KAVU's first black female sports anchor/reporter comes from reporting background

Feb. 21, 2011 at 7:04 p.m.
Updated Feb. 20, 2011 at 8:21 p.m.

Briana Conner was seemingly destined to pursue a career in journalism.

The daughter of a former journalist, reporting is in Conner's DNA.

"When I told (my Mom) that is what I wanted to do, she said that makes sense," said Conner, whose mother left the journalism business before Briana was born.

Conner, 22, took on her first journalism job in September with Newscenter 25, becoming the station's first black sports anchor/reporter.

"People don't typically expect someone who looks like me to know about sports and be able to hold an intelligent conversation about whatever sports are on hand," said Conner. "To see myself doing it is very rewarding."

Conner's first aspiration to become a journalist came at the age of 14 when she began watching The Oprah Winfrey Show.

"For a black woman, she could command such an audience. When Oprah says read a book, the whole nation goes out and reads it," said Conner. "I did research on how she got to where she was. Once I found out, I said 'Well, that's what I'm going to do.'"

Conner, a Cleveland, Ohio, native, was raised in Sugar Land.

After graduating from high school in 2006, she enrolled at The University of Texas at Austin and majored in journalism.

While at UT, Conner was heavily involved with the university's Pom Squad.

For three years, Conner, who eventually became vice president of the squad, cheered and danced at athletic and local events around town.

It was during that time that she first gained an interest in sports journalism.

"I grew up dancing, but I knew nothing about sports," she said. "Being on the sidelines of the games, I fell in love with college sports and Texas athletics, period."

Also while in college, Conner worked to perfect her craft by working as an emcee for events around campus, as well as interning at www.ygenoutloud, a non-partisan online political news organization.

After graduating in May, Conner said she looked for months before coming across the opening at KAVU.

"My professor said the word on the street was Newscenter 25 may be having an opening because someone there may be turning in their resignation today or tomorrow," said Conner. "It was real iffy, but I decided that I might as well see what it was about."

She was hired soon after interviewing for the job.

"For me, this was a huge leap of faith to leave a big city and come to a small town and actually pursue my dream." Conner said. "It's been a blessing."

Although she has only been with the station for a few months, station members said Conner has already started to make her mark in Victoria.

"She's been fantastic," said Don Brubaker, sports director at Newscenter 25. "She's worked very, very hard. She has a great attitude and has done everything that I've asked of her."

He continued, "She has the potential to be big."

Having her daughter follow in her footsteps was equally pleasing to Conner's mother.

"For her to do what I did blew me away," said Rachel Kathy Conner, who worked as a television reporter and weekend anchor at St. Louis' KTVI. "I think it's the biggest compliment she can make to me as her mother."

For Conner, being the first black woman in her position has not proved to be an issue.

"Everyone here has been very receptive to it, not that people expect me to fail because of how I look, but when I do well, I think it surprises them in a good way," she said. "I haven't had a single negative interaction with a Victorian."

She views her hiring as a reflection of the positive changes taking place within the journalism business.

"Stations need to have a staff that reflects the diversity of the community," said Conner. "When it comes to women and women of color, it's a double whammy. "

She added, "The industry has come a long way, but it still has a ways to go. We don't ever need to feel complacent."

Conner shared her future plans.

"My goal is to keep growing and pursuing this career. This is what I want to do," said Conner. "I'm going where the Lord takes me."



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