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Markie Martin Wasn’t Thinking National Before NewsNation Came Calling

I never intended to go down the network news route, because so much of what I saw on national television exhausted me.



(Photo: NewsNation)

Dallas-based correspondent Markie Martin has been named co-anchor of NewsNation’s new morning show, Morning in America.

She’s trading the field for a seat at the anchor desk from their headquarters in Chicago as the network announces the expansion of Morning in America to four hours.

Martin’s new role with co-anchor Adrienne Bankert begins today and she says she is looking forward to presenting viewers, “impactful relevant stories to start their day because viewers want more news that informs them, but they also want to feel like they’re a part of their chosen news family. They want warmth, they want information.”

Offering multiple views on the news is also a priority. She tells BNM, “We’re offering something so unique and unparalleled in this current news marketplace. I can’t name another cable news network that isn’t an echo chamber for its viewers, and I just think we have gone against the grain of that, and I think what we are offering is fresh and it’s needed for Americans.”

Veronica Dudo: You’re joining Morning in America on NewsNation. What stories are you most looking forward to telling?

Markie Martin:
First, it’s an absolute dream to have a seat at that table with the morning team! Some of the best and sharpest colleagues I’ve ever had the privilege to work with. The stories I’m most eager to tell, without a doubt, are those that are anchored in human connection.

I love spotlighting people who are making a difference, or those who can greatly impact others by sharing their personal story and experiences. I think the best journalism is that which elicits change, solutions, and hope for its consumers.

VD: What inspired you to work in TV news?

MM: I wish I had one of those “aha moments”, but it was truly a slow pull to broadcast over the course of time. Growing up, I solely watched the morning news and the Food Network—I wasn’t interested in anything else! However, I didn’t know anyone in the industry so it never occurred to me it could be an attainable career.

Actually, I attended the University of Richmond with the intention of going Pre-Med, and I knew in that first collegiate chemistry course that wasn’t the route for me. I took inventory of all my interests and skill sets—writing being at the forefront—and pivoted to Journalism, and it was there that things started to click for me.

The assignments were meaningful, I adored the professors, and it was during my first television internship at CBS 6 in Richmond, VA, that I knew this was something I needed to pursue. Richmond didn’t have a broadcast specialty or classes, so I created the school’s first campus broadcast in the basement of the school newspaper office. As an ode to our Spider mascot, a co-host and I named it “What’s Up in the Web” and the shows were so bad, poorly lit in front of a homemade green screen. But those segments are what actually landed me my first job in TV—KTEN in Sherman, Texas.

VD: Was your goal always to work in front of the camera?

MM: I wouldn’t necessarily call it a goal, but it was always an area of interest and something I enjoyed. Public speaking and being on camera really started for me in high school. I was Student Council President and made all the school speeches and morning announcements, I’d make a weekly on-camera skit for my church’s youth group to accompany the message of the week. It was always something I saw as a creative outlet, not a career. My mom always likes to say… “And look where those Ada High School morning announcements got you!”

VD: With so many outlets and platforms vying for viewers—what’s unique about Morning in America on NewsNation?

MM: Undoubtedly, the first items that come to mind are the content and tone of the show. I can’t name another cable news network that isn’t an echo chamber for its viewers, and we have gone against the grain. Having been hired on with NewsNation at its onset in 2020, I believe the network has held true to its mission—balanced, fair, and unbiased headlines.

When you turn on Morning in America, you’re going to be informed on the big topics of the day, but you’re going to be informed from all sides and perspectives. As the network has continued to grow, the breadth of guests we now have on is truly remarkable. Viewers are going to get a bit of everything—breaking news, hot topics, diverse discussion, and also a healthy dose of levity to start their day.

VD: What do you consider your greatest unforeseen career opportunity that came your way?

MM: I’m not just saying this because it’s an interview about NewsNation—but my greatest unforeseen career opportunity has been this job, because I never knew this kind of opportunity would exist for me. I never intended to go down the network news route, because so much of what I saw on national television exhausted me. The bias, the lack of civil discourse, the narratives, and the “gotcha” journalism.

