By Rick Griffin
Watching the San Diego Padres qualify this season for the Major League Baseball playoffs brought back memories for former local TV news and sports broadcaster Jane Mitchell.
“I vividly remember the Padres clinching the division at home in 1998 and 2005, and being doused with champagne and beer out on the field during our post-game interviews,” recalled Mitchell. “In fact, I still have some of those empty bottles.”
Those past baseball celebrations occurred during a 15-year stretch when Mitchell, a San Diego native, covered the ballclub as an on-air talent for Cox Communications’ Channel 4 San Diego.
“Being around the players, I could feel it every spring training. Everyone wanted to have a great season, get to the playoffs and then go all the way,” Mitchell told Times of San Diego. “So, I’m really happy for the 2020 club and Padres fans, especially in this most unusual season. I’m looking forward to a great series against our rival Dodgers.”
Last week, the Padres beat the St. Louis Cardinals in a best-of-three-game series to advance to the National League Division Series, which begins Tuesday, Oct. 6, in a best-of-five-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Mitchell began her TV career in Wichita Falls, Tex., and Tulsa, Okla., reporting on everything from teacher strikes to tornadoes. She returned to her hometown and joined KNSD-TV NBC San Diego as a producer and reporter in March 1992.
Then, in April 1996, Mitchell was hired by Cox to help launch a new local TV channel dedicated to covering the 1996 Republican Convention in San Diego. After Bob Dole received the GOP nomination, Cox Communications won the TV rights to broadcast San Diego Padres games on Channel 4. Mitchell remained with Cox to help establish the cable channel known at the time as Channel 4 Padres.
Mitchell spent 15 years, from 1996 to 2011, as the producer and on-air host of “One on One with Jane Mitchell,” a monthly TV show that featured interviews with San Diego’s top sports figures from young stars to Hall of Fame members. After 100 episodes, the show ended in 2011 when the Padres granted TV rights to Fox Sports, which created a regional sports network to house Padres games. (Sinclair Broadcast Group now owns 21 Fox regional sports networks, including Fox Sports San Diego, after its $9.6 billion acquisition in 2019.)
“It was an amazing, fantastic and fun 15 years at Channel 4,” Mitchell said. “I will always be grateful to Dan Novak, Dennis Morgigno and Bill Geppert (former executives at Cox) for the opportunity.”
Last year, the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, Pacific Southwest chapter, honored Mitchell, a recipient of 28 Emmy awards, with induction to its Silver Circle. Established in 1983, the Silver Circle honor roll numbers more than 300 members who have worked at least 25 years in the TV industry.
During her tenure at Channel 4, Mitchell wrote a book titled “One on One: My Journey with Hall of Famers, Fan Favorites and Rising Stars,” which was released in November 2010. The 638-page book tells the back-story on 40 of her most notable interviews, along with interview transcripts. The forward is penned by sports legends Dick Enberg and Tony Gwynn.
In 2012, Mitchell launched her own boutique media company, called One on One Productions, which offers media coaching consulting and personal video biography production. Families hire her to interview and produce stories about their loved ones.
“I help people tell their stories for sharing now and after they’re gone. We capture someone’s life story, including victories, losses, joys and sadness, everything that makes us a human being,” Mitchell said. “You do not have to be famous to have a story worth sharing.”
Then, in May 2013, Mitchell produced what she fondly calls “my biggest and best production.” At 50 years old, she gave birth to Lily, a daughter. “I always wanted to be a mother, so I planned, saved my income and prayed that the science would work,” Mitchell said. “I want women to know there are options if they want a family. Lily and my mom are the lights in my life.”
Today, Mitchell lives in her native Coronado (she was 1980 Miss Coronado). Her days are filled with distance learning for Lily, a second grader, and caring for mom Ann, age 96 (“my mom is still as sharp as a tack,” said Mitchell).
Mitchell also is a strong supporter of the ALS Association Greater San Diego Chapter.
In 1991, Jane’s father and Ann’s husband, J. Wallace Mitchell, a retired Navy commander known as “Wally,” was diagnosed with ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects neurons, or nerve cells, in the brain and the spinal cord. There is no cure, cause or no life-prolonging treatments for ALS, often called Lou Gehrig’s disease. Life expectancy for a person with ALS is within two to five years of diagnosis of initial symptoms.
Jane moved back home to help care for Wally and oblige one of his final requests. With a home video camera, Jane captured more than five hours of conversations with Wally, who passed away in 1994 at age 74.
From 2004 to 2012, Jane served as board chair for the local ALS chapter. She was honored at the 2016 ALS Fiesta fundraising dinner with a lifetime achievement award. Today, she serves on the chapter’s Advisory Council. A portion of proceeds from her books sold on her website are donated to the ALS Association.
