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One-on-One with NBC 4 Reporter Tracee Wilkins

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NBC4 Prince George's County Bureau Chief Tracee Wilkins is a native of the county she covers.

NBC4 Prince George's County Bureau Chief Tracee Wilkins is a native of the county she covers.

Published on: Wednesday, January 29, 2014

by Alexis A. Goring, Sentinel Lifestyle Reporter

Beltsville, Md. native Tracee Wilkins is the Prince George’s County Bureau Chief for NBC4 Washington. Wilkins talked with Sentinel Lifestyle reporter Alexis Goring and shared her personal story. 

Goring: How did you become the County Bureau Chief?

Wilkins: It’s a long story. So to get to how I became the bureau chief, I should probably tell you how I started working at News4. I started working for NBC4 in 1996 as an intern for Liz Crenshaw who is our consumer unit reporter. NBC4 has changed so much since then but at that time, the consumer unit had its own floor on the third floor. It was kind of away from news. When I came for my interview, I thought, ‘This is not what I wanted at all.’ I wanted to be in the news room, in the mix of everything. I wanted to be a reporter. At that time, I wanted to be an anchor and the woman who hired me said, “I know what you’re thinking. You’re up and away from the newsroom but this is where the best interns are at the time.”

What was fantastic about being an intern in the consumer unit and why it was important is it gave me the basis for how I see journalism because as a consumer reporter, if you’re working in the consumer unit, the idea is that what we do has to be beneficial for the viewer so there has to be a takeaway for them because we are talking to consumers. So as a consumer, what are you going to walk away with at the end of this report?

Goring: After college graduation, NBC4 hired you as a production assistant and eventually, you were hired as a writer.

 Wilkins: Our union had a position for a writer and so I wrote for evening show. That was the biggest deal, ever. It was a very competitive position. Everybody wanted it, everybody wanted to get into the writing trainee program because if you did, then you could become a full-time writer and that was important to all of us who were production assistants at the time. Sometime around then, I sent out my resume tapes to every city that I could bear to live in. I had a book of all of the stations and the news directors and their names and addresses and phone numbers and I flooded it. You know, those were the days of VHS, loading up the envelopes and sending them out with the resume. And the first place to call me back and say they’d hire me was Columbus, Mississippi. So I went to Columbus, Mississippi.

Goring: How was the move from Maryland to Mississippi?

 Wilkins: Let me tell you something, it was the best thing ever. It was the farthest I’d ever driven my car. I put my Cocker Spaniel in the back seat and loaded up my CD player with Dave Matthews and enjoyed the drive. It was like driving into my independence. I loved Mississippi. That place was magical and interesting and very different. That’s where my husband’s from, that’s where I met him actually.

 Goring: Congratulations on your marriage to Ty Short, a systems engineer. How did you meet?

 Wilkins: We met in Columbus Mississippi. We met at a party and he walked in with a date. He was hilarious. We had a vibe the entire time and I remember leaving and thinking, ‘If that guy doesn’t come out of this house and say something to me, I’m going to be really upset.’ And sure enough, he came out and he was like, ‘You guys are leaving?’ And I was like, ‘I’ve got to go to work.’

The second time we each other, I was on a date that was I was at a club and he was the DJ. I didn’t know that but I was on a date that was going terribly bad. But as my date and I left the club, Ty came outside and asked me out.  Literally ten years later, it was right before Snowmageddon, we got in contact again. I thought it would never work because I thought he would never leave Mississippi but he did and now we’re married.

Right around that time, the news director of NBC4 said, “We’re starting this Prince George’s County Bureau. We want you to go out and run the bureau since you’re from the county. How do you feel about that?” And I said, “I feel great! No problem, sure!”

Goring: What is the most challenging aspect of your work?

 Wilkins: The most challenging part of what I do is that I’m working in Prince George’s County but our viewers are in Montgomery County, Fairfax, Prince George’s, D.C. and are different kinds of people who have all different kinds of interests, make different amounts of money and live different kinds of lifestyles. My piece for Prince George’s County has to be interesting to all those people because I’m not just serving Prince George’s County viewers. 

 Goring: Why are you so passionate about what you do?

 Wilkins: Because I think it’s important. I think it’s an honor. .This is the county that helped to make me. I feel like it is my job to tell the full story to the best of my ability every day and that’s what I try to do.

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