News The many lives of Jim Poston
By Jason W. Selby
Jan 10, 2014, 14:03
Jim Poston, class of 1978, hiking the foothills near Boise, Idaho.
Jim Poston is a man who has worn many hats. Opera singer. Actor. Television anchorman. Investigative journalist. Meteorologist. Non-traditional student. Professor.
“I scored the winning bucket against Southeast Warren in 1978,” Poston adds, referring to his days at Wayne Community High School. “I was a good basketball player—and I still play basketball. I was a starter on that team. We had a winning record. Southeast Warren was the favorite to win the Bluegrass Conference that year. We wanted to stop them pretty bad. We played them at the old gym here, and it got down to the last 20 seconds or so. Dave Wetzel threw up a shot and missed bad. The rebound went right into my hands, and I went back up with a shot, the winning score. It was a good thing he missed so bad.”
He is also a man of many degrees. After graduating from Wayne in 1978, Poston received a scholarship from and attended Indian Hills Community College in Centerville, and then earned a BA from the University of Iowa in 1982 in communication and theater arts. From there, he entered the prestigious music program at Simpson College.
“After that, I was wandering through the desert trying to figure out what was important to me,” Poston says. “And how I could best utilize my talents and skill sets.”
He secured voice and acting opportunities with exclusive opera companies around the country. After Simpson, in 1987, he landed at the Boston Conservatory of Music in Massachusetts. He graduated with a master’s degree in music from a program that was focused on opera performance.
“That’s where all my voice and acting training led me. The whole focus was acting and singing in the form of opera. That’s all we did. All the classes were geared towards that—becoming a successful performing artist.
“I spent much of my 20s doing a bunch of stage-related stuff. Then I reconfigured everything and reassessed my career goals and what I wanted to do, [to find something] even more interesting than what I had been doing.”
Poston took a long detour into television journalism. He worked at TV news stations for 16 years, in Massachusetts, Illinois, Texas, Des Moines and Idaho, as a news reporter and an anchorman. His first job was as a weatherman on the weekends, and reporting during the week. That led to an anchor position in Laredo, Texas.
“Loved that job,” Poston says. “I did that for six years.
“In my television news career there were numerous occasions when I emceed events, talked to school children, sang the national anthem for new Americans being sworn in, and for a bridge ceremony where dignitaries from Nuevo Laredo and Laredo met at the middle of the international bridge and exchanged gifts and greetings. Governor George W. Bush was in attendance for that.
“As a news reporter, I covered live events such as natural disasters, court verdicts and criminal activities. I won several awards for best investigative reporting in Lubbock, when I was the news anchor/reporter at KAMC-TV. In one particularly noteworthy story, I reported on a school board trip to New York City and Washington, D.C., in which the ‘public servants’ were caught spending huge amounts of money at expensive restaurants and sightseeing.”
Laredo is where Poston met his wife of 13 years, Dora. They got married in 2000. Dora graduated from Texas A&M International University with a double major in psychology and sociology.
In Des Moines, Poston worked for WHO Channel 13 as a weekend anchor and a weekend reporter. Eventually that job led him to another opportunity in Idaho.
“My wife and I took off for an anchor/reporter job in Boise on 9/11, when the towers fell. I was staying at a friend’s house in Des Moines after moving out of our apartment [the night before], and we were ready to take off the next day on Interstate 80. It was a good thing we hadn’t planned to fly there.
“That was a memorable trip. I started my new job five days later at a CBS affiliate in Boise. In addition to reporting, I anchored a 6:30 newscast that they were just starting. When that show was cancelled, I took it as an opportunity to go across town and work for the competition. I got a job with the ABC affiliate, and worked there for two and a half years.”
But Poston was not finished changing professions.
“At some point, I decided to move into teaching. So that was my third incarnation.”
Poston got in touch with a Boise community college, the College of Western Idaho. Sure enough, they had an opening—they were in search of a theater appreciation instructor.
“And of course I had done a lot of theater already, so I said what the heck. I’m going to dive in headfirst. It’s a brand new direction for me, something I’ve never done—let’s see how I do. I had a lot of experience, and the education to back it up. I just didn’t know how well I’d perform in the classroom.”
It was five years ago this January when Poston started his first teaching job. Though he was accustomed to an anonymous television audience, the classroom was different. Fortunately, he was able to draw on his years of experience acting and singing before live audiences.
“The difference was, in TV you’ve got a red light, and they’d be cueing you with their finger,” Poston says. “You don’t really see the audience.
“I loved it. I found out by the end of the first semester that I was at home teaching. I found out it was a strong skill set of mine, and that I liked one-on-one teaching. I liked the interaction with the classroom. All of that stage experience helped me to speak well before my class. You’ve got the same dynamic. Doing all that stuff in my 20s prepared me well for the classroom.
“I was able to combine a lot of the experiences that I had had—it was a synergistic concept, where the stage and media experience combined to help me become a really good teacher. At least I think I’m a good teacher—I got student evaluations today.”
