When I was first getting into broadcasting I had that desire – like every person who has ever worked in this business – to work in my hometown. For me, its where I grew up: Hartford, Connecticut. That dream came true in January 1991, thanks to a woman who saw things in me I never saw in myself.
Her name was Colleen Marren and she was the news director of WTIC-TV, Hartford’s Fox station. WTIC was relatively new in the news game, up against the more-established CBS, ABC and NBC stations. Colleen had put together a young, but talented group already and was looking for a weekend sports anchor. She went through quite a few tapes … and then chose to hire me.
Believe me, I was a long shot. I never had a job in commercial broadcasting as a on-air person. Once more, I was starting in one of the nation’s top 25 markets. I’m not sure what Colleen saw in this skinny kid with the afro ( Don’t laugh. It was 1991 ). Whatever she saw, I was grateful. But getting the job was only the beginning.
She gave me my first job in TV news. Now, she’s leading one of WTAE’s competitors. Talk about a small world.
Colleen was like a mom to all of us in the newsroom. She taught me so much about journalism – and about life. She gave me lessons that have stayed with me to this day. I was only at the station for a year and a half, but its still the most important 18 months of my career.
So why do I mention all this … and what does it have to do with the title? Turns out one of our competitors ( the one whose call letters start with a “K” ) has hired a news director. Guess who it is?
That’s right, Colleen Marren. Some 18 years after she hired me, I will be competing against her for viewers. It’s almost like in sports when the coach faces one of his former players. However, in this case, many years have passed and the style I had back then is very different what I do know. Same is true for Colleen who has become a success in so many cities since leaving Hartford.
I’m sure I will be calling her at some point to welcome her to Pittsburgh. I know she will find it as fascinating and welcoming as I have. After all, it was Colleen who taught me to embrace the city in which I work.