Kyle Inskeep isn’t some talking head delivering the news in Cincinnati. Astronomically far from it.
The Indiana-born co-anchor of the 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. newscasts on Local 12 is not only expertly doing his job, but he’s doing it while also just plain being himself.
“People want to see that authenticity reflected in their newscasters,” says Inskeep. “They want to know their anchors are actual people too.”
The Buckeye Flame spoke with Inskeep about his early journalistic influences, LGBTQ+ life in Cincinnati, and the celebrity dinner part to end all celebrity dinner parties.
Did little Hoosier Kyle Inskeep want to be a newscaster?
I really did! When I was in first or second grade I would get in trouble. I would be watching cartoons or Saved by the Bell or not eating my breakfast or not getting ready for school. My mother made me start watching the news. What she thought was going to be a punishment ended up being this inspiration for the rest of my life.
I fell in love with broadcast news. I don’t know what it was, but I fell in love with this medium and the way the anchors and reporters could connect with the viewers. From day 1, I wanted to be a journalist even though I didn’t know what journalism was when I fell in love with the profession. I wanted to be a storyteller. I wanted to be a communicator. And now I’m living out my childhood dream.
Who were those early inspirations?
I was huge Today Show fan. The days of Matt Lauer and Katie Couric and Ann Curry and Lester Holt. The Today Show was such an iconic brand. Something about watching it is always inspiring. It always feels like home because my mom always watched it so it was always on in the house. When I watch these people at the top of their craft, it inspires me and pushes me to be a better journalist.
And you have that connection to Tim Russert.
[laughter]Loosely, right? Loosely. I had the incredible honor of being the Tim Russert Fellow right out of college in 2012. Working on a show like Meet the Press and working with the political unit and the correspondents is like, “Whoa! Is this really happening?!” There are these giants all around. I mean, Tom Brokaw would roam the halls!
Coming out of college, I really thought I wanted to be a political journalist. I minored in political science at Butler University. I got that fellowship and it was such an honor and it was a great position to be in. And within weeks of being there, I realized politics wasn’t for me. Even though I enjoyed politics, I didn’t enjoy political reporting. That fellowship showed me that it wasn’t the path I should be on.
It also showed me that, for right now, I enjoy the local aspect of news. I enjoy the connection we have with the viewers here and that I really know the people I am speaking to on a nightly basis. The connection is extraordinarily strong at the local level.
Talk to me about that intersection between sexual orientation and broadcasting. Was there a conscious decision to come out?
I don’t know that it was a conscious decision. I think I was more of a late bloomer, not to anyone else, but maybe to myself. I finally realized I wasn’t fooling anyone. There wasn’t a grand coming out of sorts. It was just the realization that this is who I am and to be truly happy, I had to accept that part of myself. It wasn’t an easy thing. I’m happy with my journey, but it was different than someone who comes out at like 15-years-old.
My family was very supportive which was helpful, and my colleagues and my employers have always been right behind in me.
If someone is reading this and they’re struggling with [their coming out process], it’s not a rush. Life gets better when you do come out, but only if you are ready for that moment. Whenever you are ready to fully accept who you are as a human being, walk into that, embrace it, and own it. But do it on your own time and when you’re absolutely ready. The world will be ready to embrace you.
I recently heard that Cincinnati has quite the legacy of Black, gay male news reporters.
<laughs> I don’t want to speak for anyone else. I can only speak for myself, but Cincinnati has been an extraordinarily welcoming place. The LGBTQ+ community here has gone out of their way to make sure I have felt supported and welcomed from day one. I think we take that for granted because it’s 2020 and certain aspects of the stigma that surround LGBTQ+ identity are less than they were 10 or even 5 years ago.
But it’s still difficult. We’re still a minority and there are still barriers that we face. So to know that there is a community that loves you and supports regardless is important.
Where have you run into challenges?
Early on in my career, I was trying to be hyper-masculine to try to compensate for what I perceived as femininity, to cover any traits the audience might see and say, “Oh my god, that’s a gay, Black man!”
When I was working in Indianapolis, and I remember that I did something on the air that was authentically me and I thought that I would get a ton of e-mails. “Who is this man? Why is he so gay? What is happening?”
And I didn’t get anything. I realized in that moment, “Kyle you’re not fooling anyone, just be yourself.” I really have tried to do that in everything. If I have a comment, I say it. If I want to smile, I smile. I wear what I want to wear. It’s a journey. I’m more authentic today than I was a year ago, and hopefully in a year I’ll be even more authentic.
I feel 100% confident people have reached out to you with thanks for your visibility.
It’s so crazy. I got a DM the other day just saying, “Thank you for being you. It’s really great to see a young gay Black man on tv.” It stopped me in my tracks. You don’t always think about that on a daily basis. To know that I’m able to play a small role was really touching to me and kind of overwhelmed me in a way. It made me emotional.
Finally, what makes you think you are a bigger Serena Williams fan than the rest of us?
[laughs]Listen. I know everything about Serena Williams. If I were interested in women, she is the only person who could turn me straight. Everything about her: her being, her confidence, her swagger, her determination, her drive. There are levels of excellence and she is at the top level of excellence. And she’s been there for so long. You don’t get that to that level and sustain as often as she has without being just everything.
I look to Serena for inspiration. I look to her for encouragement. And she’s just fun. If I could have a dinner party it would be her. And Oprah. And Ann Curry.
Get me in there!
I can get you in there. Don Lemon, I would love to have him there. Ralph Lauren, I’m fascinated with him. These iconic people. Lester Holt. I love Hoda Kotb. Hoda would have to be there.
Then I have to ask: what would you serve?
Oh my goodness. There would be sweet tea because I’m a huge lover of sweet tea. I don’t know how to cook very well. The only thing I do really well is the salmon with the glaze that my 15-year-old nephew taught me how to make. I recently learned how to make green beans, so I would serve those. So it woudn’t be a fancy dinner, but it would be amazing.