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Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Former Houston TV journalists thriving in post-media life

Taisha Walker, Foti Kallergis, Ilona Carson (courtesy Comcast)

In recent years, I've received many questions about TV news and just as many about what to do after leaving the ever-changing industry.

A meteorologist is now training the next generation

TV news is a unique world full of quick deadlines and adrenaline rushes.  While the latter might not be as potent in the corporate world (that's what energy drinks are for, I guess), skills learned while in the news trenches can continue helping journalists make a living in a post-broadcast life. 

Today, we look at some Houston anchors and reporters who successfully left the television news world and are using the many skills they have learned in their new careers. 

In the case of Comcast Houston, the public relations office is comprised of familiar abc13 KTRK and KPRC 2 faces. 

Instead of working sources, these former journalists are now the sources for news departments as media relations for the cable and internet provider.  Breaking news for them is now managing it in a crisis communications role. Writing stories now comes as a press release to help the company's public relations and external communications across Texas.

As for social media, that might be the same for both journalists and PR pros...I'm guessing a burden.  

Foti Kallergis joined ABC13 KTRK in September 2013 as a reporter/fill-in anchor. The four-time Emmy Award and 13-time Texas Associated Press Broadcasters Award winner started his TV journalism career in 2005, working for KFDM 6 Beaumont and then Austin stations KVUE 24 and FOX 7 KTBC.  

When the University of Houston grad left Channel 13 and the Houston TV news in 2018, he moved into the PR world, first working for a marketing/advertising firm, then as Director of Communications and Public Relations for the Houston Airport System. In 2021, he joined Comcast as Senior Director of External Communications and Public Relations.

Kallergis recently hired former KPRC 2 reporter Taisha Walker and his former ABC13 colleague, anchor Ilona Carson, because of what they bring to this new form of corporate storytelling.

"I’m honored to have such a well-respected, award-winning team with nearly 50 years of combined journalism experience," Kallergis told   "Taisha and Ilona are passionate journalists who have earned the trust of the southeast Texas community. As a part of the Comcast Texas communications team, Taisha and Ilona get to continue doing what they love -- telling stories that make a difference. We know the media landscape is changing, and it's important to have a communications team that understands the needs of the ever-changing modern-day newsroom. This perspective helps us to be a more effective partner to local news organizations, which ultimately helps to better serve viewers, community partners and customers alike."

Walker was hired by KPRC 2 in 2018 after her tenure with KMBC 9 in Kansas City, Missouri. Upon earning a degree from Clark Atlanta University and a master's from Syracuse University, she also reported for WCHS 8 in Charleston, West Virginia, and KOTA Territory TV in Rapid City, South Dakota. 

She left Channel 2 in May 2023, quickly joined Comcast, and is now a Public Relations Manager.

"I’m thrilled I get to continue telling stories – ones that are centered around Comcast’s network expansion efforts," Walker told  "Internet connectivity is essential in this digital world, in every industry, including the news business. Comcast is doing so many wonderful things in our own backyard, and I get to help bring those stories to life while also finding balance in my own life following an amazing career as a journalist." 

Carson joined ABC13 KTRK in 2005 to take over the 4 p.m. anchor duties from a newly promoted Gina Gaston. The University of Pennsylvania graduate would also take on additional newscasts at the 6:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. timeslots.

A winner of a Lone Star EMMY, National Headliner award, and a Gracie award, Carson previously worked for FOX 10 KSAZ Phoenix and KAMR Local 4 News Amarillo. 

In June 2021, Carson left Channel 13 to escape "the daily whirlwind of live news" and focus more on her family.

"When I departed from ABC 13, I thought I was retiring," Carson admitted to me.  "While it was a much-needed sabbatical, I learned a lot about myself and the importance of finding a new challenge, the next step in my career. The opportunity at Comcast was simply the right fit — not just for my own professional development but also for the flexibility that my family needs. Everyday, I get to do some amazing work for one of the nation’s biggest technology and media companies.  I still get to tell impactful stories and share them with Houston area viewers - which will always be in my DNA. There really is a wonderful life after news!" 

I should add that former abc13 KTRK multi-media journalist Steve Campion recently left Comcast Houston for a new role as director of public relations at the company's West Palm Beach, Florida office.

So, for those wondering about life after TV news, here are examples of successful converts to what journalists jokingly call the PR "dark side."

It is anything but for some media types ready to move to regular hours and potentially better pay. 

And if you're a Comcast or NBCUniversal employee, you get resort and theme park discounts to Universal properties!  Hey Foti, are you hiring?

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