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Home  > Insider profile
Cara Buckingham

Discover what it's really like working in this field from an Experience Insider.

As children, we're all asked the question "What do you want to be when you grow up?" How did you answer?


What have been the most defining moments along your career path?

I chose to start in radio, knowing I wanted to eventually switch to TV. But radio is a great place to get training--you learn to write better in radio. And, of course, TV is more glamorous and pays better. Then I made the switch from radio to TV. I got laid off from the radio station--they were restructuring. I was lucky enough to find another radio job, at a smaller station so my salary dropped a bit. While I was working at that station, I made some contacts at a local TV station. Even though I had no TV experience, they were familiar with my work, knew that I knew the community, and probably knew that they could pay me less than someone with TV experience. So they offered me a reporting job.

How did you get your big breaks?

Volunteered while in school at WAER (an NPR affiliate) as a reporter and weekend anchor.? I had sent tapes to stations in Washington while I was still in school. Then someone called while I was working at WINY and offered me a full-time reporter job as well as a Sunday morning producer and on-air person. It was a bigger station--had a news staff of about 4/5 people. I covered courts and cops--the crime beat.

What was the best advice you received when you were first starting out in your career?

Use every job as a building block. Make the most of every position--learn the equipment, make contacts. In reporting, you're giving people info about what's happening in the world, so you need to be able to understand it all. You can get practical experience at a volunteer job or internship, but use your education to learn as much as you can about the world.

What have you learned from your experience?

Well, it's definitely an old boy's network. I was covering a chamber of commerce meeting, when a man introduced himself to me and said, "Boy, they sure do hire a lot of pretty people in radio". Then I went back and told the guys I work with how pretty they are.

On a scale of 1-10, how relevant was your academic major to your career? (1=not at all, 10=absolutely essential)

10 Absolutely Essential

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