From breaking news to buying shoes – Meet three television journalists who have made a career on helping their audiences stay informed.
Each at a different stage of their careers in broadcasting, Chris Shaffer, Kristine Zell and Amy Adamle have ties to Woodbury. Learn how they found success in such a competitive business and what keeps them going.
WDIO -TV in Duluth
Fresh out of college, Amy Adamle is already making moves in her broadcasting career. Raised in Woodbury, Adamle is an alum of Stillwater High School.
“I have always had an interest in journalism. I started writing for my elementary school newspaper, the Lake Elmo Gopher Gazette,” says Adamle, who continued on in junior high and in high school for the school paper.
After graduating with a degree in professional journalism from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities last May, she landed her first gig in Duluth at WDIO-TV, and was recently promoted to anchor of the morning show, Good Morning Northland.
Adamle interned at KARE 11, CNN, and WCCO, which she says was key to landing her first job, and she credits her many mentors along the way who helped her learned the business.
Adamle says she is learning lots from her team, who take the time to help.
“Part of your learning is just doing it—you learn from your mistakes. You learn so quickly,” she says. “I have some funny bloopers already.”
One of Adamle’s most meaningful stories is following an 11-year old child with terminal cancer who is fulfilling his bucket list. The story hits close to home for Adamle, who was the girlfriend of Stillwater’s Zach Sobiech, whose song “Clouds” received national attention after he passed away from cancer. “Having been on the other side of that story, it was pretty powerful to be able to turn around and do that now. I wouldn’t be where I am today without Zach and everything we went through,” she adds.
Adamle plans to settle into her gig in Duluth for the foreseeable future. “I got lucky; I’m not that far from family. I work for a great company, and Duluth is an amazing place to live,” says Adamle. “Hard-hitting news is always exciting, but those personal, moving stories are some of my favorite. It’s really a privilege for people to open up and let you tell their story.”
WCCO Channel 4
Woodbury resident Chris Shaffer has been helping the Twin Cities know the weather for almost 12 years. As chief meteorologist for WCCO, Shaffer says he’s in his dream job.
“Other than being the lead singer of a rock band like Def Leppard,” he says with a laugh.
Shaffer, who grew up in Stillwater, says his curiosity about weather began at a young age and with a high school project on careers. “I focused on meteorology, and I called up Paul Douglas, who was at KARE 11 at the time, and asked him for an interview,” says Shaffer. “I had about 15 questions for him and every answer he gave me made me want to pursue this. He really lit the spark.”
Years later when Shaffer accepted a position with WCCO, it was Paul Douglas who offered him the job over the phone.
But Shaffer’s dream took several years to materialize. It wasn’t until eight years after he graduated from college with a degree in meteorology and mass communication that he would get a gig on TV. “I moved back to the Twin Cities and applied for every job on radio and TV that was available. Everyone for TV said no; I looked like I was 16 at age 22.”
Instead, Shaffer landed a career as a radio DJ, pursuing his other passion—music. Then he got his shot to fill a part time role for an anchor on maternity leave, which opened the door.
Of course, it’s not always rosy. “There are no good hours to have in this career—they’re all hard in some way. Working nights, I have to miss so much of the evenings with my family, so when I am not working, I just want to be at Health East watching a soccer game or going to see a basketball game, and spending time with my wife and girls.”
His advice for wannabe broadcasters? “Be authentic. If you try to be someone else, you’ll trip up. Have your own style, your voice, and the same things that those who love you for just being you, will come through to other people. Also, have patience.”
Woodbury Native Kristine Zell (née Sward) has had a TV career as a reporter and anchor, and most recently she’s landed her first national role as a host on QVC.
She started in commercials, and while she was a student at Woodbury High School, Zell was cast in a teen show called Whatever on KARE 11. She continued to work as their press junket reporter in LA while she attended Pepperdine University.
“It was the most valuable experience, and I thank KARE 11 for the opportunity that shaped my career and led to some amazing opportunities,” says Zell.
After college, Zell returned to the Midwest working in broadcasting at KIMT in Mason City, Iowa. There, she met her now-husband Jeff, who was a sportscaster at the station. The couple named their first son Mason after Mason City.
The Zells moved around the country for several years, both working in broadcasting.
One of her favorite TV moments was when her team surprised her with a live baby shower on the air at WCCB in Charlotte, with a special video that her husband sent in for the show.
Now on QVC, Zell loves her new role.
“It is so much fun! I have the privilege to combine my two passions: shopping and live TV. There is actually a lot that goes into the role as a host,” says Zell, who is on the air live for three hours at a time.
“There’s a lot that goes into each show from every angle—buyers, planners, guests—it’s a big production. But at the end of the day, both jobs are about reporting credible information and having fun along the way.”
Zell says that persistence is key to getting into this business. “Do not give up, especially when it gets hard. In my hardest moments, there were days I didn’t sleep, I barely ate, I cried over feeling inadequate. But just keep working harder than the next person,” she says. “It took me 20 years to get to where I am today—living out my dream job at QVC. It’s also a little bit of luck (I call it blessings), prayer, and learning to meet the right people.”
When Zell isn’t working, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two kids.