Off the Cuff with Claiborne: Rene Knott
Many of us start our days with the familiar face and voice of Rene Knott, morning anchor at KSDK-TV. The veteran broadcaster is recognized for his knowledge and candor, but also for his sartorial polish. T&S got an inside look at his formative years, sense of style and what he loves about St. Louis.
How long have you been with Channel 5, and what led up to that?
I’ve been there 16 years. I started in 1987 in Medford, Oregon, doing weekend sports. I was there for a couple years, then went down to Mobile, Alabama. Then I went to D.C. in 1992 as the weekend guy. That lasted for about two months, then I became the regular evening anchor and was there until 2004.
You’ve been here longer than anywhere else and watched your family grow here. That’s got to be a fun thing for you and your wife.
It’s incredible. My son was born in Mobile, then we moved to D.C. and my daughter was born there. When we came here, we didn’t know what to expect. It has been a great experience family-wise because the neighborhood where we live is very strong. My son went to Wash. U. and my daughter went to Mizzou. It’s been outstanding to see them go from learning how to walk to being full grown adults leading their own lives.
They are old enough to be parents, so you are eligible to be a grandfather here soon.
Hey, keep that to yourself. Everyone always gives me a hard time about whether my daughter is going to get married. I say, not on my watch!
What are some of your best Father’s Day memories as a son?
My dad was an old-school guy from Springfield, Ohio, who joined the Navy and moved out to California. He wasn’t one to really be affectionate or show a lot of love, but we knew he cared because he always provided for us. When you’re younger, you go to the drugstore and get him a bottle of cologne or a tie and make him a card for Father’s Day. He probably kept it all in a drawer and had it all the way up to the day he passed away.
What did he teach you?
Memories of my dad have a lot to do with the man I got to hang out with after he retired. Those are the times I cherish the most because it was man-to-man. There were relatable conversations like, “Dad, how should I handle things with my own son?” He was the strongest person I ever met. No one had a greater influence on my work ethic and who I am today. I watched him work so hard for so long at UPS, and I understood that if you want to provide for your family, you’ve got to do it yourself.
Do you have corny dad gifts in your drawer as well?
No, my kids know Dad is a little more fashionable than that. They’ll band together with my wife and get me something like a watch or a good bottle of whiskey. I do still have the pottery and gifts they made for me in elementary school.
What messages have you taken away from the pandemic situation?
It’s not about me and my woes. It really is about all of us being in this together. I’ve watched the Urban League giving away $1 million worth of food, and just the fact that people out there are taking time to make sure others are comfortable is amazing. I thought for a long time that we had lost touch with those things, but now I think we’re going to be OK. People are showing an overwhelming amount of compassion for others.
What do you miss most that you used to do before the pandemic?
Being able to stop and eat lunch at one of our wonderful local restaurants. I’d go and get a hamburger and a beer, kick back and relax. I also miss going over to Busch Stadium for a ball game, and getting a beer on Friday with friends after work. I know restaurants are opening back up, and it’s not that I can’t go; I’m just not ready to. I will say that I’m cherishing home time a lot more than ever now.
What is your signature style?
I enjoy wearing a patterned or plaid jacket and slacks that are solid. I love a white shirt because it’s crisp and clean and any tie goes with it. I’m not a guy who likes to wear suits; there’s more versatility with a jacket and a pair of pants. I love mixing up the shoes; I’ve got a pretty decent collection now, and a lot of ties, though I’ve kind of slowed down on them lately because some of them can be a little too bold. I’d rather have the jacket play the bold part.
What’s your traditional weekend hangout garb?
Lately I’ll wear black or brown loafers, blue jeans, a black T-shirt, my diamond cross around my neck and a big watch. I wear a beaded bracelet on my other wrist. I have a few other T-shirts with designs on them, but I prefer black. I just like to be comfortable—that’s my main thing.