Making The First Move
on anything and everything you can get your hands on. Specialize
That was the advice I got from a successful on-air personality
when I finished college and was trying to break into the biz.
And I did it. By the time I applied for my first small market
job I had sports, I had entertainment, I had news, I had politics
all on tape. I never turned down one assignment.
After I graduated from college in Northern Virginia, my former
boss Entertainment Tonight's Mark Steines offered me a job
as his assistant. A farm boy from the midwest that has worked
his way up from small markets...he served as a mentor..preparing
me for my next job. I worked at ET and as a reporter for CitiCable
3 in Torrance. In February I got an offer to join CBS affiliate
KMEG-TV in Sioux City, IA as a reporter/relief-anchor. Within
a week I called to reserve a Ryder truck and alerted my landlord
that I wouldn't be paying the rent next month. I packed-up
my life on the beach...unpacked my winter boots and was soon
whistlin' Good-bye Hollywood...here I come Heartland!
Financially, I look back and don't know how I was able to
do it. I couldn't afford a hotel...so I slept in the Ryder
truck both nights on the road- and Utah was COLD! I didn't
even have a place to live. It would be my first time in the
midwest but I was ready to grab it by its antlers.
At KMEG I produce, shoot, write and edit my stories on strict
time constraints everyday.KMEG's news coverage spans the tri-state
area of IA, NE and SD. Everyday I attempt to tailor my story
to the interests of three states. Here, It's meat-packing
country and the corn fields run to the ends of the Earth.
Finding ways to make my story interesting...is a challenge
The first day of war with Iraq happened during my starting
week. That day I was given the lead story...and finished editing
at 6:01 pm. One minute after the launch of our live newscast.
I missed my slot and shuffled the whole show's rundown out
of order. Needless to say that earned me an immediate appointment
in the chair across from my news director's- and I have NEVER
missed a slot since.Here you don't live and learn. You just
learn and learn.
I often produce and anchor the morning cut-ins and they weren't
joking when they say in a small market you do it all. From
5 am to 9 am it's me and the master control guy and he doesn't
count...he's usually half asleep with left-over doughnut in
his 'stache. I produce, write and deliver updates every half
hour. I even run my own teleprompter. You should have seen
my first shot at it- as my news director puts it, he should've
asked if I could walk and chew gum at the same time when he
Sure I miss the beaches, the gala events....my hometown on
the outskirts of the nation's capitol...but I like small town
living. Here I am gaining confidance and can make very forgiving
mistakes. I've gone blank on my live shots... forgot to ask
the BIG question...and have even totally missed the boat on
stories. But all the practice is making me better.
Under the tutelage of veteran journalists I am asked to raise
my game everyday and I take them up on the challenge. Because
my fingerprints are all over the stories I turn, I strive
to deliver the best news product possible. My move to Iowa
has been a complete professional and cultural education. Twelve
hour days never felt so good. How many people can honestly
say they enjoy coming into work on their day off. I'm building
skill and taking advantage of a place I that only the career
of journalism could take me. Taking that road has made me
realize that it doesn't matter where I am if I am doing what
I love- and really when it comes down to it the buffalo are
great and the tractor square-dancin's a hoot!