SMA hosts local news anchor

Brittany Parker, Editor-in-Chief

Students may have seen local news anchor Paula Caruso walking around campus recently, only this time she was not armed with the usual microphone, camera and film equipment. Caruso, who works at WMBF News, came to Francis Marion to speak at the Nov. 3 Student Media Association meeting.

“It was inspirational and motivational for students who might want to follow in her footsteps,” said Maria Lundberg, Assistant Professor of Mass Communication and SMA adviser. “I think she had a lot of good messages to share.”

Lundberg said that she was happy to welcome Caruso to the meeting, and she was pleased that Caruso stressed the hard work required of those working in the field of journalism.

“The opportunity to listen to any working professional in the industry is always beneficial,” Lundberg said.

SMA President Tray Graham, a senior majoring in the broadcast journalism track of Mass Communication, organized Caruso’s visit by utilizing social media.

“Paula, like many local on-air talents, is a friend of mine on my Facebook account,” Graham said. “I needed someone to speak at the next meeting, so with one Facebook message Paula and I started setting up times.”

At the SMA meeting Caruso discussed her educational background, how she got her start in broadcast, how she came to the area and what her current job entails.

“I came (to WMBF) because I couldn’t believe a TV station was being started from the ground up in 2008,” Caruso said. “It’s been tough. No one knew who we were at first…we’ve been clawing our way up.”

Caruso is from Detroit and attended Central Michigan University with a major in Broadcast and Cinematic Arts. She started as the 10 p.m. anchor for a local Fox Affiliate before moving to Ohio to work as a morning anchor for an NBC affiliate. Caruso said that is where she feels like she got her start in the industry.

Caruso said that she loves moving around and seeing different parts of the country, and she gets to know the diverse areas well because of the nature of her job.

Currently, Caruso works as the morning anchor for a local broadcast station, WMBF News. She said that in order to be prepared to work that shift, she goes to bed by 5 p.m., wakes up around 1 a.m. and goes in to work at 3 a.m.

“The good thing about my shift is I can always get the early bird special if I go to dinner,” Caruso joked.

Caruso also discussed the time between college graduation and the job world, which she called “the weird in-between phase.”

“I could not wait to start working and put my knowledge from school to use,” Caruso said.

Caruso offered advice to students who will soon be going through that same phase.

“You’ve got to send out a lot of applications before you get a call back,” Caruso said.

She advised students to always include a cover letter, even if a potential employer does not ask for it. She also told students to put their best audition tapes first because she has seen directors eject a video after 10 seconds if he/she is not interested immediately.

Caruso also discussed the necessity of being able to move around if one wants to work in the field of journalism, particularly in radio and broadcast.

“You have to be really open-minded about where you’re going to go when you’re looking for radio and TV jobs,” Caruso said.

She pointed out to students that moving around constantly affects one’s personal life. Caruso mentioned having to make new friends constantly, as well as finding new doctors, dentists, etc.

“You kind of get burned out on moving,” Caruso said. “I’m burned out.”

She also mentioned that she did not think she could handle living up north anymore because of the cold weather.

“I’m really happy where I’m at … this is a great place to live,” Caruso said.

After Caruso’s presentation, Graham presented her with a thank-you gift for taking the time to come speak to the SMA members.

“To be an on-air personality is a goal of mine, and it was very enlightening finding out how someone who was once in your shoes reached their goal,” Graham said. “I was also interested in how WMBF is doing since it is the newest station in the market. I’ve literally watched it develop from the ground up.”

Graham has scheduled Dennis Davis from Quantum Communication as the guest speaker for the Nov. 17 SMA meeting. Davis works as a program director and radio personality at two local stations, 102.9 and 103.3.

Graham aims to have at least one working professional from each track in Mass Communication come speak at SMA meetings this school year.