Says Austin Reed, anchor and producer of the morning news at KOBI-TV-5, “I really do think working in news has kept me healthy.”
Many children dream about being on TV someday. A few might even pretend they are news anchors as they read made-up headlines from behind a cardboard-box “news desk” — just as Austin Reed did when he was 5 years old.
But it’s doubtful that more than a handful fulfilled their childhood dreams with anything approaching Austin’s unstoppable determination and speed.
He now anchors the early morning news show on KOBI-TV 5/Fox 26, in Medford, Ore., while also serving as the show’s executive producer. At age 23, he has been reading the news on air for the past 13 years. That’s right — for more than half his life.
A Media Star by Middle School
Diagnosed with cystic fibrosis when he was 3, Austin has not let the disease — or anything else — get in his way. By the time he was 10, he had convinced the producers at a local Portland, Ore., TV station to put him on their newscast. Soon the fourth grader was appearing on thousands of area TV screens dressed in a blue suit and tie, giving his perspective on the Rose City parade (Portland is often called the City of Roses) and other local events.
In eighth grade, Austin launched his own cable-access program, “Rose City News.” Within a year, he was the executive producer of a teen-focused news show with local sponsors and a crew of around 20 high school students, many of whom received school credit for working on Austin’s show. An offshoot of that show was later picked up by Comcast and Austin was hired by another Portland station, the first of several reporting jobs that took him around the country.
His lifelong friend Damon Tennyson remembers hanging out in the middle school cafeteria when Austin turned to him and announced, “I’m going to make my own news show.” One month later, he had done just that.
“The guy is fearless,” says Damon, who now serves as special event specialist at the Oregon Chapter of the CF Foundation, his career choice largely inspired by his friendship with Austin.
“I think CF has made Austin stronger because he’s had to overcome so much,” says Damon. “Unlike anyone I’ve known, he never complains — about CF or about anything. He’s just got this amazingly positive spirit.”
A Passion for TV Studios and Great Stories
Austin’s current daily routine would be a challenge for almost anyone — even if it didn’t include an hour of nebulizer treatments and seven pills at every meal. He wakes up before 3:00 a.m. so he can be at the studio in time to produce video news packages for the early morning show that starts at 5:30.
He loves everything about his job at KOBI-TV: his co-workers, the graphics, the music, the cameras. But he especially loves the stories.
“Every day, at least one story really touches me,” Austin says. “This morning it was the story of an 8-year-old boy with a rare form of cancer who has brought the whole Medford community together, with hundreds of people sending him Facebook messages and prayers of support.”
As a well-known face in the community, Austin is often asked to serve as master of ceremonies for local events, which he recently did at the Medford area Great Strides walk. He has been volunteering for the CF Foundation for much of his young life.
His advice for other young adults with CF on living a full and healthy life? “Find your passion,” says Austin. “For me, it’s the news. I really do think working in news has kept me healthy. It’s something I focus on, something I care deeply about, so I’m not thinking about CF all the time.”
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