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Wednesday, February 03, 2021

Yes, Justin Stapleton and Brandi Smith are a couple


KPRC 2 meteorologist Justin Stapleton and KHOU 11 anchor Brandi Smith work at competing stations, but you might notice them pictured together in each other's social media posts.  

It was something my readers and I started noticing a few years ago.  Since the two Houston television news talents would be photographed outside with hats or sunglasses on, and not in their usual TV wardrobe, it wasn't always obvious they were together.

Turns out these two talents at rival Houston TV stations have been in a relationship long before arriving together for jobs in Texas television news.

With Valentine's Day coming up, I caught up with the dating duo to learn about working at different stations and love in the Houston TV news biz.


Mike McGuff: How many viewers realize that you two are a couple?

Brandi Smith: I think more people are starting to pick up on it, but it's definitely not something we tried to keep a secret.

Justin Stapleton: A lot of viewers don't realize we're a couple until they see us out in public. People usually spot my gray hair and recognize me first. Then they look at Bran and say, 'Oh, hey! You're the redhead from Channel 11.' 



Do you ever have to turn off the competitive nature of the business between your two stations at home?  

BS: I could see us being super competitive (probably to an unhealthy level) if we were both in news or both in weather. Since we each have our own focus, as well as different shifts, we are much more supportive than competitive -- thank goodness! Even during severe weather coverage, such as Harvey, we each had very different jobs to do. 

JS: I think we work well together because we have enough experience in the other's role to understand and be supportive. Brandi did weather for a couple years early in her career, so she understands the work flow and some of the challenges of the unpredictability of weather. And I've reported, so I get the challenges she sometimes runs into. At the end of the day, though, we're the biggest cheerleader of the other.


Have you ever worked for the same TV station?

BS: That's how we met! I'd just been promoted to evening anchor at KEZI 9 News in Eugene, Ore., when we hired a new chief meteorologist. Justin and I became fast friends because of our love of music and very similar sense of humor. About a year later, we were both going through divorces and supported each other through the process. We just kind of naturally went from friends to more. That was more than 10 years ago!

JS: Back then, Brandi anchored and produced the 11p newscast. She's probably grateful we're not working together anymore because I'd always talk way too long in weather and screw up her shows timing! All kidding aside, though, we just had a natural connection that made us a great team on air. I'm incredibly proud of her and what she's accomplished at KHOU even though I usually am not up that early to watch her live ha, ha.

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Stapleton joined the KPRC 2 weather team in 2014 from KEZI.  Smith joined KHOU 11 in 2017 after working for KBMT Beaumont.

Speaking of couples at competing Houston TV stations, I recently featured the broadcast romance of FOX 26 5pm anchor Rashi Vats and KHOU 11 sports reporter Daniel Gotera. People in the business certainly understand how hard this is to achieve, but their story shows the realties of trying to move up markets in your broadcasting career journey and get jobs in the same city as your partner.

I also recently covered Kathleen and Josh Ninke who are a married anchor team at KBTX News3 Bryan-College Station's AM newscast "Brazos Valley This Morning." 


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