The evaluations he received ranged from, “I will never forget Jim Poston’s acting class. Thank you for this wonderful experience,” to the much less profound, “I like pie. See you next semester.”
After his first year, Poston decided that he also wanted to teach communication, which took him back to his first college degree, while drawing on his media experience. He decided to return to college, at Boise State University, in January of 2010, embarking on a new academic career while he was still teaching—for practical reasons. The master’s degree would enable him to teach fulltime at the college level.
Poston finished his master’s thesis this past summer, about political advertisements on television during the 2012 presidential election. He graduated in August, and went through commencement in December.
“It was fun,” Poston says of his thesis topic. “I really sank my teeth into it.
“The fact I have 30 years of experience that I bring to the table is invaluable, because it really informs my lectures. I can tell people how it is and what I experienced personally. I will say this—my academic life is over. I’m not going to go get my PhD. Now it’s going to be the next 15 years teaching as a professor. We’ll probably be in Boise doing it.
“Now I’ve got two hats. I teach theatre—like acting, for example. I had my first acting class that I taught this semester. I’m teaching theater appreciation. At the other end of the spectrum, I’m teaching an intro to communication class at both the College of Western Idaho and Boise State. I stay pretty busy. I taught five classes this fall.”
In addition, Poston describes himself as a silent partner to his wife, Dora, who started a business—Family Services Center, in nearby Caldwell, Idaho—as a substance-abuse counselor five years ago.
“When we got out to Boise, Dora liked it so much she wanted to stay,” Poston says. “A few years ago, she said what the heck, I’m a good manager, I’m a good supervisor, I’m a good owner, I’m a good counselor. She’s also bilingual. There’s a population out there in need of substance abuse counseling, as there is everywhere. She’s had a lot of success with that business. She started out with three people, and now she has 15 employees.”
His wife more than returns the support Poston has given to her the past few years.
“If it wasn’t for Dora, I wouldn’t have been able to go back and get my degree. It provided us with stability, and she’s been my emotional rock. I adore her and love her so much. It’s nice to have a partner love and support you as you’re going back to college at the age of 50.”
When asked if his wife provides Poston free counseling, he replies flatly, “No.”
Another hat Poston wears is assistant animal philanthropist.
“We don’t have kids, but we’ve got lots of cats,” Poston says. “There’s never a dull moment with lots of cats. Then we’ve got a 100-pound black lab, Van Gogh.
“My wife brings some of the cats home that might die otherwise. We purchased a property in Caldwell, an empty lot with an alleyway with only one access, in between a Jack in the Box and a residential area. It creates space for Dora to trap cats, and she takes them to the vet and gets them spayed or neutered. That’s her way of contributing to the community, to help keep the cat population down.”
Dora Poston has converted this lot into a cat sanctuary she calls ‘Kitty’s Secret Garden.’
“It’s a non-profit, and she takes donations. Then the cats have a place to stay—she’s built some lean-tos and sheds, shacks and shelters. It gets down below zero. We just finished a big shed project. It was a joint effort, and she’s real proud of that.
“They call it the high desert, and the temperature is more mild than it is in Iowa. 36 degrees in January is the normal high. We’re at 2,700 feet in a valley area. The ski resort is right out of town—you go up the foothills to about 7,000 feet.
“We’ve got a nice house. We like the area, and Dora’s invested so much time and money into her counseling business.
“I’d rather be happy and poor than making $80,000 a year and working a stressful job,” Poston adds.
His brother, John, and his dad journeyed out last July to Idaho for a visit. They took a long, winding road trip to enjoy the mountain lake scenery—one of the things Jim Poston loves most about his home.
“It was good to get that experience with Dad.”
When the weather is pleasant, he enjoys going to the foothills and jogging on the many trails. The people are friendly there, though Boise is a major metropolitan area of around 600,000 people.
Poston’s parents are long-time residents of Corydon. T.C. (Dode) Poston was a lawyer, with his office on the southwest corner of the square, and Jim’s mother, Marjean, was an elementary school teacher for Wayne. They have been married for 62 years.
“My parents have lived here since 1952. I came along in 1960. Dad had a pretty successful law practice, Mom was a teacher for 34 years before she retired in 1992. So we’ve got roots deep in this community.
“I love Corydon. I lived here for 19 years. The friends and family, the people I grew up with, what I learned, the customs, the traditions, the friendliness. The happiness that I had here—it’s priceless. I wish every child could have that.
“Corydon means a lot to me. I’m extremely proud of my heritage and the fact that we have a real community here.
“It may not be the richest place on earth, but the people are great. People are loyal, people are honest. People make sure there is a connection—there’s a lot of small talk that keeps everyone connected. In the city, everybody walks around in their own little bubbles. There’s no meaningful interaction, often.
“And it’s just the opposite here. You have a connection with the people—and that’s what life’s about, the connections we make with other human beings. That’s probably the best thing about Corydon.”