Meet the 2021 Most Admired Woman — Media
Valerie Chinn is an anchor for WDRB News.
2021 Most Admired Woman — Media
Anchor, WDRB News
Family: Husband Tom, three children
Neighborhood: Eastern Jefferson County
This year marks Valerie Chinn’s 20th anniversary with WDRB. As anchor of the midday news, as well as an on-the-scene investigative reporter, she gets to enjoy both a structure to her day and the variety that comes with hearing of breaking news and getting to the scene quickly. She has been interested in journalism and broadcasting since she was in middle school, although she notes that it can be emotionally challenging to be a journalist and experience the trauma that makes the news newsworthy.
What inspired you to become a journalist?
When I was in middle school speech class, a sports broadcaster came to talk about his career. I just thought that was fascinating. Growing up, I always watched the news with my parents. When I went to high school I took my first journalism class; I was 15 years old and just fell in love with this career.
What were your professional experiences before WDRB?
The University of Missouri [her alma mater] is the only university in the country that owns an actual affiliate station, an NBC station in Columbia, Missouri. The experience you get in college is real-world because you’re on a regular working station. After college, I went to Austin, Minnesota, which is a tiny TV market; home of Hormel. It’s on the border of Minnesota and Iowa, and I worked there for a year and half. I married my college sweetheart, and we needed somewhere larger. We moved to Duluth, Minnesota, and lived there for a year and a half. The winters were brutal. I started applying for jobs, and I got a job here. I knew nothing of Louisville.
What do you do when you are stuck creatively?
We work well in teams at our station with photographers and producers. Talking it out with my coworkers is great. I judge a lot of Emmy Awards across the country, and it’s interesting to see everyone’s work and how others take a similar story and do it differently. I think you get your creative juices flowing by seeing other people’s work.
What would I find on your bedside table right now?
It’s a big mess. I love aromatherapy so I have all these Aveda essential oils. I love Shampure and Beautifying oil.
If you could gain or develop a skill, what would it be?
I studied to be a drone pilot at work, but I would like to hone my drone flying skills. I don’t have much time to fly because I’m interviewing. It would be nice to get more hours in. [The certification test is] difficult, and you have to renew it. I had it for a year, but I haven’t gone back and renewed it. The drone shots are so amazing.
Who was your most memorable teacher and why?
My professor and news director at the University of Missouri. You do pre-journalism classes, and then you apply to journalism school. There was a panel of three professors [including him]. He said, “I think she would do a great job.” Two of them said, “I don’t know.” He convinced them to let me in. Later, as I went through the program and they got to know me, they said, “He was right. We should have said yes from the beginning.” He gave me a chance, and I’m so thankful for that. Had he said no I wouldn’t have gone into journalism at all.
What is something you constantly lose at your house?
My phone, and my kids are always saying, “Just do Find My Phone” on your watch. It happened yesterday, but I wasn’t wearing my smartwatch either. I never lose it anywhere else.
Where do you go and what do you do when you need time to recharge?
I work out a lot. I’m always at the Y or Orangetheory. I think it’s really important to have an hour and focus on your health. It helps me with the stress of work, being a mom, being a wife. I work out five to six times a week.
What is your favorite TV series to watch over and over?
Friends. It reminds me of college. If an episode is on, I’ll watch it and it brings back memories. Overall I don’t watch a lot of TV. At the beginning of the pandemic, I think we all watched a lot of TV, a lot of Netflix or binge-watching. But now, I’m outside more.
P.S. Purchase your tickets for the revamped Most Admired Woman event, being held at The Gillespie. Be a part of history as former Today’s Woman owners Cathy Zion and Anita Oldham pass the baton to new owner Tawana Bain. You won’t want to miss this night of sisterhood!