Appearances Are Part Of Package For TV Newswomen
By Shanna Southern Peterson
Both Debra Wilde of KHQ-TV and Nadine Woodward of KREM-TV take their jobs seriously as co-anchors for the evening news on local network affiliates for the Inland Northwest.
They agreed to discuss some special circumstances surrounding their jobs, things they must deal with beyond reporting the news. Marianne Mishima of KXLY-TV declined to participate in the interview.
“As a trained journalist, the story is always what is most important,” said Woodward. “Getting accurate information to the public in a professional manner is my job. But because I work on television, I must also think about the way I look when I present the news.”
Patricia McRae, news director for KHQ said, “The anchor is something like an attorney. She has a message to deliver but in order to get the audience to pay attention to that message, she must look her best.”
But we’re not talking glamour. These woman have learned to look credible and authoritative, not like Vanna White on “Wheel of Fortune.”
Sometimes they learned the hard way.
Wilde told of her first assignment for the late-night broadcast: “It was after 10 p.m. and I figured that’s when a gal is supposed to sparkle,” she said. “I wore big gold and sapphire costume jewelry earrings and a pretty, shiny dress. It was a little too much for the evening news. I’ve learned since to tone it down considerably.”
KHQ takes the image of its anchors seriously enough to hire media consultant Stephanie Rickel of San Antonio, Texas, to work with both the morning and evening news teams to develop a professional appearance.
“This commitment includes investing in wardrobes of classically-tailored clothing like Jones New York suits that will still be in style long after Debra is sick of wearing them,” said McRae.
Nadine Woodward doesn’t receive that much assistance in selecting her apparel. KREM provides her with a modest annual clothing allowance, then she’s on her own to make wardrobe decisions based on what she has learned in nearly 13 years in broadcast journalism. No busy patterns or checks and nothing shiny. They play havoc with the camera.
Woodward buys most of her clothes from a major downtown department store, where the sales and selection continue to draw her back. Also, sales associates familiar with Woodward’s style call when they spot clothing that’s likely to appeal to her.
To augment her clothing budget, Woodward got creative. A couple of years ago she decided to have a special sale of suits she no longer wanted to wear on air, and invited friends and neighbors to a suit sale at her home.
“I decided to have the sale every other year or so and clear out the clothes I no longer wear during broadcasts,” she said. “At the first sale I sold all my suits (mainly sizes 6 and 8) for $20 each, and made $700 in just two hours. It was so successful that I did it again not long ago and had nearly the same results – $600 in two hours.
“It really helps stretch that clothing allowance.”
Both women emphasized they try hard to please a wide range of viewers, but it doesn’t always work.
“Not too long ago I wore a suit jacket with a black camisole underneath that I thought was really pretty,” said Wilde. At least one viewer thought otherwise and called the station to say she thought it looked less than professional.
“It’s never my intent to offend anyone, and quite frankly there have been times when I was surprised that what I thought was pleasant didn’t come across that way on camera,” said Wilde.
Besides her clothing, Wilde also receives a fair share of calls regarding her hair. “I try my best, but at this point I’m blaming El Nino for my bad hair days.”
Woodward, as many viewers have noticed, has begun wearing her hair slightly longer and flipped up, a change from the bob she wore for several years.
“It wasn’t any big decision,” she said. “Actually, what happened was, I had put off making a hair appointment and when I finally got around to calling, I couldn’t get in to see my regular stylist for three weeks.
I decided to try it long for a change, and so far it’s working great.”
Both women agree they receive far more calls regarding their appearance than do their male counterparts. Neither could remember the last time a viewer called to comment about Randy Shaw or Charles Rowe.
Wilde and Woodward work hard to bring the latest news to the public in a professional manner. They are experienced journalists who, night after night, report the best and worst events occurring in our community. Yet they can never forget that it’s not just the news, but how they look on camera that keeps viewers watching.
Tuesday, November 25, 1997