In just a few days I’ll sign off my last newscast at CBS 5 News. I have been so thrilled about spending more time with my family and working on new projects, I stunned myself by breaking down the other day. I had just returned from a shooting a Better Arizona story for the news about a nonprofit led by one woman and a group of volunteers who feed the needy a hot meal once a week in Glendale. For 20 years they’ve continued this tradition, sustained by donations and their own pocketbooks. I walked in to a bustling room full of families and people of all ages standing in line waiting for their free meal. Some were homeless, some were not but those I talked to told me how grateful they are for the two hours of refuge, a free meal and an opportunity to feel respected.
When I walked into the room the woman in charge announced to the room that I was there and presented me with a “retirement” gift. Everyone standing in line and the line of volunteers ready to serve the food broke into applause. One by one folks came over to tell me they were regular viewers who were sad to learn that I was leaving the station. It just blew me away! I thought, of all the challenges these folks have in their lives, why would they choose to know my name much less care that I was leaving my job or why? But they did. Some told me they had been watching me since the 1990’s.
It really became one of those “wow” moments where I felt so humbled and grateful for the career I’ve had and the impact I’ve been able to make.
After dozens of years broadcasting news, you’d like to think you’re making a difference and that people are connecting with you. The powers that be like to define it in ratings. I prefer to go by the feedback I receive from real interaction with real people in real time. I’ve never been comfortable when people treat me like a “celebrity” but I’ve always appreciated when people tell me they watch me/our news each night. This was one of those days and in talking about it to a co-worker I just broke down thinking about what an honor and a privilege it has been to be able to pursue my passion and to realize that some people do connect with it. Speaking of people, when I’m asked what I’m going to miss most about my news career, I always go back to the people I work with. I’ve been so focused on my family the last few months and the reasons behind my decision to leave broadcasting that I haven’t spent much time thinking about how Friday July 10 is going to feel when I sign off the air for the last time and leave my family away from family. I will share that day with you. But if my reaction to applause from a group of people I don’t know is any indication, Friday is going to be full of emotions I won’t even try to predict.