Defenders Newsletter: Behind the camera with KSAT photojournalist Dale Keller

Dale Keller (KSAT)

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Welcome to the latest KSAT 12 Defenders newsletter, where we take you behind the scenes with our investigative journalists.

This time you’re going to meet another important and essential member of our investigative team who’s a study in contrast and character.

Off-Camera: Dale Keller

A show of hands here ✋

How many people know a real-life rancher — someone who works daily with horses and cows and barbed-wire fences — and is ALSO a journalist, a photojournalist, a video editor, a graphic designer, and an investigator, a man whose daily work helps solve the “Gordian knots” of red tape and con-jobs that regular folk in these irregular times are often trapped in?

Anyone... No?

Well, meet Dale Keller, a part of the KSAT Defenders team.

He’s how you would imagine — quiet, stoic, always maintains an even keel, spots what others missed, says what he means.

He’s the kind of guy that makes Ivy League graduates nervous. Not that he does anything to bring it on. He’s just, without a doubt, authentic.

(Staggs Photography)

But his silence isn’t due to a lack of testimony. For example, he thinks journalism goes way back. Try 40,000 years back.

“Those paintings on cave walls, of deer, of animals” he says, “that was someone recording history, what happened that day. And that’s kind of what we do — we’re daily historians.”

Dale has seen some history: Every Spurs championship game, nearly every political convention, all in the 30-plus years he’s worked at KSAT. That’s right, THIRTY. He walked through our doors as an intern, got hired, and never left.

Eventually, Keller joined the Defenders where he enjoys the comradery and craftsmanship that comes with doing big projects.

“It’s a privilege,” he says, “to be a member of the team and work on and really investigate problems and make a difference for people.”

One of Dale’s biggest impacts on San Antonio was getting the city to deal with its homeless problem, human beings, the lost, using the sidewalk for a bed.

So, Dale and the KSAT crew put together a one-hour special in 2005 that pulled no punches, viscerally placing the audience in the worn shoes of these destitute people.

The result?

The creation of San Antonio’s nationally known “Haven for Hope,” a massive shelter with comprehensive services to treat the variety of problems that underlie the phenomenon, helping some clients regain their sense of self and even find ‘a home’ again. “The city woke up,” he says with a smile.

Dale and crew followed up in 2019 with another investigative special about the realities of homelessness in San Antonio.

(KSAT)

But Dale says there are also other memories that come with the job: Sad, immutable, and still, because they involve children.

“They were in every direction,” he remembers.

The auto accident spread a car full of small kids across an intersection, scattered like leaves on asphalt, the EMTs hovering over them, applying CPR on their small chests, over and over and over again, refusing to stop.

“That’s an image that doesn’t go away,” he said. “It sticks in your head.”

This is where is his “other career” comes in handy: Working the ranch. “The contrast is way different,” he says.

The spread has been in his family for more than a hundred years and is now his sole responsibility. But he welcomes it.

“I mean the cattle, being on a tractor….you need to do the total opposite,” he says compared to the sometime-frenzy, sometime-chaos of a news station.

“Sometimes you need to do the total opposite,” he says. “It’s nice.”

“But it’s always something.”

Thank you for reading,

David Raziq, Executive Producer


Watch some of Dale’s recent work:


Like this newsletter? Read a profile of another KSAT Defenders photojournalist, Joshua Saunders, here.


Read more Defenders investigations:


About the Author:

David Raziq is the executive producer for the Defenders investigative team.