BY JANET MANDELSTAM
The words “frequent flyer” don’t begin to describe Jay Kincaid.
Every weekend the award-winning director at WTIU racks up the miles between Indianapolis and New York where, depending on the season, he directs television programs for Major League Baseball (MLB) and the National Football League (NFL).
It’s a quick roundtrip. He sets out at 10:30 am Saturday, catches a flight to New York, finds a car waiting to take him to the MLB Network, attends Saturday Mass (he’s going to be very busy on Sunday), then directs two shows on Saturday night. Sunday, he’s at CBS by 5 am, then on the air from 9 am to 1 pm directing That Other Pregame Show, a lead-in to NFL coverage for the day. And then it’s back to the airport.
Of the work, Kincaid says, “I’ve been doing this a long time, and I really enjoy it.” Of the travel, he’s less enthusiastic. “That’s where the angst comes in, being away from my family. I’m that guy always looking for the last flight out to get me home as quickly as possible.”
Back home in Bloomington during the week, Kincaid directs two shows for WTIU: The Weekly Special, a cultural affairs program, and the children’s show The Friday Zone, which won a second consecutive regional Emmy this year.
That Emmy was the second for Kincaid in 2013—the other was for MLB Tonight—and joins eight more in his collection. He’s modest about the accolades. “They’re all group awards. I’m part of a team; when a show wins, we all win.” Nor do the statuettes occupy a lofty perch at home. “When my kids were little, they would stick clothes on them.”
A graduate of Bloomington High School North and IU, Kincaid grew up on a farm outside of town. An internship in Philadelphia while he was a telecommunications student at IU set his career in motion. The World Series was in Philadelphia, and NBC, which was broadcasting the series, needed some help. Kincaid was hired, and that was it. “I never thought I’d go into sports,” he says. “I always thought I’d get into news, but it just didn’t happen.”
Kincaid continued to work for NBC, worked for the National Basketball Association for 17 years, and has been a director at college basketball’s Final Four and at ten Olympic Games. He met his wife, Jennifer, then a sportswriter, at the 1988 games in Seoul, South Korea.
Kincaid was comfortably settled in New York when his father was killed in a farming accident in 1998. “That’s when I decided it was time to come home,” he recalls. He took a job at WTIU but national sports still beckoned, and Kincaid quickly became the weekend traveler he is today.