Lately I’ve been thinking about what led me to a career in News.
The easy answer is that, through a combination of luck and chance, I found myself writing Sports in college and that led to a natural segue into News.
The humorous answer is that I have long had a deep attraction to Superman and I became a reporter because I wanted to be Lois Lane. (I grew up with two brothers and spent my childhood playing Barbies alongside Action Figures; Skipper dated each of the Ninja Turtles at one point or another.)
But, really, I think it was because I was raised by a Mom who taught me to get involved.
I was in eighth grade the first time I attended a school board meeting. I had been encouraged to write a poem in support of a referendum and had to read it – aloud – at the board meeting. I remember not being happy about this. I enjoyed writing the poem (I still have a collection of about a dozen or so I wrote during my grade-school years) but I did not want to read it aloud. I figured I already wrote it; my mom could read it.
But, sure enough, a couple of hours later and we were sitting in that danged gymnasium, dozens of people filling the metal folding chairs. I don’t remember which school we were at but I remember the dingy floors and the red and blue lines painted onto the flooring. I remember these because I was staring very intently at them as I trudged my way from the audience to the microphone, located of course at the very front of the gym.
I got through it without much pain. The referendum still failed.
A few years later, Mom came home from work and informed me about local city council’s plans to resurface the tennis courts that our high school teams used for practice and meets. This was great news – but there was a catch. I attended a district large enough to host two high schools. My school’s colors were red and white, our rival’s blue and gray. It just so happened that the city in which our high school was located used the combination of blue-and-white on its road signs, in its correspondence, as its colors of choice. The plan was to resurface the courts – owned by the city, used by my high school – in blue and white.
And so, a couple of weeks later I sat in the council chambers along with about eight or nine other high school tennis players, making it clear we would prefer they not paint the courts our rivals’ school colors.
In the end, they didn’t: The council opted to paint them the then-traditional green and red.
Still, when I came home from college several years later, they were blue and white.
A few years after that, I was covering that city council as a reporter. When I first met one of their longer-term council members, he wanted to take me on a tour of the council chambers.
We walked in and I smiled knowingly, telling him I had been there before and quickly recounted the when and why. He laughed so deeply I couldn’t help but join him. He bellowed out of the door to a longtime city employee, asking him if he remembered that day the council chambers was filled by tennis players. He said he was always so pleased when young people would take an interest – any interest – in local issues.
Tonight, after a ten-month hiatus, I return to News in a very new way: as the host of a half-hour public affairs TV news program. After years of ducking public and government access TV cameras, this is quite unexpected. But when I left work last spring, I was excited to see where life and work would take me and I challenged myself to be open to opportunities, no matter what they may be.
We filmed about two weeks ago; tonight it will air on television.
And the girls will get to stay up late to watch. They probably won't understand any of it (legislative transportation funding) but hopefully, in time, they will get message, as I did from my own Mom: Show up. Speak up. Get involved.