Sunday, August 14, 2022
SUBMITTED PHOTO Betsy Singer and her family.

Kasson resident Betsy Singer bows out from TV news job

For Betsy Singer, family comes first.

As she details in an exclusive interview with the Dodge County Independent, popular Rochester news anchor Singer reveals why she walked away from a new contract offer, ultimately saying goodbye to a 13-year stint at KAAL, and details what the future holds for her.

“I’m currently still under my former contract that has a pretty tight non-compete,” Singer said. “It keeps me off the air for a year. After that? Only God knows and while there are a number of options on the table, like other big decisions, we’re letting God lead.”

A Kasson resident, Singer started at KAAL in 2009, when the general manager called her and asked her to join his team.

“I was grateful and humbled by the opportunity but needed him to understand that life had changed for me in the two years since I’d left TV news,” Singer said. “My dad was struggling through a second cancer diagnosis, which devastated my mother. Our boys were three and five and while many people face similar challenges, I was not eager to add the long hours and demands of a newsroom back into our lives. My husband and I decided that if the general manager understood that putting my family first meant not only my children but helping care for my aging parents, we could continue talking about me joining his team. He was kind and understanding and made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.”

Grateful for the increased flexibility built into her day-to-day schedule, she said she still worked long hours, many from home. She was only required to be at the station in the afternoons and early evenings. What many didn’t see, she said, were the hours spent talking to officials, organizations and others researching stories and setting up interviews.

“That sadly caused a bitter resentment with a select few colleagues but my management knew where I was and what I was doing,” Singer said. “And for 13 years at KAAL it worked. That was until a few months ago when new management took over in the newsroom.”

Since high school, Singer has volunteered with organizations that primarily serve people with developmental disabilities. The friends she has made in this area are people she said she absolutely adores because of their simpler and joyful outlook on life.

“All they want from me is my friendship,” Singer said. “They’re genuine and kind and make me laugh.”

She has long been a primary caregiver to her aging parents who live in the Winona area, and with her now teenage sons, Connor, 17, and Caden 16, there are yet more challenges that, she said, demand more of her time. She and her husband Ken Quattrin decided turning down the contract would be best for their family.

“My last day on-air at the station ended up being Friday, May 13,” Singer said. “I didn’t know it at the time but when I found out the following day that my dad had COVID and my mother had pneumonia, I dropped everything and drove to be with them. They were terribly sick. When I didn’t return Monday so I could get them to doctor’s appointments, my managers were very understanding. But I also knew we had many more health challenges ahead with my parents and I’d need more time with them.”

Singer was an executive producer and anchor for the station and says there are several reasons why she loved her job, which mainly included the people she interviewed over the years. “Everyone has a story to tell,” she said. “Some are tragic, some are funny, many are inspiring and I take something away from everyone I’ve met. I’m in awe of what people go through.”

As far as job challenges go, there are many, Singer said.

From covering crime to politics to natural disasters, “this line of work is an emotional rollercoaster,” she said. “It’s never been just ‘a job.’ It’s very personal in every aspect for me … I’ve never been good at not becoming emotionally involved.”

Twice during her 25 years working in television news business, she has left the industry. The first time was a school shooting in a Jonesboro, Arkansas, school and the second time was after her boys were born.

“I realized early in my career that family would always be more important than a set number of hours worked or a salary,” she said. “While opportunities to work bigger markets have presented themselves over the years, moving away again from my parents … and spending nights, weekends and hours apart from my boys was never worth a large-market jump.”

The public’s response to Singer’s on-air departure has been largely positive, with congratulations bestowed on social media and via other platforms. Singer laughs when she says many people have supported her for retiring.

“I have plenty of years before I’m allowed to draw social security,” she joked.

 

See full story in this week’s print edition or subscribe online. To subscribe, please call (507)634-7503.

 

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