Kate Bolduan, CNN | Youngest Morning Show Host in U.S. Television History
by Tania Hussain
October 15, 2013 — She proved her staying power and candor covering activities as a congressional correspondent of the U.S House and Senate for CNN and just this past summer became the youngest morning show host in U.S. television history. As of late, the journalistic integrity and strength behind her amiable demeanor is getting quite the attention as the fresh faced co-host alongside Chris Cuomo and Michaela Pereira of New Day on CNN.
While many are unwinding after work with the family or heading out with friends, Kate Bolduan is gearing up for the next day by heading to bed because her day starts extremely early. “The alarm goes off at 2:30 a.m,” she says promptly. “That leaves just enough time for several cups of coffee, several newspapers and preparation for the morning’s segments—6 a.m., lights, camera, action!”
After a show wraps up, Bolduan looks ahead to the next day with more research, and winds down the evening with a little bit of exercise and a quiet night at home with her husband but explains how planning for the following day’s segments is always well underway. “News is a 24/7 job so the reporting and researching never really stops. The key to making it all work on air is having a strong team on camera and off, being yourself and trusting your instincts.”
Starting her career as a general assignment reporter for ABC affiliate WTVD-TV in Raleigh, North Carolina, Bolduan has a great appreciation for the preparation of a news story. “I started in local news where you’re often not only the reporter, but the producer, lighting specialist and even the camera operator,” she says. “I’ve never lost the love of the process and am involved in every step of putting together a story when possible. Thankfully now with a 3-hour live show, there are a few [dozen] people to help make the magic happen along with me.”
That they do! This past summer CNN jetted Bolduan overseas to England right after wrapping up three hours of news programming with the New Day crew for coverage of the ‘Royal Baby’, a whirlwind adventure lasting 35 hours, with little sleep for her and everyone involved.
She shares how the schedule can be a little demanding at times but evidently from Bolduan’s passion for New Day and commitment to honest reporting, one can see how much she truly enjoys her work. “The most rewarding part of this job is all of the different and fascinating people we get to meet,” she says. “This job offers the chance to meet everyday people who find themselves in the most extraordinary circumstances and they let us tell their story. That’s why the old saying is so true—everyone really does have a story to tell.”
Bolduan’s own story is one of great vigor and perseverance. Throughout the years, the hard-working 30-year old Indiana native has shown her journalistic abilities in various forms and growing from such foundations as writer and Editor-in-Chief of her Goshen High School newspaper, the Tomahawk; and later enrolling in broadcast journalism at George Washington University in Washington DC.
“I didn’t always know I wanted to be a journalist,” she says candidly. “But I was, from an early age, interested in current events and the world around us. Add to that, I was always asking questions and enjoyed writing and I found journalism was the perfect place to put those passions to work.”
With a deep passion and respect for her roots, Bolduan takes a little bit of Goshen with her on every story. In 2010 while working with Wolf Blitzer on The Situation Room, Bolduan had the opportunity to visit her hometown and take a look at the trickle-down effect stimulus money had on the local economies in the Elkhart County. It was a personal piece for the Midwestern girl, sharing with Blitzer how the story and research hit home for her.
“Where we come from informs how we approach every story we cover and I think that’s important,” she says. “Whether it’s politics or an international crisis, drawing from our own experiences helps us connect with the story and helps viewers [and] readers connect with our reporting. I think the International Women’s Media Foundation embodies that value of diversity.”
During her internships in college, she discloses how she fell in love with TV reporting. “I found that I not only loved the reach and impact of TV reporting, but I also loved all of the production behind the scenes. From the interview to the camera, to the control room, to the edit bay—it takes so much to get a story on air. I love every part of the process,” she gushes. When she first joined CNN in 2007, Bolduan became a national correspondent for CNN Newsource, providing breaking news coverage and feature reports for more than 800 CNN Newsource affiliates.
