There and back again (the anchor chair)

Anchoring a newscast is like being the captain of a ship who takes the wheel after so many talented and hardworking people have toiled all day to make sure the boat is ready for sail.

You’ve got producers, directors, assignment editors, production crew members, etc.

There’s A LOT going on behind the camera.

Viewers are also on the boat. Some are enjoying the ride. Others are picking apart how the captain is turning the wheel and questioning his or her bias to the starboard or port side.

I absolutely love the job. It’s fun, especially when there’s a great crew of people making sure sailing goes smooth.

As I’ve been filling in as an anchor on a temporary basis, some of my old memories of sitting in the anchor chair back in Albuquerque about 12 years ago have been coming to the surface.

Perhaps it’s the scent of a freshly printed stack of news scripts that’s making me remember.

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The KASA Fox 2 set. Year? Oh geez…maybe 2005? 2006? That’s Jessica Kartalija who is now an anchor in Baltimore.

While I had fun anchoring then, it was extremely tough mentally since I had two roles at the same time.

Daily, I had to find a story and report for the 10 pm news on KOB. But before I went live for that report, I anchored the one hour 9 pm newscast on KASA.

I often had to sprint from the set of the 9pm show to another studio for the 10pm show.

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Going live as a reporter minutes after anchoring

My reporting duties and anchoring duties collided, literally at the same time, and I often had to forfeit concentration on one job for the other.

I often read the newscasts cold. I stumbled over words and sentences. I often couldn’t carry a script on air because I had no idea what was coming next. I was new. I was green on the set. Thank god YouTube didn’t exist then.

The gig, while exciting and a great opportunity, also had an impact on my confidence.

I often felt down on myself and second guessed my anchoring abilities, almost nightly.

The stress of trying to be perfect made my performances worse. I often took frustrations out on coworkers and producers who were just trying to beat the clock too.

Looking back at those times, I believe I was too tough on myself given the circumstances.

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Producer Zach Pearl (far right) reviewing my 10pm report just before I had to hit the anchor chair at 9pm. Producer Brian Close on the left is now in Colorado too and works as an attorney. Hi Brian!

I appreciate that experience even more so today. It’s taught me that taking time to craft a news script, even it’s just a 10 second blurb, is extremely important to make it sound concise and clear.

People have been asking me if I enjoy anchoring now that I’ve been filling in temporarily. I really do. I love it, especially with a perspective of being off the desk for the past 12 years or so. Plus I really love the crews I work with. They make the job cake.

It’s an extremely fun position and I’d like to hope my enjoyment for the anchor chair can be seen by people who’ve watched.

Anchors away!


All images in this post were taken by Gadi Schwartz who is now a correspondent for NBC News.

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