Where did your life take you after graduating from Episcopal?
My life after Episcopal took me on a journey following my dreams of becoming a television journalist. My father served as associate press secretary for Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, so I believe that journalism was in my blood. I watched Walter Cronkite cover the Watergate hearings in the 70s and I can remember saying, "That's what I want to do when I grow up, become a journalist." I went to Boston University's College of Communications to study broadcast journalism. From there I've worked at numerous stations in Boston, Providence, Miami, and New York City. I am currently the executive producer of the early evening news programs at WNBC.
What’s a normal day at the office like?
I'm up between 4:30 and 5 a.m. reading emails and checking online for the latest news, whether that be international, national, or local.
At 7 a.m., I hop on a conference call with the morning executive producer, planning editor, and assignment editor to discuss how we should deploy reporters for the start of the day. After the call I usually send in my story ideas for the day. I try to come up with ideas from my neighborhood and community. Most recently I pitched a story about Wells Fargo's new ATM fraud security measures after my older brother was stopped for ID after trying to take out money from his account. I also recently pitched a story about New York City's growing raccoon problem and the city response. Residents are poisoning the critters because the city is not doing enough to combat the issue. But are pets becoming the unlikely victims by eating the same poison left out for the raccoons?
I get in the office around 8:30 a.m. to prep for our 9 a.m. meeting. At this meeting we discuss story ideas and assign reporters to their stories. The rest of the morning I continue to look for stories and review the previous day's ratings, after all, the news is a business. I track the latest viewing trends to see what we can do to increase our viewership in the market. At 12:30 p.m. we update producers on how reporters are doing on their assignments. The next meeting is at 2:15 p.m. where we go over the rundowns for the 5 and 6 p.m. news. In the afternoon I copyedit the stories in our shows and work with the promotions department to figure out which items to tease during the afternoon. My day wraps up with a post-meeting on the shows. If I'm lucky I'm leaving the office around 7 p.m.
Did you always think you wanted to work in television?
Yes, as I mentioned above, I knew for sure after watching the Watergate hearings on television. I originally thought I would become an on-air reporter, but I eventually learned I had more influence on what the viewer got to see if I remained behind the scenes first as an assignment editor, a producer, and later an executive producer.
What has been the most surprising aspect of your career? The most challenging?
The most surprising is that I still love doing what I do, even after 28 years. Now that's a true calling! The most challenging aspect of my career is to remember although it is a business, it is also a responsibility to the community. I truly realized this during the attacks on September 11. I was working at WCBS-TV at the time.
When the World Trade Center towers came down, WCBS was the only local station able to broadcast over the air because of a back-up transmitter on the Empire State Building. We were bringing our viewers important information about what was happening, providing a true service to the community. There was a lot of misinformation that day and it was our duty and responsibility to sort through it all and report the truth.
While you were at Episcopal, which teachers, coaches, or classmates had the most effect on you? Did they provide you with any advice that you still use today?
My cross country and track coach, Buzzy Male had a huge influence on me. He taught me about integrity. Bill Hannum was my English teacher. Dr. Hannum took the time to show his true interest in me. He believed in me. When I told him of my desire to become a television journalist, he told me of a student he had taught at Bates College. That student was Bryant Gumbel. His genuine concern and interest in me has made me a better manager and mentor.
What is the most important thing you've learned since graduating?
It took me a very long time to learn this, and after devoting many years to my career, I now know that family comes first. I practice this now with my husband, Herbert, and our son Jaylen. We met our son Jaylen through a segment on my news show. He was a Wednesday's Child – a program that finds homes for children in foster care. I approve the stories, and when I saw him I knew it was meant to be. Our adoption became final last November.
What is your philosophy of life?
Do what you love. It is the key to true happiness.
Pictured above: David (left) with his family.