When I was in sixth grade, I remember telling my parents, "I want to be a reporter. A radio or TV reporter. I think that would be a cool job."
"Okay," they replied, "you'd better go to college." They were children of the Depression. Neither of my parents graduated from high school. Both had to drop out in order to earn money for their families.
But they made is possible for me -- and my younger sister -- to go to college. She graduated from SUNY Stoney Brook. And I graduated with a degree in Communications from Cornell. Little known fact: Cornell is a hybrid university-- part private, and part public. If you're a New York state resident and you pick your major and your college (within Cornell) wisely, you get a big tuition break.
When I attended way back in the fall of 1967, undergraduate tuition for me was $1,350 a year! If one could get in, anyone could afford to go.
I learned about news from the student radio station, WVBR, "voice of the Big Red." It was a most unusual station. WVBR is not owned by the university. It was -- and is -- owned by a non-profit student corporation. It doesn't hold an educational license, it holds a commercial radio license. So at the age of 19 and 20, you are effectively running and owning a radio station, which has to make its own money. It was an awesome and wonderful opportunity.
I remember my first big interview: U.S. Senator Jacob Javits (R-New York).
WVBR also gave my money and sales experience. I earned my tuition (and more) every year by selling radio time to local merchants, and producing the commercials.
Upon graduating, I got a radio job with Taft Broadcasting in Cincinnati, where in my opinion, we were the best radio news department in the city. After three years there, I got a job as a network radio anchor In Washington, D.C. for the Mutual Broadcasting System. I was one of those people doing the hourly news on hundreds of radio stations. I was also a reporter for the network, sometimes reporting from the White House, Supreme Court, and Capitol Hill.
In the 1980s, most radio stations were shrinking their news departments (with the exception of all-news stations like WTOP).
So, I decided to try my hand at TV news. I worked for a small TV bureau on Capitol Hill that sent reports via satellite to out-of-town TV stations which could not afford a full-time Washington bureau.
I really didn't know anything about TV news when I started, but I wrote a package (story) every day I was there. About six months in, the bureau's only reporter felt ill. "Don't worry, Craig," I told him, "I can do it." I was on the air that day and every day thereafter.
My audition reel from that job landed me a reporter's job here at WTTG. That was in February of 1986, and I've been here ever since.
I've covered both national news and local news in both radio and television. Frankly, I prefer the local news. I like being out there in "the mud, the blood, and the beer." And the local stories tend to be more visual.
I have gotten to see and know most of the neighborhoods in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. The variety intrigues me. One day I'm with the governor. The next day I'm in court with an accused murderer.
Who knows, perhaps someday I'll be interviewing you!