Thursday, November 04, 2004

WMBD

It was kind of a culture shock moving from LA to Peoria. I'm from the midwest, but I was starting to get used to life by the ocean. First of all, it took me a month to realize I no longer needed "The Club." Plus, I moved back in the winter. Winter in LA... good. Winter here, just like home. For the first few weeks I wondered what the heck I was thinking.

I can remember my first day at WMBD like it was yesterday. Cliche. Back in my day... Anyway, they had me do a "sit in" as my first exposure to the audience, then sent me out to something in West Peoria. Some woman was in trouble and had a dozen or so dead animals in her house. You could smell it from the street. This was the first instance of "what was I thinking" that I can recall. But things got better, especially as I got to know the other 20 something transplants in the newsroom.

We had the best time. We were all a year or two out of school, not making much money, but learning the ropes together. I found what I did best was features. For some, features are throwaway stories they do just to fill time. For me, they were opportunities to tell fun, interesting stories. They gave me a chance to get to know people with less pressure. It was a chance to have fun with words and pictures and voice.

And others liked them too. My features were consistently picked up by the CBS Newspath (the network feed service that gathers stories from markets around the country). But not only that, they were being broadcast, in full, in much bigger markets (often, features from other places are cut down to save time). Aimee Nuzzo told me she was waiting for a live shot in San Diego when a story of mine popped up. A Newspath producer in Miami was excited to let me know she saw one running there.

But I wanted more anchoring. Eventually, I was named anchor of the sunday morning newscast and got to fill in on the noon and weekend shows. But my eventual goal was to anchor a morning show and do features in the market where I was going to settle down and that meant I needed more full time anchor experience.

During the summer of 1997, I got a call from a news director in the Salinas/Monterey, CA market. She said, "The opening I have right now is for a female" to which I responded, "I can't do that." She continued on, asking me if I was interested in a reporter position there, but I explained to her that I was already reporting at a good station, anchored one show a week and was looking for more experience behind the desk. She said she'd be in touch. I never thought I'd here from her again.

That fall, Shannon and I started dating. It was the best two months of my life. We had been friends and co-workers for four months prior, so the getting to know you period was much easier. I had been dating someone else all that time, so there was never any pressure.

Then, in November, the news director from Monterey called. And even though it was tough to leave Shannon behind, it was off to California, again.