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People Talk: A conversation with Channel 4’s Ed Drantch

It didn’t take long for Channel 4 reporter Ed Drantch to leave his mark on local television news. His aggressive style of reporting has led to face-offs with belligerent building contractors and convicted sex offenders who operated a Halloween house in Lockport. Drantch even trailed tightrope walker Nik Wallenda to Florida.

Born and raised on Long Island, Drantch knew at a young age he wanted to be a television reporter. He studied communications at Oneonta College and graduated in three years. After college Drantch started at WNYW (Fox) TV in New York City, where he worked behind the camera as a Web reporter and producer. His first on-air job was in Harrisonburg, Va., where he worked for three years as a reporter, anchor and producer.

Drantch, 25, started at WIVB-TV in October 2011. Staffers there have a term for his in-your-face reporting style. They call it “Drantched.” The term was coined by former anchor Joe Arena.

People Talk: Have you always been such a pit bull?

Ed Drantch: I am aggressive. You’ve got to be. It’s the way I was brought up. My parents were always very frank with me, and I’m frank and aggressive when it comes to reporting.

PT: Did you stalk Nik Wallenda?

ED: I wasn’t like in his bushes. He’s a great guy, a brilliant artist.

PT: What about the building contractor you questioned in the pick-up truck?

ED: The one who left a pile of gravel in the middle of the street? How is that guy going to walk away from a reporter unscathed? He just dumped a pile of gravel and caused a bus to crash into a home. Do you watch “Scandal”? I like to channel my inner Olivia Pope when I’m on a story.

PT: Do you become emotionally involved in your stories?

ED: Yeah. I get so caught up I want to keep covering and covering – kind of like the Wallenda story. Some people didn’t like his stunt. People thought it was ridiculous. I thought it was so cool. The tether was stupid. There are seven generations of his family who have done this kind of thing. Watching him cross the wire through the mist of Niagara Falls, the screams from the Canadian side – it was like riveting. My heart was racing the entire time.

PT: Ed, you belong on stage.

ED: You’re very kind. It’s funny. My parents always said I belonged in the entertainment industry. I love my job, I do. I love being on camera.

PT: And I think you love Niagara Falls.

ED: I do. The mystery. The marvel. It’s so incredible. How did it get there? It’s so fascinating.

PT: How competitive are you?

ED: Very. I’m confident, but I have my weaknesses. I know I want to beat Channel 2.

PT: What could you do better?

ED: Oh my gosh. I think because of the position I’m in, I’m always rushing to the next story, trying to find things you immediately don’t see. There’s a lot of distractions and I need to focus more. I also think I need to talk less and listen more. I get nervous on a live shot. I freeze a little bit, and it takes every bit of willpower to power through. The red light goes on, and you’re on.

PT: What is the reaction from competing reporters?

ED: I’m always thinking about that because I know I can’t stand being beat. I try not to hog the interviewee. I hope people don’t think I’m an annoyance. I hope my questions are worthwhile, but I’m sure there are other reporters who are rolling their eyes at me. So be it.

PT: What do you do for fun?

ED: I eat, breathe and sleep news. I like to run. It clears my head. I love live theater. I’m just a TV nerd, really.

PT: How do you get your news?

ED: BuzzFeed. Twitter. I follow so many interesting reporters around the country to see their perspective on stories they cover.

PT: What was your first job?

ED: Working at Dunkin’ Donuts.

PT: What’s it like finding a job in the current market?

ED: I had such a hard time finding an on-air job right out of college. It’s hard even to find a second job. To come to Buffalo was hard. I wanted to work in Albany, and then I saw a Buffalo posting and the wheels started turning. I have a best friend from college who lives on Grand Island.

PT: What news issue in Buffalo deserves more attention?

ED: Crime. I think we aren’t getting a full picture of what happens in the city of Buffalo. One spokesman controls the entire voice of the city. When there’s a police issue or political issue, that burden is overload. There are so many unsolved crimes.

PT: Do you take your job home with you?

ED: Too much both emotionally and physically. I’ve got my iPad and I’m always reading. On an emotional level, good days are really good and bad days are really bad. I watch myself four or five times for critique. Is there a hole I’m missing? Could I have set a character up differently?

PT: Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?

ED: My dream is to be a network correspondent. I want to travel the world and find stories that are meaningful to people anywhere. Its sounds cliche but it’s true.

PT: If you weren’t a TV reporter, what would you be?

ED: A cruise director. I just went on my first cruise. It was so fun. We made friends with the cruise director. We went to St. Martin, St. Thomas and the Bahamas. It was so relaxing.

PT: What’s your secret vice?

ED: I love red wine.

PT: Tell me about your dog.

ED: Theo is super cute. He’s a miniature schnauzer. I got him for Hanukkah/Christmas. I’m Jewish. My boyfriend is not. I had schnauzers growing up.

PT: Describe your look.

ED: I like being trendy but professional. I’ll only wear white or blue shirts for work. I’m into sunglasses and shoes. Cuff links. Ties. I could die in a tie rack and be happy.