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Thursday, November 15, 2012

For young women: interview with anchorwoman Valerie Calhoun


During a commercial break on her news show, I started asking Valerie Calhoun questions about her work. She was interviewing me about the Risa Bramon Garcia Master Class Workshop. We didn't have much time, but enough for me to ask if she'd appear on this blog. I am very grateful to Valerie for taking time out of her schedule for this brief interview.


 1) What is your education/ background?

 "I received a Bachelor of Science degree in Communications from the University of Tennessee. The degree is a must-have these days but the experience is even more important. I worked at the Campus radio station . I did internships with TV stations for credit and for fun. I had a paying job at a small radio station in Knoxville  during my last year at UT and I made myself a pest everywhere I went
  When I went home for the Christmas holiday, I was able to 'intern' at one of the TV stations in my hometown. During every internship, I badgered the producers to let me write stories. I invited myself to go out with reporters and I hung out in the studio when the news was on. My point is that anyone can show up for an internship...but very few people go out of their way to find something to do. That is the only way you learn. And, it is the only way to show potential employers and coworkers that you would be a good hire.
  I had a real accent. I made it a point to hire speech coaches at local colleges to work with me on my diction. That made a huge difference. I still have to reel myself in, slow down, and remember what I learned when I start relaxing my diction."


2) What is the hardest part of what you do?

  "Hmmm, probably the getting  up in the middle of the night. Actually, that is tough. But once I'm up and on the way to work it's all good! I am on the air live for 4 hours a day. Every weekday. That is a lot of time. We don't have time to look at every script or segment in advance and that can be tough since we like to be prepared . But, that is also part of the fun of this morning show. We pride ourselves on being able to go with the flow!"

 3) How do you detox, or take care of yourself at the end of the day?

"Some days, there is no 'detox' I have a young son and he has events and sports commitments. Then, homework, dinner, etc. I try to get on the treadmill, take a walk , go for a bike ride ! But some days it is better for everyone if I go home and take a nap before I pick my son up from school!"

4) Has being a woman been an issue as you have made a career for yourself? How do you suggest young women approach being a professional in a male dominated industry?
 
"Always believe in yourself. There will be naysayers. There will be those who try to make you feel that you don't belong in the market, station, job that you have. Prove them wrong. Be able to show people that you are more than a pretty face and that you are willing to do the work to get the story and/or get the job done!"


5) What keeps you going on a day to day basis, what inspires you?

"I love this job. The people make it worthwhile. There will be long days and tough critics. There will be stories and situations that break your heart to read and report. But sometimes...you can make a difference. It's easy to forget that we can have a huge impact on a person's life. But, we do. It might be a story that gives potentially life-saving information. It might be because I stepped on a treadmill and showed viewers how a stress test can show potential problems...and later find out that other women were encouraged to get the test, too. It might be the story about heroin abuse in our young people that inspires even 1 parent to take a closer look at their teen's strange behavior.  And, it may just be the note or call from a viewer who tells you that something you did, or said, made them smile.
  We impact lives every day. It's a huge privilege. And, it's one heck of a job."

  

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