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KARE 11 editor and resident historian Jeff Kraker brings Minnesota's stories back into the light

Kraker has worked at KARE 11 since 1985 and in that time, has held many jobs. Sometimes, you can find him in the "tape loft" looking through Twin Cities history.

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. — Do you ever meet someone once and years later think, 'What ever happened to them?"

Jeff Kraker is a KARE 11 employee you’ve never seen. You can sometimes find him in between the aisles of KARE 11 history.

"I mean I guess when I go through here and look, it kind of jogs my memory," Kraker said.

"I came here in 1985," he said. "It's a blessing and it's like a learning crucible to be around all these great stories that are just happening and have happened throughout my career here," Kraker said.

Kraker has held many jobs at KARE 11 as one of its longest-serving employees. These days, he’s a lead editor and whether he embraces the title or not, he's also quite a historian, organizing items that were once at the forefront of technology in the "tape loft" in the KARE 11 studios.  

The extra time he spends up there sometimes means he stumbles upon stories he can’t forget.

"It's really a window in time," Kraker said. "The Hmong series that was done, I mean, that was really great in ‘94 and ‘98 and I always thought 'Whatever happened, you know where are those people now?'" he said. "It sort of becomes part of who you are, you know, because you're seeing reality and life being captured in real time but then also once that happens it's history."

History that he takes in his hands and feeds to a prehistoric machine downstairs.

"This is some shots from '99, '98," Kraker said. "I would play this, record it, and digitize it into our systems over there."

Soon enough, what’s old is new again. Kraker then floats the footage to people at the station he thinks might find the stories interesting. Then, sometimes, the history bug bites a curious reporter.

"It's like a continuation story you know and it's an immigrant story and they certainly were refugees and came to Saint Paul and it's an American story," he said. "I guess I've never thought of myself as a historian," Kraker said. "It's a little bit like man I should've paid more attention kind of thing or maybe I should've written it down." 

Tune in Monday night at 10 on KARE 11 to hear more about the Hmong families who came to Minnesota, and where they are today. 


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