The Lesson A.J. Clemente Taught Van Tieu About Small Markets

By Kevin Eck 

In April 2013, Van Tieu had a front row seat to the end of an era in local TV.

KFYR’s new anchor A.J. Clemente was rehearsing his first read at the Bismarck, North Dakota NBC affiliate when he didn’t realize he was on-air and mistakenly started the newscast by saying said “fuckin’ shit.”

That was when Tieu discovered that all that advice she’d gotten over the years was wrong: small markets aren’t safe places to make mistakes anymore. The first and last time Clemente would anchor at a local station was now news all over the internet.

“People would tell me, ‘Go to a small market where you can make those types of mistakes and no one will see it,” Tieu told TVSpy. “That saying is so not true anymore. We can make a mistake in a small market like Bismarck and the whole world will see it.”

Tieu stayed at KFYR until August 2013. She had been flying back and forth to visit her father, who was given one week to live a week before she started at the Bismarck station in January. Her father held on long enough for Tieu to be with him in the San Francisco Bay Area before he died in November.

Tieu then went to work at KRNV in Reno for a couple of years. Now she’s freelancing at News12 Westchester. Before working at KFYR, Tieu was an associate producer of Piers Morgan Tonight at CNN in New York.

Despite what’s she’s learned about small markets, she has advice for others who want to follow her path, “I tell them it isn’t easy. They have to be really passionate and if they’re going to go the traditional small market route, really consider doing it while you’re young because as you get older, the sacrifices are that much greater.”

She said she’s lost contact with Clemente. The last time TVSpy wrote about him he was a media instructor in New York City.

Tieu says the whole Clemente episode taught her a lesson about how people are consuming their news now. “I think it was really a testament to how quickly things are changing in our industry.”

“It was one of those things,” said Tieu. “I expected mistakes to happen. But I didn’t expect that the whole world would see it.”