I may not be a horse whisperer, but I can and do shout at unicorns ~ Jarod Kintz, “Who Moved My Cheese?”
In my last post, I shared some insights from former CNN anchor Bobbie Battista. Now I share some of my conversation with another former CNN anchor, Donna Kelley. Donna is currently executive producer and evening news lead anchor with KBZK in Bozeman, Montana.
What was your first job in television and how did you get it?
My first job in TV was in Helena, Montana. My boyfriend and his best friend encouraged me to stop by the local TV station one day, thinking I might be qualified for a job there since I had worked in radio before. I was wearing jeans at the time, which I thought was inappropriate, so I felt a little nervous and unsure. They kept pushing me though, so I went on in and picked up an application. I went back several days later, dressed for TV this time, and read for them (without a teleprompter). After I finished, I went upstairs to fill out some paperwork. The news director came out of his boss’ office after me and said the boss didn’t want to let me go. He wanted to hire me right there on the spot! I was thrilled, as well as frozen with fear.
Did you always want to be on air?
I actually intended to be a teacher like my mom and dad. We used to hang out after school with my dad, and I just never thought I would be anything else but a teacher. I helped grade papers, typed up the tests – I loved the classroom and we would often go visit my mom and play with the science experiments.
What was the hardest part of breaking in, and what was your ‘big break’?
I started out in radio as a secretary after pushing popcorn at the local movie theater. The radio guys came out for a remote broadcast at the drive-in theater, and I started acting like a hot shot by doing an Italian accent to plug the pizza we were carrying. Eventually I moved into advertising sales, then started doing some of my client’s commercials, then landed an on air job as a DJ.
What are some of the things people may not know about what it takes to succeed as a reporter, anchor or show host?
It takes a lot of prep work. You have to study and be up on all the issues. You can’t just powder your nose and plop down at the set and read!
What advice do you have for young people pursuing an on-camera career in TV?
I always tell younger people who want to break in to the world of TV news to first go to a smaller market where you have to do everything. You’ll learn what you like to do and what you are good at. It gives you an appreciation for what the other people on your team do to put together a broadcast.