Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio
Year Graduated: 2007
School: E.W. Scripps School of Journalism
Major: Journalism with emphasis on broadcast news
Current job title and location: Dayside executive producer for KHOU 11 News in Houston, Texas
What do you do? I oversee the news content on air for our noon, 4 p.m., 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. newscasts, working with producers and reporters to cover stories on which the community wants or needs to be educated. A major part of my role is making sure we're being creative and engaging with our storytelling and presentation—leaving no room for error or misunderstanding. While my focus is on the on-air content, I must always keep all platforms, ranging from digital and TV to mobile and OTT, at the forefront of our daily coverage.
What made you come to Ohio University? Were there other places you considered? I considered other universities because, like most high school seniors, I wanted to move out of Ohio to try a new experience. However, I ultimately decided on Ohio University because of the well-respected and hands-on experience of the journalism school. I would research journalism schools across the country and Ohio University kept coming up as among the top five in the nation. It seemed odd to even consider going somewhere else when such a quality school that would set me up for my future career was literally in my backyard (a three-and-a-half-hour-drive backyard, that is).
How did the Scripps College of Communication equip you with the skills you needed to succeed? The Scripps College of Communication prepared me with the skills I needed to succeed by giving me the hands-on experience. I graduated from college knowing how to do everything in a newsroom, but at a very small scale. The courses at OHIO got down to the crux of journalism. Why do we do this? And how to we perfect the craft? My professors were very honest and open, which gave room to ask questions, make mistakes and learn. The professors never claimed to have all the answers because the industry was and still is constantly changing. That transparency gave us students the opportunity to learn new concepts and systems, while networking with alumni and industry leaders to better gauge how we wanted to leave an impact in this field. Thanks to my courses at OHIO and the emphasis on having multiple internships, I was able to try my hand at every position in the newsroom before graduating, making it pretty clear early on what roles I loved, could handle or simply didn't care for.
What about your experiences was so memorable? The camaraderie with other students. We were all just so hungry to learn everything we could about our craft. We were there for a reason, and we wanted to be as ready as we could be for life in the real world. Seeing so many of my former classmates excelling in the industry has been such a testament to the education and impact of Ohio University's journalism and communication programs. Also memorable, driving to all parts of Athens County in between classes to do one-man-band reporting on stories in the community, whether it was for a class project or a story that would air at WOUB. We took pride knowing that our work was the only local news programming for the WOUB community, both on radio and on TV.
Tell us about your career path. I was a Scripps intern at WCPO-TV in Cincinnati during my summer breaks and even worked as a freelance web producer during my winter break—all of which helped me gain a producing job with the station right out of college. I produced almost every show for seven years, working my way up from mornings, weekend, evenings and the noon newscast, and eventually being promoted to produce the 5 p.m. newscast with anchors that I grew up watching! While at WCPO, I reported for three years, while producing, and hosted a community affairs talk show. I also studied at the Poynter Institute in Florida, before going into management as morning executive producer at WLWT-TV in Cincinnati for four years. I've been the dayside executive producer at KHOU for almost two years. I also have my master’s degree in Communication and Leadership Studies from Gonzaga University. I was honored to win an Emmy in 2018 for my work on breaking news coverage of a nightclub shooting.
How has your work life and/or focus changed due to the spread of COVID-19 in the U.S. and resulting precautionary measures? I never in a million years thought that I would be able to EP a live newscast and breaking news cut-ins from home, but thanks to stay-at-home orders and a great KHOU/Tegna IT team, we have been able to do so. I literally talk to the producers and directors during live coverage through an IFB system that I connect to in my home. COVID-19 has forced us to get more creative in storytelling while getting back to the basics and truly meeting our viewers where they are—slowing down newscasts and being hyper-sensitive to the mental health and needs of our viewers.
What advice do you have for current students? The media and journalists are first responders in times of need. This pandemic has proven that. The community depends on us to get them the information fast but accurately. My advice to current students is to never forget the importance of your craft in this world. Journalists hold people accountable and relay vital information to the community. Never let anyone tell you otherwise. You are never too old to learn something new, so always take on new skills. It will make you a better job candidate and overall content creator.