Kim Kalunian is a well-known media personality in southern New England, serving as an anchor and reporter on local CBS affiliate WPRI-TV. An alumnus of our beloved 990WBOB, as well as other print, radio and performance outlets in the market, I was particularly drawn to Ms. Kalunian’s professional journey, pivoting from primarily a fine artist as a stage actress, to a full time multimedia performer, as a newswoman.
I was curious about what led Ms. Kalunian to the newsroom, and when it was that she realized she had the mysterious ‘it’ factor that defines an artist. I sat down for with her for an in-depth episode of The Bartholomewtown Podcast, a portion of which is featured below:
Bill Bartholomew: What was it that drew you towards performing, going back to when you were the smallest version of yourself that you can remember? I'm sure at one point, whether it was at the talent show or whatever, you must have always loved the microphone. You display a tremendous amount of passion for performing.
Kim Kalunian: I do. I love what I do and I'm really glad that you say that it shows because that means a lot. So I don't remember this, but my parents tell me that when I was a little girl we had one of those big picture windows in the front of our house with the little ledge, and I would get up on the ledge in the window and do shows for the neighborhood - or so I thought. That was my stage and of course there were these drapes, these curtains that would open and I could push open the drapes and get onto this little stage. So I think that was even pre-memory for me. My performance, it was just sort of, I guess in my DNA.
BB: When, when did you start to say or did people around you and your family start to say, “oh wow, this is something special. This isn't just like someone signing up for dance.”
KK: I went to Carolyn Dutra dance studio, which is a great institution. And Carolyn Dutra is a former Radio City Rockette. So she was very much about the performance aspect, being an artist and being a performer, and knowing what happens if your hat falls off on stage and how to deal with that. So that was instilled in me (when I was) very little. Then in school, I started singing in the chorus, and so I realized okay, I have this sort of natural ability at dance and have this sort of natural ability at singing. So I started seeking out youth theater productions and community theater productions.
When I was nine years old, I got cast in The Nine Armenians at Trinity Rep, which was very exciting. Never made the cut for a Christmas Carol. I'm not bitter, I swear!
BB: Let's talk about the struggle, if you will (at pursuing art). The struggle is real, but there's two sides to it, I think. I hope anyway that (as an artist) I haven’t just driven myself into madness at a certain level in my pursuits, but I think it informs me, and maybe you, especially when you put it into journalistic context. That's a fundamentally a unique position that we find ourselves in when our passions are driving our actions and there are oftentimes totally different than what the expectation of society is. So how did you deal with that and how does that still inform you today? As you interview Nick Mattiello, or whatever it is.
KK: I think at the end of the day you need to be passionate about what you do. We were just talking about that. When I was younger, I heard it a million times. I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard you need to have something to fall back on. And it drove me crazy because I think if you know, you want to do something there, there is nothing to fall back on. And so if there are young people listening to this who are thinking, “well, I want to do musical theater, I want to do art,” and are hearing those same things, I would say, don't listen to that. If you're talented and you love what you do, push yourself to make it your career, but don't have any visions of grandeur that it's going to be a piece of cake.
BB: What's your favorite role would you say? Anchor reporter kind of long form reporting?
KK: I really love it all. But I do love when I get to sort of sink into a story, I'm a little bit the longer form reporting and really become a master of a topic so often every day. I'll go in today and I'll have to get an assignment, turn it around in a couple of hours and that's rewarding in itself because the adrenaline rush. You have to make air, and learn about something to be able to convey it to the viewers at home. And I love that. I love that everyday is different. The pace is different, and you get to experience and see so much. But it is also really rewarding when you get to sit down and come through some data, look through some documents, talk to multiple people about one topic and really paint a fuller, broader picture. Maybe do a couple of pieces on one topic, one person. That kind of stuff has been really, really rewarding for me. So I like a lot. But anchoring is fun too, I will say.
BB: I guess that would be an appealing part of working in journalism, you know, you never know what you’re going to get into. Most jobs I guess you never know what's going to happen, but there's something you never know how far your message is going to get. Like you could reach every person on the Earth potentially!
KK: I mean, I think I got an email the other day, from South Africa and someone said there's a Fair Haven and South Africa, so a story I did about Fair Haven, Massachusetts made it to South Africa. I mean, you just never know. You never know.
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