Friday, December 7, 2012

The News Lady

This is a bitter sweet story I must share. 

It started many moons ago with a young girl and a dream. 

A dream that would take her to places she never dreamed of and places she does not want to go again. 

You see, as far back as I can remember this girl wanted to be a television news reporter. I mean what 10 year old kid asks Santa for a typewriter. I always thought I wanted to be a foreign correspondent until I realized the sacrifice it would take and by that I mean take me away from my family. 

(Little did I know then, a local news gal would spend plenty of time and many a holidays away from family. Brent and I celebrated every holiday for nearly four years at Waffle House.)

My broadcast career blossomed while in college anchoring the MCS News Team and shooting my video on a camcorder. You'll be happy to know my journalist integrity has come a long way since then, too. 

In college, I prepared a resume tape on VHS starring my college roommates and sorority sisters running stops signs. 

After college, I accepted my first television job. I remember like it was yesterday, telling my Dad I got offered a job in Panama City, Florida as its Chief Bureau Reporter in Marianna and they were going to pay me $15 thousand dollars a year. I was on my way to becoming the next Diane Sawyer. 

I remember my Mom drove me to Florida so I could pick up my news truck. (I cried the rest of the day, here I was 23 years old moving to a new state alone and about to embark on one of the hardest but most rewarding things I had done so far) 

The job was much harder than I anticipated, for several reasons. One of which, I was a newly wed, who would spend the next two years on call 24 / 7 hauling a camera, tripod and notepad around. There were days I thought I would never make my deadline...I would pace back and forth while I "fed" in my story. But looking back, that was one of the greatest times of my life. 

I also met one of my greatest friends, Natasha, she was my competition. "My Dawg" and I covered five counties of northwest Florida like it was nobody's business. 

While in Marianna I learned a lot about the news business; first, old women and metal pipes are not a good combination and will "kick your ass"...(her words not mine). I also learned what it is like to be taken to jail and that Honda's don't get near as good gas mileage as you would think. 

From Marianna, I headed to Florida's Capital City, Tallahassee. I would spend the next five years building my career and starting a family. Let me tell you, being on television is hard enough...but being pregnant and on TV. is even worse! 

Tallahassee will always hold a special place in my heart. Both my boys were born there, along with my career as a Television News Anchor. WCTV was my home away from home. I learned if it didn't make Frank Ranicky's socks go up and down it wasn't newsworthy and "who cares." It's also the place where I realized I had a talent...a knack for writing and for people. That confidence in my ability came from a coworker, Julie Montanaro. I will forever be grateful. 

Still, I dreamed of making it back home, of working for a television station my family could watch. That day came in November of 2007 when I landed a job with FOX 10. This of course meant my family would no longer be watching channel 5. 

I remember my grandfather introducing me to his neighbors like I was the Queen of England, or learning my Dad told everyone all about his "News Anchor Daughter." 

One of my first big assignments back home was the story of a man who threw his four kids off the Dauphin Island Bridge. To this day, I can't cross that bridge without thinking of them. 
I have seen a lot in my 12 years as "The News Lady" and heard even more. News has taught me it takes all kinds to make the world go round and that I am blessed beyond measure.

There are a lot of things I will miss about working in television; the rush of breaking news, my front row seat in a courtroom and my fellow journalist. People who work in news are one of a kind, with skin tough as least on the outside.

However, I will not miss trying to find a story, or people telling me..."You look different in person." And the next time someone says, "You look so familiar, do I know you?" I will be so tempted to tell them, "I am a stripper."

As I embark on this next adventure I will remember all news has taught me about life, loss and that I call pull 5 G's in an F-18 without throwing up!

Above all else, I will always cherish the friendships I have made along the way and hope that somewhere I made a difference...that because of me a voice was heard.