And The Emmy Goes To...
Growing up on the northern Oregon coast, Grantʻs Getaways was must-see TV for the family of Jeff Kastner ʻ05.
“Everybody in the rural communities knows Grant,” Kastner said of show host Grant McOmie ʻ75, whose outdoor reporting has been a staple in the Pacific Northwest for decades. “Everything stopped when the latest Grant McOmie report came on the news. We all loved it.”
Years removed from sitting with his family in front of the television in his living room in Tillamook, Kastner and McOmie are now an award-winning team, bringing the wonders of Oregon to viewers every week on Portlandʻs KGW-TV.
In June 2023, the duo was honored with one of televisionʻs highest accolades as Grantʻs Getaways won an Emmy Award for Best Informational/Instructional Long Form Content from the Northwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. While it was the 12th Emmy award for McOmie, it was his second working with Kastner and the first time that Kastner received the coveted trophy with his name on it.
The success of McOmie, the reporter, and Kastner, the videographer, is a match made at Pacific University and the epitome of the connections and mentorship opportunities that only a small college can provide.
The tie that initially bound McOmie and Kastner was Mike Steele, Pacificʻs distinguished university professor emeritus of English. Steele was McOmieʻs advisor in his senior year and met Kastner as a high school student through handball circles. When Steele learned of Kastnerʻs love of the outdoors and desire to explore a career in video, he set up a meeting.
“When I got to Pacific, Mike said that Grant lived in Forest Grove, that he was a former student of his, and that he could connect the two of us,” Kastner said. “It was the best thing in the world.”
“He introduced us and kind of just let us yak for a while,” McOmie said. “I was trying to be as upbeat and positive about finding your way and within short order, he was doing an internship at K2 (KATU-TV in Portland, thanks to McOmieʻs connections).”
Kastner went on to become a student of McOmieʻs in a broadcast writing class at Pacific. It was in that class that the twoʻs shared interest in the outdoors became apparent.
Kastner graduated in 2005. When McOmie moved from KATU to KGW in 2008, he needed a new videographer and offered Kastner a shot, which included shooting six months' worth of content for shows in a matter of weeks. Shortly into that stretch, McOmie realized that he had found the right person to help tell the Oregon story.
“I could sense his enthusiasm for it. He was having as much fun as me,” McOmie said. “And he was doing really good work from the start. He had the eye and he had a sensibility for the kinds of stories that I like to tell. He just really took to it and was eager.”
Ever since, McOmie and Kastner have traveled to every corner of Oregon, capturing in word and image what makes the state so unique and naturally stunning. Their stories document everything from hot air ballooning to river rafting, from wildlife conservation to truffle hunting to Oregonʻs tremendous coastal fishing opportunities.
It was one of those fishing trips that served as Kastnerʻs working interview with McOmie in 2008. As the boat pulled out from Tillamook Bay into the Pacific, it became quickly apparent that the ocean and Kastnerʻs stomach didnʻt agree.
“Apparently I turned four shades of green. I couldn’t shoot,” Kastner recalled. “When you’re looking through the viewfinder of a camera, it magnifies the effect. We had to go back before we even started.”
Thankfully for Kastner, it was not a unique experience. “Grant assured me that it had happened to all of these photographers before,” Kastner said. “But what an ominous first impression, right?”
As Kastner came through Pacific and grew into his work with Grantʻs Getaways, he learned from McOmie the nuances of becoming a storyteller through the lens.
“I was somewhat competent at the visual side of things, but didnʻt know how to craft a story out of it at that time,” Kastner said. “He would have me look at these subjects that we were covering and ask what the story was. What was going to be interesting to the audience? What is the human connection?”
McOmie counters that Kastner immediately provided what he needed to tell his stories better. “He has built upon the work,” McOmie said. “Iʻm always thinking about how we can tell a story like weʻve never told it before in a way that an audience will say, ʻHey, that was interesting. I didnʻt know that.ʻ”
While McOmie has mentored Kastner in the art of storytelling, Kastner has mentored McOmie in using modern technology to tell the story better, such as in the use of drones to provide a new visual perspective.
“We were working a story on the Columbia River bar on Dungeness crab season. And he put that thing up in the air and all of sudden I said, ʻMy god, that is a terrific shot. Iʻve never seen that before,ʻ” McOmie said. “The drone has been a spectacular addition.”
McOmie and Kastner agree that their partnership was a result of the unique personal atmosphere between Pacificʻs students and faculty. It was something that McOmie experienced as a student with the likes of Steele, English professor Steve Prince and theater arts professor Ted Sizer, and has paid it forward with Kastner.
“If I had been at a big state school, I donʻt know if I would have had the chance to meet somebody like Grant,” Kastner said. “The close connections that we have here at Pacific made that happen.”
Itʻs a partnership that has allowed McOmie to continue to spread the gospel of how great of a state Oregon is.
“How do you go wrong with Oregon? How can you lose?” McOmie said. “Our job is to bring people to places and let them know that this too is Oregon. This is the place you call home and you need to know that it is there.”