News Anchor Pavlina Osta Of ‘TV6 WLUC’ On The Five Things You Need To Create A Successful Career As A News Anchor
Good communication skills. By the time I was 18 years old, I had interviewed over 800 celebrities and newsmakers for my radio show. Almost all of these were on-location. This included backstage at concert venues, red carpet events, tour buses, etc. I had to have good communication skills because I only had one shot at getting it right since there weren’t retakes. I also had to deal with security, PR, managers, or whoever were gatekeepers at the venue. Even the scheduled interviews could have a last-minute change, and I had to make sure everything went as close to my interview plan as possible.
As a part of our series called “Five Things You Need To Create A Successful Career As A News Anchor”, we had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Pavlina Osta.
Pavlina Osta is an evening news anchor for TV6 WLUC Upper Peninsula, Michigan. At age 24, Osta is one of the youngest evening news anchors in the country. She holds a Guinness World Record and is an award-winning host who has been active in radio and television news for over half her life.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! I know that you are very busy, and we appreciate your time. Before we dive in, our readers would love to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I am a first-generation Lebanese American. I grew up in sunny Daytona Beach, Florida. I am the middle child of four in my family. I have an older sister who is a lawyer in West Palm Beach and now running for Congress. I also have an older brother who is an entrepreneur and a younger sister who just graduated from college and is beginning a career in interior design. Being the middle child, I watched my older brother and sister and learned from their experiences. We have a really supportive family, and our parents always encouraged us at a young age to set high goals and to go for our dreams. This, combined with seeing how hard each of my family members worked, definitely helped me develop the perspective that if you can dream it, you can do it.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
I always knew that I wanted a career in media, but I also knew that this profession could be very competitive and challenging to break into. I started my career at a very young age. In fact, some of my first guests I interviewed for my radio show when I was 11 years old were singers Kevin Jonas, Jack Johnson, and NBA superstar Vince Carter. So, by the time I graduated from college, I was fortunate enough to have a wealth of knowledge at a young age even though technically I had been working within the media field for more than half my life.
I was brought on as a guest to numerous news stations during college. I served as an expert and provided insight on various issues about Millennials and Generation Zs. These appearances were on topics from mental health to my opinion on the latest movies. It was during this time that I realized I really loved television. I decided to make the leap from radio to television, which is much bigger leap than most people think! I knew I was ready for a significant change though. However, I didn’t just take the leap blindly. During the COVID quarantine, I spoke with many other media professionals, researched, and developed a game plan. One of the biggest fears Millennials and Generation Zs experience is being stagnant — and I was not an exception to this shared fear. I think this has always fueled me to constantly want to learn more and continue growing throughout my career. I also knew that regardless of my path — whether radio or television — I wanted to make a difference.
After living six years in New York City (including Covid years), I moved to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I went from a view of the New York Stock Exchange outside my window to a view of a beautiful forest. My transportation went from Ubers and subway travel to driving an all-wheel drive in knee-deep snow drifts. My workday went from loud coworkers to a normalcy that took a while to embrace. It’s such a great change!
Being a News Anchor is so much more than sitting in front of the camera for a few hours. There’s reporting, editing, producing, and troubleshooting that is rarely known by the viewer. There is also the satisfaction of informing and telling a good story to the community — being their eyes and ears and that’s very rewarding. Being able to make an impact is a major reason I chose this specific career path.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
I wish I could share more than just one! I started my career with my radio show when I was 11 years old. There have been so many interesting and crazy things that have happened over the years with radio and television that it’s hard to narrow it down to just one.
However, I would say the most interesting story is the story behind the story. Whether I interviewed a singer in a rusty car, was snuck backstage at a casino, escorted by secret service at a political rally, in a tour bus with a reggae singer or at a wine cellar having Don Mclean sing me “American Pie,” the interesting story is the incredible lengths people in media go in order to bring you the story! That is something that never changes, and after a while, it’s not regarded as unusual but expected. For those who go the distance, journalists and anchors will have moments like I did- spending the day with Tanya Tucker at a Strawberry Festival, USTA with Shawn Mendes, NASCAR interviews with Jeff Gordan in the pit and so much more. But the greatest satisfaction is bringing the news to the people and letting them see something new or informational thanks to your coverage of the story.
As you know, sometimes our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting as a news presenter? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Well first off, let me preface with the fact that I am a perfectionist to a fault. So it is sometimes hard to find the humor in my mistakes. The anxiety, however, is never hard to find. But, for what it’s worth, I would say the funniest mistakes that I made when I first started as an evening anchor was struggling to pronounce all of the different names of towns, cities, and streets throughout the upper-peninsula region. The names of things in Michigan are different from those in New York! After the news segment aired, I received some negative emails letting me know how much I butchered the names. It was a bit mortifying, to say the least. Luckily, I work with a really supportive team! But, the lesson I learned was to embrace the region and learn the local pronunciation of those difficult names, specifically notating words that might be hard to pronounce with my own phonetic notes and tips/reminders.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Two stories I recently completed were foraging for the coveted morel mushrooms in the forest, and the other was bringing light to a male-dominated industry by shining the light on women construction workers. Both I took part and got my hands dirty and some sweat labor which was a lot of work but added to my knowledge of the story. Some stories I’m working on now are the war on vaping, women in prison, the Upper Peninsula’s mysteries, and the sled dog’s life.
You have been blessed with success in a career path that can be challenging. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of failure?
