Kingston and area residents wake up every morning to be greeted on TV by a Niagara-on-the-Lake native.
In 2010, fresh out of Niagara College’s broadcasting program, Maegen Kulchar was hired as a weekend reporter and videographer for CKWS TV in the Limestone City. She quickly worked her way up the ranks in both television and radio, and two months ago, took over as one of the hosts of Global News Morning Kingston.
She and co-host Bill Welychka, a Welland native, greet viewers at 6 a.m., Monday to Friday. The program is a three-hour mix of local, national and international news. Kulchar and Welychka tie it all together with light-hearted banter, and a friendly, gregarious approach. The new role for Kulchar suits her perfectly.
A member of one of the last graduating classes at Niagara District Secondary School, Kulchar enrolled at Niagara College after earning a degree in film studies, with a minor in communication, from Ottawa’s Carleton University. Her degree gave her advanced standing at Niagara, and Kulchar finished the three-year program in two years.
While studying at Niagara, she volunteered at community channel TVCogeo (now YourTV Niagara). As a reporter for The Source, she worked alongside staff members who taught her the ins and outs of covering local events.
“It was great,” says Kulchar. “I definitely got an insight into what it’s like when you get a job after school. The people there were so nice to work with and volunteer with. It was a really, really positive experience.”
Taking advantage of her snowbird grandparents living part of the year in Florida, Kulchar applied for and was offered an internship at Fox 35 in Orlando for her final year at the college. What was supposed to be a three-month stay turned into twice that, and she credits the experience there for building her on-air skills.
“I got a bit of everything there,” she says. “I followed reporters, spent a week with weather, a week with the production assistant, and I kind of found my way that way. It was really interesting how they do things down there.”
The exposure to all areas of the Fox News team suited her well when she began in Kingston. Her original role as a weekend reporter meant she focused on fun stories, covering local events and lifestyle topics. Just months into that part-time gig, though, she was offered a full-time job, and she became a fixture in Kingston.
Her role began to expand, as well. Over the years, Kulchar has filled in for the assignment editor and has helped produce the 6 and 11 p.m. news, and the morning show. She has also taken on weather reporting for all their broadcasts, and by her fifth year there she was being asked to fill in as a news anchor.
“The station has let me try out everything,” she says. “All that filling in gave me a lot of opportunity to grow and learn, and finally to this full-time job as morning anchor.”
Kulchar’s parents, Larry and Luanne, beam with pride when considering their daughter’s success.
“It’s pretty exciting,” says Luanne, “to know that your child has gone through all this schooling, university and college and internships, and actually made it in the field that she studied in. She decided what she was going to do. She worked hard and took a chance there, and she made it.”
“The jobs were few and far between,” remembers Larry, “and we told her, even though the Kingston job was part-time, you have to go where the jobs are. She did, and it worked out, she can do almost anything in that CKWS atmosphere.”
Her work days are busy. Kulchar arrives at the studio each day at 5 a.m. “I head into the radio booth,” she says, “and write and voice the radio news for our two stations we have. Then we look for new news through social media and email, then we edit video if we have to. After a morning meeting, we get on the air at 6 o’clock, and we’re on until 9.”
She continues. “After that, what we’ve been doing with COVID, we tape our interviews, do any editing that is needed. Then we do news breaks, and after that, myself and the producer put together the noon newscast, and at noon I do that newscast.”
Her husband, Adam Bergeron, a sales associate for Global’s parent company, Corus Entertainment, takes on the morning duties at home, getting their children, Briana, four, and two-year-old Weston, fed and off to school and daycare. Kulchar’s schedule allows her to take on the after-school parental duties, and she’s there for their bedtime.
Kulchar’s parents are both in awe of their daughter’s ability to juggle the job with her home life. “She is an amazing mother,” says Luanne. Larry adds, “she’s well-disciplined, and understanding, and she spent so much time teaching them at home before Briana started school this year.”
The former competitive university swimmer met Bergeron while playing softball in Kingston. He grew up in nearby Perth, so has family connections in the area. The young family made the trip back to NOTL for Thanksgiving weekend recently, where the kids had a chance to play with uncles Dan and Matthew. Before the pandemic, Larry and Luanne would alternate trips monthly with Adam and Maegen, but that hasn’t been possible since March. FaceTime calls have helped bridge the distance, but the long weekend was their first chance to get together in months.
Though she admits driving away from her childhood home Monday felt bittersweet, Maegen says Kingston feels like home to her now. And the city is not that different from NOTL.
“Both are on the water, which is nice, we both have a unique downtown, and it’s a tight-knit community in Kingston,” reflects Kulchar. “I’ve been here 10 years, and you kind of know everybody. It doesn’t feel like a big city to me, which is nice. Back in the day, I would have loved to live in Toronto, but now, looking back, I’m glad I made the move to Kingston. It’s a big enough city, but it has that small-town feel.”
Kulchar never expected to take on the morning anchor job so soon at CKWS. She assumed she would need to move to a larger market to progress to that position. The previous morning show co-anchor, though, decided to take a different career path, opening up the slot for Kulchar.
“I had been filling in for the role for three months prior,” she explains. “So to get the full-time position, I felt that I accomplished one of my goals. It’s definitely a really great feeling.”
Kulchar values the growth CKWS has allowed her, but she doesn’t rule out an eventual move to another market. “If the right job came along, then it would be a possibility,” she admits. “Doing the morning job right now, this is a pretty good place to stay, but this is the type of job where you kind of always keep your eyes open to what’s out there.”
The full-time studio job means that Kulchar isn’t getting out into the community as much as she had been through the years. But she’s happy that she can continue to make a difference in people’s lives by telling their stories on air.
“One of my main goals in this has always been to be able to help people who are in a jam,” she says. “With anchoring, I’m not out there getting the stories, but I am informing people about what’s going on in the community and the world, so in that sense I feel that I am making a difference.”
Back here in NOTL, Luanne turns to her computer just before 9 a.m. each day, and visits the CKWS website to watch her daughter host the show. Kingston residents aren’t the only ones witnessing Maegen Kulchar making a difference.