‘Grateful to be able to give back whenever possible’

‘Grateful to be able to give back whenever possible’

Kim Block, 58

News anchor/reporter, WGME13

81 Northport Drive, Portland

www.wgme.com

Thirty-four years ago, if you asked Kim Block whether she planned on becoming an award-winning journalist for a Maine TV station, chances are she’d say no.

“I never intended to really study journalism,” said Block, a native of Washington, D.C., who moved to Maine in August 1978. “I started off as a nursing major. My dad was a doctor, my mom was a nurse. I grew up in that field.”

Block’s initial plan was to study nursing, but she “quickly learned that the curriculum was very limiting,” she said. “I also loved languages and loved writing. I wouldn’t have been allowed to take any of those courses until my senior year. I have always loved to use my voice.”

Block, 58, received a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism and Spanish from Indiana University in 1978. She now specializes in medical and health reporting and has been a reporter and news anchor at WGME13 in Portland for 34 years. She appears daily on the news at noon and 6 p.m., and co-anchors “Live at Five.”

She is the recipient of numerous awards, including Associated Press and Maine Association of Broadcaster awards; New England Emmy awards for two of her series, “The China Journey” and “Miracle in Maine;” an Edward R. Murrow award; the YWCA’s “Women of Achievement” award, and more.

In 2002, Block was the first woman inducted in the Maine Broadcasting Hall of Fame. She was recognized in 2012 as the Cromwell Center’s “Person of the Year” for her longtime dedication to community service. She has worked with organizations such as the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital, the Maine Cancer Foundation, and the Muscular Dystrophy Association, to name a few.

Before joining the news station, Block began her broadcasting career as an anchor at several radio stations in Portland, including WLOB and WGAN, which previously owned WGME until 1983.

“I wound up job shadowing, connecting with the news director and getting to know the staff,” Block said. “I promised myself I would audition for a job whenever there was an opening. The job that happened to be open was the 6 o’clock anchor.”

More than three decades later, Block is happy with her decision to pursue broadcast journalism. But the television part, she said, she hadn’t really considered at first.

“Interestingly enough, I grew up without a television set,” she said.

She admits she didn’t always aspire to be a television news anchor, but after working in radio, however, Block decided she wanted to further her career in the news industry.

“I love the idea of combining pictures and words to tell a story,” she said, of broadcast journalism. “(Voice) inflections, what you can communicate, and the way you say it, has always been very fascinating to me. It’s a really fine art.”

News anchoring in Maine, she said, has been a life-changing experience.

“It’s been a professionally rewarding place to be a journalist,” said Block, who lives in Falmouth with her husband of 21 years and their two children.

When she’s not reporting the news, she enjoys reading, sailing, singing, writing, and doing yoga.

Block spoke with Maine Women recently about how she became a journalist, what it takes to succeed in broadcast journalism, and the advice she has for other women interested in the field.

Q: How did you get into broadcast journalism?

A: I received a double major in Spanish and broadcast journalism. I had intended to combine the two professionally, but wound up being offered a job in Portland, Maine, upon graduation. While I haven’t had the opportunity to speak much Spanish here, I did fall in love with the area and with broadcasting. I moved here to work in radio news. After several years, I applied for a job at my company’s television station, and was given the wonderful opportunity to anchor the 6 p.m. news. I’ve been doing that now for 34 years. I’ve also done a lot of medical/health reporting, so I’ve been able to incorporate my interest in that field, as well.

Q: Did you have a mentor or an individual that was helpful to you?

A: We all owe a lot to the mentors in our lives. And that begins, of course, with my parents. In terms of broadcasting, I feel so fortunate to have started in the industry with so many seasoned professional journalists. When I started anchoring the 6 p.m. news, only one other woman had had the job here at WGME. Barbara Quill was an amazing mentor to me and taught me the importance of reporting along with anchoring. I worked with broadcasting legends in Maine – people like Frank Fixaris and Bill Johnson. And the news director who hired me was an amazing mentor and challenged me to push myself. I am forever grateful to him for seeing something in me that would allow me to still be here 34 years later.

Q: What does it take to succeed in broadcast journalism? And what advice would you offer to women interested in your line of work?

A: It takes an enormous amount of dedication and perseverance. Hone your writing skills and continue to look for ways to improve. The best reporters are the ones who use their hearts along with their heads. Understand up front that news is a 24-hours industry and you will be required to work long days, holidays, nights and weekends. Don’t just talk ­­– listen. The best interviewers follow the conversation. It helps to have the type of personality that can handle the pressure of constant deadlines and many things going on at once. And above all, never lose your compassion for others.

Q: What is the most meaningful part of your work?

A: I appreciate the opportunity to be a “voice” for those who might not have one. To shed light on issues that need to be examined. I love sharing “positive” stories through my “Making A Difference” segments every week. And I truly love to engage in community service. I’m very grateful to be able to give back whenever possible. ?

Kim Block, 58, from Falmouth, has been a news anchor and reporter at WGME13 in Portland for 34 years. Courtesy photoKim Block

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