The potential of reaching millions of people in the course of performing one’s work duties provides a chance for greater-than-average influence. As a multiple Emmy Award-winning broadcast journalist, Fox 5 evening anchor Kathleen Bade said she hopes her work positively affects the community she serves.
"I've always felt a big responsibility -- that these public airwaves are not mine," Bade said, laughing a bit as she explained how "corny" that might sound.
"It's important that I respect that, and that when I'm going into somebody's living room, I'm being as authentic as I can be. I honestly see myself as one of the people, and I try to ask the questions that they would want to know,” she said.
A few years ago, she launched her “Anchormom” blog, which she uses as a liaison between the public and the relationships intermixed from her professional and personal lives.
She said she has always seen her ability to balance work, family life and life decisions as one of her strengths. The symbiotic relationship of her news world and life at home gave rise to her choosing the blog as her intermediary.
"Being a mother of two and a wife of 20 years, I think it makes me pretty relatable, because everything I go through is basically what everyone else is going through," Bade said.
The blog tackles the "unifying struggle" of a fast-paced world, she said.
But it also makes her children a part of her work life, which she said helps them see and understand what she does.
Bade earned her bachelor's degree from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Telecommunication -- since renamed the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication -- and her meteorology degree from Mississippi State University.
Bade has a niece, she said, who is following in her footsteps at the Cronkite School.
Bade was with KFMB Channel 8, the CBS affiliate in town, for seven years before joining the Fox 5 team in 2008, having launched her career in Arizona. She worked for a year at the NBC affiliate in Yuma, had a stint in community relations with the NBA's Phoenix Suns and then was a meteorologist-turned-weekend anchor at the CBS affiliate in Phoenix.
That station later looked to launch a morning show and chose her to host it.
The time spent in community relations with a professional sports team, other than being behind an anchor desk or reporting, helped Bade zero in on her passions, she said.
"I love to write and I love journalism," Bade said."I love telling stories."
She's been on stage since she was a young girl, she said, as a ballet dancer who had considered a career in dance before deciding on journalism. But an early admiration of Oprah Winfrey's work steered her choice in an assigned speech on whose life she'd trade places with if she could.
The choice drew chuckles, she recalled with a laugh of her own, but it made her direction clear.
"I've been on stage my whole life, so it was really kind of a convergence of these different passions of mine coming together," Bade said.
Being a journalist and a parent, she said, can be cause for anxiety when a tragic story hits close to home, but in another sense, it has made her insightful.
Taking that insight into the studio is a key to making the greatest impact as a journalist, she said.
Of all the stories she has covered, one that stands out for her is the Danielle Van Dam murder in 2002. The ensuing trial of David Westerfield came as Bade was pregnant with her daughter.
"That was horrific, very close to home," Bade said.
The 2010 murders of Chelsea King and Amber Dubois -- victims of John Albert Gardner III -- was another.
But as tragedy can often be a catalyst for action, Bade has recently produced stories with Chelsea King's brother, Tyler King, who plans to release a documentary about the effect of the crimes.
"It's been very rewarding," Bade said, adding that that her greatest enjoyment comes from telling stories of the human spirit or nature. "The features are my favorite. I think everybody has something compelling about their lives, and I think there's something to learn from it."
She recently worked on a story about a teen boy who had been depressed and attempted suicide in a head-on crash with another vehicle. The boy survived, living to befriend the other car's driver and start a blog through which he reaches out to other teens facing similar thoughts.
"Things like that -- just having the privilege to be around that, it's pretty amazing," Bade said.
Then there are the "slice of life" stories, as she calls them. One she recalled about parents driving dangerously near schools drew considerable feedback on the Fox 5 website.
Bade was surprised by the reaction.
"And that was just something -- an observation from my own life that we took and investigated with CHP," she said. "It turned out to be a fascinating story. And hopefully, it got people to slow down."
While at CBS 8, she facilitated a record number of child adoptions with her weekly segments featuring children without permanent homes. Recognized with an award for her adoption advocacy achievements, Bade said the hardest thing she had to face losing when she decided to leave the station was that segment.
"We got so many of them adopted by doing these wonderful pieces, which were really just them showcasing who they are," Bade said.
But she has put herself to task on other initiatives.
She works with the Brain Tumor Foundation, a service she involved herself with after learning that her friend Loren Nancarrow — a longtime journalist on San Diego TV — had been diagnosed with Stage 3 brain cancer. Nancarrow passed away in late 2013, 11 months after his diagnosis, but Bade has continued to bring attention to the brain tumor cause.
Bade's also involved with other groups close to home, including those focused on rheumatoid arthritis -- which her mother has -- and the Save a Life Foundation, started by San Diego parents whose son, Eric Paredes, died of sudden cardiac arrest.
"Those are the kind of causes that are close to my heart, that I really try to pour myself into," Bade said, noting that while she involves herself in such causes in her personal life, she works to make sure they're not forgotten at the news desk, as well.