Imagine a ten-year-old girl holding a cup of “coffee” while practicing reporting the news in true Katie Couric fashion at her kitchen table.
That was how our next Behind the Byline subject, Lindsay Ward, started dreaming about her career in broadcast journalism. Flash forward to today, she’s a KDKA reporter, wife and mother to a 15-month-old son, who she loves taking on walks every chance she gets.
Check out our full interview below and see how you can stay in touch with Lindsay, especially if you have a good story idea!
Let’s start with the basics: where are you from and where did you go to college?
I’m from Indiana County, and I attended IUP.
How did you decide to become a reporter?
When I was about 10 years old, I remember sitting next to my mom watching “The Today Show.” I adored Katie Couric. At the time, I loved seeing her talk about important things and be so engaging about it, but also have fun from time to time. I used to pretend I was her, with a mug of “coffee” on the kitchen table and some papers in front of me, pretending I was reading the news. From there, I knew it’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to tell stories, yet be myself, and find joy in that.
Where was your first job?
I was a news anchor in Boone, N.C., at a tiny little cable station. It was 2008, not long after the stock market crashed. I knew so many people in my field couldn’t find jobs, so at the time, I just wanted to get my “feet wet” and hoped I’d land somewhere.
How did your reporting career bring you back to the area?
It has been an interesting journey. After I was in North Carolina for almost a year, I moved to Bluefield, W.V., where I was the morning/noon anchor at WVVA for two years. After that, I had a chance to be closer to home as the morning/noon anchor at WJAC in Johnstown for six years. It was a great stop, personally, but I was ready for more of a challenge. I began as a freelance reporter at WPXI, and to be honest, it was my “first” reporting position. Because my whole career was on the set, I had to learn how to use my skills as an anchor and transfer them to field reporting. I learned a lot in those 10 months, and I was so happy to be back in Pittsburgh, but I wanted more of a full-time, consistent position. I saw there was an opening at KDKA, and when I found out it was a morning position, I was thrilled! I’ve now been at the station for about a year and a half.
What’s a typical day like for you at KDKA and what do you normally cover?
I wake up EARLY, like 2:30 a.m. With the virus, my way of doing things has changed. Normally, I’d go in the station and sit at my desk, but for months now, I meet my photographer after getting my story for the day. I write and present it every half hour on our morning show 4:30 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. If it’s breaking news, then they move me to what’s happening. Lately, as you can imagine, my stories are mostly about the coronavirus and how it’s impacted people in so many different ways. When I’m not covering that, I report a lot of breaking news — shootings, house fires and weather-related stories.
What’s one of your most memorable stories?
Besides the many coronavirus stories I’m covering now, one of the most memorable was when I was a morning anchor in West Virginia. There was a huge mine explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine. Several were confirmed dead, except for four missing men. We had around-the-clock coverage, working to find out if those four men were alive. I literally slept at the station as I was anchoring overnight and into the early morning hours. I’ve never covered an event quite like that.
How has COVID-19 changed how you write/report on stories?
It has changed my workflow. Like I mentioned earlier, I don’t go into the station, unless I’m filling in as anchor on the desk. I work consistently with the same photographer. I basically work out of a news vehicle instead of a news station. I wear a mask when I’m on the air in the field, always. It’s a work requirement. I also wear a mask when I interview people. As part of our safety precautions, we have a special mic setup, so when I interview someone, I can keep 6 feet of distance between us.
When you’re not reporting the news, how do you spend your spare time?
When I’m not working, I spend all of my time with my 15-month-old son and husband. My son keeps me busy. I find myself taking walks with him in a stroller more than ever. If I have free time, I read. My Kindle is with me wherever I go!
If people have a story idea, where can they share it?
– Robin Rectenwald, WordWrite