Over the years, she later served as one of CNN’s congressional correspondents and covered activities of the U.S House and Senate as a part of the Capitol Hill unit. She reported on the legislative cycle and congressional events. Since starting with the acclaimed network, Bolduan feels the political landscape hasn’t changed much in six years. “A lot has stayed the same and I leave you to judge if that is a good or bad thing,” she says. “[But] Washington definitely feels more divided than ever. Compromise is now a bad word and the government seems to only operate when in crisis-mode. Still, we have to remember that our system of government may not be perfect but it is better than many [and] we can always strive to make it even better.”
In 2008, Bolduan was given the esteemed privilege of covering the Presidential Election and provided the opportunity to travel across the United States, covering national headlines for CNN. In 2012, she joined Wolf Blitzer as co-host of The Situation Room, contributing features and news, including working on the Presidential Election feature known as America’s Choice 2012.
With the integration of social media in the news world and nanosecond coverage of everything so easily at our fingertips, Bolduan believes such forms of communication have influenced many aspects of journalism, specifically broadcasting. “I see it as both a helpful tool and a challenge. It has changed how we find the news, track the news and how people get the news and interact with a story,” she says. “More than ever before, the surge in social media has also pushed broadcasting to go beyond the headline because people have that before they turn on their TV. The challenge is then to go dig deeper into an issue and offer the context that can often be lacking in a Facebook post or a Tweet in 140 characters.”
With such social modernism, Bolduan believes it’s an exciting time for news programming. “I love what I do [and] working with Jeff Zucker and the New Day team has provided me with an opportunity to dig deeper into stories that I think the country cares about,” she says. “My background is heavily influenced by politics, but on New Day, we cover many different beats. People want to know about a variety of different topics, especially when just starting the day.”
Since beginning her career as a journalist, Bolduan has seen many stories unfold, with some that are heartbreaking and tragic. One only wonders whether a reporter ever takes the toll of a story home with them. “We live in a dangerous world where bad things happen on a regular basis. That is a sad but simple fact [and] without pinpointing one story in particular, I’ve always said that the day you’re no longer impacted by a tragedy or injustice should be the last day on the job,” she says. “I think having a connection with a story makes me a better journalist [and] taking a tough story home with me is a small toll to pay when you know other journalists around the world are fighting for the same right to do so.”
With its premiere this past June, New Day has seen tremendous growth in viewership, improving greatly from its year ago network ratings average. Bolduan, who is a fan of the competing morning shows, believes and admires how their show has its own personality. “Chris [Cuomo], Michaela [Pereira] and I have a lot of fun together and trust each other, which goes a long way in having a successful show,” she says. “I also like how our show is a good mix of hard news and more human-interest stories but it always sticks true to the CNN brand that people trust.”
As Bolduan finds further success in her career, we quickly realize we have only seen the beginnings of her journalistic rise. There is much more to see as this naturally intelligent and compassionate woman leads the way for confident and politically savvy women interested in pursuing the field. Bolduan in many forms is a role model for the young aspiring women out there pursuing a similar path, despite being modest about such a decree. “I would love to be seen as a role model, but there are many other women far more deserving of that title than I.”
She shares with me advice that she received from her mentors years ago for those aspiring to be journalists and news broadcasters, revealing that the key to it all is that ‘there is no set path’. “Don’t follow in someone else’s footsteps, create your own,” she says. “It takes courage, confidence and maybe a little risk, but that’s what finding success in any field is all about. The women being honored this year by the IWMF are living proof of that.”
Looking forward to five or even ten years in her career, Bolduan shares with me how she hopes to be still doing the job that she loves and with any luck, covering less dysfunction in Washington and less tragedy around the world, while still hoping to be “making even a small difference along the way.”
Kate Bolduan’s distinct and solid voice in an industry often cloaked with partiality will be her asset as a leading female journalist in the news industry. Her achievements thus far and characteristics have proven her to be someone our future generations can be proud of, specifically as her passion for her work has the capacity to encourage others with similar drives.