With some people you can just tell. At a time which was more years ago than I want to talk about, I worked as a reporter at WCYB-TV5 and was sent on assignment on the fourth of July. That particular night one of our interns went with me to cover the fireworks display on South Holston Lake. A very generous local gentleman allowed us on his house boat and she shot some spectacular footage of the fireworks reflecting off the water which she then used edit a great story together. But more importantly, she was the light of the room while we interacted with the crowd of folks gathered on the boat. Her name is Olivia Bailey and she has risen from intern to anchor in the years since, which is not surprising to anyone who has ever known her. If you don’t know her, you need to. Here is your chance.
BRIAN: While we are on the subject of people from this region, family is also a huge part of life around here. Working in news can be very mentally and emotionally challenging at times. How does your family help overcome that?
OLIVIA: This is a hard one for me. I love my job. I dream about it almost every night. My family works to really balance that. My husband has been really instrumental in motivating me to be conscious about my work life at home. Anyone who knows me can tell you I carry two phones around with me everywhere, and I’ve been known to leave gatherings to get to breaking news. I love being a source that residents know they can trust and get information to quickly. However, I really struggled early-on (and still do) with knowing when to put that down. My family has been really supportive in understanding the balance.
The news requires you almost to separate feelings on very active scenes. I always say we visit people at the best and worst of times. On the inside, I grieve deeply for families we visit who have just lost their loved ones. It is the hardest thing I have to do to be able to ask those families for an interview, but it is so important in the process of remembering that person or solving a crime. On the other hand, I love meeting the families who have something to celebrate: beating cancer, a new born baby, a big victory. I carry a lot of these scenarios home with me. It can be an emotional rollercoaster, but it’s nice to get home, fix dinner, and relax. I’ve tried to do better about being able to put the phone down and spend time with my family. We recently took my teenage sister into our home, so I’m relearning all of the stuff I’ve forgotten from high school. Trust me: that’s quite the distraction from the news cycle.
BRIAN: Another major part of identity for folks in this region is religion. How does your faith affect day-to-day life for you?
OLIVIA: My faith is such an integral part of my day-to-day life, and it’s the most important value to me. In this business, it can be easy to get discouraged from what happens in the world. My faith teaches me that we all have a purpose in God’s kingdom. Sometimes I doubt that ‘being a reporter’ is high on God’s priority list for purposes. However, I always find some kind of reason that my job is important. We’re here to report on the immediate safety of our residents from a lockdown, to an AMBER Alert, to severe weather. I find even protecting someone’s quality of life for access to basic necessities a critical part of the job.
BRIAN: Please let me finish by saying I am so proud of you for working your way up through the ranks in News! That is not an easy task. You have always been such a hard worker and you have the gift for it. I have two questions in one. What does the future hold for you if you look into your crystal ball? Finally, what do you say is the best way for folks to stay up to date with WCYB-TV5 news?
OLIVIA: I love what I do here. I honestly don’t have any plans to leave any time soon. I feel a sincere responsibility to this area and making sure the concerns of our residents always have a place. Moving to the morning show feels like a gift. I get a great schedule, and I still get the opportunity to go out in the community and meet our viewers. I’ll keep doing that as long as they let me. I don’t take lightly the voice we have here. I’m sitting in the desk of great journalists. In my lifetime, those have been names that have inspired me like Merrill Moore, Johnny Wood, Tarah Taylor. It’s sometimes intimidating, but I still get advice from Johnny and Tarah. They’re always willing to have a conversation and share advice.
I also love volunteering in the community. It has always been a chance for me to solve some of the community problems I so often report on. For years, I volunteered with the GED program at the Abingdon Regional Jail. I’m a couple of years removed from that position, but I will still carry those personal stories with me. From the first day I stepped in the jail, I have been able to personalize the crime stories in my mind. Now, I volunteer with Girls on the Run in promoting self-esteem and positive interactions among young girls. I also recently got a chance to train for Make-A-Wish, the organization that grants wishes to children with life-threatening diseases. So, as I’m able, if you don’t see me on TV, those are the places I enjoy spending my time.
As for keeping in touch and staying up to date, our industry is changing. We love to have our audiences watching on TV, but we also understand that cell phones and tablets have become commonplace for the media. We’re always updating our online and digital platforms, and so we’re all available on our regular News5 and work pages. You can find me on Facebook under Olivia Bailey WCYB and @WCYB_Bailey on Twitter.