Annually, the local ALS Association hosts “Walk to Defeat ALS,” a fundraising walk. Jane has served as emcee at previous walks held at De Anza Cove in Mission Bay. “My walk team is named `Wally’s Walkers.’ At our first walk in 2002, we had 300 walkers who helped raise $125,000, which was a pretty good amount back then,” Mitchell said.
However, with Covid-19, this year is different. The 2020 Walk to Defeat ALS, the nonprofit’s 20th annual fundraising walk, will be held Sunday, Oct. 18 as a virtual event. “Walk Your Way” is the 2020 event theme, which refers to the many different ways supporters can participate virtually while maintaining social distances and still raise money for a cure.
“This year we’re encouraging our 2,000 regular attendees to choose their own way to walk, whether it’s a stroll in their neighborhoods, at a park or beach or mountain hike, or even on a treadmill,” said Mitchell.
Without geographical or time restrictions, Mitchell said the potential is there to involve more people than ever before. “It will be inspiring to hear about possibly hundreds of mini-walks happening at the same time on Sunday, Oct. 18 throughout San Diego County,” she said.
Registration is open for the 2020 Walk to Defeat ALS. There is no cost to participate in the virtual event, although a minimum amount of $90 raised is requested to qualify for a walk t-shirt. The 2020 fundraising goal is $300,000. Event information is available at http://alsasd.org.
Crowe PR Promotes Sarah Kinsella, Hires Two
San Diego-based Crowe PR announced that Sarah Kinsella has been promoted from media strategist to media director. In her new role, Kinsella will oversee all facets of Crowe PR’s dedicated media operations.
Kinsella joined Crowe PR in 2016 as a junior account executive. Prior to joining Crowe, Kinsella worked at Olive PR Solutions starting in the summer 2015. She started her PR career at Havas Formula in 2013. The native of Chicago earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of San Diego in May 2013.
In addition, the PR agency said it has hired Chelsea Hellems as senior account manager and Laurel Tiedeman as account coordinator.
Hellems, with eight years experience in PR, was previously a freelancer prior to joining Crowe PR. Previously, she was with ThinkInk Communications.
Tiedeman graduated in August 2020 from Iowa State University with a bachelor’s degree in PR. Previously, she was a marketing and events intern at Kansas City Power & Light District and a communications intern for the Iowa State University College of Engineering.
Both Hellems and Tiedeman will assist on local and national accounts, including Saffron & Sage holistic health club, U.SK Under Skin, The Curtis Hotel, McLemore Golf Club and Fit Athletic Club.
“Our culture is built on positive attitudes, collaboration, and exceptional performance standards,” said Anna Crowe, who founded her agency in 2015. “We are committed to elevating PR and marketing industry standards, while delivering best-in-class client service and hiring and promoting the best people.”
With offices in San Diego and New York City, Crowe PR, with 15 employees, describes itself as a bi-coastal public relations and influencer marketing agency specializing in brand awareness, reputation and social media. The company services hospitality, emerging tech, professional services and consumer brands.
City of Oceanside Recognized for Water and Food Recycling Communications
The City of Oceanside was recently honored with two Excellence in Public Information and Communications awards from the California Public Information Officers, a statewide professional trade group of communicators from public sector agencies.
A statement from the city said it was recognized for its Pure Water Oceanside project and Green Oceanside Kitchen grand opening launch event.
Pure Water Oceanside, an advanced water purification facility scheduled for completion by the end of 2021, will purify recycled water to create a new source of drinking water that is clean, safe and environmentally sound. The launch of Green Oceanside Kitchen, a program that diverts edible food from the landfill to support feeding the community, was honored by CAPIO with the best-in-show award.
“Pure Water Oceanside and the Green Oceanside Kitchen help Oceanside residents by providing a sustainable drinking water source and innovative solutions to ending wasted food, while also making a positive impact on the environment,” said Cari Dale, water utilities director, City of Oceanside. “It is rewarding to be recognized for work that has such a positive influence in our community.”
San Diego Press Club to Host Membership Mixer
The San Diego Press Club will host “Fall Into Fall,” a virtual membership mixer from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 8, over the Zoom online meeting platform. At the mixer, after brief Press Club news updates, all attendees will be randomly assigned into breakout groups for additional socializing and networking. Admission is free for members and prospective members. For more information and to register in advance, visit www.sdpressclub.org.
Rick Griffin is a San Diego-based public relations and marketing consultant. His MarketInk column appears weekly on Mondays in Times of San Diego.