News 6 anchors share stories of flying chicken wings and other drama from small-town newsrooms

Florida's Fourth Estate: Let the chicken wings fly

ORLANDO, Fla. – This week on Florida’s Fourth Estate, News 6 anchors share stories of weird things they experienced in their first jobs.

Is a high profile trial in a small town responsible for launching the news career of Julie Broughton? Why was Matt Austin on a dinner break when a hostage taker called the newsroom? And Ginger Gadsden says getting pelted with chicken wings, even if you are not the intended target, still hurts.

The glamorous lives of news anchors is the thing of legend. They have personal dressing rooms, private offices, hair, makeup and wardrobe people who attend to their every need. Some even have drivers who pick them up from home.

Insert record scratch sound effect here.

Now let’s talk reality.

All that stuff happens for people who work at the network level. I am talking Gayle King, Norah O’Donnell and Robin Roberts level here.

Those of us who are proud to be local news anchors got our start in some pretty small towns.

So did those big wigs at the networks, by the way.

But for some reason people have this glamorous yet preposterous idea that all news anchors, from Lima to Los Angeles, live like the Kardashians.

Ginger Gadsden and Matt Austin invited their colleague Julie Broughton to talk about some of those experiences in small markets for this week’s edition of Florida’s Fourth Estate.

Each shared stories of the zany things that happened in their very first small-town jobs.

Julie got her start in Oak Hill, West Virginia.

She says when she sent out resume tapes, they are the only ones who called her back. Well, shame on all those other folks.

As it turns out,  Oak Hill may have given Julie her first shot at anchoring because of a high-profile trial that took place during the late 1990′s.

It began when a weekend news anchor and a sports anchor got into a heated exchange about some misplaced keys to a station vehicle.

Julie talks about the time she had to testify in court after newsroom drama exploded into the local newspaper.

Julie explained this particular anchor let everyone know early on that she was their boss on the weekends.  No one questioned this because her resume included spending time at the network and supervising network level things.  So, it made sense to all of these young twenty-somethings that she would be the one to query the sports anchor about car keys.

"Some words were exchanged.  A small chase might have ensued through the newsroom, you know very cartoon like, coming through, one behind the other, " Julie recalled.

She pointed out, “No one touched anyone.”

This is an important fact to remember because the anchor eventually accused the sports guy of assault. That’s where Julie and her co-workers come in. They had to testify at the trial which was apparently well attended.

The population of Oak Hill at the time this happened was just north of 7,000 people and it seems most of them came to see the TV people in living color.

The sports anchor was acquitted of assault charges.  It was also revealed at trial the weekend news anchor beefed up her resume and had not,  in fact worked,  at the network.

Julie said, “Both of them lost their jobs over this.  However, the irony is, if you recall, she said she had worked for the network but he ended up with a network job.”

Sweet justice.

Things did not end on such a sweet note for Ginger at her first job as a weather anchor in Columbia, South Carolina.

Turns out her story also involves a sports anchor.

Ginger’s station hired a sports anchor who really did work at a cable network.  It also turns out this man was very opinionated off and on air.  It’s the latter that caused the problem.

After the late news one night Ginger along with the sports anchor and a handful of co-workers head to a little dinner in the heart of downtown Columbia.

Everything was going fine until Ginger felt a dull thump to the back of her head.

Ginger explained, “There are people in the diner who recognized the sports guy and they do not like him.  They are throwing wings at him and I am collateral damage and so are some other people at the table.”

Ginger cannot recall if it was a right wing or a left wing that hit her in the head.

Insert audible groan here.

That brings us to Matt,  who began his illustrious career in Idaho Falls, Idaho.

Matt talks about the time a man at the center of a standoff called the newsroom. The only person there to answer the phone was the sports guy.

“I was the backup guy and I did this late-night show by myself. I am telling you that because all of us news anchors pretty much had the same dinner break which by design is pretty stupid” Matt explained.

One night Matt found out just how bad this dinner break idea was.

There is an active hostage situation happening in town and all of the news anchors were, say it with me, at dinner.

The only person in the newsroom was the sports anchor. What is it about these sports guys?

So, when the phone rang and the voice on the other end said, " Hey, I am the guy in the middle of that standoff," it was the sports anchor who took the call.

Matt said, “We all get back to the newsroom. We’re sauntering in with full bellies and he’s sitting there shaking.”

Matt said the sports anchor spent nearly an hour on the phone with the guy who would eventually be the lead story in their newscast.

Of course, there is much more to these stories and experiences.

Ginger, Matt and Julie unpack it all in this week’s edition of Florida’s Fourth Estate podcast.

Florida’s Fourth Estate looks at everything from swampy politics to a fragile environment and even the crazy headlines that make Florida the craziest state in the Union.

Ginger Gadsden and Matt Austin use decades of experience as journalists to dissect the headlines that impact Florida. Each week they have a guest host who helps give an irreverent look at the issues impacting the Sunshine State. Big influencers, like Attorney John Morgan, renowned Florida journalists and the scientists protecting Florida’s ecosystem, can often be found as guests.

Look for new episodes every Friday on iTunes, Stitcher or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.

Listen to the full episode of Florida’s Fourth Estate on iTunes here or on Sticher here.

About the Author:

Ginger Gadsden joined the News 6 team in June 2014 as an anchor/reporter. She currently co-anchors the 4 p.m. 5:30 p.m. and the 7 p.m. newscasts.