Media Watch: 8 questions with Michelle Valles
by Lisa Degliantoni
Posted on December 15, 2008
Michelle Valles is an El Paso transplant to Austin. She's most known in El Paso for her stint as anchor at NewsChannel 9 KTSM. While in Austin as an anchor for KXAN, she had a widely publicized incident involving a DUI allegation. She has a new gig, as a morning anchor at Austin station KEYE.
NPT contacted Valles via email. The following is her response to eight questions:
About the new job:
I cannot tell you how excited I am to start this new phase in my life.
During my 10 years as a reporter and anchor I was always hoping news directors wouldn't figure out that the morning slot was probably where I would shine best. Finally they did.
Evenings are more serious and not as personality driven. And I've reached a point in my life where I'm ready for huge challenges. I've never worked for anyone but NBC affiliates, now that's changing. I've never worked the morning slot, now that's changing. And also just as exciting, I've never had a female supervisor, now I have two! My news director Suzanne Brown and General Manager Amy Villareal.
I am 33, and believe me there is no better time to make life changes than now! People have this perception that I love the nightlife and yes I had a fun one, but now I'm ready to watch the sun come up and enjoy my cup of coffee and get folks prepared to start their day informed.
What lessons have you learned about being a public figure?
Being a public figure is far from easy. I have cherished these last three months of unemployment. I didn't focus on buying the latest makeup, designer purse, or shoes. Instead I shopped at Goodwill and thrift shops and decided I was spending too much anyway. I also spent more time with my loved ones without having to worry to go back to work. I also took advantage of wearing no makeup, high heels or fake eyelashes. I'm actually nervous to throw myself back into the public light.
This recent DUI gave me strength I didn't believe I had, it also gave me a different perspective. 'Til this day I defend my innocence, but once you're accused of such a thing, there's no way of changing the court of public opinion. I can only learn from it, and tell all my friends and folks not to drink and drive, not even one.
I am only human, and I refuse to live in torment, but this has been part of my journey and has made me who I am today which is a strong confident wiser woman. Starting out, I thought I had to portray this perfect image. Well that just doesn't work, you have to be yourself and sometimes you have to grow up in front of a live audience.
Lesson I've learned being a public figure is to more importantly stay true to yourself. Talent, hard work, and luck got me to where I am, but as my mentors have told me, once you are a public figure you are open to criticism but the love and support I've received during good times and bad has been immeasurable. I don't focus on the negative and the bottom line as former UT Coach Darryl Roy used to tell his team "They can't tackle you if you're not carrying the ball."
Why Austin instead of El Paso?
I miss El Paso, however Austin is just more my speed. I graduated from UT and it just feels like home. I still feel like I'm representing El Paso, and I go home quite often so I get the best of both worlds. I even report on El Paso stories all the time here in Austin. And run into soooooo many El Pasoans, but I still tell Austinites you can't beat the sunsets and summer thunderstorms in El Paso. That's for sure. Home will always be home.
What's different about reporting/anchoring in a larger market?
There aren't too many differences between smaller and larger markets when it comes to the technology. And many times smaller markets have the newer equipment. NC9 is HD and my former station KXAN isn't. Also, KVIA's newsroom, website, and station is much nicer than most in Austin. The stories, however, are so different especially with what's happening in Juarez. What happens in Austin affects Austin or the state, but what happens in El Paso affects people internationally. I always said El Paso is an incredible place to have a career as a journalist. From the Patriot missiles in Fort Bliss, to the stealth bombers in Holloman Air Force Base to the international borders in El Paso. The Southwest area is a treasure chest for a reporter.
It seems like there's a disconnect between the news in El Paso/Juarez and the size of the news staff to cover it. Do you think El Paso will ever grow into a stronger media town, or are our small market numbers immutable?
I think El Paso TV stations do lack in the number of staff to cover the kind of news that is happening there. Journalists there cover New Mexico, Texas and Juarez. That's huge, but unfortunately what we will see everywhere is downsizing. I won't be surprised if in 10 years some cities only have one TV news station, just like newspapers have become. There aren't the cushy budgets anymore to support the quality live newscasts TV stations used to broadcast, plus viewerships and sponsorships aren't there like they used to be, cable companies are fighting TV stations for every penny, advertisers are jumping out because budgets are getting slashed in this recession, and younger generations and busy professionals and families are getting their news from the Internet and or radio. The days of a 5 o'clock family dinner followed by watching the news together are long gone.
What did you do with our time during your transition from KXAN to KEYE?
During my time off, I traveled quite a bit especially to El Paso. I spent quality time with family and went for long outings with my 2 year-old nephew Noah. I can't tell you how much that time off meant to me, I really needed it. I did a lot of soul searching and LOVED not being in the public eye as much and also didn't watch too much TV.
I also continued MCing and doing community and charity events. I took up a pottery class, and rarely wore makeup!! It was so much fun. Now it's time to get back in the game.
Favorite part of the job? Least favorite part?
The least favorite thing about this job is the time constraint given to stories. A minute or less to tell a story is not much, and really quality journalism isn't there anymore. Let's not kid ourselves. But local news is what it is, it's fast information to get your family informed and prepared.
And if you can tell some of that information with a little personality...great!
Are you going to have a hard time with the morning anchor slot?
Most people don't want their news from a talking head, they want a real person who laughs when the time is right and is serious when it calls for it. I think I succeeded in evening news, not it's time to try the mornings, that's where it takes some guts! Lets see if I got what it takes.
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