First, realize that we all have to start at the beginning and work our way up in this field. Second, recognize that you will make mistakes. We are only human, so you have to learn from your mistakes, forgive yourself, and constantly work towards improvement. Also, the less glamorous side of being on the news is that without fail, you will receive both love letters and hate mail from viewers. The love letters are … interesting, and the hate mail is hurtful. But you must realize that you can succeed — and you will succeed if you keep at it. As our favorite Blue Tang likes to say…” just keep swimming.”
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful for who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I received a lot of advice from the guests I interviewed on my radio show. Even though I was interviewing them, each one took me under their wing for the time that we were together and taught me about their industry, their struggles, and the obstacles they had to overcome to become who they are today.
Ed Sheeran told me that if I keep going by the time I’m 18, I will be so far ahead of other people my age and encouraged me to keep pursuing what I wanted to do, to keep practicing, keep learning, and never give up on it.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
One of the biggest tips I can give is this: do not be afraid to ask others for help if you need it. I typically want to do everything without asking for help, even when I need it, and I know others feel the same.
There’s various reasons for wanting to do it all. First, it’s because we don’t like to ask because we feel it will make us look weak, lazy or unknowledgeable. Second, we don’t ask for help because we figure we can fit it into our schedules and just do it.. Thirdly, our ego is saying we can do it better or faster. Don’t fall into any of those reasons. Ask for help- everyone will thrive when you do.
Thank you so much for all of that. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your experience, Can you please share your “Five Things You Need To Create A Successful Career As A News Anchor”. If you can, please share a story or example for each.
- Good communication skills. By the time I was 18 years old, I had interviewed over 800 celebrities and newsmakers for my radio show. Almost all of these were on-location. This included backstage at concert venues, red carpet events, tour buses, etc. I had to have good communication skills because I only had one shot at getting it right since there weren’t retakes. I also had to deal with security, PR, managers, or whoever were gatekeepers at the venue. Even the scheduled interviews could have a last-minute change, and I had to make sure everything went as close to my interview plan as possible.
- Know your camera. Being a one-person show, you learn every aspect of the process. I started out with a hand-me-down camera and a simple recorder. It was tough in the beginning — doing all the work of four people — but it gave me a great understanding of the different roles. It also served as an invaluable teaching tool, and so by age 13, I had already learned how to film and edit all of my content for my show.
- Grit. Grit and more grit. You will be blending lots of skills and making it look easy. Believe it or not, that doesn’t always win you praise. There will always be public criticism — criticism of your story delivery, your outfit, your hairstyle; you name it. It can and will hurt but try to remember, that the public has little idea of the work involved. When I was in 9th grade, I noticed my interviews on YouTube was getting negative comments from one subscriber. It hurt. The subscriber left comments on three or four of my videos, and when I decided to find out who the person was, it turned out to be some older girl at my school who was two grades ahead of me. I could never be that mean to a random stranger, but it taught me that people are often immature and insecure; which drives them to be so insensitive and hurtful. It is important to know that it does not end in high school. Insecure and cruel people are everywhere — so learn to let it slide off you like water off a duck’s back, and don’t let it bother you.
- Your voice. I had radio experience, which I think is a great place to start in media. Your voice needs to be expressive and have the right delivery style. That takes some practice! I had my radio show, which helped a lot, so I would suggest starting a podcast or reading out loud. This will be a great exercise to gauge your voice, timing, and overall delivery.
- Creativity. Every career is an evolving creature. I believe you need to possess a keen awareness of how news stories are supposed to be presented to the masses. Technology, but also other areas that evolve with presentation. I remember attending the National Association of Broadcasters in Las Vegas years ago and no one was taking podcasting seriously. Now, podcasting is a major platform in media.
According to this Gallup poll, only 36% of Americans trust the mass media. This is disheartening. As an insider, are there a few things that news anchors can do to increase the levels of trust? Can you give some examples?
News Anchors can separate slanting into the point of view format. Many viewers actually believe fake news and point of view as credible news.
Another way is to build a rapport with your community through events and stories that specifically impact the community.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Tamron Hall told me she wished she would have stopped and “smelled the roses” during her career. In other words, it’s important to not worry and stress and just enjoy the journey. So, something I tell myself if I am stressed or worried about my career is, “deep breathe…you got this, and it’s all going to work out!”
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
The “Be Kind Movement” is definitely one I would pursue. I remember the first time it hit me in a big way was when I interviewed the late folk singer, Pete Seeger. He sang “Give Peace a Chance,” and it was a moment where I realized we all need to be kind to each other. We are a fragile human society right now. There’s a national emergency on mental health among young people. I feel we need to learn the basics of how to treat people to prevent a population of anxiety-ridden people, angry people, and people who want to hurt others. Whether it is through people around us or social media, kindness is important, and that’s what people need the most right now.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
In 2013, I interviewed Gloria Steinem before she spoke in Naples, Florida, at a women’s health clinic. We talked about her years growing up, the struggles for women, and how women have evolved. A lot has changed since 2012. The #MeToo movement, the Roe vs. Wade reversal, and I would love to talk with Gloria about what women should be fighting for right now- how we need to move forward.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Absolutely! Readers can easily find me online and follow me on social media. I have Facebook and Instagram — @ PavlinaOsta. Also, if our readers ever have any questions or perhaps even a news topic that they would like for me to cover, please feel free to email me at PavlinaOsta@gmail.com. Lastly, readers can go to our website for TV6 WLUC Upper Peninsula News at www.UpperMichiganSource.com for news and updates.
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success, and good health!
Thank you so much! It has been a pleasure speaking with you, and I am so thrilled and honored that you considered me as a contributor for The Five Things You Need to Create a Successful Career as a News Anchor!
News Anchor Pavlina Osta Of ‘TV6 WLUC’ On The Five Things You Need To Create A Successful Career As… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.