By Scott Bernarde
Ten-year-old Stephen Ewing found out quickly what some TV news reporters might deal with for an entire career.
Getting over pre-show jitters.
As a contestant on the NBC Today Show’s Kid Reporter for a Day contest this fall, Stephen has done the local weather on 11 Alive, was interviewed in the network’s New York studios – as part of a killer trip to the Big Apple – and made an on-camera report on the Atlanta flood.
“It’s really cool to be on camera,” Stephen said. “Knowing that hundreds and thousands [and millions, too] of people are watching and you don’t really know it because you are looking at the camera. … Sometimes it’s a scary feeling, but it’s only scary before you actually do it.”
The Heards Ferry Elementary School fifth-grader reached the semifinal round of 16 out of the 20,000 children ages 8 to 12 who applied for the contest, which began with each sending to NBC a one-minute video reporting on the topic of their choice. Viewers then voted on their favorite kids.
Stephen, an A student who favors Math and Science, entered the contest at the urging of his parents, Steven and Terri. It was fueled by the fact that Terri Ewing was a semifinalist on the Today Show’s Anchor for a Day contest in 2007.
The Ewings were watching the morning show in October when it promoted the contest. “Steven said ‘Honey, we should see if Stephen wants to do it,’” Terri Ewing said.
The answer was yes for Stephen, who enjoys performing in front of people. He pointed out that he was one of the leads in Heards Ferry’s fall production of “Alexander’s Wonderful Ringing Machine,” a musical about telephone inventor Alexander Graham Bell. “I was Mr. Watson [Bell’s assistant] and had 20 lines,” he said.
From there, the Ewings picked September’s historic Atlanta flood as the topic, Steven Ewing wrote the script and a camera man was hired to shoot the footage of Stephen at Chattahoochee River. Stephen reported on high water (“It was 28 feet high,” he recalled.), the sewage overflow from the R.M. Clayton wastewater treatment plant (“It can hold million of gallons of sewage a day.”) and the flood’s impact (“Millions of dollars worth of damage to property.”).
Stephen was selected as a semifinalist, which resulted in a trip to New York City to be interviewed on the Today Show. The trip included a limo ride and a stay in the Essex House hotel on Central Park. Before that, two days before Halloween, he was interviewed on 11 Alive’s morning show and even did the weather report, remembering to tell viewers to “turn your clock back one hour” to end Daylight Savings Time.
Stephen said he has always wanted to be a professional baseball player, but he’s also kind of liking this whole TV reporter thing, despite not making it past the Today Show’s semifinals.
“It’s fun to be on camera,” he said. “I didn’t really think about being a reporter until 11 Alive and the Today Show. It looks like a lot of fun. The only problem is getting up in the morning.”