A ‘Winning’ Personality

Amanda Castro - Alumni storyAmanda Castro fell in love with broadcasting while only in the fifth grade. Back then she was an anchor reading the morning announcements and school’s lunch menu.

That year, during her school district’s television awards program, she won the award for Best Team Anchor.

“That’s when I knew I wanted to be a journalist!” she said. “After that I focused on taking television and production classes throughout middle and high school.”

Today, Castro is a reporter with NBC affiliate 41NBC in Macon, Georgia where she anchors News at 6 and News at 11. And earlier this month, the Nicholson School of Communication alumna was awarded the Georgia Association of Broadcasters (GABBY) Merit Award for Best TV Personality.

Describing herself as a hard-working, passionate go-getter, with a great sense of humor, Castro believes her “winning” personality is all about staying true to self.

“I am someone the viewers at home can relate to, feel comfortable around, and would want to invite into their homes every night for the news,” she said. “I try my best to be the same person on camera as when I’m off camera. I don’t act any differently and just try to be myself, which may sound easy, but it’s definitely not! I’ve learned being true to who you are is the best way to shine and show your personality.”

Castro graduated from the University of Central Florida in Orlando in 2012 with a degree in Radio-Television Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Dance.

While at UCF, she worked as a reporter and web producer for FM 96.5 News/Talk WDBO where she covered the high profile Casey Anthony murder trial and the death of Trayvon Martin.

Three months after graduation, she was offered a job at 41NBC and moved to Macon. There she covered several noteworthy stories including the political strife in Gordon, the controversial Macon police officer-involved shooting, updates on the Macon-Bibb County government consolidation and the Pamela Moss murder trial in Jones County.

“Terrifying!” Castro said, when asked about her first day on camera. “My first night reporting on my own was a local election night. I remember my first interview was with a candidate running for sheriff and I was so nervous. I also remember one of my first stories, I said I was reporting in Florida, which was a huge mistake! I didn’t even catch it until after the story aired. So there were a lot of nerves, but it was also a very exciting time in my career.”

In just three years, Castro has risen from reporter/photographer to morning anchor to evening main anchor at WMGT-TV.

Castro credits R-TV associate professor Tim Brown, Ph.D. as one of the professors who provided her with the support she needed to excel today.

“I’m not going to lie, I cried in his office and definitely questioned my career choice a couple of times,” Castro shared. “But he really taught me the skills I needed to succeed in this job. I felt prepared for my first day of work. He pushed me, helped me with my writing, made me work harder than I ever worked before and I benefited from his instruction.”

Castro shares more about the highs and lows of her broadcasting career.

  1. What is the most memorable story you have covered?

I’d have to say it was when Pope Francis was named the new Pope in 2013. I was covering a story at Macon City Hall and a few blocks down the street is St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. I remember hearing the church bells ringing and thinking it was an odd time for them to chime. I then figured out it was about the announcement of a new Pope, so I ran down the street (in heels) to get video and sound of the church bells. I then asked to interview the pastor and was invited to watch the ceremony in his private quarters. I was the only reporter to get the raw, local reaction of the announcement. It was a pretty cool experience.

  1. What are your toughest stories to cover?

Murders, shootings, basically anything dealing with death. I really don’t like going up to a person who just lost of loved one and asking them how they are doing or what they are feeling. I feel like I’m in the way and I’m the last person they want to deal with. Unfortunately, that comes with the job. I have spoken to parents who found their baby dead in her crib. I have knocked on doors or walked around neighborhoods asking people what they saw or heard during several criminal investigations. I have to be respectful and patient. These types of stories are not fun. They can be very hard and taxing.

  1. What do you love least and most about your job?

I love that every day is different. I walk into work and never know what to expect. I could have my day planned out, but then breaking news happens and I’m off doing something completely different. I love that I get to meet new and interesting people. I’m honored to be the person who gets to share their stories. The hours can be difficult. Some days I could end up working 12 hours or double shifts. I also used to anchor the morning show and would have to get into work around 3 a.m. That was hard and took some getting used to. But it comes with the job.

  1. Any advice for current Journalism/R-TV students?

Internships are so important! Intern as much as you possibly can! You learn the skills necessary for the job in school, but you get real life experience during your internships. I never knew how a newsroom operated until my first internship. I got to see the whole process of a newscast: from beginning during the morning meeting when reporters pitched story ideas, to out in the field getting interviews and video, to the reporters writing, photographers editing, and eventually the final product. It was amazing! I also learned so much from people who have years of experience and knowledge. Internships are your first real taste of what working in this industry is like and I can’t stress enough how important they are for young journalists.

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