Pathetic, but true: As a New Yorker, I had never been west of Pennsylvania until I got my first TV reporting job in Las Vegas in 1984. I was 22. I had gotten my introduction into the TV news business as a desk assistant at NBC News in New York City, spending my afternoons and evenings after college classes running down the third floor hallway at 30 Rock with scripts in hand to the control room and Tom Brokaw on the set of Nightly News.
When I think back on my first on-air job in Vegas, I remember one of the saddest stories I have ever covered. It was late at night, my shift just completed, when we got word that a family of five had been killed trying to cross a washed out street in their truck during a rare and wicked rainstorm. It was September 10, 1984. Out in the desert, as police searched on foot and by helicopter for the youngest child -- a 13-week-old baby who'd been carried away by the raging river -- I walked up on the parents and two older children. They looked like mud-caked, life-sized dolls lying among the sand and rocks near the mangled pickup. I quickly realized that the job of a TV news reporter takes you to great places, introduces you to fascinating people and yet exposes you to some of the most dreadful things imaginable.
My next job was with the CBS TV station in Orlando. From the station's Daytona Beach bureau, I covered NASCAR, Spring Break and Bike (motorcycle) Week. I flew with the Blue Angels, parachuted out of a perfectly good airplane on the back of a veteran skydiver dressed as Santa, and got a tattoo on live television -- all in the name of TV news.
From Orlando I moved to the CBS station in Tampa/St. Petersburg. I covered countless hurricanes, the U.S. military's efforts to feed starving refugees in Somalia, the Oklahoma City bombing, and the reaction to OJ Simpson's "not guilty" verdict on the streets of Los Angeles.
After nearly a dozen years in Florida, I moved to Washington and have been here at FOX 5 ever since. That was 17 years ago. I helped cover the Beltway snipers' reign of terror and the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. I spent much of that day and night looking at the Pentagon from about a half-mile away knowing a number of my hometown and childhood friends had been killed at the World Trade Center.
A typical day as a TV reporter covering local news in and around the nation's capital can begin with an interview of a local representative in the halls of Congress and end on the scene of a murder or fire in one of our outlying neighborhoods.
I get the biggest kick out of meeting everyday people, most who are extraordinarily kind and considerate and don't hold it against us that we come to them most often at their highest or lowest moments.
When I was 10, I made a home movie (8mm film) of myself dressed in a sports jacket and tie, pretending to be a newscaster sitting at a tiny desk in our basement on Long Island. At a fairly young age, I dreamed of being a TV newsman when I grew up. Not that I have ever grown up, but I can truly say I enjoy going to work almost every day. I am one of the lucky ones.
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