Goodbye, J.P.: Longtime sports director leaves KOB | KOB 4
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Goodbye, J.P.: Longtime sports director leaves KOB

Tessa Mentus
March 13, 2018 10:48 AM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- How do you sum up a nearly 25-year career?

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Here's the answer: a quarter of a century of football, basketball and baseball games, along with hours of poring through highlights and running from gym to gym to cover as many New Mexican athletes as possible.

KOB viewers and staff on Monday night said goodbye to longtime sports director J.P. Murrieta, who leaves the station to take a position at the New Mexico Activities Association.

Who better than to tell his story of spending more than two decades with KOB covering New Mexico sports than J.P. himself?

Read his letter below:

How did I get here?  A California kid in the desert?

It all started almost a quarter of a century ago.  I graduated Pepperdine University.  I accepted a job out of college at a small tv station named KOBF located in Farmington, New Mexico.  Truth be told, I didn’t even know there was a place called Farmington, New Mexico before I inquired about the job.  But when you’re fresh out of college and looking for work, you always say yes.  My goal was to talk about sports and I found a place that was willing to have me.  So I traded in the sun and the sand, for more sun and sand (just without the water).

Once I arrived in Farmington on a Friday evening, I found myself sitting in a Motel 6 (the hotel is still there) with everything I own down in my car.  I’m watching the Dodgers play the Expos (that’s how long ago it was) on ESPN.  I don’t know anyone in this town, don’t have a place to live and I start work on Monday.  Better get to it.

And I did.

It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life.  A newsman by the name of Scott Michlin welcomed me into his newsroom and the rest is history.  That’s how my career in New Mexico all started back in the summer of 1993.

Between then and now, I’ve seen so many amazing things in the sports world of New Mexico.  I was blown away to see a couple thousand people packed into gyms in the Four Corners to watch girls basketball.  Talk about passion!  I’ve seen some of the most fantastic finishes at the Pit, one of the most iconic college basketball arenas in the country.  I’ve been lucky enough to cover the Super Bowl, Winter Olympics, Indy 500, British Open (and have all of our camera equipemtn and my passport stolen…another story), MLB All-Star Game, bowl games, NCAA Tournaments, championship boxing matches, UFC title fights, and the list goes on and on.

The bottom line is I’ve been blessed.

I’ve been lucky enough to cover these events (and more!) and bring you along for the ride.

Ever since I announced I was leaving KOB, I’ve had numerous people/viewers/fans/friends thank me for all the work we’ve put into this job.  I should be thanking you.  All the kind thoughts and words really meant a lot…. I mean A LOT!  I joke with people that it was like being alive for your own funeral.  People had so many nice things to say it was truly unbelievable.

I would like to take a little of this space to thank some people of my own.

Thank you to Mike Burgess, our former General Manager.  Without him taking a chance on bringing me down from Farmington to Albuquerque this would have never been possible.

Thank you to my former news directors… and there have been a lot.  The vision of Brad Remington, the support of Chris Berg and the trust in me given by Michelle Donaldson have all allowed me to thrive.

Thank you to Tom Joles for being a great example of what a professional news person should be.  To this day, he is still the best news anchor in the business, no matter the market.  He’s an even better man and friend.

Thank you to Frank Mercogliano, who I both consider fair and funny (two adjectives I know he would appreciate in his job).

Thank you to Ray Birmingham, a man who does more for this state than anyone will know.

Thank you to John Traub and the Albuquerque Isotopes for being the perfect template of what a professional sports organization should be.

Thank you to all those coaches and competitors who were gracious enough to give me a little of their time.

Thank you, the viewers, for allowing me some of your time.

Thank you to all the athletes I’ve covered who’ve allowed me to share their accomplishments with others and tell their amazing stories.

Thank you to my wife and family for allowing me to continue to pursue my dream and passion.

Last, but certainly not least.  Thank you to Lee Faria.

Most people know him as the Lobo Insider (or the tall sportscaster who’s been at KOB even longer than I have).  I know him as the best teammate and co-worker anyone could imagine.  We’ve been together sitting feet away from each other for more than two decades.  He’s made me laugh and learn.  (I will write a book one day about all the behind the scenes workings of the tv industry and lessons to take away from this job.  When I do, Lee will be a large part of it… probably more than he would like, so I’ll save those stories for another time).

We live in a great state.  My kids were born here.  I was exposed to the snow and learned to ski and snowboard here.  I was introduced to some of the great golfing spots in the southwest.  I spent more than half my life in New Mexico.  I am proud of both the job I’ve done and the stories I’ve told.  I am proud to say I live and work in the Land of Enchantment.  It’s just time for me to move onto another chapter in my life.  That chapter involves the NMAA.  It involves telling more stories.  It involves making an impact on the lives of high schoolers.

I leave KOB with my head held high, thankful for the opportunity and excited about the next challenge.  While you won’t see me on tv as much, you’ll still find me in and around the local sports scene.

One of the best compliments I received in the past month was a random gentleman who came up to me at a Lobo game telling me he watched KOB every night and was sorry to see me go.  “This state is lucky to have you,” he told me.

No, it’s the other way around I thought.  I’m lucky to have New Mexico.

See you on the field.

Sincerely,

J.P. Murrieta

Credits

Tessa Mentus

Copyright 2018 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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