Miranda O’Bryan loves her job. That much is obvious after spending just a few minutes listening to her talk about her time as an anchor with KOTA Territory News/KEVN Black Hills Fox.
“I love telling people’s stories,” O’Bryan said. “That includes the facts and the kind of nitty-gritty stories that people think of as news, but it’s also those lighthearted feature pieces about the kid down the street selling lemonade to raise money to buy their little sister the doll she wants.”
O’Bryan, a Martin, South Dakota, native, is a 2020 graduate of South Dakota State University’s College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. She double majored in broadcast journalism and history.
“I actually applied to SDSU to be pre-med and then wasn’t sure if that was right for me,” O’Bryan explained. “So I went undecided, took a class in journalism and fell in love with it. I’ve always loved history, so I decided to sort of combine the two.”
When the pandemic hit in spring 2020, O’Bryan was nearing graduation and, like most soon-to-be college grads, she was trying to figure out what she wanted to do. During college, O’Bryan completed an internship with KOTA Territory News and really liked what she did then. When a job for a multimedia journalist opened up at the Rapid City station, O’Bryan jumped at the opportunity.
It was only four months into the job when O’Bryan was called up to fill in as an anchor. A number of her co-workers were out with COVID, and they called on the new hire to step up to the plate.
“I was ready to do it and willing and wanting to do it,” O’Bryan said. “My parents were texting in the first commercial break, and they were like, ‘Breathe, we can see that you’re nervous because we know you.”
After her first time under the bright lights, O’Bryan’s nerves started to settle.
“I’ve always been fairly comfortable in front of a camera, but after my first time anchoring, I realized what I was doing and became even more comfortable,” O’Bryan explained.
Now after two years of experience, O’Bryan is the anchor for two morning shows: Good Morning Black Hills and Good Morning Dakota Territory. As one might imagine, anchoring morning shows requires a pretty early alarm.
“I get to the station around 3:30 a.m. for the first show, which starts at 5:30,” O’Bryan said. “I get up every morning and go, ‘I love my job, I love what I do.’ I just don’t always love the time for it. The nice part is I get my whole afternoon. The challenging part is my schedule flip flops during the weekends when I want to see friends or family.”
Outside of telling people’s stories, one of O’Bryan’s favorite parts of the job is presenting and reporting to her community.
“Being able to tell literally my grandparents or my friends their news and the information that’s happening in their community—I think it’s unmatched,” O’Bryan said. “I mean, there’s nothing quite like it.”
No job is without its challenges, and O’Bryan’s is no different. One thing that she has found challenging is she can’t make everyone happy.
“The news is truly telling so many different stories and providing facts and information,” O’Bryan said. “You definitely have to learn to let things roll off your back and that no matter what you do, there’s probably always going to be somebody who’s happy about it, and there’s always somebody who’s probably a little frustrated.”
O’Bryan’s advice to current journalism students is to do an internship as early as you can.
“I did mine between my sophomore and junior year, and it gave me great hands-on experience,” O’Bryan explained. “If you can do an internship that isn’t something that you think you want to do, then dive in, and that’s not just for journalism. I think it’s for everything. It also will teach you if that’s what you want to do.”
During O’Bryan’s internship, she did reporting and anchoring, but she also handled the behind-the-scenes tasks like directing and sales. She found out she really liked reporting and anchoring but didn’t really like directing or sales.
“Dive into your internship and classes. That’s where you get the experience and hands-on learning,” O’Bryan said. “It will really give you an idea of what you’re going to do every single day.”