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Weekly Features
Life in the Small Market
A collaborative weekly feature, Life in the Small Market offers up thoughts and views from small town broadcasters across America.
Aubrey Aquino is a reporter for KPNX in Phoenix, AZ. She's worn many hats in the broadcast business, from writer/producer to anchor/reporter. Before moving to the desert, Aubrey was delivering traffic reports in her homebase, the Bay Area, CA for KTVU and KGO Radio and before that, KNTV. Other outlets she's worked for include, TechTV, ESPN, KOBI, KMAX and KOVR. Another accomplishment unique to Aubrey is her experience dancing on the sidelines for 3 professional sports teams. To learn more about Aubrey or to drop her a line, visit her website

Remembering Medford!

Medford, Oregon is a self-described retirement community, where the average age of residents is 55, otherwise known to television journalists as “Market 141”. It is a starting point for many aspiring broadcasters, and the place where I found my first on-air job in November 1999. I was hired as a weekday reporter, but I never worked that position. My first assignment was on the morning show, eventually I ended up as its anchor.

The experience seems so long ago now, that I can’t believe I was ever there! My days began early in the morning, producing and anchoring the morning news, sometimes even running the prompter for myself. Then I’d hunt down or pitch my story of the day, gear up with my camera, tapes, mic’s, lights, etc… and one man band it. A typical day called for at least one story packaged and maybe a VO or VO/SOT too. So everyday after filming my footage, getting the interviews and writing the script, I had to sit down and edit. The best was shooting my own stand-ups! I didn’t mind the one-man band part so much, but it was hauling around equipment that would get me so tired and frustrated, that by the time I white balanced and set the camera shot for an interview, I was just hoping the lighting was good enough and that the person I was interviewing didn’t move out of the frame.

It wasn’t too bad for me, living in small town Oregon. A six-hour drive north of the Bay Area, it wasn’t very far from home. But one of the most challenging tasks was dealing with my peers at the station. Here we were, all in the same boat. You had two groups. Those who had been there for a long time and didn’t plan to leave the market, and then the constant turn over of young reporters, not far removed from college with minimal on-air experience. Before working in Medford, I’d had worked in a few other newsrooms in larger markets, so I thought I knew what to expect. The most troubling aspect of the newsroom dynamic, was the overall lack of camaraderie among my fellow reporters. I figured we were trying to do the same thing, gain valuable experience, and sharpen our skills, to move on to bigger and better opportunities. Instead I felt like I had to deal with constant scrutiny of co-workers who always had something to say, and 9 times out of 10, it wasn’t positive.

I found it hard to respect their unsolicited criticism, and that environment was pretty unsettling, because not only were you tough on yourself, doing whatever it took to make great tape, but others seemed to want to pull you down…when in reality we were all on the same level. Episodes like that caused me to re-evaluate my situation and what I wanted at my 23 years of age. I don’t know if it’s the same scene in other small shops, but eventually I decided it wasn’t for me and I left. It was tough to leave a low-paying job that could’ve set me on the traditional path to climb the broadcast ladder into bigger markets. However, when I took a good look at my lifestyle versus career at that point in time, my happiness, sanity and being geographically close to family and friends meant more to me, and I made the compromise.

So I left Southern Oregon and returned to the Bay Area. I picked up work writing and producing, but eventually found a spot on-air in radio, doing news, traffic and sports updates for Metro Networks, about a year after my return home. There I even learned to report from the window seat of a fixed-wing Cessna high in the sky, and enjoyed using an alias over the airwaves. Then one day, the timing was right and I got a call that put me back on TV. The Bay Area’s NBC station needed someone to come in for their vacationing traffic reporter, and I fit the bill. My weeklong stint there led to a regular afternoon gig.

I believe patience and persistence were the true keys to me finding my present fulltime morning news spot in Phoenix. Sure, I’m a traffic reporter and sometimes we don’t get as much credit as we deserve. Who else can cultivate and produce their reports within minutes, sometimes seconds and adlib a fresh report every news block? I have memorized the look and direction of dozens of cameras posted along the highways and I can tell you which way points north or south, east and west. If my friends get lost or need directions, they know who to call. I don’t think the Phoenicians are quite ready to accept the fact that traffic in the Valley is now a part of life…and no, I’m not trying to work my way up. Coming from California, where the status of a traffic reporter ranks a little higher, I’m happy to have my niche.

The past 15 months in the desert have been good to me. I’ve been able to also create a role for myself in my station’s sports department, as a freelance reporter. This past fall, I enjoyed a full season as a reporter/host on our high school football show. I never envisioned a television career telling people about commute conditions or delivering live shots from a high school house party, celebrating a football team’s victory, but that’s how it’s worked out. Who knows where the career path will take me from here, but I’m good for the ride and confident that wherever I end up, is where I’m supposed to be.