I have a complete adoration for local news, and after leaving my last market in Oklahoma City I told my agent not to even shop me around nationally for my next gig. One night over neighborhood pho with my husband, I got a call from my agent who just started the conversation with: “Hear me out.”

He pitched the News Nation Dallas correspondent position, for a network trying to change the game, and I was sold. Thankfully, after a couple interviews, I landed the job. And it’s been a fantastic adventure.

VD: Having moved and lived in different cities across the country for your job—what are some meaningful memories you have from those markets?

MM: I started at KTEN in Texoma, then pivoted to Oklahoma City, then Dallas for NewsNation, and now Chicago. I’d say my top moment that I always share with people, especially young journalists hoping to make it in the business, is how I landed my first job.

I was working at The National Journal in Washington DC and knew I wanted to try for my first television market. In Oklahoma, I grew up watching KTEN so decided to start small there. With no available openings online, I decided to reach out directly to the News Director and pitch myself in the event he had any jobs on the horizon. He messaged back that afternoon and two weeks later I was in his office.

During the interview, he revealed he was about to have a weekend anchor opening and a weekday reporter opening, but I had no experience doing either. Sitting across from him, I said: “I want them both. I can do both.” He made me an offer on the spot and created a hybrid role for me.

I always tell aspiring journalists to just go for it—even if you don’t see any openings or have what you perceive to be enough experience. The worst they can say is no.

VD: Most people look at your job and would think that it’s so glamorous. What would people be surprised to know about it?

MM: The moments of glamour in this business are few and fleeting! I certainly didn’t enter the industry chasing glamour, but nobody prepared me for how polar-opposite it is from that.

What viewers see of us on-air, particularly for correspondents, is about one percent of our actual job. The majority of the job consists of chasing a story, conducting interviews, traveling to assignments, writing and editing, pitching ideas, garnering sources, and the list goes on. The on-air coverage is the short finale of an entire day, often longer, of news gathering.

Journalism school did not prep me for doing my hair and makeup on the floor of more airport bathrooms than I’d care to count, working unimaginably long and arduous hours, missed holidays, birthdays, family milestones…But wow, has it been worth it.

VD: What stirred your interest to obtain your private pilot license?

MM: My dad! It’s his greatest hobby and I grew up flying with him everywhere. He tried for years to get me to take flying lessons, but I never wanted to go up solo. I came home from college one summer and decided to go for it! It is one of the things I’m most proud of, and love that I share that with him.

Aviation has opened so many unexpected doors for me professionally, unforgettable experiences, and is a muscle I enjoy flexing when it comes to big aviation stories. My husband, inspired by my dad and me, is now going for his private pilot’s license, too! And with my mom being a flight attendant for Southwest Airlines, aviation is a whole family affair.

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The Problem With Radio Interviews and How to Make Them Better

Most interviews suck. Most interviews have little reason to exist in the first place, not if the host, anchor, or reporter isn’t going to ask the tough questions the audience wants answered.



What was the last interview you remember? I’ll wait. Yeah, not so easy. Most interviews on radio, TV, or podcasts, or in print, are anything but memorable.

Either nobody says anything other than the usual platitudes, or the host fawns over, and tosses softballs at, the guest. The only thing accomplished is to fill a segment the easy way — hey, the guest is doing all the work! Cool! — and the host is, ideally, maintaining access to the guest while pleasing some publicist who will, the producer hopes, send more clients to the show. Everybody wins, right?

What about the audience?

Most interviews suck. Most interviews have little reason to exist in the first place, not if the host, anchor, or reporter isn’t going to ask the tough questions the audience wants answered. Is it entertaining or enlightening to a radio listener or cable news viewer if an interview consists of stock answers, vague platitudes, or ridiculous opinions met with zero resistance from the interviewer? Who wants to hear that? Yet that’s what I see, hear, and read everywhere.

Nobody gets challenged, and in the rare instances when they do get challenged, the interviewer invariably lets them off the hook. Follow-ups are non-existent. Wild claims are unchallenged. And those are among the more interesting interviews, because at least there’s some animated discussion. Others are deadly dull, too polite, interviewers afraid to make things too uncomfortable.

