Briana Whitney -- Hired at KPHO
My first boss was Mickey Mouse, and that changed everything.
When I was 16 years old I was cast as an emcee for Radio Disney's live events around Sacramento and Northern California. I had a microphone, led a show, and most of all connected with kids and families. Broadcast is where I knew I belong.
I majored in broadcast journalism at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in California. During my college years I did 7 internships at 4 different news stations, all unpaid, and got up at 3am everyday to go meet reporters and photographers out in the field. Those experiences were worth so much more than money or sleep...and those mentors have influenced my reporting career more than I ever could have known.
I accepted a job at KIII-TV in Corpus Christi, TX straight out of college. It was the first time I would live outside California and my comfort zone, and the gratitude and appreciation for life this experience has given me has certainly influenced my storytelling.
6 months into my career I was sent to Wimberley, TX after the historic Memorial Day floods that claimed the lives of 8 people from Corpus Christi. I couldn't believe the damage, but couldn't believe somebody survived such a tragedy while losing his entire family. 6 months later among so many requests, he only gave two TV interviews, one of which was with me. It not only won me an Associated Press award, but began a working relationship he and I would share for the rest of my time in South Texas.
Around that same time, I reported the historic birth of triplets, two of which were conjoined at the pelvis. That's a 1 in 50 million chance...and it happened in Corpus Christi. ABC News played my entire story on their national programming and I became the lead reporter on their journey through separation surgery. The girls are now learning to walk, something doctors weren't sure would ever happen. Truly amazing.
Of course most recently...Hurricane Harvey. Reporting during the storm in the severe wind and rain was one thing, but telling the stories of heartbreak and devastation was another. But where there were tears, there were also hugs and endless amounts of support. I've never seen humanity as beautiful as it was in the days after the hurricane, when people needed a helping hand. Those stories mean the most to me.
I've been lucky to be nominated for an Emmy for the half hour special I wrote, produced, and hosted on the issue of child pornography in South Texas. I've also won 2 Associated Press awards and 6 EMMA awards.
To bring this full circle, a quote from Disney Princess Ariel herself: "I want to be where the people are." I will always have a passion to tell the people's stories of love, heartbreak, success, triumph, tragedy, and miracle.
That's what journalism is all about.