Andrea Roane, Broadcast Journalist | Washington, D.C.
Hi, I'm Andrea Roane. I'm a news anchor at WUSA9.
Tell us about your path to journalism.
I've been working in broadcasting for almost 45 years. It's amazing. My path to broadcasting is one of those crossroads because I didn't start out with a burning desire to be a journalist. I'm an educator. When I was growing up in the south during the time of segregation, you didn't see anyone who looked like me on TV, so I didn't dream that dream of being a journalist. It was another opportunity that brought me into journalism.
I was the administrator of a performing arts high school in the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts. We were a brand new school and we were trying to convince people in the traditional New Orleans public school system to send their children who were gifted and talented in all areas of the arts to come to our school, and I went on the public television station to promote this show.
The interviewer was very comfortable, easy to talk to, and made our case. My program was federally funded, so after two years in the program, the money ran out and I went back to the New Orleans public school system again. Then I got a phone call from the associate producer of the program and she said, we'd like you to come in to apply for a job as an education reporter. Dumbfounded, completely dumbfounded. Why me? Well, she said, you were so good in this interview about NOCCA, the acronym for our school, that we wanted to give you a try. Now it was a federally funded program again, so the thing is that you needed to have minorities. This was during the days of affirmative action, so they were looking for minorities and they were looking for women and I fit the bill.
I had absolutely no experience in television and quite frankly, no thoughts of being on television, but she said, come on in. Don't worry about it. So I went in, I got the job, and that started me on this path towards journalism.
Talk about the biggest change you've seen in the last four decades when it comes to women in the business.
When it comes to women in the business, what has changed, yes, there are more women today. Yes there are more minorities, but we're still talking about some of the same issues. We shouldn't be talking about these issues in the 21st century. That should've been something we put behind us, but we haven't put those behind us.
And now what's happened with the 'me too' and 'time's up' is that we're turning that camera, that spotlight on these issues and not just whispering about it. We're not saying we're the suffragettes out there, we're not burning our bras like they did in the sixties, but we have to make that same kind of commitment. Me Too. Maybe it didn't happen to me as badly as it happened to some. I had good support and it was support mainly from women.
When you think about how I got to where I am, the women who brought me forward in this business, Margie Larson who took me out of the classroom, brought me to public TV. Mickey Wellman was the woman who brought me from public TV to the local CBS affiliate, Ricky Green at WETA who brought me into Metro Week and her program, and then Betty Endicott who brought me to Channel 9. I had those women who were lifting me up, supporting me all along the way, which is why I say we have to stand up and support each other because that's what got me through all of these 40 some years. Women strong enough to keep me strong.
Describe a moment when you have felt powerful.
My advocacy with breast cancer awareness is 25 years old and it's a simple message. It's called Buddy Check 9. As a buddy, I'm saying, let's shout it out. Let's talk about this. Let people know that cancer is not going to make us afraid, so the Buddy Check 9 message has been a call your buddy, support your buddy, remind them to do breast self exams, remind them to do their annual mammograms, make sure they go for that clinical exam by a doctor. Now we know genetics plays a role, so if they have a high risk factor in their family, seek genetic counseling and call that buddy on the ninth of the month.
I'll never forget the first card that I received from a woman who said you saved my life, and she said, I started feeling in the area of the breast and I felt alone. She went to the doctor and it was a cancerous lump. But she said it was stage 0, so she had excised and went on about her life. I had another woman, a nurse, and she was on a shift where she could watch me at 12:00 noon. She felt a lump. In her case, it was a little bit more aggressive. It was a stage 2 cancer and she told me, you saved my life. Most people don't get to save anybody's life in their lifetime. The power that comes from that was that she took my message, saved her own life, and then spread that message, which is what Buddy Check is all about. Spreading the word, having more buddies, getting women aware of their bodies so that they can be the first to know when something's wrong and the advocate for themselves.
I think the women that I'm working with now telling their stories, they are inspiring to see how they respond to a dire diagnosis. The women that I've interviewed who knew that they had terminal cancer, that they weren't gonna make it. I can't tell you how I'm the one with tears in my eyes talking to them about their situation, knowing how it probably is going to end. They inspire me. They keep me going.
Do you still love being a news broadcaster - something you said you never wanted to do?
You know why I can say I love broadcasting even though it was something I never wanted to do. Remember my path started in education and 45 years later, my path still keeps me on the road as an educator, so broadcasting is something where you tell people something they should know, need to know, want to know. And as a teacher you want to impart information to your students. You want to help them figure it out, follow their path, find their own answers and I'm still doing that. So I can say I still love journalism. I still love broadcasting because I'm doing what I was trained to do and I was trained as an educator.
Finish this sentence - "I most look forward to..."
I most look forward to turning off the alarm clock and not having to worry about getting up to go to the job for any particular time. I was getting up at 1:45 AM for 16 years straight. I will be happy to turn off that alarm clock and hopefully work my body into getting up in a more normal hour. But I hope to continue as an educator. I will still have a message to tell. People will still need to know what to do to take charge of their health, whether it's regular health or breast health, and I want to be able to mentor other women. I think that's important. If someone wants to talk, wants to go out and have coffee, wants to go out and have lunch, I want to be able to say yes, I'd like to do that. Sit down and hear what their concerns are and share a little bit of what I've gone through. So mentor again, educator, that's what I'd like to do.