Lucky me to have this great job at ABC7!
I get to tell stories of the most interesting and challenging subjects one can imagine. My work has taken me around the world to Mexico, Kosovo (twice), Afghanistan, South Africa and Korea. I always try to do something that helps people. Along the way, I love the adventure, risk-taking, meeting new people and finding the connections to the Bay Area.
Next year, I will celebrate anchoring the 5pm news for 25 years!! It's hard to believe. I am so grateful that our viewers have placed their trust in me for so long.
Most of my work focuses on children and family issues as well as the environment. I didn't start out to be a reporter&I wanted to be a teacher and in a way, it seems that I am able to that with my job now. It was a journey to get here, but well worth it.
My parents taught me the value of hard work, perseverance and public service. Mom stayed home and raised 7 children, while Dad served in the U.S. Army for more than 20 years, retiring as a Lt. Colonel. I am the oldest daughter, so I got plenty of experience changing diapers, feeding babies and baby-sitting! My husband and I do not have our own children, but we've had 7 young people and children of all ages live with us at different times during our marriage.
My dad's work took us all over the world, including two tours in Germany. Dad also served in Vietnam and Korea. I changed schools more than a dozen times before high school! That part was tough, always leaving friends and learning to make new friends quickly. It all prepared me for life in TV!
When I was 18, my parents gave me a suitcase and told me if I wanted to go to college, I would have to find a way! And I did: City College of San Francisco and San Francisco State University, thanks to student loans and part time work.
My college advisor told me there were too many teachers, so I had to choose another career path. I saw two women on television at that time and it was such a rare thing, that I summoned my courage and called them for an interview for a college paper. Much to my surprise, they said yes!
One of those women worked at Channel 7, as it was called back then. I was hooked. I wanted to be a news reporter! But, no one would hire me. I was rejected for volunteer entry level jobs 19 out of 20 times. A fantastic woman at an NBC radio station finally said I could work for her if I worked for free for 50 hours a week. I think she thought I would say no. I took the job and worked for 5 months for free while going to school. I was very, very poor. I finally got a paying job as a receptionist and then worked my way into the newsroom.
Finally I was hired at the station where I always wanted to work: ABC7 KGO-TV! I started as the night reporter and worked my way to the anchor desk and host of "Beyond the Headlines."
The story that will stay with me forever is the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. I was the first local reporter on the air, within 10 minutes after it happened. Our station's generators kicked in, while other stations couldn't get on the air right away. ABC had been covering the World Series game at the time, so we even had a blimp with a live camera flying over San Francisco. Our station owned the coverage and after it was all over, we received hundreds of letters from viewers thanking us for being there for them. That's when I truly understood how important television is in providing public service.
I mentor people of all ages. I work with dozens of non-profits to help them raise awareness and money. In 2003, I co-founded a program to remove landmines in war torn countries. It's called the "Roots of Peace Children's Penny Campaign." Bay Area school children helped raise 50 million pennies to remove landmines in Afghanistan. The money has also helped build two schools there and repair four others. The campaign is expanding to Israel and the West Bank and Vietnam.
I have reported for years on two organizations that help children with life-threatening illnesses: The Taylor Family Foundation and The Okizu Foundation. Our stories encouraged viewers to donate and help the foundations build brand new summer camps a few years ago. We are very proud of that continuing partnership.
I started at ABC 7/KGO-TV in 1979 and I feel like the Bay Area is my big, extended family. Sometimes families come up to me and say "I grew up watching you and I feel like I know you." I treasure those comments...so keep them coming! Send me a message on Facebook. I can also tweet you all the latest news. Just follow me on Twitter.
Emmy and Gracie Award winner, Cheryl Jennings, is weekday co-anchor of ABC7 News at 11:00 a.m. and at 5:00 p.m. Cheryl also files special assignment news reports and is the host of the Emmy Award winning community affairs program, Beyond the Headlines.