Early morning TV co-anchor brings international flair to viewers

By Arthur Lightbourn

Contributor

Growing up in Skokie, Illinois, the last thing in the world Kaushal Patel thought she would become was a television journalist and anchor.

If you’re an early riser who clicks on television news with your morning coffee, you undoubtedly have seen her do her thing as co-anchor of 10News This Morning on weekdays from 4:30 a.m. to 7 a.m., and 10News Midday at 11 a.m with veteran newscaster Bill Griffith.

She pronounces her name Kaushal, “like ‘social’ — “And I am,” she says, and Patel, like ‘Mattel’ the toy company.”

She joined San Diego’s ABC affiliate, KGTV, about a year ago having served as a CNN International anchor/correspondent in Atlanta and Hong Kong, after initially honing her skills as reporter and anchor in El Paso, Texas, and Yuma and Tucson, Arizona.

Hard to imagine, but growing up as the daughter of immigrant parents from India, Patel recalls, “I was shy most of my life and not very outspoken, very studious, but I really never knew what I wanted to do.”

Patel was born in Evanston, Illinois. Her father is a scientist and director of a kidney transplant laboratory. She has a younger brother who is an engineer and lives in San Diego.

We interviewed the outgoing and articulate co-anchor recently in the conference room at Channel 10 after she completed her morning shift in the studio and as the Dow Jones was plummeting 634 points in the latest round of gyrations on Wall Street.

Sort of a momentous occasion. But, not to worry. Patel is confident the market will recover, eventually, as will her 401k.

“If you told me when I was 5, 10, 15, any of those ages, that I was going to be a journalist or TV broadcaster, I would have looked at you like you were very strange.

“My parents, like many Asian parents, want their children to excel, but they want you to become a doctor, an engineer, or have a business degree, something that would always provide and keep you prosperous throughout your life. Having Mom and Dad instill that in me, I did go to nursing school for a year and then ended up getting my business degrees.”

She was in her senior year at the University of Texas at El Paso, studying marketing and management, when she accidentally experienced a eureka moment in her life.

“I wanted to see how the marketing department worked at a television station. How did they market to viewers? So I went to the local TV station, (NBC affiliate) KTSM-TV. Well, they didn’t have an internship program for the station, but they had an internship program for the news department.”

She applied, got the internship, and while accompanying a reporter “to see how they put together stories… I fell in love instantly with what a reporter does.”

She had been planning to enter the corporate world. “I had offers from a couple of Fortune 500 companies right out of college, but I decided to just take a chance, take a chance on something I felt passionate about and I really never looked back and I can’t imagine doing anything else.”

She worked her way up from the internship, to part-time assignment editor, weekend reporter and then full-time reporter. Deciding she wanted to become an anchor and looking for an opportunity, she focused on stations in smaller markets and won a slot as a reporter/anchor at NBC affiliate KYMA-TV in Yuma, Arizona, eventually becoming the station’s main anchor.

“Yuma is where I learned to write as a television journalist. I had a wonderful news director, Bruce Kirk, who taught me how to write conversationally and write it so people will pay attention and want to watch the news,” she said.

Also, while in Yuma, she won Associated Press Awards for Best Newscast and for investigative reporting into prescription drugs that were banned in the U.S. as being unsafe but were being sold in pharmacies across the border in Mexico.

After four years in Yuma — and being single, mobile and focused on advancing her career — she moved on to CBS affiliate KOLD-TV in Tucson, “just up the road, in a bigger market,” and three years later to KTVT-TV in Dallas, Texas, an even larger and growing market.

“I was there for a couple of years, but my dream was always to go to CNN,” she said, “because when I started in the business, we all watched CNN. And I watched CNN’s Headline News ever since I was young.

“I have an agent. And he said you might have an opportunity. CNN was looking for an anchor for CNN International. It’s not the domestic CNN network,” she explained. It’s CNN’s international English language network watched by more than 200 million international viewers in more than 200 countries.

Patel joined CNN International in 2008, initially anchoring from CNN’s headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, and then from Hong Kong doing a daily two-hour, sometimes three-hour, single-anchor international news show.

On occasion, she did reporting as well because “I was in Hong Kong when the whole tainted milk outbreak happened and dozens of kids died … and the issue with tainted chickens and a minibond scam involving a branch of Lehman Brothers.”

Returning to the States in early 2010 and wanting to settle in California, she freelanced for six months at FOX affiliate, KSWB-TV, San Diego, before joining Channel 10 in September 2010.

She gets up at 2:30 a.m.; her first newscast begins at 4:30 a.m. and she works until noon.

“I’ve always been an evening anchor, so this has been quite an adjustment for me,” she acknowledged.

She especially likes working with co-anchor Bill Griffith. “Bill is a veteran. He’s been in this market for 35 years. In this day and age, you never find anybody [like that]. He pushes me to be a better anchor … and I continue to learn every day.

“I anchor three-and-a-half hours worth of news and I write a lot of my stuff.”

She enjoys delivering “hard news” in a concise, no-nonsense manner that can be understood by everyone, “from a 9-year-old to a neurosurgeon.”

“People, in the morning, want to get their news and get out the door. They don’t want all the fluff. ”

Interests outside of work?

“I love to cook. Cooking’s my passion. I cook a new recipe every week from scratch — everything, but especially anything with seafood. Love to travel. Any adventure. Something new. Love to try new things. I’m a big foodie. I like to go and try new restaurants, attend music festivals and events in town. I like being involved in the community. I like to see what’s going on. I love it here.”

Quick Facts

Name:

Kaushal Patel (pronounced: ‘Kóh-shal Pá-tel’)

Distinction:

A former CNN International anchor in Atlanta and Hong Kong, Kaushal Patel joined San Diego ABC affiliate KGTV Channel 10 a year ago as co-anchor of 10News This Morning and 10News Midday with veteran broadcaster Bill Griffith

Born:

Evanston, Illinois, grew up in nearby Skokie, Ill.

Marital status:

Single, “in a happy relationship”

Education:

B.B.A. degrees in marketing and management from the University of Texas at El Paso.

Interests:

“I love to cook. Cooking’s my passion… Love to travel. Any adventure. Something new. I love to try new things. I’m a big foodie. I like to go and try new restaurants.”

Reading:

“I try and read three things at once, but never finish anything. I’m one of those people. But I do read The Economist, and trying to read The Economist, that will take you a month.”

Physical regimen:

Works out four to five times a week and maintains a pretty strict diet. “Nothing white. No pasta. No rice. No white bread.”

Favorite TV:

ABC comedy series “Modern Family”

Favorite film:

“Life is Beautiful,” 1997 Italian film starring Roberto Benigni who won Best Actor Academy Award for his role.

Local getaways:

Coronado, La Jolla Shores, Torrey Pines

Philosophy:

“Don’t sweat the small stuff.”


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