Former Sheridan student part of Emmy-winning newscast team
Macleod Hageman and Iowa’s KWWL won a regional award for the evening station’s newscasts
SHERIDAN – Macleod Hageman has lived in a lot of places in his life, but for the Montana native, Madison County is where it all really began.
“I would say Madison County feels more like home than anywhere else,” says Hageman, who now lives in Evansville, Indiana. He was born in Miles City and lived in Terry and Ekalaka before moving to Sheridan, where his father served as school superintendent.
Hageman lived in Sheridan from the time he was in sixth grade until his junior year of high school, but graduated from Baker High School 15 miles from the North Dakota border. Even after he graduated, he had no intention of becoming an Emmy-winning broadcast journalist.
“I did a little bit of everything,” says Hageman of his secondary studies. He began at Montana State University in Bozeman studying general studies and business before transferring to Missoula and the University of Montana, where he first discovered the broadcast journalism program the university is known for.
He took courses in broadcast and in media, but also dabbled in Spanish and ended up with a communications degree, which was enough to land him a position with KULR, the NBC affiliate station in Billings.
From there he made the jump to the breadbasket, working as an anchor for an independent network in Arkansas before covering the 2016 presidential election in one of the nation’s most important caucus states: Iowa.
“That was a lot of fun with the Iowa caucuses,” says Hageman. “Every weekend I got to interview a different presidential candidate.”
He was a jack of all trades at KWWL, an NBC affiliate based in Waterloo, Iowa, anchoring shows at noon, 5 and 6 p.m. while also reporting stories in between. He soon developed a taste for particular types of stories.
“What I probably enjoy the most is reporting breaking news, or anytime a big weather maker is coming through the area,” he says. “It’s something that affects everyone. When a story is unfolding right in front of you, that’s pretty exciting.”
He’s been on the Weather Channel after reporting on floods going through eastern Iowa and has covered about every kind of breaking news imaginable, but the story that won him an Emmy was part of a newscast so chock full that even a five-building arson spree didn’t make the top story.
Tornadoes through Prairieburg, Stewart, and much of southern Iowa led the newscast, which aired in June of 2017. The storms caused catastrophic damage in several tiny rural Iowa towns, rising as intense as EF 2 category tornadoes.
Hageman followed with coverage of a Waterloo arson spree that damaged five buildings in a single night. An off-duty police officer facilitated an arrest and a confession in the same day. Three days a week, Hageman anchored the noon news before leaving to report and put together stories in time for the evening newscasts.
“On any other day the newscast probably would have led with a story about five arson reports rather than a weather report, but it was one of those days,” Hageman says. “It was one of those things I got to experience when the news was actually happening.”
The newscast was nominated for and won its Emmy in the evening newscast category of the 19th annual Upper Midwest Emmy Awards, hosted in Bloomington, Minnesota. It was selected out of three nominees in its category and among 94 winners in over 950 nominees.
It certainly wasn’t something Hageman expected when he left the Treasure State. During his multiple moves—he’s now an evening anchor for an CBS/Fox affiliate station in Evansville, Indiana—he’s found the largest challenge to be developing the kind of local expertise he knew in Montana.
“Going to Little Rock and Iowa and Evansville, that was kind of the biggest obstacle to overcome,” he says. “In Montana, I had an idea of what was going on since I was from there; it’s always interesting to come to a new area and try to become an expert on what’s going on there.”
But he’s also found the similarities in broadcast journalism—and in communities—at his posts across the country. Parts of his work that used to be the most challenging are now his favorite elements, like taking a dense, nebulous news story and condensing it into a digestible, 45-second chunk that a viewer can watch, understand and enjoy. As he says, the job is “a little bit of everything.”
If he keeps on doing those little bits of everything well, there just may be more Emmy awards in Mac Hageman’s future.