A perfect time to start? How about tomorrow at 4 a.m.! We are starting early with the winter weather so I'm headed to bed as soon as possible. Have a great week, everyone!
Just checking in to say hi! A few things have changed in the last month and it's been a little crazy. I started anchoring the morning show about a month and a half ago and it feels like I haven't stopped moving since! We have had some late nights and (extra) early mornings but lots of fun in between.
I'll share more about the job soon, but for now I just want to say thanks to everyone who has reached out with congratulatory and encouraging words. Thank you for your support, and please keep watching!
A perfect time to start? How about tomorrow at 4 a.m.! We are starting early with the winter weather so I'm headed to bed as soon as possible. Have a great week, everyone!
Heyyy everyone, happy Tuesday! I hope you all have battled through your turkey comas and cyber shopping hangovers by now. I have been enjoying a glorious few days away from work, catching up on rest and knocking things off my Christmas shopping list.
I'm checking in today because I want to remind everyone about #GivingTuesday. What an awesome thing-- a response to our consumer crazed shopping of the last week in the form of an opportunity to support some truly wonderful organizations.
There are SO many out there, which is great, but also sometimes hard to sort through. So I thought I'd give you a quick rundown of a few groups that have made a difference in my life this year.
Like so many of you, I am very fortunate. I have not been on the receiving end of charitable services...but boy have these organizations given me a lot. That's the beauty of donating your time and/or money. I *guarantee* it will be better than any gift you find under a tree.
GIRLS IN THE KNOW
The picture above is from an event a few weeks ago. I served as emcee and Dr. Tim Jordan spoke to a an incredible group of women (and one man!) eager to make a difference in their daughters' lives.
To make this as short as possible-- GITK is a group that puts on a speaker series for preteen girls and their moms/caregivers. They learn from the experts (doctors, police officers, psychologists) about everything from puberty to personal safety...from body image to being a good friend. SO cool. I encourage you to watch the video about it below. Really well-produced and a great snapshot of what GITK is all about.
I first learned about GITK in May, on Give STL day. I was cruising through all the awesome groups and something about this one just really spoke to me. Since then, the more I've learned the more impressed I've become! We already know women are changing the world every single day. Imagine the impact of GITK--- they are helping young girls to come out of adolescence empowered and ready to lead. The positive impact is exponential!
You can donate here: http://girlsintheknow.org/get-involved/donate/
And here's what I did: https://www.etsy.com/listing/211144019/power-pack-notecards-set-of-four
Every purchase benefits GITK. I can't wait to give this beautiful stationery to loved ones this Christmas!
Alright, next up! ....
THE LITTLE BIT FOUNDATION
I just learned about this amazing non-profit about a month ago. (Hands down one of my favorite parts of my job is getting to spread the word about all the wonderful work people do for total strangers. There is so much good in this world!) So I stopped by an elementary school in North St. Louis on a very cold day to meet some kids who greatly benefit from Little Bit. One of the organizers mentioned to me that this particular day alone, five kids showed up to school without coats. Heartbreaking. But this group is committed to making sure the kids they serve have everything they need to be successful in school. What makes it even more special-- they do it with dignity. I got to see firsthand the looks on the kids' faces when they picked out a coat and a loving volunteer helped them try it on. Then they get to pick a matching scarf and gloves. Tearjerker status, trust me!
Here's the story I did on the organization: http://www.kmov.com/news/local/Cold-weather-causes-spike-in-calls-to-local-charities--283171181.html
(I also plan to start volunteering there when things settle down a bit. Hold me to it!)
Please consider giving your time or talents (or cash!) to Little Bit. I know it will go to good use. As they say, every little bit counts!
Donate here: http://www.thelittlebitfoundation.org/
And last but certainly not least....
This is a shot from the Over the Top for Tots event benefiting the St. Louis Crisis Nursery.
The people standing beside me in this picture are my heroes! They helped the Crisis Nursery staff organize the event that ended up raising $92,000 for local children in need. I emceed the luncheon and let me tell you, I had to hold back tears multiple times.
