UCM alumna becomes news anchor

Written by Muleskinner Staff

Story by Ellen Becker, Managing Editor

Henry (right) delivers a newscast with co-anchor Mark Taylor at Fox 25 in Oklahoma City. (Photo submitted)

After humble beginnings of anchoring a campus newscast in the basement of Houts-Hosey, UCM alumna Kisha Henry is now an anchor for Fox 25 in Oklahoma City.
Like many students, Henry came to UCM not knowing exactly what she wanted to do.
“I started my freshman year undecided, so my adviser recommended I take a career exploration class,” she said.
In the class, students were asked to think back to all of the things they wanted to be as children, and figure out what all of those things have in common.
“I always wanted to be an actress, TV host or a singer,” Henry said. “I realized I wanted to be in front of people, sharing something with them. That, coupled with writing articles for The Muleskinner and spending my free time at the campus TV station, made my decision clear; I wanted to be a news anchor.”
Henry chose to major in communication, and minor in journalism.
“There was one course in particular which allowed us to put a newscast together for the campus television station,” she said. “That class helped me put the resumé tape together that got me my first job. It really helped me get comfortable in front of the camera and develop my on-air personality.”
After graduating in 2010, Henry began looking for a job. “Those were the most stressful three months,” she said. “Every single day I made phone calls, sent emails and went to the post office to mail resumé tapes.”
She said she was told “no” many times. “I remember wondering if I had made a terrible decision in thinking I could ever actually get into this business,” she said. “But I’m so glad I pushed through, because getting that first phone call for an interview made it all worthwhile.”
After her very first interview, Henry was hired as a general assignment reporter for the ABC affiliate’s bureau in Southeast Iowa. She reported there for three months before the station promoted her to morning anchor. She left Southeast Iowa to go work at the main station in Kirksville, Mo., and anchored there for eight months.
She soon decided to put a new resumé tape together and begin applying for jobs in larger markets. “Amazingly, the first station I applied to hired me,” she said.
She moved to Oklahoma City and started as a weekend producer/reporter for Fox 25, with the goal of working her way back up to anchoring.
“I quickly learned that I did not want to be a producer,” she said. “But I did what I had to and took every opportunity I could to get myself on camera.”
One night, she asked her boss if she could fill in when both of the station’s main anchors were out sick. “He put me on the desk and had me do a demo,” she said. “Then I left for the day to go cover my story. I got a phone call a few hours later asking if I could anchor that night.”
After that, Henry became a regular fill-in, which eventually helped her get promoted to her current position of weekend anchor.
Henry never has a dull work week. “Wednesday through Friday I report,” she said. “Saturday and Sunday, I anchor. I wake up each morning, make phone calls and scan the Internet to put together my story ideas for the day. At 1:30 p.m., our news director decides who will do what, and we head out the door.
“I turn in a package for our 9 p.m. newscast, a vosot (voiceover/sound on tape) for our 10 p.m. newscast, shoot a tease for the web, keep our viewers updated on Facebook and Twitter, write a web-version and promos for my story, and then front the finished product during the newscast. If breaking news occurs, we drop everything and take on the new story. On the weekends, I do the same thing, but I also anchor the show.”
Henry said she plans to go as far as she can in the business. “My dream is to work for a network morning show, like Good Morning America,” she said.
She added that the field of communication is a tough business to get into, and a cut-throat business to stay in, but she advised that students should never give up.
“People will critique your voice, your appearance and your intelligence, so you have to grow a thick skin quickly,” she said.
Other advice she gave for students is to use their time in college wisely. “Do an internship at as many stations as you can. Go online, Google a news script and start practicing in front of your mirror.”
Henry said networking is also very important. “Email reporters at news stations you’d be interested in working for,” she said. “Ask them to look at your tape and critique it. When you start applying for jobs, call and email as many news directors as the day allows.”
She also encouraged students to “dream big.” “No matter how unlikely you think it is that you could ever get a job at your dream station, call them,” she said. “You won’t get what you don’t ask for.”