GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. -- Tom Lindner started his day Thursday as he has for nearly two decades - in the KARE 11 Newsroom, at the center of the morning editorial meeting.
But the biggest news in Lindner's newsroom had already been in the morning papers. Lindner had been let go from his job as KARE 11's news director.
His was not a face recognized from KARE 11 newscasts, but a generation of KARE 11 viewers have seen Lindner's stamp on their nightly news.
Lindner spent four years as the station's assistant news director, then 15 more as the man in charge of hiring and inspiring.
Between hugs, newsroom employees shared stories of Lindner recognizing talents they didn't even know they had. "He took me, a sports photographer, and gave me the chance to become our web producer," said Bea Chang, now KARE 11's senior online producer. "I mean who would do that?"
For Tim McNiff, it was a promotion from weekend sports anchor to morning show anchor that changed his career, "and that was something I didn't think of, that Tom did."
Lindner seemed to take special pride in bringing Minnesotans home from jobs in other parts of the country. Perhaps it was instinctive for a guy who grew up in St. Paul and graduated from the University of Minnesota.
Lindner met his future wife while they worked together at WCCO TV in the early 1980s - he as a newscast producer and she as an editor and weekend reporter.
Lindner guided the KARE 11 newsroom though several personnel transitions including the departures of popular anchors like Paul Magers, Pat Miles, Paul Douglas and Ken Barlow.
He also oversaw the collection of an impressive array of national awards, including Emmys and national Edward R. Murrow Awards.
On Lindner's final day at work, KARE 11 learned it had been honored with seven regional Murrow awards, placing KARE 11 in a tie for most in the country. Lindner fostered a culture of compelling visual storytelling as a means of connecting with viewers.
"If I've had a hand in keeping a level of quality at a place that gets kind of recognized not just by the viewers in this market but by people around the country, as a blanket statement that's the one that feels best," said Lindner.
Lindner also won praise from his employees for his open door policy. He frequently could be seen chatting with students or young professionals hoping to advance in television news.
Morning news anchor Kim Insley credited Lindner with helping her raise her kids by being flexible with scheduling. Often she said news people must decide, "what's it's going to be, your family or your job. We never had to make that decision, because he always made it easy for us to do both."
Yet change is inevitable. Television news directors have notoriously short tenures. Lindner's lasted longer than most, but his time to step aside finally arrived.
"I want the world to know this isn't a retirement," he said. "I don't feel at all that I'm done. I'm moving on because I've been asked to move on."
There will be no move yet to his Lake Superior hideaway, just a chance to catch his breath, savor his relationships and reflect on 19 years.
In a written statement, KARE 11 President and General Manager John Remes said Lindner "is leaving us in great shape to continue providing the news and information that our market expects from us."
On his last day at KARE 11, Lindner's employees would also add that he left the newsroom with class.
(Copyright 2011 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)