Many of you know about the Crisis Nursery--the folks there offer a 24/7 safe haven for kids no matter what the circumstances. I interviewed the Executive Director in my first year on the job and I will never forget what she told me about children who are abused. She said no parent ever wants or plans to hurt her child. It is the profound stress of life circumstances that leads up to abuse and Crisis Nursery is there to make sure it doesn't get to that point. I can only imagine the patience and empathy the folks at the Crisis Nursery employ every single day.
This year they are granting holiday wishes for 1,700 kids in St. Louis. They still need help though--as of now 25 families will not get a Christmas this year.
If you can, please donate here: http://www.crisisnurserykids.org/
Thanks so much for reading and happy holidays to each of you! If you have a favorite charity or know someone in need, please let us know.
You know that really bad dream when you leave the house without pants on or fail to wash the soap out of your hair on your first day of a new job? Well, I'm living the dream today people.
First of all the good news: starting today I am your new anchor for News 4 at Noon! Woohoo! Looking forward to lots of lunch dates with all of you.
Now to the bad...which I probably should just keep to myself, but I know someone out there feels my pain. So while I did manage to put pants on before leaving my house and I promise you I *did* wash my hair, I'm here to confess that I didn't do it very well. At all.
I started with good intentions. A nice deep condition to kick off a week of wonderful hair days, right? Right, that's how it always works for me too. Anyway, I didn't realize my mistake until mid-blow dry. The hair around my temples was not getting dry and I was starting to look like Danny Zuko from Grease. Not cute. I must have been so distracted that I forgot how to shampoo, and I most definitely didn't rinse and repeat.
At this point, rewashing was just not an option. Too much time. I was already less than 6 hours away from 2 o'clock alarm and my eyelids were starting to feel heavy. So I decided to go with it. I have done my best to dry shampoo and tease and hide my hair, but alas, it will not go away. I can make no promises for my appearance when the clock strikes noon, but I hope you tune in anyway. I promise my hair ranks exactly last on the list of important things we will cover in the newscast.
And a fun side note for all of you who've been told you weren't good enough or would never achieve your dreams:
When I head out to the set today, I will be mentally sending just a teensy bit of credit to a former boss who once told me I would never be here. Never reporting the news in my hometown, never anchoring a show because of my "horrible Midwestern accent," and never finding any success in the television news business. Wherever he is today, all I have to say is thanks for giving me the motivation and determination to prove you wrong.
Alright, that's all for now. I'm off to find more dry shampoo whilst humming along to Taylor Swift's, "Mean."
Happy Monday, everybody!
I am so excited to share with you all that I won my first Emmy last weekend!!
I never expected that it would be for helping out another reporter, but I'm proud I got to be part of telling a very special story about a little boy who lost his battle with brain cancer.
See the story here: http://tinyurl.com/mar3zwa
My contribution to the project involved shooting video at a SLU basketball game. At the time I actually had a pretty bad attitude about it.
It was a chilly Saturday night last November. Fellow reporter Mike Colombo asked the week before if I would shoot some of the game and the halftime ceremony featuring Joshua Brown's family. I said maybe-- but only if no one else could do it. Working the camera has never been my favorite part of the job, and shooting sports is a whole different animal...one that is WAY out of my comfort zone. I didn't want to do it and deep down, I doubted my ability to get the shots he needed.
But I also knew how important this story was to Mike. And Joshua had unknowingly made an impact on me that year as well. I hoped and prayed for a full recovery for Josh as he fought his illness and like so many others, felt deeply saddened by his death. So when that Saturday rolled around, and Mike asked/begged every last 'real' photographer to help but none could make it, I said yes.
I remember the nervousness building in my chest as we walked in the press entrance at Chaifetz Arena. The team was about to start warming up so we made our way to the court. Joshua had grown close with several of the SLU players the season before, so I wanted to get some up close shots. I awkwardly settled on the floor under the basket and started recording. It was my first time shooting sports since....college? maybe high school? Naturally, the camera was rolling for about 45 seconds when I got smoked in the face with a basketball. Boy, did that add to my cheerful disposition. Now I was on the verge of tears, questioning myself even more, and really feeling the pressure.
Well, guess what? It all turned out okay. I got what we needed and even a few pretty decent shots. In all it's a small part of Mike's story and it was gracious of him to include me on the list of contributors. But I really believe there's a lesson here. There are opportunities and gifts where we least expect them. It's a reminder for me of all of those quotes about going out on the limb because that's where the fruit is. Except in this case the limb came in the form of a college basketball court and the fruit, a lovely gold statuette.
