Jerry’s Blog: Like Father, Like Daughter

jerry hayes

   I tried to talk her into being a nurse, but she wouldn’t listen. She wanted to go into journalism, television news instead. And now, I’m glad she did. She can still make a difference in someone’s life. And to me, there’s no better compliment than for your child to follow in mom or dad’s footsteps.

   When my youngest daughter headed off to the University of Alabama, it didn’t take her long to decide she wanted to be a journalist. She’d always been a pretty good writer. I made up my mind I wasn’t going to try to change her mind. I’d done that with her older sister. I told Leigh it was a tough business that called for long hours and sometimes takes you away from family and important events in life. She became a teacher instead. And I think she’ll be the first to tell you she’s doing what she should be doing. But when Megan told me what she wanted to do, I did everything I could to encourage her to follow her dream. I thought she might wind up writing for Southern Living magazine or news releases for a company. But I guess TV news was in her blood.

   Several weeks before graduating from UA, she called me and I could tell she was worried about the future. The past two years, she would call me when she was walking back to her apartment from the studios of WVUA on campus where she was interning and helping shoot, write and edit for the nightly newscast. I could hear the excitement in her voice. She was getting her feet wet in Tuscaloosa TV news and at the same time, she was concerned about graduating and not being able to find a job. I told her to not worry. I told her to enjoy the last month of school. Have fun. And we’ll worry about finding you a job when you get your diploma.

   It must have been in the cards. The next week, I walk into work and hear Megan’s voice coming from a computer in our news conference room. I walked in and our news director and station manager, Denise Vickers was watching a clip of Megan’s work online. She’d sent an email to Denise telling her she was getting ready to start her job search and wanted her to critique her work before she sent a link out to news directors.  I asked Denise what she thought and she said, “I think I want her on our team.”  That was an extremely proud moment for me. I knew if she hired Megan, she was doing it because she thought she has talent and a future in this business. It wasn’t because she was my daughter. I didn’t say anything to Megan although I was bursting with pride. That was a discussion for Denise and Megan.

   Several days later, Megan called me and told me she’d been offered a part-time job on our team. She was going to take it just to have a paycheck and it would allow her to continue to look for a full-time position at another station. Within 72 hours, that offer turned into a full time job offer! She had a few days to make up her mind about what she wanted to do. I didn’t say much to her but my stomach was in knots until she called and told them she’s was coming to WHNT News 19.

   She’s my daughter but she’s also my co-worker.  And yes, she has a quick sense of humor which has helped her quickly make friends in the newsroom.  The first-time she called me “Jerry” in the newsroom, people just laughed. She told them she was trying to keep things on a professional level at work. Of course when she doesn’t have time to leave to get dinner, she doesn’t mind asking “Dad” if he’ll go get her something.  And I will say she’s helping me eat healthier these days. We work the evening shift three nights a week together. I wouldn’t trade these times for anything.

   I never thought about working alongside one of my children in this business because I always thought they’d end up with another career. But I can honestly say, I’m enjoying work more now than ever. And the fact that Megan and so many other young people are on our team gives me reason to love what I do even more. Those of us who have been around the business for a while, can help mold these young reporters and videojournalists into the next generation of newsgatherers.  I just hope she loves doing what we do as much as I have enjoyed it all these years. And yes, when I finally put away the reporters pad and leave the anchor desk, I’d love nothing more than watching my daughter bring home the news every night.

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