"Let them see who you are."
When we do research, we ask viewers to describe a news anchor they would love watching and want to watch on a regular basis. We don’t put words in their mouths. There are no lists of predetermined anchor attributes to check or rate. We get what they value and we get it in their words. And what we’ve been hearing is that, above all, viewers want talent they can trust.
The late Wendy Rieger was an anchor who was beloved and respected — and trusted. Before she retired, Wendy gifted us all with what she understood about delivering the news — telling people’s stories — in a way that viewers would appreciate and trust.
“You have to let them see who you are.”
If you haven’t already, I hope you’ll take the time to watch and think deeply about what Wendy has to say. Our real superpower, she reminds us, is our vulnerability and our humanity. This is echoed over and over again by viewers in our research — and especially in research we did during the last national election cycle, when the country was in turmoil and divided by many of the same fears and anxieties that will almost surely dominate headlines this year.
“They need to be passionate about my community and preferably have lived here long enough to understand it.”
“A person that interacts with the community with humanity.”
“Someone that comes off as caring about the community.”
Caring seeds trust. Not editorializing. Not politicizing or otherwise expressing a point of view. Caring.
If we aspire to truly connect and be trusted — especially in a season when trust seems so universally difficult to come by — it starts with that. I can’t think of better or more profound coaching for any of us, or of a better or more important conversation to start this new year.
Happy New Year, Everyone.
Words of wisdom from the late Wendy Rieger, WRC news anchor and local legend, about the importance of risking vulnerability and learning to be yourself.