You could call it the "luck of the bus route." Or maybe I was in the right apartment at the right time. Either way, I was a college junior who knew I wanted an internship at a local television station in Madison, Wisconsin. The only catch was- I didn't have a car to get there.
And the only television station to be on a bus route? WKOW-TV. And that, is where it all started for me.
I applied for an internship and waited to hear back. I remember I was so nervous to go in my first day... I left really early from my apartment, and got to the station really early from the bus. I don't think I said much on my first day, just smiled. And took it all in. This is where I wanted to be.
It's almost tough to remember back to those days – that's now six years ago. How time flies. But I'd like to take you back there, just to explain how far I've come - and what Quincy has meant to me. I genuinely and completely believe I wouldn't be where I am today without Quincy.
What I remember from my first internship at WKOW, in my junior year, was that internships are what you make them. TV is fast-paced and interns are helpful - if you learn, ask questions and become someone the reporters want by their side. I remember carrying equipment with a reporter named Mari-Ela to do a live shot at a hockey game on a Friday night. I remember sitting in the live truck, just waiting for her to write a script - and trying to write my own. I remember going to the Capitol with a reporter named Elizabeth Hopkins, just watching in awe what questions she asked, how she was able to run out of a crowded room and find an interview and how she was so in charge of what was happening. I remember being so cold at a live shot at a post office with Carl Agnelly before Christmas.
These people touched me, because I remember their names. I remember their stories. THAT is how I used my internship to the fullest at that point - watching and learning. Asking questions, making something happen. How similar that is to what I do now.
Fast forward to my senior year at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. I knew I needed another internship to make a tape to find a reporting job. This time, I had a car. And this time, I chose Quincy because I loved the station, loved the people, and knew they would care enough about me to help me succeed once I graduated. (Little did I know, that really would happen.)
This internship was different because I was different. I participated in the morning meetings with story ideas (not usually all that good!) I went out with photographers by myself to get a smaller story. I took reporter packages and wrote them over and over again, working with a producer to get them perfect. (Or so I thought at the time.). I used the internship this time, not only to learn, but to make a start in the business. I came in on a day off to work with a photographer to shoot "stand-ups" for my tape. I learned to edit, in order to create my packages for my tape. I also needed some anchoring. That was intimidating, since I worked mostly with reporters. An anchor named Christa took charge. She marched me right over to that desk, sat me down, and got everyone to help. She told me what to do better, what I was doing right.. and so it went. I had a tape. All because the people at Quincy. Everyone - not just the anchors, not just the reporters, the photographers - everyone helped. And they wanted me, an intern, to succeed.
So now we get to my senior year spring break. I sent out a hundred tapes (no joke) to different television stations, and guess who I got calls back from. Quincy stations! WAOW in Wausau and WXOW in La Crosse. They'd heard about me, my work ethic, etc.. from other Quincy employees. Wow, talk about a company. I was ecstatic.
And so nervous.
I landed a job in Wausau, as a general assignment reporter at WAOW. This was, hands down, the best place I could have chosen. I learned SO MUCH. The first day, I followed a reporter on a story about a soldier who had died overseas. She knocked on doors, made calls, returned to the station and wrote it all - for three different shows. I learned to shoot, to write (oh how I learned to write!), to edit, and everything in between. I started out as a weekend reporter, and moved up to a Monday through Friday weekday reporter, fill-in anchor. I can't say enough about what I learned at this Quincy station. The people took me under their wing; they made me what I am today.
Then, it came time to look for another job. I knew I could do it. I set my sights on Madison. Not an easy jump, from Wausau to Madison, but here again, it was because of Quincy that I did it. I applied, called the news director, and stayed persistent. I had my News Director in Wausau call down to Madison (THAT is not an easy thing for a News Director to recommend a valued employee to leave his station- but he did - because he cared. He wanted the best for me. I truly believe that.
Keep in mind, we are now in the height of the recession. It was December, 2008. No one was moving up in TV. But somehow, in May of 2009, I did. After months of talking with the News Director, a position for a multimedia journalist opened in Madison. And the story moves on.
In Madison, I've learned even more. It just goes to show how in this business, you're never, ever done learning. I came back to the place where I'd interned and now have grown from a weekend reporter to a weekend anchor. I cannot say enough about what this company has meant to me. It's given me the opportunities, the resources, and the chance to become what I am today. The people have believed in me so much that they allowed me to grow. It really does feel like a family... a family that I've now been a part of for six years.
From an intern, to an anchor. I wouldn't be where I am today without Quincy.
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