It isn't how I imagined winning my first Emmy, but now I can say I wouldn't have it any other way. My new hardware will always represent the value of teamwork, of Joshua's impact on the world in his nine short years, and the power of choosing to believe in myself instead of doubt. Why did I waste my energy that night feeling insecure instead of trusting myself to rise to the occasion? I stuck it out and fell back on the 'fake it til you make it' mantra, but even that is playing small. Next time, I'm all in. And I'll be sure to tell you all about it.
Thanks for reading,
P.S. It's true, Emmys of all shapes and sizes really do love pizza! Proof:
Happy Labor Day, everybody! This is my first post with video, woohoo! Small victories for someone who is not the most tech-savvy. I'm excited to share my story from this morning's show--it's all about Girls In The Know, an awesome organization started right here in St. Louis. The group will be part of Bullying Prevention Day at Busch Stadium today, with lots of girls and their moms even going on the field before the game!
I first learned about GITK several months ago, on Give STL Day. I was scrolling through the list of organizations, feeling so inspired by all the love in St. Louis, and stumbled upon the description for GITK. I was so impressed! I had never heard of anything like it--- a group specifically geared for young girls and their moms, meant to help them navigate that crazy time of life that seems to leave no one unscathed: adolescence. Ugh! Even the mention of it makes some of us cringe.
So I ended up meeting with the Executive Director of the organization, a wonderful woman named Gina. What a woman to look up to. We chatted about the core mission of GITK and the motivation behind all of it. These are moms who want to help their girls become strong, confident young women. Not helicopter parents, but sounding boards about topics that matter. So impressive. I had a great time collecting the elements of this piece and I'm glad we can get the word out about Girls In The Know. Special thanks to Gina for all her help!
Please check out the story and let me know what you think in the comment section!
Have a Happy Labor Day! If you're relaxing at home, flip on the tube at 11 a.m. I'll be anchoring an early edition of News Four at Noon before tennis.
Thanks for reading (and watching!).
That's the trade magazine I saw at Dobbs last week as I was getting an oil change. Believe it or not, Ferguson landed on the front page of 'Tire Business', which I'm told is a national publication for, you know, the tire business. The last two and a half weeks have been a blur, but I never got used to seeing the story top headlines in the national media. day after day.
Things are much quieter now, but the story isn't going anywhere. Yesterday my dentist asked me about. Over the weekend I stumbled upon a pro-police rally on my way to get lunch. And every day at work we talk about what's going on, what's next, how do we advance the conversation.
Since my post last week, I have continued to spend time in Ferguson, covering the situation in local schools, the continued protests (almost entirely peaceful now), and the broader implications of what happens next. What I said then still holds true-- there is no consensus. Some call this the new civil rights movement, some say it's time to let the Grand Jury run its course, others just want to get on with their lives after weeks of disruption to local businesses and schools.
Late last week this group of protestors gathered on West Florissant. They marched with signs, some with hands up, then returned to the this designated gathering place (designated by police) and circled up to pray. I've been amazed by some people who we see protesting day after day, all night long.
This week, police are wrapping up their operation at 'Command Post', just a few blocks away from where that picture was taken. That's where the National Guard moved in to protect those law enforcement officers. The Guard is now gone, and businesses can resume normal operation.
Before I go, I would like to send my deepest thanks to everyone who reached out to check on me these last few weeks. Especially to the friends and family who put up with the unreturned texts and phone calls, the missed birthday parties and cancelled plans. You are simply the best! Thank you.
Everybody in Ferguson wants answers.
Everybody wants answers about Ferguson.
It must be human nature to put things in a box and tie a bow around it.
That’s not going to happen here.
When I first arrived in North St. Louis County last Monday morning, I saw guns and fear staring back from the line of police officers. It was 3 a.m. and the super moon was shining down on us. The riots of the night before were new territory for most of the cops, definitely for me. I noticed a black man standing nearby, who appeared to be a civilian, tenderly raising his hands as he approached the barricade. My photographer, also an African-American, hung back closer to our news vehicle while I approached the uniformed group of men I subconsciously viewed as protectors. I was reminded in that moment that not everyone in our country gets to grow up feeling the same way.
