When I was a kid, I had this knack for talking to just about anyone and an obsession with being near a microphone. I worked the rooms at family parties, I recited current events for total strangers, and I used any excuse to make announcements over the loudspeaker at the bowling alley my dad ran for years.
If that didn’t foreshadow where I’d end up thirty years later, then I don’t know what would have given it away! I know there are some junior high yearbooks inscribed with “Jim Lokay, the 45th President of the United States,” but I opted for radio and television the day I arrived on the campus of California University of Pennsylvania, and I never looked back.
Someone once said I looked like a sports guy (even though my athleticism extended to bowling and mini-golf), so I went right into covering the dozens of high school football teams throughout Western Pennsylvania. I lugged the camera around, shot the games, and turned around the highlights for a local cable channel. I did play-by-play for California University athletics (go Vulcans!), but during the 2000 elections, my passion became news.
For two years, I ran the overnight operations for a radio news operation in Pittsburgh. I worked each night from 9 p.m. until 5 a.m., writing, editing, and anchoring newscasts for several stations. I covered some Pittsburgh Pirates games for a sports radio station, too.
From there, I moved to the snowy abyss of upstate New York to work for Time Warner’s 24-hour news operation in Syracuse. I did everything from reporting and anchoring to (once again) covering high school football. Don’t get me wrong – I loved my time there, but during my first winter there, I dug out through 181 inches of snow.
I fulfilled my dream of working in television news in my hometown a few years later, spending more than six years at KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh. I was hired as a traffic reporter, but soon found myself on the anchor desk, in the field, co-hosting a Pittsburgh Steelers pre-game show with Hines Ward, Ryan Clark, and Antwaan Randle-El, and doing intermission reports for Pittsburgh Penguins preseason games. I covered two Super Bowl parades, one Stanley Cup parade, the 2011 Winter Classic between the Pens and Caps, and the 2006 Major League Baseball All-Star game.
Leaving Pittsburgh was the hardest decision I ever made, but in 2011, WCVB in Boston hired me as an news and sports anchor/reporter – and I immediately had a front row seat to some of the biggest news stories of our generation. I was one of the first anchors on the air when the bombs went off at the Boston Marathon finish line – and covered the city’s comeback. I spent days reporting from the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. A record-setting winter. Superstorm Sandy. The Patriots lost a Super Bowl. The Red Sox won a World Series. The Patriots won a Super Bowl. Deflategate. I did just about everything there. I even had my own series where I profiled exceptional high school seniors battling back from life challenges.
If there’s anything I’ve learned to expect in the news business, it’s this: don’t expect anything. And while we often find ourselves covering stories that we’d rather not cover, we also get a chance to shine a light on our community, and share the good news as well. This is where you come in. Interact with me on Facebook (www.facebook.com/jimlokay) or Twitter (@LokayFOX5). Tell me what matters to you.
I can’t wait to get to know you better, DMV.