Uncomfortable can be, of course, the kind of memorable interview that people talk about years later, the kind that can define a host and show. I’ve written before about how I saw the light when I was programming New Jersey 101.5 and, from the front hallway of the studio, I suddenly heard John Kobylt (now at KFI Los Angeles) and Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) in a shouting match. I don’t even remember what they were arguing about, but it was a talk show host and a sitting U.S. Senator on the phone screaming at each other and I ran towards the studio, then stopped in my tracks.

Yeah, it was a Senator, but so what? Senators are just people, but also people who owe their constituents answers. John was representing our listeners. I let it go on. And our ratings reflected that attitude: We used our access to get answers for the audience, and they appreciated it. Politeness may get you invited to campaign events and press conferences, but you don’t work for political parties, sports franchises, or college athletic programs, you’re the proxy for the people, and yourself.

(Lately, it’s been fun to watch Jake Tapper let the Philly come through and be more aggressive with politicians; “Be more Philadelphia” is a good rule of thumb, although I might be biased in that regard….)

There are other radio examples, too, from Tom Bauerle in Buffalo challenging Hillary Clinton to Dan Le Batard confronting MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred over the Marlins’ tanking to the recent WFAN/Carl Banks brouhaha, and you surely have other examples, probably because they’re the interviews you remember. (We can skip over Jim Rome vs. Jim Everett, okay?) Honestly, whether they’re pundits bloviating on cable about the latest breaking news or a coach or player spouting the same safe canned responses after every game (“Why didn’t you go for it on 4th and 2?” “We’ll have to try harder next week, but give credit to the other guys’ defense”), the world, and your ratings, would probably be better off without those interviews.

But if you insist on doing a lot of interviews…

1. Listen. Yes, this has become a cliche. So many great interviewers have said this that it’s hard to figure out who said it first. It’s true, though. Prepare all the questions you need in advance — more than you need, really — but when you ask a question, don’t let your eyes move down the page to the next question on the list. Just listen to the answer, because more often than not there will be an opportunity to….

2. Follow up. This is not optional, especially entering an election year when misinformation is going to continue to be rampant. You know when you’re watching a cable news anchor talking to a politician or pundit and the latter says something outrageous and unsupportable and the interviewer just moves on? You know how you want to throw things at your TV when that happens? Don’t be that interviewer. Better yet….

3. Insist on an answer. If the subject doesn’t really answer the question, ASK IT AGAIN. Repeat until you get a commitment. No need to defer to someone who’s avoiding your questions. At least get them on record as refusing to answer the question – and point that out — before you move on.

4. This is out of order, but before you even book the interview, ask yourself: Is this what the audience wants or needs? Is this going to be entertaining or informative, or preferably both? Are people going to remember this past the second it ends? Might this make news or is it just going to sit there accomplishing nothing? Why am I doing this? (The latter question is apropos for everything in life, by the way, and the answer isn’t always pretty.)

It’s not to say that you need to be a jerk to guests, or that you can resort to name-calling or low blows. To the contrary, asking good, tough questions is a sign of respect, a sign you think they can handle it. If they can’t, it’s on them. If you’re the host, anchor, or reporter, you’re in control. Use it.

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How to Take Your Personal Brand to the Next Level

Always respect your brand’s relationship with the station. You are a 24-hour-a-day goodwill ambassador for your employer. Always keep that in the forefront of your skull. 

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You have probably heard about having a personal brand. Well, we all have a brand. 

The definition according to the American Marketing Association: “Personal branding is the act of promoting yourself as a brand by crafting a distinct identity, reputation, and online presence to showcase your skills, expertise, and personality. This type of branding is normally used by professionals, influencers, and entrepreneurs to enhance their careers, attract opportunities, and build a strong online presence.”