Since that morning I’ve learned a lot about Michael Brown and a lot about race in the city I call home. The atmosphere in Ferguson has varied so much in that time. Sometimes right before my eyes on the QuikTrip parking lot, other times in dramatic fashion as the sun goes down and a small group of unruly protestors clash with police. Each person I speak to has a slightly different reason for ending up there-- angry over the death of Michael Brown, weary of the injustices of poverty and race in America, curious and sad because their community has been forever altered. It has been difficult to witness and even harder to summarize in the 90 seconds we have for our live reports.
I’ve heard so many people from other parts of St. Louis, the United States and now even the world, wondering the ‘why’ behind the unrest unfolding in Ferguson. I don’t have an easy answer. There isn’t a simple explanation or root cause of the ‘problem’. What I do know for sure is that there is no consensus. And there is no sense in grouping people together based on their color or location. In fact, that is unfair and lazy and a disservice to all involved. The points of view and perspective in the crowds in Ferguson vary greatly. Everyone sees our world with a different lens. Everyone wants a better, brighter future for the next generation.
My request to you: be curious and insatiable in your consumption of information. Get it from many outlets and keep a healthy skepticism for all. Remember most of the journalists on the ground are working hard for the truth, far removed from the media monster pundits are so quick to vilify. But most of all, entertain the notion of empathy. I wish everyone could hear the way a young mom described her frustration that the QT burned down because now she has nowhere to buy milk for her baby in the middle of the night. I wish you could feel the anger and fatigue of a grandmother in Ferguson as she explained the conversation she still has with her now grown sons. “Take the ticket,” she tells them. “Never argue with police, always keep your hands visible because you could be shot and nothing done about it.” And yesterday, a woman and her young daughter, walking to the bus stop headed for kindergarten. She held back tears as she shared the lesson she isn’t prepared to teach…asking simply, “how do I explain racism to my little girl?”
Maybe these accounts are far from your reality. Maybe you can't relate or don't fully believe or understand them. That's okay. Just remember that they are real for the people living in Ferguson and so many other places in the United States. This story is one that affects us all. As hard as it may be, don’t shy away from the tough conversations spurred by the death of a young black man. They will make us better and our communities stronger.
Happy Friday, World Wide Web!
Sending good vibes for everyone out there who is especially ready for the weekend right now (myself included). I've been tired all week. I guess that's what a trip to Vegas will do to you! I've been trying to catch up but sometimes you just need a few days off.
So the purpose of this post is to put it out there-- I'm really going to commit to writing here more consistently. I'm going for once a week. Don't want to jinx myself by saying that, but deadlines are good, right? The posts will be part-work life, part-personal, but all about what's going on in my corner of the world. I hope someone other than my mom will enjoy it...
And speaking of my mom! I'd like to wish my parents a very Happy Anniversary today! Married in 1981, so that means 33 years together, standing by each other through the ups and the downs. My view of marriage has definitely evolved over the years, and I have so much respect for their relationship. They are the foundation of our family of six and I owe so much to them for the sacrifices they've made to provide for us. Prime example: catching these tasty trout so we don't go hungry. Can't thank you enough, Mom & Dad!
Have a great weekend, everybody. -erau
Last Tuesday I had a wonderful afternoon with my mom. I drove out to my hometown after work, and picked up lunch from my favorite Italian place on the way. Mom and I laughed at the kitchen table while we watched her new puppy, Ruby, chase her tail. I went to the dentist, then the DMV, and brought back cherry limeades. When my dad got home from work we chatted over a glass of wine before I went to bed.
While I was enjoying a perfectly normal day, Hailey Owens was three hours away, doing the same thing. It was one of the first mild days Missouri had seen in months. Wearing blue jean shorts and purple sandals, she walked a few blocks down the street to play with her best friend. Except Hailey would never make it home that night.
