I recently had the pleasure of talking to WGN 9 News anchor Tahman Bradley about his career and life. I also gained some advice from him about the media industry.
Bradley took a peculiar journey to get to where he is now – in an occupation that combines his love for politics and writing.
“I was passionate about writing. Broadcast journalism really marries all of my interests,” Bradley said. “I was obsessed with the 2000 election between Al Gore and George W. Bush… It really got me into it and crystallized the fact that I knew I wanted to be a television journalist.”
Bradley took his interest to the holy grail of HBCUs, Howard University, and of course, Washington D.C., the perfect place to pursue his interest in politics. He noted that he never had a great interest in going to Howard but didn’t regret it because of those moments that taught him a lot.
“I’ll never forget one of the many moments that made me go, ‘Wow, this is amazing. This is the mecca…,’” Bradley said. “There was a Subway on campus, and all my friends were sitting around at a table… each of us, all Black, from different countries, all learning at the same institution.”
From Howard, he moved on to work for the ABC network where he gained eight years worth of experience working his way on air with a webcast. After ABC, he moved to WGN and has worked there for seven years.
Bradley talked about the “sense of self” he gained from going to Howard and says that it’s been crucial to learning soft skills outside the newsroom.
“Tact is very important,” Bradley noted. “For example, if you’re covering a tragedy for local news and you need a soundbite from the grieving family, there’s a way you knock on that door. There’s a way you approach that situation, and you learn that over time.”
Something else Bradley spoke about was taking a different route in journalism.
“For those in high school figuring out… what will I study, what is my path? I always say don’t study journalism. …I studied journalism,” he said. “But study business or political science because then you’re an expert at something.
“The journalism skills… you either have them, or you don’t.”
Bradley also noted that journalism can essentially take over your life and consequently negatively affect other aspects, such as hobbies.
When asked how his work life affected life outside of work, he said, “I didn’t manage it well at first. I remember I went to work with a woman named Anne Compton, who did radio for years at ABC. She asked me years ago, ‘What are your hobbies?’” Bradley continued, “I didn’t have any hobbies, and I wasn’t really a well-rounded person, but today that’s just not the case.”
So, long story short, the work-life balance is essential, especially as a journalist when you can be working long hours in a newsroom and become one-dimensional.
Before ending our conversation, I asked Bradley about his mission statement and advice young journalists should adhere to. All and all, he said, “Be an expert in something” and “make interesting what’s important.”
To keep up with Bradley, follow him on Twitter @tahmanbradley. Catch his full True Star interview below.
By Jeremiah Griffith, Senior, Noble Academy