louisville. With that came more live reporting, more hard news, a more competitive reporting environment, more pressure to get exclusives — all while trying to learn how to live in an unfamiliar place.”
As a general assignment reporter there, he covered it all — crime, politics, weather, sports. One of his favorite memories in Louisville was getting to cover the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky’s basketball teams. In Kentucky, that sports rivalry carries every bit of heat as does the Yankees/Red Sox, Cubs/Cardinals, Giants/Cowboys, and others. In his two years there, he covered Kentucky’s road to the 2012 National Championship, two Breeders Cups, the Kentucky Derby, NASCAR, and high schools sports.
For his work in Louisville, Mike was the recipient of a 2012 NATAS Ohio Valley Regional EMMY for his Feature/Human Interest Reporting.
Now, back home in St. Louis, Colombo’s achieved a goal he set for himself early in his career, and looks forward to accomplishing more.
“I wanted to get back to St. Louis and I told myself it would happen. I knew I needed to be patient, and put myself in a position to take advantage of my chance when it came.
That chance came when the Good Friday storms rocked North St. Louis County. He was sent from Louisville to help sister-station KMOV with its coverage.
Tom Mulvihill, a 2004 Vianney graduate who is the school’s Director of Admissions, grew up with Colombo in Dogtown. They played with and against each other in grade school, and developed a friendship. Colombo served as a groomsman in Mulvihill’s wedding. He describes his friend as “someone with an engaging personality that other people are drawn to. His sheer work ethic and infectious personality make him a perfect fit as a reporter,” Mulvihill said.
A year later he was offered a job at Channel 4 and the chance to come home.
“I saw my work during the storm coverage as a three-day audition. I felt fortunate for the opportunity and honored to cover something that impacted so many people’s lives.”
Using the power of his social media Twitter account (@Mike_Colombo), he has become one of the go-to guys for the facts of the day’s hottest headline and on breaking news stories.
“I learned my work ethic from my parents. It was fostered by the coaches and teachers at Vianney. You’ve probably heard the saying that the harder you work, the luckier you get. I firmly believe that,”
Coming home offered significant opportunities. Bolstering its investigative team, News 4 introduced “Call Colombo” segments on News 4 at five, where Mike advocates for consumers who’ve been scammed or ripped off.
Confronting the bad guys can make for some tense moments.
“The confrontations you see are always last ditch attempts. We call, e-mail, and sometimes send letters trying to bring resolution. When they don’t respond or acknowledge our efforts, it’s our job
to hold them accountable,” he said.
Working at News 4 is a blessing, and the long-standing tradition of quality news coverage the local CBS affiliate provides is something to be respected.
“St. Louisans are loyal to their news stations. KMOV has gone through many changes in recent years and the station ownership has developed a clear, focused plan for the future. As a station we’re positioning ourselves in so many ways - things like social media, providing content on multiple platforms, bringing in great talent, and knowing the community. This is an ever-changing business, and as a station we are changing with the times.”
In the tumultuous world of TV news, Mike’s concentrating on hitting the pavement and doing good work that matters to people day in and day out. As far as his personal life, he talks of having a wife and kids someday.
“The hours and working conditions of my job aren’t always conducive to family life, and that’s a focus of mine in the future. For now, I’m working hard every day, I’m doing challenging stories and I’m connecting with great people, and doing all of that in my hometown. The best part of working in St. Louis is knowing I’m doing it for people who, like me, really love this city.”
There aren’t many news reporters in town who have embraced Twitter like Mike Colombo has. Each morning, he tweets information about the major news of the day, and the stories he’s pursuing. Toss in a few colorful commentaries about local sports and celebrities, and it makes for an entertaining follow. You can access the feed on Twitter @Mike_Colombo.