I was covering a NASCAR race when I was in my second year in the business. I decided, like an idiot, that I needed a “nice” pair of shoes so I could look “the part” among the other professionals. I bought some shoes with a slight heel. I also bought a new top. At the end of the race I had a blister the size of mars and my shoes were torn to shreds. It turns out that wasn’t a good idea, and the “pros” I was hanging with, were all wearing tennis shoes. Lesson learned.
We all wish we could go back and tell our former selves something so we could avoid the blisters. I asked a handful of TV professionals the same question. “What are the 3 things you wish you knew when you got into the biz?” Here’s what they said:
Kelcey Carlson- KMSP Fox 9 Evening Anchor, Minneapolis, MN
- I wish someone would’ve told me early on to always thank people for their time, write thank you notes, etc.
- I wish journalism school had better prepared me to help and be respectful of people in a grief stricken state.
- I wish I’d had better training in public records searches before I had my first job.
- #4( bonus) I wish I’d known that boxy pant suits for women were going to go out of style. I miss them! It’s too much pressure for a 41 yr. old women to wear these tight dresses.
Jenn Bates- KWCH Anchor, Wichita, KS (Former sports anchor)
- How much time it takes–not just work hours, but personal hours. In sports especially, I was always on my phone working contacts. It’s a non-stop job.
- Speaking of non-stop, you always have to be ON, at or away from work. No matter where you go you always have to be a rep of your station and of yourself.
- You don’t need an agent early on!!! In your first couple of markets, if you go small, an agent is silly to have. You’ll spend a big % of your already minuscule income paying someone for something you can do yourself.
Marti Hause- MSNBC Producer
- Expect to work holidays. You will likely work on Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and more.
- You will meet some of the best characters and friends (for me, a husband!) working in small market TV.
- Work on your storytelling above all else. TV may not be around forever. But if you can write & tell a story, there will be a job for you in whatever medium journalism uses next.
- I’m happy I went and got an on air job immediately, but young people can take behind-the-scenes gigs, work hard, work on their tape. In the meantime, either get promoted, or use those connections to get on air gigs pretty quickly. As long as they work hard
- Don’t get frustrated when you get no responses. It can have ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with how talented you are. NDs very rarely watch all tapes, and you may not fit what they are looking for. If your contacts in business think you’re good… Keep plugging
- This is something that I’ve always known, but it gets clearer and clearer to me as long as I’m doing this…If you’re getting into this because ” you love sports” go do something else. You have to love the storytelling-broadcasting- writing side..
Angie Goff- Anchor NBC Washington, Washington, D.C
- Wear comfy shoes.
- Find mentors wherever you go- no matter how high.
- Accept that sometimes it’s just not your turn.
Stewart Moore- WESH Anchor, Orlando, FL
- Do not get into the business unless you truly have a passion for news/sports and everything that goes with being in the media.
- I wish I knew about missing holidays… truly missing them. It wasn’t an issue when I worked in Columbia, SC (WIS) because I was home an hour after my shift.. but here, Christmas means working and spending the day/night alone. – you don’t want to be selfish and tell (in my case my wife) loved ones to skip going to their family just for you. My first Christmas in Orlando I was supposed to get off in time to go to a friends house; instead I spent the day on a triple murder investigation.
- I wish I knew that competition for a job doesn’t end once you’ve been hired. Everyone in the building wants to get to the top in the building and it’s like crabs in a barrel when you get close. Learn to not overshare and while we are in the business of telling stories, keep information about your job and prospects to yourself.
John Smist- WECT Sports Director, Wilmington, NC
- Never burn a bridge! It’s a very small business and it doesn’t take very long to get a reputation. Also, you never know when you might need something.
- Have fun, but always act like a professional. You are not in college anymore! Those people at the bar or, wherever you are, are your viewers.
- Don’t ever talk or ask others at the station how much they make. It doesn’t matter! And it only causes problems.