Emmy Award-winning anchor Mary Bubala of WJZ 13
“Chopping It Up With the Admirable Mary Bubala Smith”
When you think of television personalities, you think of celebrity and public figures right? I had the pleasure of meeting and covering a show with Gi Gi Barnett in White marsh, MD and even met Kai Jackson in Dundalk, MD at a local eatery, some years ago whom are both notable news anchors. But, when Mary came to WJZ in December, my birthday month yay! in 2003 was pure delight!
She can walk in a room and light it up with her warm smile, and amazingly stunning appearance. She’s so down to earth and she believes in not just gracing the screen, and bringing us the news, but she gives to her community in a major way.
I had to reach out to her, though I waited a long time before doing so. Why did I wait? I must admit, it took me a long time to see that celeb status, or credible public figures are not all power star struck. Mary brings with her the very best well, after all that’s who she is!
Mary is the epitome of what a beautiful philanthropically soul represents. I for one am elated to call her my bright spot at WJZ because, if it’s good or not so good news, Mary will bring it to you Bubala style!
Without further do, I am happy to interview and share with you, “Chopping It Up with Mary Bubala Smith” here on TyLeishia’s World of Blogs and Plods!
Emmy Award-winning anchor Mary Bubala joined WJZ in December 2003. She now anchors the 4-4:30 p.m. newscast with Vic Carter and 5 p.m. newscast with Jessica Kartalija and continues to report on a daily basis.
A native of Chicago, Mary has made Baltimore her home and has great industry contacts. She first came to Maryland in the summer of 1997 as a general assignment reporter for a local Baltimore competitor, who saw her talents and soon moved her to that station’s weekend news in an anchor position.
Mary began her career in upstate New York at WENY-TV after graduating from Ithaca College with a journalism degree. She stayed in this section of New York State for a number of years, working her way up to successively larger television markets as weekend anchor for WBNG, the CBS affiliate in Binghamton, and for WOKR-TV in Rochester.
While in Rochester, Mary competed against reporters from television stations in New York City to win Best Series from the New York State Broadcasters Association for her reports documenting the plight of residents in Port-au-Prince, Haiti and the incredible efforts of local doctors to revolutionize health care in this impoverished city.
In June 2016, Mary was nominated for a regional Emmy for her coverage of the Freddie Gray riots and was awarded a regional Emmy for Outstanding Anchor.
Mary also has been recognized for her reporting and anchoring by the Associated Press in other cities, including Harrisburg, Pa. where she anchored the noon and 5 p.m. news for ABC affiliate WHTM-TV before settling in Baltimore.
She lives with her family in Baltimore City and is fond of such outdoor sports as tennis, running and golf.
“Chopping It Up with Mary Bubala Smith”
TyLeishia: You are known for your Emmy Award-winning television personality, how does that make you feel?
Mary: I’m truly happy people feel connected to me through my job. I’ve always resolved to just be myself! I’m so glad it translates through the screen to people at home. I also love connecting with WJZ viewers I see when I am out on stories or when I’m shopping at the grocery store. I love when people stop to say hello.
TyLeishia: You have to report news on a daily basis, is there ever a time you didn’t know what you’d be walking into?
Mary: The very nature of my job is the unknown. I walk into the newsroom in the morning and discover what I will be covering that day. It is a fascinating profession because I truly learn something new everyday. It’s similar for every reporter in the business – especially when we arrive at a breaking news situation. All your senses have to be working to get to the bottom of what’s going on.
TyLeishia: In June 2016, you was nominated for a regional Emmy for your coverage of the Freddie Gray riots and was awarded a regional Emmy for Outstanding Anchor. What if any, was the most challenging of that coverage?
Mary: The most challenging aspect of our Freddie Gray rioting coverage was seeing parts of our city destroyed and the rage of people who felt that was their only recourse to express themselves. I love Baltimore City. It’s my home. I was sad, upset, dismayed just like everyone else. I allowed myself to express some of that in our coverage which normally I would not. This story was personal to all involved.
TyLeishia: You are a native of Chicago, but made Baltimore your home, given the challenges that Baltimore has faced, be it homelessness, violence and needing to continue to clean up the city, did this have an effect on your decision to leave Baltimore?
