LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Barricades, brush fires, crime scenes — and of course, car chases.
If it’s worth pursuing by air, it’s more than likely the pursuer is Sky 2/Sky 9 reporter Stu Mundel.
He’s a big part of CBS 2 and KCAL 9’s coverage from the air.
His following goes far beyond the TV.
He’s on radio, a huge presence on social media and when his feet aren’t on the ground, he’s pursuing breaking news like it’s no one else’s business but his own.
Stu was recently named one of the Top 50 people to follow on Twitter in the LA area.
No surprise. His reports are informative, immediate and have become popular.
His Facebook following, for example, spikes to huge numbers.
We’re always asked: What does Stu do?
“My shift starts at 2 o’clock,” he says, “so I usually arrive around 2:15, joking” he says.
Stu and his crew are based out of an airport in the San Fernando Valley.
We recently spent two days tracking Stu’s every move to go behind the scene to see what it’s like to cover the news from above.
“I’ve been sitting here listening to (police) scanners all afternoon; it’s been really slow,” he said.
Slow doesn’t last long, of course.
While it’s often hurry up and wait, when the call comes in, Stu has to spring into action.
And it always starts with a phone call.
“What you’re hearing back there is how a pursuit starts,” he says.
It sometimes goes vice vera.
“If I hear something, it’s communication,” he says, “I call the desk. Or the desk calls me.”
He’s told by our assignment desk that the LAPD is in the process of following a silver Maserati. And Stu is off.
“Sweet, we’re on our way, bye,” he says.
In a minute, he and the crew are up and away.
“When you do breaking news, that’s really what it’s all about,” he says, “You gotta get there and you’ve gotta get that stuff on tape because once it’s happened that’s it, there’s no take two.”
Is Stu superstitious? Not much. Unless you count his lucky headsets.
“Had them as long as I’ve been flying,” he says.
When he’s flying, he’s not alone in the chopper.
“I do not fly the helicopter,” he explains. “I am the camera. I’m all about getting the shots that really truly is the deal.”
Keeping Stu safe is the pilot, Marco.
“We both work hard to make the best of the situation,” Stu says. “Marco is keeping us safe, and I’m trying to make sure we get the best pictures.”
And that he does. With excited passion.
“Every time I do a pursuit, I will get into it. When I have those expressions like the Whoooo Hoooooo!”
There’s also the Whoa and the Wooo and the Whoa, Oh, Oh.
And for good measure, he smiles, he will pull out the “whoaaaaaahoooooo.”
It’s likely why viewers feel connected when Stu’s reporting.
“People ask me if this is my dream job,” he says. “I never dreamed about it, but I enjoy every aspect of it. I’m very blessed to be here and I love the team.”