Every evening, when the KTVT news program airs across the Dallas, Fort Worth area, hundreds of thousands of viewers are witnessing a broadcast that a close-knit group of four Lambda Chis has a large part in producing.
William “Dandy” Killeen (North Texas 1990), Chris Best (Missouri-Columbia 1997), Michael McCardel (Texas-Austin 1993), and Ram Guzman (Texas A&M-Kingsville 1996) all serve as news managers in their respective departments for the CBS affiliate.
“It’s a unique situation that we’re all coming from the same Fraternity,” Killeen said, “It creates a common ground for us to create a working relationship.”
While the news managers come from four separate chapters, they take pride in the fact that they share the same bond of brotherhood.
Their brotherhood, and the lessons and values they garnered from the Fraternity, have prepared them for the daunting task of leading their news station.
“The four of us have to be leaders because there are days when we are the ones deciding what makes news in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and that’s a big responsibility,” Best said.
Leaders in their Profession
Each Lambda Chi news manager serves as an integral piece to an elaborate network of reporters, photographers, and editors.
Killeen is the executive producer of sports at KTVT. A 13-and-a-half-year veteran at CBS, Killeen’s responsibilities include running the day-to-day duties of the sports department, writing and editing sports stories, and making sure the overall operation of the sports department is running smoothly.
“I like to call myself the janitor. I clean up the messes and put out any fires that happen in the day-to-day operations,” Killeen said.
In the sports-minded culture of Texas, Killeen’s duties take on a greater significance. Sports stories are often the lead newscasts for KTVT.
The Dallas-Fort Worth area is home to several prestigious sports franchises, including the world champion Dallas Mavericks, AL champion Texas Rangers, five- time NFL champion Dallas Cowboys, and former Stanley Cup winning Dallas Stars. Additionally, Killeen’s department covers sports from the nearby colleges TCU, SMU, and UNT.
“Dandy is one of the best sports journalists in the country,” Best said. “It really helps our staff a lot. He’s a huge asset to our sports department, that’s for sure.”
Guzman serves as KTVT’s chief producer. He is a two-time Emmy award winner and has garnered several other honors for video editing, including awards from the Texas Associated Press Broadcasters and the Katie Awards given out by the Press Club of Dallas.
In the newsroom, Guzman oversees the video editing staff. For each news report the photographers may collect 20 minutes of footage. Guzman and his staff are responsible for editing the footage into an orderly minute-and-a-half to two-minute newscast.
McCardel is the managing editor. He oversees the KTVT reporters and the content they produce.
Best is the executive producer for KTVT. He manages the newscast producers and, essentially, is in charge of the flow of the program. McCardel and Best work closely to determine what content is aired on the 4:00 PM, 5:00 PM and 6:00 PM broadcasts.
“We have a ton of say about how these newscasts air at the end of the day and what makes news and ends up on our television station,” Best said.
Relying on Values
Killeen, Guzman, McCardel, and Best each served as officers for their chapters. They attribute their ability to manage their respective teams to the leadership experiences they experienced as officers.
While an undergraduate at the Iota-Zeta chapter of North Texas University, Killeen was the chapter president and social chairman.
He remembers the benefits of taking classes with his brothers who were also in the radio, television, and film program. The bond of brotherhood and the academic support he received while at the Iota-Zeta chapter helped him reach his goal of working in sports television.
“The guys I was in Lambda Chi with certainly encouraged me to chase my dream to be in television and they helped me build on that,” Killeen said.
Guzman served as the secretary, ritualist, and social chairman for the Beta-Epsilon chapter of Texas A&M Kingsville.
When Guzman first joined Lambda Chi Alpha his perspective on Greek organizations quickly changed.
“Going into college I knew the views on fraternities were basically being party organizations but, once I was recruited and went through rush, I knew it was so much more; the community service and the actual business side of the fraternity were very important,” Guzman said.
One of Guzman’s fondest undergraduate memories was receiving the McIntosh award and the Tozier Brown Public Affairs award at the General Assembly on behalf of his chapter in 1997.
Best was the house manager, alumni chairman, and vice president of his chapter, Gamma-Kappa, at the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Best considers his time as an associate member as being valuable in providing him with lessons that he would use as a manager and in his personal life.
“The associate membership program, rather than the pledge program, has a lot to do with how you treat both the people you work for and the people that work for you,” Best said.
Associate membership, Best said, is built off the Golden Rule. By adhering to the Golden Rule, Best said he can manage a workplace that respects each individual, and he can pass along the same values to his children.
McCardel served as vice president for his chapter. He still talks to some of his brothers from the University of Texas and they are surprised that he works side by side with brothers from different chapters.
“Their reaction is nearly universal. It really seems impossible…. But here in north Texas, it’s reality,” McCardel said.
Practical Solutions from the Fraternity
Every week current undergraduate officers gather in their zeta meetings to discuss the daily operations of their fraternity, upcoming events, and possible conflicts among other orders of official business. These meetings are crucial for running a well-organized and efficient fraternity.
These meetings also parallel real work scenarios that undergraduates will experience after graduation, when they have jobs of their own.
Killeen, Guzman, McCardel, and Best agree there are deep similarities between the decisions and actions they initiated as officers of Lambda Chi Alpha, and the steps they now take to create a polished broadcast.
“Just think of us as the beta, gamma, delta, and sigma of the newsroom or something like that,” Best said. “We really have to work together like those officers do.”
Looking back on his tenure as chapter president, Killeen remembers how he learned the importance of being decisive, formulating plans, and executing plans for the future of an organization.
He admits that his decisions were not always favorable with all his brothers but he always knew the importance of having his chapter “pull the rope in the same direction.”
“I think the responsibility and learning how to deal with responsibility is one of the best lessons I learned in office,” Killeen said.
Those decisions that Killeen, Guzman, McCardel, and Best made as officers have prepared them for the KTVT news room.
A large part of being an officer in a chapter is leading a diverse group of brothers to achieve a common task. Guzman credits his role within his fraternity for the skills he now possesses in leading his video editing staff.
“A lot of my experiences at the fraternity have carried over into dealing with different personalities, problems, and issues,” he said. “You have to understand that being a manager and dealing with people is the same as dealing with members of the fraternity.”
The values of Lambda Chi Alpha continue take root in the four newsroom leaders as they go through the daily tasks of preparing the news for the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
“I think the biggest thing is knowing what I’m going to get from those guys,” McCardel said. “They are dependable, consistent, hard workers.”
As the KTVT newsroom prepares for the deadline for their upcoming broadcast Killeen, Guzman, Best, and McCardel remain calm and controlled while leading their staffs.
“There is deadline pressure but we’ve all been through it so much, we’ve done it a thousand times, that it clicks pretty smoothly,” Best said.
Credit their years of newsroom experience.
Credit their dedication to the job.
Credit their experiences as brothers of Lambda Chi Alpha that have equipped them to confront routine challenges.