TV exodus continues as Brad Underwood leaves WKRC-TV
After 15 years as a Cincinnati TV reporter, Brad Underwood is the latest to leave television for a 9-to-5 weekday job.
WKRC-TV's Brad Underwood will be spending evenings and weekends with his wife and two children instead of reporting news stories on your television screen.
"It was a tough decision. Journalism is something that has consumed my life since an early age," says Underwood, who signed off Local 12 Wednesday night and started Thursday as Little Miami School District communications director.
"Believe me, I thought I was going to be a television news reporter until they had to tear the microphone out of my hand. It was my only career ambition growing up," Underwood tells me.
The Indianapolis native is the latest of more than a dozen young TV news staffers abandoning broadcast careers to take jobs with "normal" weekday hours. I wrote about the trend in December, "Why the big Cincinnati TV news exodus in 2022?" He's the third WKRC-TV staffer to leave television in two months.
Reporter Courtney Wheaton, who worked in Dayton before coming to Channel 12, left in April after two years to become the public information officer for the City of Columbus Department of Neighborhoods.
Weekend morning meteorologist Brad Maushart joined The Weather Company, the IBM firm which owns the weather graphics software and hardware Channel 12 uses on May 1. He was looking forward to having "weekends off for the first time since the summer of 2016 and " 'normal people' hours," he told me.
Dayton viewers were shocked last month by the resignations of two popular WHIO-TV meteorologists, Kirstie Zontini and chief meteorologist McCall Vrydaghs. Zontini took a communications job with Kroger so she could spend more time with her two daughters and husband after eight years as morning forecaster. Vrydaghs left Channel 7 after 11 years to become director of corporate communications for Keep America Beautiful.
Last year, all four Cincinnati TV newsrooms saw talented young staffers abandon their television careers: Erica Collura, Alexa Helwig, Kathryn Robinson, Clancy Burke (WKRC-TV); Jake Ryle, Keenan Singleton (WCPO-TV); Lauren Artino, Trevor Peters (WXIX-TV); and Mollie Lair, Alenna Martella and Brandon Saho (WLWT-TV).
Underwood first came to Cincinnati for WXIX-TV (2008-12), spent a year at WDAF-TV in Kansas City, and then returned here to work for WKRC-TV in 2013.
"Brad is one of the best storytellers I know. He never made it about himself … (He was) humble and easy going," said WKRC-TV anchor Meghan Mongillo on Facebook. She worked with Underwood at WXIX-TV 15 years ago, before they each came to Channel 12. "I’m very happy for him to make a change in careers to better himself and his adorable family."
Family was the major factor for his career change. Brad and his wife, Emily, have two children, Eleanor (Ellie), 5, and Jackson (Jack), 3.
"They are getting older and more involved in activities. Ellie starts kindergarten in the fall. While I’ve enjoyed my mornings with them before work the last few years, I need to be more present at night and on weekends," says the Ball State University grad.
Among his favorite assignments were covering trials for convicted murderers Ryan Widmer and Anthony Kirkland; human interest stories such as 2-year-old brain cancer victim Brody Allen and teen soccer player Nick Cordrey, who died of a brain aneurysm; and reporting on efforts to reduce street violence in Cincinnati.
A sports fan, Underwood really enjoyed covering the Reds, Bengals, UC, Xavier, NKU and many high school teams over the years.
"There’s nothing like getting soaked with champagne and beer in the Reds locker room back in 2010 after Jay Bruce hit that walk-off to win the division. FCC at Nippert Stadium was unreal, and (I covered) a Bengals Super Bowl rally at then-Paul Brown Stadium. It’s just so cool and I never took it for granted.
"I love local TV news. It brings so much value to a community and we need to support those gathering and sharing stories of good while holding people accountable, too. I grew up watching the news on TV and listening to it on the radio with my parents and grandparents."
But it's time to step away.
"I loved working nights and Sundays. It was the shift that was best for me. But things change. I have a wonderful family that I love very much and it’s about them now. Not me," he says.
"Moving forward I’m thrilled I get to keep creating and writing. And I get to share it with others."
And get home for dinner with the family.