When I woke up around 1:30 Wednesday morning, I drove into work thinking about the Amber Alert I'd be covering that day. A little girl named Hailey was still missing, but her family was hopeful for her safe return. I did not know that day would turn into a 17 hour one; that I would learn of Hailey's death around 7 a.m. and leave for Springfield soon after. My photographer and I talked to neighbors who knew Hailey and police officers who wished they could have done more. After the evening newscast, we stopped at Wal-Mart to buy a toothbrush and a clean shirt before we headed for the hotel. The next day after the morning show, we got back on 44 and started the long drive home. I felt compelled to write along the way, and I've included that writing below.
Tonight, a week after her murder, Hailey is still on my mind. And I'm still sending love to those who lost her.
Thanks for reading,
We're driving back from Springfield, surfing radio channels. Every time the static clears, there seems to be a DJ relaying the details of Hailey's case. It makes me sick every time, even though I've been absorbed in it for more than 24 hours now.
I included some of the details from the probable cause statement in my report this morning. The smell of bleach in the basement, the ligature marks on Hailey's wrists, the plastic tote where police found her body--stacked under another container full of papers like it was a box of holiday decorations. It's all public record, but as soon as I finished the live report I regretted my words. I wished I could take them back and make them untrue. I thought of the moms and dads and kids eating breakfast-- what if they heard me and got scared to walk to the bus stop? Unfortunately it's not the worst we hear on the news.
Keeping my composure has been tough. I especially struggled after reading an article in the Springfield paper this morning. Hailey's aunt, Erin, talked about her sweet niece. She told the reporter Hailey couldn't say her 'R's, so she called her 'Aunt Ewin'. How cute is that. This little girl with all her special things that made her unique, that made her Hailey, is gone forever. Taken in the most senseless way.
Sometimes the hard part is that we get to leave these stories behind. I had a big breakfast with the photographers this morning on our way out of town, talking shop and laughing over French toast. I have Jimmy Fallon's Tonight Show debut waiting on my DVR to make me laugh. And tomorrow morning, I'll be reporting on power outages or public officials or the story of the day. But the story will never go away for Hailey's family. One of the pictures circulating among the media outlets shows Hailey, striking a dance pose in what looks like her bedroom. What is her mom supposed to do with that room? With the bed she was supposed to be tucked into Tuesday night, and Wednesday night, and tonight? It hurts my heart to think about.
So much of this job is gathering facts, asking questions, looking for answers. In Hailey's case, the most important questions are the ones none of us can answer. They are the ones that make you angry and doubtful and profoundly sad.
So for now I will do all I can. I will send love to Hailey and her family. And to the parents of the man accused of killing her. I won't think of how many lives have been ruined or how many hearts broken. I will wake up tomorrow and go to work. I will report on whatever story they ask me to. But I will be thinking of Hailey.
I survived!! I made it to Friday after a week of waking up at 1:30 in the morning, woohoo!
Now that I got that out of my system...on to more important matters. This weekend marks the first time in my television career that I'll have Saturday/Sunday off. I've gone big time my friends.
So here are a few observations from my first week on the new shift...hidden perks of working from 3-11 a.m., obvious obstacles to living a 'normal' life, and other ramblings of a sleep deprived reporter.
- PERK: when you drive to work at 2:30, there's actually music playing! no annoying ads or radio hosts who talk for hours about a prank they pulled on an intern the week before. also, I hate when they do those ads that you think aren't ads at first until you realize they're peddling a weight loss pill or laser hair removal. If my calculations are correct, every radio DJ in St. Louis has been stick thin and completely bald from head to toe since at least 2006.
- PIT: sitting in a live truck at 4 in the morning makes you a prime target for ALL the remaining mosquitoes in St. Louis. Special thanks to the blood sucker who got me in the arch of my foot Wednesday morning. The gift that keeps on itching.
- PERK: you always beat the lunch crowd when you get to restaurant at 11. Winning. I got to check out Bogart's BBQ in Soulard this week as well as Magpie's in St. Charles. The BBQ was pretty amazing (I had the pulled rib sandwich..yummm) and Magpie's patio is one of the best on Main Street.
- PIT: it's just realllly hard to care about what your hair looks like in the middle of the night. Pretty unfortunate when you have to appear on TV either way.
Okay, that's all I've got for now. Hope you weren't expecting anything profound. Now I'm off to enjoy my weekend...by taking a nap immediately.
Have a great weekend and thanks for reading!