Samuel Northrup, Editor-In-Chief
Every Wednesday, from 5 p.m. until about 11:30 p.m., you can find Kyle Riecker working diligently to design the week’s edition of The Tangerine.
Starting in the 2016 fall semester, Riecker, honing his creative skills and knack for design, has been the mastermind behind the appearance of every printed copy of The Tangerine.
But after this week’s paper, The Tangerine’s longtime layout editor and guru of all things design will be retiring.
While readers can see the end result of the hard work and dedication that he has put into each of the 60 iterations of The Tangerine that he has designed, anyone reading this article should know about Riecker’s life outside of Utica College.
Beyond his role on The Tangerine’s editorial staff, Riecker, 35, works full-time as a senior secretary for UC’s Office of Educator Preparation and Psychology-Child Life while also pursuing a degree in public relations. He has written several long-form articles on topics ranging from food, cryptocurrency and history — one of which, titled “A bridge collapse, ball game and bravery remembered,” earned him first place in the Syracuse Press Club’s College Print Feature award category.
And he does it all while being a devoted father to his six-year-old daughter, Vivienne.
Despite his various responsibilities on campus, Riecker’s dedication to his family is unwavering, explained his wife, Siobhan Woods.
“He works full-time, he does The Tangerine, sometimes we don’t have the same schedule, so I admire that he is always willing to do some annoying kid activity,” Woods said. “Going to Billy Beez or on a hike with a toddler is not always fun, but he definitely wants to do that and take Vivienne out to experience things.”
Whether he is experimenting with new recipes in the kitchen, listening to Grateful Dead or reading books to his daughter, Riecker stays very busy at home, and Woods said that does not go unnoticed.
“He’s one of the only people I’ve ever met who I think is 100 percent genuine,” she said. “I feel like you sort of get an idea of who he is as a person within the first couple times you talk to him. He never hides [who he is] and is always an open book with people.”
Riecker joined The Tangerine after showing promise when taking Information Design, a course in the journalism major that is centered around digitally designing newspapers and other written forms of media for publication using the Adobe InDesign program.
Patricia Swann, a professor of public relations and journalism at UC, identified Riecker as an ideal candidate for The Tangerine’s vacant layout editor position. Beyond Riecker’s ability to understand the complexities of InDesign, what stuck out to Swann was his creative eye and eagerness to learn and build upon his skills.
“I think he also has that ‘no-fear’ aspect to his personality, and he’s the type who’s not afraid to [think outside the box and figures things out,” Swann said.
Three years later, Swann still comes away impressed when she sees Riecker’s work, which has been on display throughout the pages of every edition of The Tangerine he has designed.
“He tries to keep the design interesting but doesn’t forget the readers,” she said. “So, when you pick up The Tangerine, it’s easy to read yet interesting to look at. If you look at it carefully, he’s got a lot of interesting things going on, his use of color is very effective, so he’s not just doing the same thing on every page.”
Professor of Journalism Mary Christopher has been working with Riecker since the beginning of her first full academic year as The Tangerine’s faculty advisor in 2016.
“[Kyle] definitely helped develop a more sophisticated look [for The Tangerine],” Christopher said. “I can’t tell you how many times people have said to me, ‘This looks and feels like a real newspaper.’ He definitely gave it a true ‘newspaper look,’ and it always looks very sharp when I pick it up.”
From the beginning, Christopher could tell Riecker had the ability to “bring that creative flair to the paper.” By applying his own style and wit to each week’s design, Riecker has been able to strike a perfect balance between “hard news” and “being creative,” all while appreciating the “the history and legacy of The Tangerine,” Christopher explained.
But most of all, Christopher has been grateful for and impressed with Riecker’s dedication to the paper.
“It (Riecker’s dedication) is such a testament to the kind of person he is with being able to juggle all of his responsibilities,” she said. “Giving 100 percent when you have all of that on your plate is difficult, and it’s really commendable that he can do that and have everything turn out so well; he’s great at his job [in the education office], he’s an excellent designer for The Tangerine, he’s a family man, he wears a lot of hats and he’s successful.”
James McClendon was the first editor in chief of The Tangerine to work with Riecker.
On Wednesdays, McClendon would sketch out a rough version indicating where he wanted the week’s featured stories placed in the paper. From there, Riecker would turn McClendon’s sketches into a 12-page newspaper complete with color and photos.
Reflecting on his time with The Tangerine, McClendon said that Riecker was instrumental to the success of both the newspaper and his tenure as editor in chief.
“He wasn’t scared of taking chances and trying things,” McClendon said. “He hasn’t been doing this for 15 years; he was learning it as we were going along, and the fact that he was able to take risks with the way stuff was done, stuff that broke away from what we would normally do, only helped the paper and the staff.”
Now a reporter with the Utica Observer-Dispatch, McClendon explained that without Riecker there was “absolutely no way I get through that [first semester as editor in chief] if I didn’t have Kyle.”
“He’s a special guy,” McClendon said. “As editor in chief, my name was the one that people always saw, but 100 percent, especially that first year, Kyle was the MVP. Everything that was good about the paper was because of Kyle; it all stemmed from Kyle being who he is.”
Kyle, it is with a heavy heart that I write this note as we prepare to publish your last issue as layout editor of The Tangerine. Words — even in the form of Grateful Dead lyrics — cannot describe how appreciative I am of the time and effort you gave to this paper. There is no way I could have gotten through the last year and a half without your brilliant designs, dedication, and friendship.
All I can say is thank you — for being the best layout editor I could have asked for and, most importantly, for being a great friend.