Growing up, I always knew I wanted a career where I would be able to help people. I assumed I would be a nurse, a social worker, or maybe even a teacher. I never dreamed I would take on a job that I had grown up watching my father tackle. Yet, somehow I got tangled into this mess we like to call broadcast news, and there has been no turning back.
Writing was one of my passions when I was younger. I would send in articles for teenage magazines, short bits for The Huntsville Times, and even took a stab at music lyrics. Those dreadful lyrics will never be released, by the way. It’s in your best interest, just trust me.
My senior year of high school, I started editing video. I filmed our senior project and attempted to put it together using editing software I had ordered off the Internet. The video turned out rough to say the least, but I was already hooked. I stayed up every night for weeks until that project was done the way I wanted it to be done, and looked the way I wanted it to look. I had no idea what I was doing, but I figured it out on my own. That was one of the biggest learning experiences of my life, and I didn’t realize at the time it would lead me to my future career.
I started college at The University of Alabama with an undecided major. It stayed that way for two years as I took general classes; waiting until the last possible moment to declare what field I was going to enter for the rest of my life. When the time came to decide my fate, I chose to enter a career of long nights, no weekends, and holidays spent in a newsroom. It may sound horrible to the average person, but to me it sounded like an adventure.
I come from a family of journalists so it felt natural to enter some field of communications. Both my mother and stepfather are newsroom veterans, and my dad has been in the business for over 30 years. They tried to talk me out of it, and they tried to tell me how tough it was going to be. But I had already caught the news bug, and I was ready to enter that crazy lifestyle regardless of what they had to say.
I struggled my last semester of college, unsure of where my next move would be. Television jobs are far and few between these days and I assumed I would be making the trek to the smallest market with the lowest pay in the middle of nowhere. But before I could land that first coveted job, I needed some constructive criticism. I sent a link to Denise Vickers, our news director at WHNT News 19, and she responded immediately. I was only looking for her professional opinion and mere guidance in the right direction, but what I got was much more than I anticipated, a job offer.
Receiving that unexpected offer from Denise really threw me for a loop. I didn’t feel like I was skilled enough to take on the busy area of north Alabama. Mostly, I was not sure if I wanted to start my career working in the same newsroom with my dad. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized, if you want to be the best, then you have to learn from the best. What better mentor could I have than my own father?
Obviously I accepted the job offer, or you wouldn’t be reading this right now. WHNT News 19 really has been my home for over 20 years. My mother was actually working at the station and pregnant with me in the very same studio that I am working in today. I truly feel that I was meant to be a part of this wonderful news family here at WHNT. I have grown up in Huntsville and I love everything that the Tennessee Valley has to offer. This was absolutely the right choice for me and I am so thrilled to be a part of the WHNT News 19 family.
Being able to share a newsroom with my dad is something that I will always see as a blessing. Not many people can say they had the opportunity to work with one of their parents, and I feel so lucky to have this chance to learn from the best. I hope that I can continue to carry on the legacy my father has already left on the Tennessee Valley. I hope that I will be able to connect with the people the way he has, and I hope that this is just the beginning of a very long and successful career here at WHNT News 19.