AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF)– It doesn’t even seem possible that 25 years have passed since I started anchoring the evening news at WJBF NewsChannel 6. My children were 2, 3 and 4 at the time! As retired minister Gary Redding once said, when introducing me to an audience at First Baptist Church NA, I had “put in a day’s work before I went to work!”
I actually started working at WJBF two years earlier, in 1995. I was pregnant with our third baby but didn’t even know it! We had “3 under 3” and our days were non-stop activity and non-stop noise! It was a crazy time but it was filled with adventure and a whole lot of love.
The news headlines when I took this job included Princess Diana’s death, the cloning of Dolly the sheep, the mass suicide of the Heaven’s Gate cult… and the trial and sentencing of Timothy McVeigh for the horrific OKC bombing.
Two names would soon dominate the news cycle: Clinton and Lewinsky. I remember how uncomfortable it was to read news stories on the air describing events that took place in the Oval Office, and the details about what was on that blue dress. Back in the day, I couldn’t believe the descriptions I was saying in a newscast: using the words “President” and “oral” (you-know-what) in the same sentence.
On the local news front, the late 90’s were filled with Augusta “water woes,” my first co-anchor, Bob Young, resigning from TV news to run for Augusta Mayor, and a serial rapist and killer named Reinaldo Rivera.
Brad Means joined the news team in 1998. He, George Myers and I spent 22 years working together on the evening news. No doubt, our favorite memories would include the countless Your Hometown Tour bus rides, long weekends and late nights hosting the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon, off-camera escapades during live broadcasts, and canvassing South Augusta neighborhoods with publicity pictures like the one below!
My husband and I both worked at WJBF-TV, so that meant our kids were frequent visitors. They have wonderful memories and hilarious stories of killing time in the breakroom while Mom was on the news. They still talk about the young reporters would often wind up babysitting them from time to time, They went to more festivals, walk-a-thons, and parades than any of their friends because their dad and I both worked at them. We’d roll up in the family van time and again, three little kids tumbling out of the side sliding door, racing to the familiar WJBF “live on location” set.
Our crazy and unconventional life ended up the subject of a long-running monthly column in Augusta Family Magazine called Mom2Mom. I wrote the column over a span of 16 years, first as Mom-TV, for the Augusta Family Chronicles, then for AFM.
Zack, Maddy and Sky truly grew up in a TV station- and all played significant roles over the years, by choice or by force. Maddy could run the teleprompter for us when she was in the 2nd grade! Zack was 10 when he ran the audio board during a rare Sunday breaking news event! Sky was our social media expert when the Icepocalypse happened in 2014… Twitter was too new for us old folks to master yet, but it was no problem for a teenager! She stuck by our meteorologists and tweeted out updates as often as they needed her to.
I could go on and on, but the point of my starting this little article in the first place was to thank YOU, the viewer, for sticking with me over the years. You’ve supported me and encouraged me. You’ve sent well-wishes when I took a couple of medical leaves over the years, you reached out when you knew I was tending to a sick relative.
We have experienced so much together over these 25 years. You’ve shared your stories with me in the grocery store line, at Wal-Mart, and the mall. You’ve let me into your lives and you’ve made me feel like family. My favorite thing is when you see me and reach out to hug me- you’ll never know how much it means to me to feel like we have a connection. And of course, I’ll hug you right back!
One more thing: I think the 25th Anniversary promo video is just terrific! Big thanks to WJBF’s Rex Main for all the time and effort he spent putting that together. You’ve made me feel very special, Rex!
Please keep letting me know what we’re doing right, and call us out when we fall short. I have the privilege of working with a team I respect and reporting everyday to a job that I love. Thank you for these 25 years, and I hope you’ll put up with me a little while longer!