JG: Thank you, TaRhonda for your time. I always enjoy interviewing anchors/reporters for a number of reasons and one being because all of us have our days when we look and feel our best and other days when not so much. However, in your line of work as much as it should not be, appearance is very much focused on. As gorgeous as you are, how do you deal with “those” days when you feel the “blah”?
TT: Gorgeous? You’re too kind! I certainly know what a ‘blah’ day feels like. But in my line of work, we definitely can’t show it. In fact, on those days, I may dress up a little bit more, just to make myself feel more awake (did I mention that my days start at 3:30 a.m.?)
JG: What made you want to start a career in journalism and is it always the goal to be an anchor?
TT: I was nine years old when I decided that I wanted to “be on TV.” I loved to talk… and I was very nosy. So it was a perfect fit! In my hometown, a lead anchor for one of the television stations would always come to my school. I was so impressed, that I wanted to have the same career. My goal was not necessarily to be an anchor because reporting is so much fun. I love going out and doing stories. I learn something new everyday.
JG: Do you still get nervous before going “live” ever?
TT: I don’t get nervous, anymore. I figure that I’ve stumbled over my words more than a few times during my entire career… and I always live to see another day. Although, right now, my catchphrase is “Don’t end up on YouTube!”
JG: I’ve asked a few of your co-anchor’s this question. Have you ever been moved to tears while reporting on a certain subject live on-air?
TT: Some stories do get to me, emotionally. Stories of child abuse and of families who have lost a loved one in the military are particularly hard for me. Although I’ve never been moved to tears on the air, I definitely take my work home with me. It’s impossible to be in my line of work (meeting so many people who are experiencing hardship) and not feel what people are going through.
JG: Of course, I have to ask this question. What’s the funniest thing that has ever happened to you live on-air? (So we CAN get it up on YouTube)
TT: No YouTube here! Early in my career (thankfully, before YouTube was invented), I was doing a story on an escaped convict. It was breaking news. Everything I knew about the story was written on one tiny sheet of paper. And, 30 seconds before I went on the air, the paper blew away in the wind! I chased it down the street (into oncoming traffic). And just as the anchor introduced me, I popped up from the ground, with my hair all over the place, stammering and struggling to breathe (remember, I’d been running down the street!). It was so bad, the producer cut me off in the middle of the live shot. Terrible!
JG: This is a one-off question but just how important is that Teleprompter? I guess what I mean by that is if you’re fully aware of the situation/story and the teleprompter goes down, will the station go to break, change the story, or let you run with it in hopes you report all the facts accurately?
TT: If you know the story, it’s no big deal if the teleprompter breaks. I’ve anchored entire shows with no prompter. That’s why we keep paper scripts on the desk with us too. The key is to read each script before you go on the air and internalize/understand the information. But, don’t get me wrong, having the teleprompter is nice!
JG: Here in Colorado there is not have a lot of African American representation within “live” news coverage/reporting and I feel you do a wonderful job showcasing what it is to be a strong, black, and educated women. I commend you and respect you. Do you ever feel you have to work harder to disprove a lot of the stereotypes and to give the next generation of African American anchors/reporters an easier path then you traveled?
TT: Thank you! I’m flattered that someone would look to me as a role model in this profession. I’ve met lots of young African American women who want to study journalism and I encourage each and every one of them to move forward. I don’t focus on the stereotypes or negative opinions. I’d rather focus my attention on helping other people become successful.
JG: What advice can you offer to someone with on-air journalism aspirations?
TT: Get an internship! It’s the best way to get real-time practice in this career. Anytime I work with interns, I encourage them to ask questions during the interview and I give them the same amount of time I have to finish a story (usually a few hours). Once you’re done with college, immediately start sending out your resume tape (DVD featuring your stories). And don’t bypass the small markets! My first job was in Morgan City, Louisiana. That city’s only claim to fame is the Shrimp and Petroleum Festival (I bet you’ve never heard of that)! I shot my own stories, reported, anchored, produced… and, on weekends, I shot high school football! It was definitely a huge learning experience. Oh, and aspiring reporters should also decide whether or not they like Ramen Noodles… because you’ll be eating a lot of it on a beginning reporter’s salary!
JG: You do a wonderful job for 9NEWS and I’m sure you have many supporters and followers. What would you like to leave them with?
TT: I’m just thankful for every person who takes the time to say something nice. It really does make my day. I love to feel like I have a connection with people. The best thing that happens, nowadays, is that people ask me about my new baby. What mom doesn’t like talking about her baby?! So, if you see me around, feel free to ask me about my kids… and be prepared to look at some pictures… lots of pictures.
TaRhonda Thomas everyone! Thank you, TaRhonda for your time and great interview. You can follow TaRhonda on channel 9News and at www.9news.com.