KINGWOOD — Kingwood Elementary kindergartener Levi Kisner’s dad is not the guy whose presentation on career day you want to follow.
That’s because Christopher Kisner won an Emmy for his work in the 2016 Summer Olympics. And he brought it to career day Friday.
Kisner, 35, works for NBC now as a camera operator, but years ago he attended school in these same halls. And he, his wife Michelle and Levi still call Kingwood home, though last year Christopher spent 211 nights in hotels and flew about 120,000 miles.
The son of Joel and Nancy Kisner of Kingwood, Christopher Kisner is a 2000 graduate of Preston High School. That’s also the year he began working for ABC, after a family member who worked as a “cable puller” got hurt at his graduation party and recommended Kisner to step in for him.
“I turned 18 the day of the game on my first show, which was in Canton, Ohio, the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game,” he said.
At the end of the night, he was offered a job, if he was willing to ride the truck, rather than fly.
He was “awestruck,” he recalled of that first game, which also happened to be in the highly rated Monday Night Football slot.
“And just to see how many people — the crew was about 180 people — for a game and just to see how much money is sunk into it, and the size of the crew and everybody is rushing around and to see how somehow it all came together and became a television show,” he said.
He stayed with ABC through the 2005 football season, when they did Super Bowl 40 in Detroit. ESPN took it over then. NBC offered the entire crew a job, and Kisner accepted.
At the time he had begun shooting “city scenics” that are shot in advance and shown during the games. By 2014 he was doing camera work full-time.
“It’s just fun to see how everybody reacts differently to a camera,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun. You get to be really creative on some of the shows.
“The worst part of it is the 40 degree weather, pouring down the rain, and everybody’s stress factor goes up anyway when that happens.”
Since 2005 Kisner has also done the video headshots of players shown at the start of the show. That has turned out to be fun, he said. “For the most part I’ve probably met every player on every team we’ve covered.”
A WVU alumnus, having attended electrical engineering school there 2004-2008, he enjoys talking to former WVU players who made the big time.
He has always worked in sports. His favorite shows to do are poker shows. “It’s not live, so the stress factor is so much lower,” Kisner said. “And the players are fun to be around.”
Right now he’s preparing to work at the Kentucky Derby.
Despite the travel, Kisner prefers to maintain his residence in his hometown.
“I like it here,” he said. “I love the small town atmosphere. I spend so much time in all these big cities, and it’s nice to get on a plane and come home and leave it all there,” he said. “It’s a nice place to raise a family.”
Michelle Kisner, who was formerly of Youngstown, Ohio, compares Kingwood to Andy Griffith’s Mayberry.
“He enjoys the travel,” Michelle Kisner said.
And though he has the Emmy, there are things most people don’t know about the award. The entire technical team received one for its Olympic work, all 3,000 of them. And winners have to buy their statuettes for $485 each.
A sticker on the bottom of the statuette says that the Emmy remains the property of the Academy of Television Arts and Science National Academy of Television Arts and Science Academies. It cannot be sold or disposed of by him or his descendants, and must be returned in that case, and the academy will store it in the recipient’s honor.
Levi is nonchalant about the whole thing. His favorite sport to watch is horse riding, he said. He plays baseball and has a green belt in hapkido, a form of martial arts. And sometimes he takes pictures.
“I did a photo that was seriously funny last year,” he said. “But I’m not going to tell you what it was.”
Follow The Dominion Post on Twitter @DominionPostWV. Email Kathy Plum: kplum@dominionpost.