Gayle King spoke candidly at Bloomfield College to a packed crowd at the Robert V. Van Fossan Theatre on Wednesday, March 29, 2017.
“Introducing Gayle King is truly an honor for me because most mornings I am standing in front of my television screen watching Gayle King,” said Dr. Jeanne Nutter, Professor of Communication and Broadcast Journalism Coordinator at the College and one of King’s biggest fans. “CBS This Morning starts my day. I am over the moon to be able to introduce Ms. King.”
Dr. Nutter’s unorthodox and engaging introduction to King did not cover her boilerplate biography but described the synergy between her and Charlie Rose and King’s connection to the New York Women in Communications, which the College has been linked to for 12 years thanks to the Cathy Carlozzi Fund.
Jim Axelrod, CBS colleague and friend of King, acted as moderator. Axelrod is the anchor of the Saturday edition of the "CBS Evening News" and a national correspondent for CBS News, reporting for the "CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley" and other CBS News broadcasts.
“Over 50 percent of Bloomfield College students are the first in their families to attend college,” said Axelrod, a member of the College’s Board of Trustees. “Meeting someone so established in their career, someone who set her own trajectory means so much.”
King and Axelrod sat down for a nice, long, and honest chat about her life and career as a broadcast journalist.
“I am here because you do not say ‘no’ to Jim Axelrod,” quipped King, crediting Axelrod for introducing her to the College. “Jim is so passionate about Bloomfield College. I just had to come!”
King has been co-host of "CBS This Morning" since 2011, reaching a new high point in a four-decade career by becoming a morning TV star alongside co-anchors Charlie Rose and Norah O’Donnell. King is also Editor-at-Large of the award-winning O, the Oprah Magazine.
Nearly the entire Broadcast Journalism program was present at the event. Many of the students asked King for career advice and for her thoughts on broadcast journalism.
“I still think broadcast journalism is the greatest industry,” expressed King. “We tell the truth, we state the facts. We have a front row seat to anything going on in the world.”
“You go to bed at night, and if something changes when you wake up, I get to tell you,” added King, who studied psychology at the University of Maryland.
King has handled a number of high-profile assignments, including reporting from Newtown, Connecticut in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012. She was honored with an Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia Award as part of CBS News' division-wide coverage of the Newtown tragedy. King contributed to CBS News' Election Night coverage in 2014 and co-anchored CBS News' special coverage of several breaking news stories, including the Paris terrorist attacks, the San Bernardino shootings, and the Supreme Court's landmark decision to legalize same-sex marriage.
“As a journalist, you need a complete mastery of the facts, but you should never leave your heart at home,” said Axelrod, who went on to describe King’s unique delivery of the news as the “Gayle King Touch.”
King previously hosted "The Gayle King Show" on OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network. At the College, King lightly joked about the cancellation of her show, noting that she still thinks it was a wonderful show.
“No one likes failing,” she said to the crowd. “Take it as a lesson and do not take it as a personal humiliation. We all fail.”
Before moving into print and radio, King worked for 18 years as a television news anchor for CBS affiliate WFSB-TV in Connecticut where she hosted her own syndicated daytime program. Prior to joining WFSB, King worked at several other television stations, including WDAF-TV in Kansas City, Mo., WJZ-TV in Baltimore, Md., and WTOP-TV in Washington, D.C.
“Hard work matters. We are all employed at will. Make yourself indispensable at your workplace,” King advised, as Axelrod nodded in agreement. “Volunteer, find a mentor; no one makes it on their own.”
One job that never made it to King’s resume was a job she turned down many years ago. When her close friend Oprah Winfrey was thinking about leaving her show, she had her eyes on King to be her predecessor. Taking on that role would have included a permanent move to Chicago. Her children were in middle school at the time, and King, not wanting to move away from them or move her family away from their father, turned down the job.
King has received numerous awards for her extensive work as a journalist. In addition to three Emmys, she was honored with the American Women in Radio & Television Gracie Award for Outstanding Radio Talk Show, the Individual Achievement Award for Host-Entertainment/Information, and the New York Women in Communications' Matrix Award recipient.
“Thank you for giving our culture someone who is so connected to her heart,” said Axelrod, and the room erupted into applause.
This marked King’s first visit to Bloomfield College, and hopefully not her last.
“Today I learned about the Bloomfield Lift,” said King, who was impressed with the level of professionalism of the students. “You live in the New York City/tri-state area. There are so many opportunities around you. The best part of this job is where you find yourself. You can’t lose your sense of wonderment.”