Mary: This city has been so good to me. I can’t explain it, but the moment I moved here (in 1996) I felt like this is where I was always supposed to be. Baltimore is the right sized city for me. I’m not a huge city person. I love the feel of this city & the people. The people are authentic, open and giving. The challenges facing this city – violence, homelessness, poverty – have never scared me off. If anything, it’s challenged me to do a better job reporting on those issues.
TyLeishia: Your career began in upstate New York, how was your experience there? What were some of your greatest achievements there?
Mary: I went to Ithaca College and so naturally found my first jobs in small cities in upstate New York. I reported on farmers dealing with droughts, prison uprisings and county fairs. My experiences there helped me become a well rounded reporter. I also made mistakes on air as a rookie/green reporter and the viewers in smaller markets are very forgiving. I also made lifelong friends at the various tv stations I worked at.
TyLeishia: You’re fond of such outdoor sports as tennis, running and golf. Is there anything else outside of these that you are fond of doing?
Mary: I really don’t have time even to do those things! I work 40 hours a week and I am mother to two teenage sons. I mainly workout at Lynne Bricks Belvedere (love the ladies only aspect!) a few times a week and run on the weekends. My husband and I did start cycling a few years ago – and raised more than $25-thousand dollars for Johns Hopkins Hospital through a charity bike race. It was 150 miles over two days. I’m not sure my body can do that ever again but it was a great cause!
TyLeishia: You’re not only a Stellar in Anchoring, but you also have done so much for the community. Can you share your story of giving to Ithaca College, to help enhance the student experience and move the College forward?
Mary: Ithaca College has given me so much – in preparing me to be a journalist. I continuously connect with students in the program there to help mentor and guide them. I’m a regular donor to the Park School of Communications and just recently signed up for their mentor program.
TyLeishia: You have a passion and can light up a room wherever and whomever you meet. What drives you to get up daily and pursue what you do in television?
Mary: Thank you for those kind words. I try to stay positive in everything I do. That’s not always possible but that at least is my starting point. I’m also ambitious by nature. Early in my career, I worked 7 days a week at one point – all to get ahead and move up in market size. My hard work has paid off but so many people opened doors for me because they saw I cared and worked at my craft. That work ethic still drives me to this day. Plus I love learning new things, connecting with people and telling people’s stories.
TyLeishia: When it’s time to gussy up to go live, is it exciting to have your make-up artist, camera man / woman, and the countdown clock all pattering at you all at once?
Mary: Well, that’s how its portrayed in the movies but that is not real life TV LOCAL News. That may happen at the network level but at WJZ it’s much more low-key. We do our own makeup & hair (so be nice:-) and as far as the countdown to the start of the newscast it is still exciting but my nerves are long gone after doing this for 25 years.
TyLeishia: You did a few episodes, “Coffee With” Mary Bubala on WJZ 13, are there still episodes that you will do with this project?
Mary: Yes, I really like doing the “Coffee With” segments because I get to talk more in depth about my stories. I do the segment around my special projects so you will see new versions this May.
TyLeishia: I appreciate you for all that you do, and taking the time to chop it up with me. Is there anyone that you’d like to send a special thank you to, that have been with you through your career from then and now?
Mary: A big shout out to Jim Redmond in Rochester, NY. He is a former reporter who was my mentor and to this day one of my biggest supporters. Also big thanks to my Dad who steered me into this business in high school and my husband who makes it possible to be a somewhat decent working mom!
TyLeishia: This is not a question, but a personal thank you for being Mary Bubala Smith and for all the years of service you have given to us in scary moments, good moments, touching moments from city to city and state to state. You are and have been a true inspiration to me and I am sure I can speak for those who concur.
It takes guts, courage, stamina, strength, commitment and dedication to do your job Mary, and what you do, makes a great impact on those who can only dream of being an Award Winner for just trying their best to give their all, not just to win, but to create, and pave the way by making, a positive difference in what their purposed to do. Whether it’s to serve in their communities or beyond. You have done that Mary, THANK YOU!
Before we end this interview, can you sign us off Mary Bubala Smith style?
Mary: Thank you so much! “Reporting from Baltimore, I’m Mary Bubala, WJZ, now back to you on TV Hill.”