HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - We all face tough decisions in our lives. A member of our WHNT News 19 family is making a move that will give her more time with her family.
Clarissa McClain joined the WHNT News 19 team in April 2007. “I just felt like I was a different person almost when I came here, and I was so young, and I had a little bit of experience, but not a lot,” she said. She was a diamond in the rough. “I wasn't even sure totally what I wanted to do,” she recalls.
She produced the weekend newscasts for a year. “I realized I just wanted to be on the air,” she said. So she moved to the Shoals to be a reporter for two years. “That's when we also launched the Shoals Area Crime Stoppers,” which was a proud accomplishment for her.
When we launched our Nine O’clock newscast on WHNT2, Clarissa moved back to Huntsville and settled in on the anchor desk. “After that, it gets a little blurry,” she said laughing, “I'm not really sure when I started doing the 5.”
One thing was clear. She was ready to move into a main anchor role when the door opened, eventually anchoring the Five, Six and 10 o’clock newscasts. “When I thought about being a journalist and what being a good journalist meant and the kinds of stories I would cover and the kinds of people I would meet and the opportunity to be challenged and excited every day, I feel that I'm walking away with that since of comfort and peace in knowing that I've been able to do that,” she said with a smile.
She wanted to make a difference in the world. “I really wanted to help people and I just felt like TV was one of the ways to do that,” she said.
Clarissa has decided to leave local TV news, but she’s staying in Huntsville. “I'm going to be the director of marketing and communications at Randolph School,” she announced last week. “And I'm really excited about it because education is a passion of mine.”
In her almost 12 years here at WHNT News 19, there have been a lot of highs. “I think I would have to say the moment that we spearheaded the community conversation special amid all of the racial tension and protests about how racial injustice,” she said. But there were many more. Her work is award winning, including a Regional Emmy for a special on the Boys and Girls Club of North Alabama. “I loved that we ended up winning and getting recognition for that and we were able to use so much creativity in that project,” she said proudly.
But there have also been some not so happy moments, like covering the April 27, 2011 tornadoes. “Over the years I think I've learned that it is part of my job and I've found a lot of dignity and respect in being able to take someone's experience and share it in a way that honors them and that is honest to what they are going through but doesn't exploit them,” she said.
Clarissa is looking forward to her next challenge, saying, “This is the only thing I've done in my professional life, but I've gotten to the point where I've learned to embrace change instead of be afraid of it and so that's the attitude I'm taking with this transition.”
It also means more time with her husband and son. “DeMarco and Dylan are just like the sweetest,” she said with a smile, “They really are.” The move will give her more family time. “It really will be nice to be able to come home together, eat dinner together,” she said.
We will miss her. We know you will too. Clarissa’s last day with us here at WHNT News 19 will be Friday, March 15. We’re excited for her as she begins a new journey with DeMarco and Dylan.