Stephen Clark is an Anchor for WXYZ-TV ABC Channel 7 in Detroit.
But if you think you know how TV news is being gathered, think again.
Stephen has initiated a novel audience interactive program – the #Backchannel - using Twitter to communicate with his audience as he’s putting together stories and during the newscasts themselves. The #Backchannel is an innovative feedback loop that might just change television news. And it has applications for News/Talk radio stations, as well as for personalities and teams who are bold enough to give the audience a seat at the table.
As if that’s not enough Stephen is also a very talented Country Music Singer and Songwriter. I recommend you check him out some of his music: http://sclarkwxyz.wordpress.com.
I had the honor of speaking at the Arbitron Conference/Jacobs Media Summit along with Stephen and today you have the opportunity to get to know him! ENJOY!
Favorite thing about your job?
Access to the people who make the news.
Where are you answering these questions from?
I’m at my desk at WXYZ TV in Detroit.
What are you wearing?
My “anchor uniform” Blue suit, white shirt, red tie.
How did you get started in Broadcasting?
A girl in a college journalism class tipped me off that she was leaving her job at a local radio station. I was waiting in the lobby when she turned in her notice and was immediately hired to replace her.
What are 3 items you CAN NOT live without?
My MacBookPro laptop, my big screen plasma TV and my guitar.
Favorite item of clothing/jewelry/accessory?
I’ve never gotten too attached to my clothing or jewelry so I can’t think of anything I could not live without.
Have you ever been in a fight?
At 6’4” and 220 pounds not many people are inclined to pick a fight with me—so, no I have never been in one.
What is the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning?
Is there anything that you regret?
I was offered a job running a network news bureau in 1983 but no one had ever heard of a cable channel called CNN, so I turned it down. I could’ve been Wolf Blitzer!
What are your fondest childhood memories?
I was an Air Force brat so we moved every year or two. My fondest memories were all of finding myself in a new place and exploring, meeting new friends.
What current event has your eyes and ears?
Here in Detroit the on-going “current event” is the lurching renaissance of the city. By definition most of the news I deliver on a daily basis is bad news and has a negative pull on the city’s attempts to redefine itself. I spend a lot of my personal time seeking out, shooting, writing and editing stories about good people doing good things to counter the daily diet of bad news.
How do you use Social Media in your industry for productivity?
I use Twitter extensively and Facebook to a lesser degree. I founded a community under the hashtag #backchannel. During virtually all of our newscasts, mornings, nights, weekends and weekdays our anchors tweet live from the set about the stories we’re doing—and any topic that pops up. I also encourage the “community” to post news and events 24/7 to the “backchannel. Finally, I encourage followers to shoot their own videos about positive stories and people and post them. I’ve taken many of those stories and re- shot, edited and reported them myself for our newscasts. My goal is to give viewers a real voice in shaping our newscasts.
What is your favorite website?
Google. I’m a knowledge junkie so I’m constantly searching Google for things I don’t know. You don’t want to challenge me at Jeopardy!
If you had a Super Power what would it be?
Invisibility. It would come in extremely handy for a reporter J
Which famous people do you admire?
Having met thousands of “famous” people I’m less impressed by fame than accomplishments. I admire authors because I’ve written novels and screenplays and know how incredibly hard and lonely it is. As a singer/songwriter I admire successful artists because I understand the tenacity it takes to stand out from the crowd.
What is your favorite movie?
The Big Chill came out when I was in my late 20’s and contemplating the direction I was heading since college. So I guess that movie touched a nerve. But then again, I also found myself identifying with Tom Cruise’s character in Risky Business. “Sometimes you just have to say ‘what the heck!’”
Salt and vinegar potato chips. I love the crunch and the clash of the salt/vinegar.
How do you balance your work with other obligations?
I don’t sleep much and I’m a pretty good multi-tasker. Plus it helps to have a wife and children who understand my obsessions.
Do you get nervous about anything?
Long ago I learned to take that nervous feeling and channel it into motivation. Now when I get to that point where I should be nervous instead I find myself revving up with energy and I can’t wait to tackle whatever the task is.
If you could meet anyone in the world dead or alive who would it be, and what would say to them?
I’ve always wanted to ask Garth Brooks why he referred to himself in the third person.
What is your hobby or do you collect anything?
I’m a singer/songwriter in my spare time. I write pretty much in the current “Nashville style” and am widely regarded to be pretty good at it. I’d love to get something recorded by a Nashville artist but you pretty much need to be “present to win”—in other words, it’s hard for outsiders to get a cut. I spend as much time as I can in Nashville learning from the best. But until I can move there I don’t think I’m going to have much luck getting noticed.
What chore to you hate?
By definition I hate all chores because they are generally things that “must” be done. I hate being forced to do anything.
Do you have an animal/s?
I’ve got a golden retriever named Missy who is a touch psychotic. She chews the eyes out of stuffed toys—but otherwise leaves them untouched. And I have the most unsocial cat on earth… a massive ball of fur named Ginger.
Mac or PC?
Without hesitation Mac. I bought a PC once and gave it away 6 months later.
Ginger or Mary Ann?
I wrote a song by that title last year. The answer is in the bridge “ There are three kinds of women I’ve come to know/the mother, the lover/ then the other’s a little of both.”
Craziest thing you have ever done?
I never consider anything I do to be crazy—I always have my reasons. Other people, though, think most of what I do is crazy!
You can find Stephen on Twitter, Facebook and Youtube under “SClarkWXYZ”