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Nearly Three Decades In, Nick Haines Looks Back at 'Kansas City Week in Review'

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Nick Haines stands in front of a teleprompter before filming Kansas City Week in Review

The ability to bring insight, context and a pithy sense of humor to conversations surrounding the Kansas Legislature put Nick Haines on a path toward Kansas City PBS.

In 1994 the now three-time Emmy Award-winning host of Kansas City Week in Review made his first appearance on the program. Kansas City Week in Review — originally conceived as a local counterpart to PBS’ Washington Week in Review in 1992 — provides an in-depth look at the issues shaping Kansas City with area newsmakers and journalists. The host at the time, John Masterman, formerly of NBC, sought Haines out for his expert commentary on the actions of elected leaders in Topeka.

His career path to that point made him well-suited for the discussions. He had served as a radio news reporter for the BBC; news director for KANU, the NPR affiliate in Lawrence, Kansas; and as the statehouse bureau chief for Kansas Public Radio in Topeka. Just four years later, Haines was tapped to succeed Masterman as host of Week in Review.

In more than 20 years since taking the chair at Week in Review, Haines has grown the public affairs division of Kansas City PBS, with a focus on continuous innovation. 

“The show has changed dramatically since I’ve been here,” said Haines, noting the decision to bring more video and graphical elements to the show, and the decision to ensure each episode features a more diverse panel of journalists and experts, representing a wide range of views on important issues.

In his dressing room, Nick Haines gets camera-ready for an episode of Week in Review.
In his dressing room, Nick Haines gets camera-ready for an episode of 'Week in Review.'

“One thing I think we do better than everyone else is, we connect the dots on issues throughout the entire region,” Haines said. “Most outlets rarely make the connection between one side of the state line and the other. We are a bistate community, and we cover our area as such.”

Most importantly, Week in Review strives to turn down the volume of media noise and provide clarity.

“I like to believe that what we’re trying to do is serve as the windshield wipers that give viewers a clear perspective on what’s happening,” Haines said.

One of Week in Review’s biggest strengths is focusing less on what’s happening in Washington, D.C., and more on what’s happening in city halls and statehouses in Kansas and Missouri. What happens in Washington generally has less of an impact on our daily lives, according to Haines, than the decisions of local officials.

“The impact on people's lives by their local leaders has never been stronger than during the pandemic,” he said. “Whether your kids went to school or not or whether you wore a mask or not wasn’t decided in the White House or by Congress — it was decided by the county commission or mayor. These issues, where the rubber hits the road, are decided by local people that are elected from your community.”

And that’s what Week in Review will continue to take on, Haines said. 

Week in Review and Kansas City PBS are some of the very few places viewers get to learn about these very local issues and very local decisions,” he said. “Few people roll up their sleeves to cover this, and fewer each year. We’re proud to provide critical coverage of what’s happening in the metro.”

Kansas City Week in Reviewairs Fridays at 7:30 p.m. on Kansas City PBS Channel 19.1. Each week’s episode is also available as a podcast on your favorite platform.