MADISON (WKOW) -- Most people have a work family. If you have the pleasure (and occasional pain) of going to work every day, you probably see your work family more than you do your real family.
People at work can become friends, surrogate husbands, wives, sisters and brothers. Some of mine, I think of as my children. Okay, that sounds like I'm belittling them. Maybe more like little sisters and brothers, but I would do anything to protect and stand up for them. And I have on countless occasions with the critical public. I also want to help them make good choices for themselves, our co-workers and our viewers. I feel like the mama bear in the newsroom. Some days my fangs show. But I give good bear hugs too.
Over the 18 years I've been a journalist, many people have come and gone from the six newsrooms where I've worked. I've, of course, been that person a few times. Because a newsroom is a 24/7 operation, co-workers can move to different shifts and you'll no longer see them again. At least not without great effort. Such is the case with my good friend Brian Olson.
Brian and I instantly connected when we first met 4-and-a-half years ago. There are some people you know you're meant to be friends with in your life, and Brian is one of those people for me. Brandon Taylor is another.
That's why it's hard to see our trio split up as Brian moves to the evening broadcasts at 27 WKOW. Not just for us, but for our viewers. But we could not be getting a better replacement than Branden Borremans. Not only are Branden (Borremans) and Brian on the same page most times with their forecasts, but they're great friends and have been for many years! They met when they both worked in Sioux City, Iowa in 1999.
I've obviously worked many other jobs over my relatively short lifetime and I've never felt the "work family" the way I do in the newsroom. It's special for several reasons. Many of us are transplants. We are living and working in a city that's not our own. We didn't grow up there. We don't have family or lifelong friends in town. We took a job somewhere we never heard of because that was the only news director who called us back and offered us one. Or they paid slightly above poverty level. My first on-air job was actually well below poverty level and my boyfriend, also in the business, lived in low-income housing (he made more than I did). I took the job because they were the first to call me back. I moved my buns halfway across the country from Chicago to Colorado.
The other reason newsrooms are special is because of the shifts. A newsroom operates 24/7. You have early morning, dayside and nightside. You work odd and long hours together. Sometimes you're in a live truck with the same photographer day in and day out. The Wake Up crew, for example, works mostly overnight and early morning. We all go to bed before the sun sets, wake up in the middle of the night, come in at "dark-thirty" as Brian calls it and oftentimes take naps just to get a total of six hours of sleep in a 24 hour period. When you have those uncommon things in common, you tend to become close with your co-workers and commiserate.
Many of you know I worked in the Rockford, Illinois market for 10 years. I still keep in touch with many friends I met there, including my long-time co-anchor, Eric Wilson. He and his wife came to Madison last week and we had breakfast. I always joke he's the big brother I never wish I had. He's not the only one I check in with on a regular basis. I still talk with friends who left the first year I was there, almost 15 years ago.
I mentioned Brandon Taylor earlier and many of you know and can see the connection we have on the air. It's true. We don't pretend. I truly love that man and so does the rest of my family. He's always invited to our house for holiday dinners (sometimes he comes, sometimes he has another invite - he's popular) and my daughter Rylan can't get enough of "Bran-Dan."
Funny story about Brandon this summer: During "Shake the Lake" Brandon and I were introducing Rylan to our (then) new reporter Hunter Saenz. We BOTH said at the same time, "He works with Mommy and Daddy," meaning me and Brandon. We looked at each other and started laughing about it. When my husband showed up a few minutes later, we told him what we said and he didn't get it. I had to tell him twice and said.... "We essentially called Brandon her Daddy." My husband Steve was like, "Oh yeah, I think of you guys as husband and wife anyway."
It's impossible to mention everyone who's touched my life and continues to be part of my work family now. And so many of them, our viewers never get to meet. There are producers, directors, photographers, promotions, sales and other staff members who work so hard behind the scenes. They are all just as important to me as the people you see sitting next to me on the anchor desk. You'll see some of them in the slideshow I've created here. It took me about two hours to find that many photos and upload them. I wish I had more pictures and more time to show you all the wonderful people I've met along the way.
When you work in a newsroom, you love your co-workers. You respect them. You fight with them. You fight for them. You laugh together and you cry. There are hugs. There are side glances. There are tense moments. You may feel hate one day. Hopefully you can forgive and feel the love again the next day. All of those things happened at one time or another with Brian. They've certainly happened with Brandon. And I'm sure they'll happen with Branden too.
If you have a question, story idea or news tip for Dani Maxwell or anyone at 27 News, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.