How do you represent yourself on the air? Do you have an identity that makes you unique?  What is it? Are you presenting a show that is on-brand? Is there an aspect of your show that makes it special? I have asked these questions to several hosts over the years and when left to identify these attributes…  They can’t. It takes soul searching, it takes a bit of honesty, and it also takes some courage. There is an old marketing adage when it comes to presenting anything to the consumer. What makes your show new, better, and different? I will give you some strategies to develop your personal brand on the air. 

What about your personal brand in life? When you walk into the store, restaurant, or your chosen house of worship, do you present yourself like a star? Gene Simmons of the band KISS once said that rock stars should always look like it whenever they go outside. Do you present yourself as you wish to be perceived? Is it on-brand? 

Longtime talk show host and Founder of the Guardian Angels, Curtis Sliwa is always in uniform. He is wearing a beret and a red jacket with the Guardian Angels Logo. I worked with Curtis for almost 4 years, I only saw him out of uniform twice. A lot of talk show hosts are somewhat shy and socially awkward. Hosts frequently only come alive when there is a microphone in front of them. This is a total mistake. 

Friday Night, I made a work appearance. I worked the crowd, but I was hungry. So, I stopped at a local restaurant, bellied up to the bar, and enjoyed dinner with a beer. Well, one of the businessmen at this establishment recognized me. He moved over and sat near me. I spoke with him for 40 minutes as I enjoyed my beverage and meal. This listener introduced me to everyone at the bar. He must be a regular. 

I followed my tradition of only having one beer. I was on brand. After I was recognized, I had a conversation about the show and the station. I was not dismissive of either being recognized. I didn’t try to diminish my job. Be a regular person when approached. Your show persona and personal presentation may be a little different. Your listeners don’t understand that. I mention this because I have observed radio and TV people just come across as either rude, aloof, or just nutty.

Your station’s brand will always be associated with your personal brand. How many hosts do you know who made the move across town and just got crushed? The ratings sucked, the fit was bad, and the revenue was in the toilet after 12 months into that new gig. 

Always respect your brand’s relationship with the station. You are a 24-hour-a-day goodwill ambassador for your employer. Always keep that in the forefront of your skull. 

I worked with an amazing talent years ago who was really the backbone of the station in the market. He had been in that community for 30 years. Everyone knew him. This guy had a hair-trigger temper, though. I got a call from a listener who was on a roadcrew, and my guy screamed at him over a traffic delay. 

The listener was really sorry that he yelled at my guy. The road crew member wanted to write the talk show host a note of apology. I took that as a learning tool. I called my host and told him about the call. My host dropped the “Do you know who I am?” line on this poor dude. I brought that up. The host was crestfallen. I had to inform him that he was always an ambassador of the station’s brand. 

I also let him know that the “Do you know who I am?” line is a finesse play and should be only used in rare situations. I was also able to bust his chops over this for years. We shared a laugh each time that it was brought up. Don’t let your ego hurt your station. 

So…how do you develop your own brand? I hate to inform you of this, you have one. Now, you have to understand what it is. You also need to understand the three legs of the personal branding stool. What makes you new, better, and different? Ultimately, this should be the goal of every marketing plan. Once you understand these three things, you will have the basics for developing your personal brand. 

Your brand should also be a listener-focused exercise. Once you have your brand in hand, figure out if you need to adjust your public persona. How does that look? Think of the Gene Simmons statement. What do people want to see? How should you present yourself? Think about you should dress. How should you act? The answers are unique to you. 

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Can News/Talk Radio Be the Opposite of the Thanksgiving Table?

I wonder if the delicate dance between honesty and not wanting to offend is the same at the “table” as it is on the radio airwaves. Regardless, the prospect of conversations in both places can be both refreshing and frightening.



A photo of a family dinner

As we get overnight Truth Social rants from Donald Trump, Hunter Biden’s laptop trending, another presidential debate, and more calls for anyone but a Trump-Biden race, the whole ability to be politically independent seems to be increasingly difficult, whether it be on the radio or at the dinner table.

First, what does it actually mean to be independent? Everyone likes to say they’re independent, but before judging them on their merits, what are the defining criteria?

