Selena Wiles forecast: sunshine
Around the WJHL/Tri Cities newsroom, she was known as “Sunshine.”
Well the team at WJET TV 24 are hoping to catch some rays as Selena Wiles enters the anchor chair at Action News 24 opposite Sean Lafferty. Wiles replaces JET-TV fixture Karla Mullenax who left the station this summer to take a communications position at Gannon University.
According to a station news release, after a nationwide search, News Director Lou Baxter stated, “We’re very happy to have found an experienced anchor that has just the right mix of broadcast journalism expertise, education, passion, chemistry, and charm to continue Action News 24s tradition of trust.” Baxter added, “Selena Wiles is a welcome addition to Action News 24.”
Ms. Wiles was kind enough to share some time with The Press and Tower letting our readers get to know her:
P&T: Where do you think your passion for journalism came from?
Wiles: I’ve heard many reporters answer this question the same way. I like to know things first, and I like to pass information on. It borders on gossiping, doesn’t it? Haha! I didn’t put this connection together until years after I became a reporter, but: During dinner, my parents always had the local evening news on the television. We’d watch the local and national news together every evening when I was growing up. I don’t recall loving it at the time. But, here I am all these years later, involved in the process that gets the shows on the air for other families, I guess. I also remember wanting to grow up to be Jane Pauley. Apparently we had the news on at all hours in North Central West Virginia.
P&T: Your career took the more “old-school” path of starting in radio before jumping to television, where now most young reporters enter right into TV. What kind of foundation did your radio years give you?
Wiles: I worked with great people in radio. I’m still in touch with the news director in Preston County, WV who was my first boss in high school. She assigned me to a report called Preston High in a Minute for WFSP, Sunny FM 107.7. I have no idea what I shared with listeners about my high school. But, I sure remember the call letters. My news director at WAJR in Morgantown, WV, Jeff Jenkins, taught me how to pull half a dozen stories from just one city council meeting and make them meaningful to listeners. He also taught by example how hard you must work in this business sometimes. I watched him come in to work the morning shift beginning at about 4am or so then stay through the day, overnight, and into his shift the next morning to cover local elections. Radio is also where I learned to ask questions that matter which requires reporters to immediately get acquainted with the area and to pay attention to local issues as they unfold and progress.
P&T: Having specialized in education reporting at WJHL, what do you see as our biggest challenge that schools face?
Wiles: No doubt, No Child Left Behind is the biggest challenge educators have told me they face. While I have no children, I tend to agree with the purpose behind the federal mandate designed to hold school districts and educators accountable and force them to prove they are instilling knowledge in our youth. With that said, it is my opinion that it will be nearly impossible for districts to meet all of the requirements under NCLB. Take 100% attendance rates and ace test scores from all children no matter their skill level. I’ve heard teachers rage over trying to get their students with special needs on the same level as higher functioning children. Education has a number of gray areas. To think it can be governed by a black and white “law” seems nearly impossible. Over the years, though, it’s easy to get excited as a reporter when you see schools earn better adequate yearly progress scores after struggling through the first years of requirements under NCLB. In short, the biggest challenge is measuring the success of our schools, which is important, but keeping in mind the individual challenges in each district, on each grade level, and so on.
Wiles: I guess I appreciate the fact that I don’t have colleagues from the station. I have friends, some as close as family, who I just happened to share office space and air time with. I worked there for about 6 years. And, it was the first place I landed after leaving home in North Central West Virginia. I was as sad to leave the Tri-Cities as I was to leave WV. I swear. In the time I was in Johnson City, I grew as a reporter and anchor. But, my faith grew much, much more. How could it not when you’re living in the Bible belt surrounded by good people willing to encourage you every step of the way in a journey in faith?
P&T: What are you looking forward most about coming to Erie and WJET?
Wiles: You can tell in the online video, I was very emotional on my last day at WJHL. That’s because when a place becomes your home, you become attached. I am looking forward to becoming a part of my community in Erie. One of the most personally rewarding things I did in Johnson City was a weekly series from a Title I school that received very little positive attention. I became so attached to the 5th grade class, it was unreal. I hope, in some small way, I encouraged those children into their future and was a positive influence. I’m anxious to see where Erie could use a helping hand and where I can lend one. Sometimes you don’t know why you land where you do. But, it’s my belief you better be doing some good while you’re there, both personally and professionally.
P&T: What’s your impression of the Erie media market so far?
Wiles: From the postings I read online, viewers, at least some of them, keep a local eye on who’s doing what, how they’re doing it, and where they’re going in this market and from this market. And, those viewers are plenty vocal about it all. I’m not used to that. Although, in any newsroom, you receive your fair share of phone calls with an opinion on the other end of the line. I’m very excited to be in a market where one area matters the most. It means super-local coverage. A challenge in the Tri-Cities was making each story, whether in Virginia or Tennessee, matter to a wide coverage area. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about pronunciation. There are names here that prove difficult to say when rolling off my tongue. Just know, I’m trying!
Wiles: BRING IT! haha I need the Mountaineer fans to look me up. I’ll need a friend when it comes game time. Oh, and if any Pitt fan has an extra ticket to the Back Yard Brawl, I’ll be happy to take it off their hands, ride to the game with them, and listen to the talk as long as they’ll still bring me back to Erie after the Mountaineers win. Okay, that’s a joke. I’m a fan, but I’m never overly confident in my team whether it’s the Mountaineers or the Steelers. I can assure this: I will not suddenly wake up one day to be a Panthers or Nittany Lions fan. But, I probably won’t be talking a great deal of trash against anybody else’s team either.
Ms. Wiles is already making a strong impact on Action News, with a career future so bright, we may all have to wear “shades.”