It's another day ... and another departure for a friend of mine in West Texas television news. It's time to say good night and good luck, goodbye and God bless to Hema Muller.
Hema anchored her final segment of NewsWest 9 Sunrise today, and will begin the month of July in a new job, and a new town, anchoring for KFOX-TV, the Fox network affiliate in El Paso, Texas.
Hema came to West Texas from Austin, where she graduated from UT with a degree in Broadcast Journalism, with honors and designation as a Senior Fellow at the University. Hema was one of the smartest of the 'youngsters' in our - or any - newsroom, and presented the news with the authority that came from knowing what she was talking about.
But it wasn't just reading the news. Our little market can't afford specialized anchors who just read other people's words, and never stray outside the studio. So Hema would put in a full - and early! - morning as anchor of NewsWest 9's top-ranked morning news program (with another recent departure, Darrell Ward), then go out and develop a story for the evening news.
Hema and I shared a passion for food and cooking ... though you could never tell it from HER figure, while MY figure is ... well, you know. We often shared experiences of dining-in and dining-out, and every Thursday morning, before the story meeting, THE topic of discussion in the newsroom was the previous night's episode of Top Chef.
So many, many times, when someone finds out I have worked in television, they will comment, 'there always seems to be a lot of turnover ... and they're absolutely right. West Texas/Southeast New Mexico is a small television market, and what we call a 'teaching market.' Young people come here from all over the country, fresh from journalism school or an internship (or an even smaller market). They gain some experience, hone their skills, develop their resumé and their contacts, and then move on to bigger and - it is hoped - better markets.
You're glad for them when they get 'the call' ..... but there is some sadness too. You're sorry to see them go ..... but you wish them nothing but the best.
A good woman and a good friend ..... good night and good luck, Hema.
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On a related note, I haven't met the young woman who will be replacing Hema, but I HAVE met her dad. He tells me that Haley Burks will be coming down from Lubbock, where she is the education reporter for the Fox affiliate in that market. She's from Big Spring originally, and knows West Texas well. She was first bitten by the journalism bug when she was a teenager, and anchored segments of the old "Kidzone" program that Shelley Barker produced over at KTPX/KWES-TV. Welcome, Haley, and Good luck!