It’s not about objectivity vs. subjectivity. No one is truly objective, so let’s get past that middle school comparison. I view the concept of political independence as two things: Intellectual flexibility and partisan separation.

The first term involves the ability to react to new, different, and dynamic information and actually adjust a viewpoint. Ardent partisans call this flip-flopping. I call it a saving grace of the free mind (cue Matrix theme music). You should be able to evolve and shift a position based on learning. Most adults are not able or willing to do this (see my old column on silos).

Partisan separation is an offshoot of the willingness to be intellectually flexible. If you are 100 percent beholden to a party, you cannot be intellectually flexible. As a human and as a morning radio host, that’s an untenable place to occupy – IMHO, as the young’uns say.

When I review my portfolio of political views, thoughts, and feelings, I accept some that are considered conservative, and others that look progressive, while still possessing several moderate stances as well. The point is not to blindly follow a line; follow what your senses tell you, even if it’s not consistently one side or the other.

Think of it as split-ticket voting, but on issues and not candidates – and try doing it on an ongoing basis.

Critics on either side may say you flip flop or even some call you a coward. I am fine with that, and every day on the air, I am working on the courage to embrace all 360 degrees of my views without fear of the response. My agenda is not to have an agenda.

So, some two weeks after Thanksgiving, I am still processing the many hours of conversation at the “table”. I put that in quotations because we don’t actually have a sit-down meal. With 35 or so people, we set up the food buffet-style and let everyone have at it.

I wonder if the delicate dance between honesty and not wanting to offend is the same at the “table” as it is on the radio airwaves. Regardless, the prospect of conversations in both places can be both refreshing and frightening.

Personally, I like to go there right away and then assess whether it’s worth staying there. At my holiday meal, there were so many options for people to talk to – one could just float around the rooms — and the outs are easy. I could get more food, hit the bathroom, or the simple need to catch up with someone else. As the alcohol flowed, so did the more political conversations.

I know not to give my end-of-day thoughts with the close relatives; I keep that kind of candor to crazy cousins and their spouses.

My wife’s extended family is mostly New England Democrats with a smattering of shy-about-it Republicans. In the past, we’ve had drunken tears over political issues – including one fantastic meltdown over a relative’s vote for Trump — but it’s been mostly quiet for the last few years. Having said that it’s clear that a truly independent – or rather, open-minded – approach is precarious.

Here are some areas, questions, and stances where I’ve learned people get upset, and more disturbingly, judge you — whether it be on the radio or at the dinner “table”. These are all things we should be able to discuss without fear:

Can’t you truly want to expand the vote to the most people possible but also wonder about the merits of voter ID and absentee ballot security?

If you worry about the concept of late-term abortion, you are pro-life.

And If you question the border policy, you are anti-immigrant.

If you at least acknowledge the fact that the world actually seemed more peaceful three years ago, you might as well have a MAGA flag in your bedroom.

Question President Biden’s age? people think you’re going to vote for Donald Trump.

If you lament the death of Palestinian civilians, you are anti-Israel.

If you correct the misuse of the term genocide, it means you support genocide.

Think the government has the potential to be a force for good? You’re a spend-thirsty liberal.

If you want to save Social Security by raising the earnings cap, you’re a tax-thirsty liberal.

If you recognize white privilege and still want to work out how to make opportunity fair in this country, you’re anti-white.

Want to at least brainstorm on what reparations would look like? You are also anti-white.

If you are curious about whether there should be some sort of line at some point between boys and girls sports, you are anti-trans.

If you argue for true free speech, you get in trouble on both sides.

And if you think market-based solutions can work, you are an elitist.

I could go on and on, but you get the point. Exploring these issues should not mean an absolute commitment to a stance. These are evolving subjects, and there has to be an evolving discourse in order to even have a chance at intellectual flexibility.

Do I have an answer for how to do this? No. Am I still hesitant to approach some of these topics on the air? Yes. Will I continue to test things when it feels appropriate? Absolutely.

In radio, getting there remains a work in progress, but even though I want to work in the middle a lot, it does not mean that I want to be stuck there.

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