10 Questions with ... Ebony McMorris
October 28, 2014
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I have worked with Radio One since 2007 as a national reporter for WOL 1450 and most recently host the weekend Radio One Public Affairs Program on Praise 104.1 and Majic 102.3. When TV One premiered News One Now with Roland Martin in 2013, I served as the morning news correspondent. I am a weekly contributor to News One Now with Roland Martin Radio Show. Until November 2013, I spent seven years at NBC-4 in Washington DC, as Assignment Editor and later a Planning Editor. In addition, my career includes stints as a Researcher for The Chris Matthews Show and work for Congressman James Clyburn. I broke into the media landscape at NBC News in 2001, as a Network News Assistant and writer where I generated compelling story ideas. I went on to field produce and conduct interviews with high-ranking political officials and news makers for NBC News, Nightly News, Today Show and NBC News Channel.
1) What do you love about your job?
I am in a position to do what I've always wanted to do; which is to be a resource to the people. Being in the community, hearing directly from the people, creating and partnering on events allows me to connect the disconnected, open up avenues for upward mobility and be a voice to the voiceless.
2) Isn't this your first time dealing with Community Affairs; What's your approach?
This is my first time having a job in community affairs, but I have always been in community volunteering and mentoring. The difference is I now get paid to do it. I'm living my dream. My first approach is to be genuine; my second is to be purposeful and lastly deliberate. This may sound corny, but I remember growing up in the hood and having so many programs come through the neighborhood that weren't genuine. You couldn't figure out their purpose and there were no lasting deliberate results.
3) You have mostly a TV News background, what are the biggest differences you see between TV and radio?
Wow, while they can be vastly different there are many similarities. The obvious difference is we serve to entertain our audience through great music and new artists. Secondly, just like TV news, I report on breaking and current news, however if it bleeds it doesn't always lead in my newscasts. TV News is beginning to back away from that somewhat. Even though people turn to our station for music I always try and get in information about what they didn't realize they should care about like; new business grants available, why you should care about voting rights in DC and good news in urban communities.
4) What are your goals for News/Community Affairs?
Radio One is the Urban specialist and in this position I plan to make sure when things happen in the city, much like TV News we are the first to know. Whether it's the hottest music or a community tip on a neighborhood I want us to be the town crier. So many times urban communities are looking for the good news and we are that good news.
5) With all the National news makers and local issues in D.C., how do you cover it all?
I read and listen to EVERYTHING! TV news taught me that. My first day on the job my boss gave me five newspapers to read every morning and then asked me what local community meetings did I plan on attending. That was in 2001 now I've added in online sites and community bloggers! I attend police meetings, community town halls, ANC meetings and local events. Some of my best tips have just come from networking with locals! All that training came from my colleagues at NBC.
6) How have you changed over the years?
I've learned the art of saying "no," LOL. No, that story isn't relevant; no that's not how I want to paint the Urban community; no, I respectfully disagree with you and that's okay. Several years ago I was a little disturbed at the stories that were being covered in the news and I would shrug my shoulders, quietly protest and keep it moving. But if I really want to be effective, I have to be the engine for change. I vowed for an entire year that I was going to start speaking up. It didn't always work, but I gained more respect and felt better at the end of the day.
7) What do you share with those wanting to get into TV or Radio?
Hone your craft NOW. Don't wait for someone to give you a job! I really try to get this through people's head. Know what you can offer people and you won't worry about what someone can offer you. The world of social media has opened so many more doors for entrepreneurship. If radio or TV won't give you a job, start your own online. Create a YouTube page, tweet, blog, become your community crier, get a camera or recorder, RSVP to events as media and cover the story yourself. I'm telling you, if you are committed people will come to you. At the end of the day you may not want to accept the job because you have complete ownership of your own work. I still live by that motto. I LOVE my job, but I do know that if tomorrow they said bye, I still have to eat. Now what?!? I must also say, NETWORKING is so key and it will get you in a lot of places. In this industry your rolodex will get you in many doors. The recession taught a lot of people that you can't rely on someone to determine your wealth.
8) With all the outlets for news these days, do you still think it is important for even for mainstream Urban stations? How do you think it could be presented?
I love music, but if there is a shooting down the street from me PLEASE let me know. We have quick breaks in between music sets and that's enough time to do a local round up of what's important. We are big on breaking news and we've received a lot of feedback from listeners who tell us that's why they don't turn, because they know they won't miss out. My background is hard news so I call the same numbers everyone calls. I know how to get the story. And when it comes to the urban community we are an urban outlet so NO ONE should be able to tell our story better than US!
9) Can you tell us all the people who have helped influence your career and how they did?
It sounds cliché' but first I thank God for giving me a vision. I've always known since a little girl what I wanted to do. I used to dream about being a reporter and becoming a mouthpiece for people who needed help. That's the community part.
My mother never let the vision die even when I got older and felt like there were so many odds against me. She always said write down the vision. When my paycheck didn't match the dream (and that will happen in this business) I kept going, because I knew that it would one day catch up. I kept the dream in front of me.
Growing up I used to watch Jim Vance, Susan Kidd, Barbara Harrison and Pat Muse on the TV and walk around talking like them. My first job in TV was at NBC and working with them was surreal. You never know who you are mentoring from a distance.
Cathy Hughes is a huge influence on me as a business woman. Her model for success and story of perseverance is incredible. To work under a woman who has achieved so much with the odds stacked against her to now being a media mogul ... the bar is set extremely high for me. She has truly let me know that ownership is the key.
Since you always have to thank your agitators; in high school a student told me I'd never do anything big. I don't know why that bothered me so much, because I usually could care less. I think it was because to this day I have a problem when a man tells me how high I can go.
In college, I had a dean tell me I'd never make it far in this industry and that if I couldn't afford college I need to go home. Well God has perfect timing! She was one of the people who had to greet me when I walked across the stage at graduation. LOL, she didn't have a clue!
Lastly, I helped influence myself. Literally, I had to look in the mirror and talk to myself and encourage myself on many occasions. Wipe my own tears, be my own "Fix My Life" consultant and talk myself calm when I knew I was staring racism and sexism in the face at work. People are going to fail you, things usually don't work in the order you imagine, money can make you abort your dream and relationships can serve as a derailment, BUT you have to know that you know what you are called to do. My calling isn't to be a journalist it's to be a resource.
10) You are so busy, what do you do to relax and refocus?
I love anything in the arts; plays, poetry, museums and anything cultural. It goes well with a glass of red wine ... I love cooking and entertaining friends. Lately, I've been on a healthy kick learning how to use fresh spices and not touching salt.
Everyone should have a "ME" day. I have declared Friday as my "me" day. I spend time by myself, no phone, no people just silence. You hear a lot of noise in this industry and you have to find a quiet place.
How do you incorporate social media in gathering up information?
I'm addicted to social media. That is a frustrating world because so much info comes out every minute it's hard to keep up with. I am always writing down ideas from what I read. I also get a lot of guest interviews from what I read on social media.