Erin Kiernan grew up in a family where keeping tabs on current events was important. Newspapers and magazines graced the tables. The Today show was on the television every day when she got ready for school.
"I remember thinking, ‘What a great job,’" Kiernan said. She also remembers playing dress-up in her mother’s clothes and putting on "newscasts" at age 6.
"I’m sort of a ham – maybe that’s part of it, too."
Kiernan, the weekend anchor at KCCI-TV, said the job isn’t as glamorous as some might think.
"I think that a lot of people have the misconception that television journalists get paid hundreds of thousands of dollars," she said, "Some main anchors do, but reporters don’t. We work terrible hours-- nights and weekends. The worst is standing on the side of the road in horrible weather that we tell viewers it’s too dangerous to go out in."
Nonetheless, Kiernan has had rewarding experiences as a television journalist. She won an Edward R. Murrow award for her investigative series, "True Colors," in 2000. The two-part undercover piece gave her a greater opportunity for investigation than is usually possible in the one-day turnaround system of broadcast journalism. The series examined discrimination at local nightclubs after the death of Charles Lovelady.
"It’s the most rewarding story I’ve ever gotten to work on," Kiernan said.
Kiernan, a Nebraska native, moved to Iowa to attend Drake University, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in broadcast news. Now with KCCI, she revels in the variety and excitement of being a reporter.
"Every day is different," she said, "You may begin the day thinking you know how it will go, but three, four, five hours in, news will break and change everything, sending you in a direction you never expected.
"I love the adrenaline rush of breaking news when you’re up against a deadline. My favorite thing might be the variety of people I meet whom I never would have met otherwise."
When she’s not in the newsroom or covering a story, Kiernan can be found with her husband of one year, Michael, teaching aerobics or kickboxing at YMCA; serving on the board of the Rainbow Recovery Center, a substance abuse treatment facility for women with children; or volunteering with a reading program at Windsor Elementary School. The program helps children who are too advanced for a remedial program, yet not up to their optimal reading proficiency.
"These are the kids who fall through the cracks," she said, "They always need people to help."