In this edition of Meet the Media, we have the pleasure of introducing you to Micki Gamez (pronounced Gah Mez), an accomplished reporter at KIRO Newsradio here in Seattle. In this interview, Micki shares insights into a typical day as a KIRO reporter, her passion for stories with depth, what sets KIRO apart from other news outlets and her unwavering commitment to accuracy in reporting.
1. How did you get started in journalism, and what motivated you to become a reporter?
What’s particularly intriguing about my journey is that I spent over 24 years in the music side of radio before taking a break due to personal reasons. My parents passed away, and my wife was offered a job at UW’s Fred Hutch in the bone marrow transplant department in Seattle back in 2021. Initially, it was meant to be a temporary move, but we decided to make it permanent.
One night while lying on our giant beanbag we affectionately call the “floof,” watching The Golden Girls as everyone else was asleep, my phone suddenly lit up with a notification from LinkedIn. It was for a Transportation Reporter position at KIRO News Radio. The time was around midnight or 1 a.m., and it was quite unexpected since I had actually turned off my LinkedIn notifications. At that point, I had been getting somewhat restless at home. I began my career in radio as a transportation reporter, so I considered it a potential reentry point. I promptly applied for the position, amazed at the timing and circumstances.
I’ll never forget the call I received in February. Even though I still had my old Dallas cell phone number, a 206 number appeared on my phone screen. I answered, thinking someone from the area might be reaching out, and it turned out to be Charlie Harger. To my surprise, he wasn’t calling to reject my application; instead, he informed me that they were now in the hiring process and invited me to reapply. Out of all the applicants, I was chosen for the position, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time at KIRO Radio.
2. Can you share a behind-the-scenes glimpse into a typical day in the life of a KIRO reporter? What does your daily routine look like when you’re on assignment?
I start working from home around 6:30 a.m., answering any emails I received from the time I was logged off. I get into the office around 7:30 a.m., where I immediately jump right into the mix. Usually, I’m getting ready for my 8:47 a.m. segment on Seattle’s Morning News. A lot of times the segment is transportation-related but sometimes focuses on local, finance, entertainment and social media interest stories. I then get back to my desk where I start coming up with stories that I need to pitch to my news director and my editor. This involves determining which stories are the most pressing and need attention. For instance, today, I received an email from Carfax, suggesting a story about how fall is the most dangerous season for collisions in the United States. I decided to schedule an interview on this topic. My preparations for the interview included thorough research, reading related articles, and reviewing data. In between these tasks, I provide traffic reports at the top and bottom of each hour, analyzing data, charts, maps, and social media trends to create live, unscripted reports.
Once I’ve completed my on-air duties, I return to my desk, conduct the interview, edit the sound bites, and craft a comprehensive story around it. I handle the initial production work and then my editor and news director provide light edits before it goes to the news desk, where anchors read my stories on air. I also ensure that each story I pitch for broadcast has a corresponding web component, which I write for the web department.
By this point, my workday is often concluding. Sometimes I manage to work on two stories in a day, reserving one for future use if needed. Additionally, if there’s breaking news, such as a Washington State Ferry breakdown or a significant traffic disruption, we need to be prepared to cover it promptly.
3. What are your favorite stories to report on?
I’m particularly drawn to stories that possess a substantial depth of content. These stories can revolve around various topics, not limited to a specific category. For instance, just last week, I covered a story about Mozilla’s discovery that our cars are among the worst offenders when it comes to privacy invasion. It was eye-opening to delve into this topic and uncover the extent to which our cars are recording various aspects of our lives, including intimate moments, immigration status, and personal health information. It’s astonishing to realize that our cars may possess more knowledge about us than our cell phones, computers, or even televisions. Stories like these, which have a profound impact on the population and reveal hidden aspects of our lives, are the ones that truly resonate with me. They are the stories that leave you stunned and thinking, “Wow, I had no idea.”
4. KIRO has a strong reputation for local news coverage. What do you believe sets KIRO apart from other news outlets in the Seattle area?
We handle our transportation coverage in-house, here at our station. Our dedicated team consists of three members: Sully, Nate and myself. This setup allows us to respond quickly to breaking news situations, such as highway or freeway closures. What I truly appreciate about our approach is that we are deeply committed to providing the best local coverage. In my eyes, if you’re not approaching traffic and transportation news in the way we do, you’re not truly covering it comprehensively.
I take great pride in the high standard of journalism that KIRO Radio upholds in the Puget Sound area. What sets us apart is that we don’t just report the news; we create it. We’re not reliant on stories from other outlets. Instead, we break news ourselves and write our own stories. This approach, in my opinion, distinguishes us from others in the field.
5. In today’s fast-paced news cycle, how do you ensure accuracy and thoroughness in your reporting while also meeting tight deadlines?
Certainly, we place a high priority on the credibility of our sources. It’s essential for us to ensure that the information we present is not only accurate but also comes from reputable and trustworthy sources. We take a meticulous approach to vetting our sources, especially when the news has national implications that affect our local community here in Washington. If a story isn’t being reported by established and reliable outlets like the Associated Press (AP) or CBS News, we exercise caution before presenting it to our audience. This commitment to accuracy is paramount, particularly in an era where there’s a perception of “fake news” in the media. I invest significant time and effort in source verification. I devote hours to thoroughly scrutinizing my sources, even recording interviews to ensure clarity. In some cases, I follow up with my sources multiple times after the interview to reaffirm their statements and intentions, adding an extra layer of confirmation to the story.
6. What advice do you have for aspiring journalists, especially those who are interested in pursuing a career in reporting in today’s rapidly changing media landscape?
I recommend taking as many writing courses as possible. Additionally, it’s crucial to be as outgoing as you can possibly be and actively engage in networking within your school and community. Building the right contacts can open doors and opportunities. While pursuing a degree is essential, it’s equally important to invest time and effort into gaining experience and honing your skills. Understand that this profession requires hard work and dedication. It’s not a path to instant wealth, so it’s crucial to set realistic expectations. Writing is a cornerstone of this profession, and it’s essential to be proficient in it. Even if you don’t consider yourself a strong writer, practice is key. Personally, I write in a conversational style, which I’ve learned through social media engagement as it resonates well with readers.
Quick Fire Questions:
- If I am not working, I am… at home with my family walking my dogs or hiking.
- If I could interview anyone, it would be… my grandparents
- The last book I read was… the new Hunger Games book
- My favorite movie is… Jaws
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