News anchor Tricia Kean makes mark in Las Vegas

Tricia Kean, news anchor for KTNV Channel 13 in Las Vegas (Neal Portnoy/Las Vegas Review-Journal)Tricia Kean, news anchor for KTNV Channel 13 in Las Vegas (Neal Portnoy/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

It was her first broadcast news job and Tricia Kean’s bags were packed. On the way to Great Falls, Montana, a family member riding shotgun suggested they stop in Sin City.

“The Excalibur was the new hotel, so we stopped there. I won $300 on a slot machine. I distinctly remember saying to my brother-in-law, ‘Larry, who would ever live in Las Vegas?’ ”

Some 17 years of living here later, the broadcaster has made a mark as part of Las Vegas’ longest-running evening TV anchor team at KTNV Channel 13. She’s also a longtime advocate for consumers in Southern Nevada.

A Los Angeles native and graduate of Arizona State University, Kean has worked the airwaves in her hometown at KCAL-TV and anchored overnight national news for CBS News’ “Up to the Minute.” In addition to that first job in Great Falls, she has worked at stations in Georgia and South Carolina.

The Emmy winner, married to businessman Rick Hergott, says her favorite role is as a mom to her young son, Matthew David. “You have to be on top of everything because parent involvement is everything. He’s only this age once.”

Review-Journal: Describe a typical Sunday.

Kean: A great Sunday would include sleeping in. I’d have a cup of coffee waiting for me to go along with a bagel and lox. The rest of that day would be hanging out with my family. We don’t get to do that every Sunday because my son, who is 8 1/2, now does club baseball. Just like so many families out there, we’re really busy between baseball, tackle football and basketball.

How do you balance motherhood, homework and the news?

You make it work. On the average night, I leave the newsroom and meet my husband and son for dinner. That’s when we do homework. We finish during my dinner break and then I get my son home and to bed. I go back to work. … I have the best husband. I’ve been married for 10 years; he’s a great man and a great dad. He has my back. It wouldn’t be possible without him.

How did you meet?

We were set up on a blind date through a friend on TV. It just felt comfortable from the start. I felt like I knew him. He understood where I came from and that was that. We met, and a year and a half later, we were married.

When did you become interested in TV news?

I knew early on. At my house as a girl, we’d watch the local ABC station in Los Angeles and then the “CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite.” My mom had a women’s clothing store and some of the newscasters would come in. Even at a young age, I thought they had such an exciting job. I started Arizona State as a psychology major and quickly changed my major to journalism.

You were in for a major surprise in Montana, where you thought you would be covering news.

After leaving Vegas, on my way to Great Falls, the station called me and said, “We’re going to promote our sports anchor to weekend anchor. How would you feel about doing sports?” It was a crash course in the world of sports. You learn.

How did the job at Channel 13 Action News come about?

Out of the blue, Channel 13 saw my tape. They had a key position with 13 and were looking for someone really tenacious. I was hired to be a backup to the main anchor at the time. Meanwhile, I came out to Vegas and saw the cost of living was so much more (affordable) than in L.A., where I could only rent. Vegas was a step up in terms of quality of life. I started my new job on Sept. 4, 2001. Seven days later, September 11 happened. It was a really scary time, but so important to keep the public informed. As for my life, I bought a house here and settled in. I love Nevada.

What makes you the proudest?

With 13, we helped people to get their homes back during the recession. We had a whole movement where we saved people’s homes by getting all the banks together. Over the years, we’ve helped people get their cars fixed and their air conditioners in working order or their power turned on. You name it. But when you help someone save their home, it’s different. People have cried in my arms.

Have you ever felt in danger on assignment?

I’ll never forget a story I did on a former pro football player who was scamming people with furniture sales in Henderson. He tried to avert a story by asking me out on a date. I was single at the time, but of course, I said no. When he figured that wasn’t going to work, he thought I should be scared to do the story. So, yes, there have been interesting times. … I’ve been in situations in the field where I’ve heard open gunfire. … I’d say 98 percent of the people I’ve met over the years have been wonderful. They’re good, solid people and that makes me believe there is good in the world.

Do you have a favorite Vegas celeb story?

I’ve had incredible moments including when I met Oprah, who hugged me. We talked about some of our favorite books. She even sent me a picture of the two of us that hangs in my house. A great Vegas moment was meeting Jerry Lewis. I told him that my dad was a big fan. Jerry called me at the station later and said, “What’s your dad’s address?” He sent him all of his DVDs.

What do you like to do during your time off?

There is the weekday Tricia when I have no time. I’ll fly to meet the family for dinner. It might be at The District or Town Square. The weekend Tricia just did a staycation at Also, my husband is in the seafood business, so we like fine dining on the Strip. We love Wolfgang Puck’s Spago or Charlie Palmer Steak. We’re foodies. For local eating, I like Lindo Michoacan or the .

You look amazing. What’s the secret?

I recently lost 40 pounds. I got married, had a baby and the next thing I knew I packed on the pounds. … I started walking before work. I left behind red meat, refined sugars, bread and saturated fats. Now, I eat vegetables and proteins.

Being a mom has changed me because …

I have a new set of eyes to see the world through. I’ve really learned the meaning of life. Someone once told me that you will learn what love is all about once you have a child. That was so true. Your child is your true legacy. It’s how you leave your mark in the world. It really is the most important thing you will ever do.