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KTVU news anchor speaks at Laney

Gasia Mikaelian's career took her cross country and back

By Ryan Villarreal
On April 1, 2010

KTVU Channel 2 News anchor Gasia Mikaelian spoke before a class of Laney students March 29, describing her career path and answering questions about her profession.

Laney Media Club member Martha Brown invited Mikaelian, wanting a woman working in the media industry to be the speaker in concurrence with International Women's Month.

Mikaelian, 35, grew up in Livermore, daughter to parents of Armenian heritage. She has been working in news media for about 13 years, during which she has lived in four different cities across the country before returning to the Bay Area.

Mikaelian attended Los Positas College in Livermore for two years before transferring to San Diego State University, where she majored in broadcast journalism and interned at a local news radio station.

"That was the best thing I did," said Mikaelian, referring to her internship. "Because once you get into that newsroom, you see what it takes to get these stories on the air."

Her first job as a professional journalist after graduating in 1997 was as a reporter for a local TV news station in Yuma, Ariz. "Back then, if you really didn't have any experience, you had to go to what was called a 'starter market,'" said Mikaelian. "This was your 'boot camp' for TV news."

After working in Arizona for a year, Mikaelian found her next job as a news anchor/reporter for a local TV news station in Huntsville, Ala. This was her first experience being a news anchor, which she didn't immediately feel comfortable with.

"As an anchor, you have everyone's work pouring into the funnel, and you're the last person to deliver it," Mikaelian said. "If you write a story, and I stumble and screw it up on the air, your work is shot. There are a million technical cues and you're literally following a script. I hated it."

Nevertheless, Mikaelian eventually came to appreciate anchoring. "I realized it's kind of fun to be in control, to really have the pressure of everyone's work riding on your shoulders," she said.

After two years, Mikaelian turned down a promotion, which would have required her to stay in Huntsville for two more years. "I needed to keep that forward momentum," she said. "You're always looking to move to a bigger city."

She wanted to eventually reunite with her then boyfriend and settle down in the Bay Area where she grew up, but it would be several more years before she achieved that.

Mikaelian's next job was with a TV news station in San Diego, where she worked for another two years, while applying for jobs in the Bay Area and other major U.S. cities. She ended up joining the news team at a station in Houston, Tex., where she worked for two-and-a-half years.

It was in 2005 that Mikaelian saw an opening at KTVU. She had previously met the station's new programming director through her previous employment searches, and stressed the importance of building upon personal connections in distinguishing herself in the market.

She was hired on at KTVU and has remained there for the past five years. In that time she also married her long-time boyfriend and started a family. She has a son 18 months old and is expecting a second child soon.

It would seem that Mikaelian has achieved everything that she sought out to accomplish, but she knows she is working in a very competitive industry, especially for women.

"There will always be someone younger and prettier who wants your job. We're not used to seeing older women on the news," she said.

She sees herself staying viable for around 20 more years, and says she doesn't let the competition or inequality bother her, describing herself as taking a "zen approach" to it all.

"If someone really wants something, they're going get it," she said. "If my boss replaces me, it's out of my control. All I can do is keep doing my job and living my life."

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