Journalism, Business/Publishing

By Joe Aymor

No matter what you do for your career, it is always important to have passion for what you do. If you lack passion, then you lack the motivation. Maranda lives by the quote, “Pursuit without passion is trivial,” and it is something that she passes on to interested writers to this day.

Maranda started her schooling at Hope College. She got fully involved with the theater arts program and was a theater major. After 2 years, she went on to study at the University of Cambridge for a year, and then to the University of London after that. The only thing she ever knew was theater. She would perform in plays, take in the stage, and live and breathe the atmosphere surrounding the theatric arts.

While she was at the University of London, a friend of hers approached her with an opportunity that would change her thoughts about herself. For a class project, her friend was creating a commercial, and he wanted her to be in it. Immediately, Maranda thought, “I am a thespian and belong on the stage. I don’t do television.”

She decided she would help out her friend and do his commercial. She found out that TV was so much easier and more laid back than the stage. Each night when she performed a play, she had one chance to get it all right, and if she got her part wrong, she couldn’t go back. With the commercial, she could do the take as many times as she needed to get the best cut.

Maranda returned to Hope College, and had interviews with several television news companies in Chicago. She also worked in theater where she made money to support herself as she studied. Finally, she graduated from Hope College with a unique degree designed just for her, a Communicative Arts Degree. Upon graduation, she found herself unemployed and unable to get a job.

She returned home to Grand Rapids, Michigan. She started working at WZZM News in an office the size of a closet. She said that she would listen to police scanners for “the gore,” which to a journalist is the hard news that you want to cover right away. She was writing and producing the news, but she was yearning to do something else. When she was faced with an ethical decision that pitted doing her job or against the feelings of families in a tragedy, she was forced to find something else.

Maranda also worked at an advertising agency. One morning, her mom saw an ad in the local paper for an AM radio show, an option she didn’t plan to pursue. However, she was hired to do a kid’s radio station with music, funny stories, and games. Maranda needed a name for the show, and a name for her radio personality. She remembered a Shakespeare play and used one of the names from The Tempest. Her new identity became Maranda, and “Maranda in the Morning” began.

What started off as a fun job soon became a huge community hit. The radio show soon grew to a cable show on Tuesday nights. Kids were lining up outside the doors waiting to get on the show. Tuesday quickly became her favorite night of the week. When the show came to an end she didn’t want to give up the fun.

Maranda took her show idea to both WZZM and FOX stations, and both rejected it. Because of her passion for the idea, FOX agreed to pick it up if she could obtain sponsoring. Her new show, “The Kid’s Club” aired shows for children, such as “The Magic School Bus” and “Bobby’s World.” Maranda was with FOX for 13 years, during which they started Park Parties in the summer. The parties were an event that allowed free entertainment and fun for kids and families in the community.

When FOX wanted to try their hand at news with their new “FOX 17 News at Ten,” they offered Maranda a spot on the team, but they wanted “Maranda” to end. She turned down the job offer, and WOOD-TV, on her very last day working for FOX, called her with an idea. After receiving a tip that she was leaving FOX, WOOD-TV jumped at the chance to have her on their team. They didn’t have a position for her, but they liked her passion and what she stood for enough to offer her something.

Maranda is still working with WOOD-TV 8 years later. Currently, she handles news and events in the community of Grand Rapids and the surrounding area with “Maranda – Where You Live.” She does the Park Parties in the community each summer, as well. A typical day for her is getting to the office at 9 am, working until around 11 pm, taping news and commercial segments during the day, and getting community stories lined up.

Her advice for aspiring writers and communicators is that they should be serious about their work, and they better want it. She emphasized that before you get your “big break,” you might end up working long hours without any benefits. If you stay committed and show that you want it, eventually you might land a job in the area you want.

She encourages students to get involved with the multi-platform digital world. People in today’s world want information now, at that very moment. They don’t want to have to wait for it to come at the end of the newscast, or at the end of a scrolling bar; they want it immediately.

*The interviewee preferred using her television name in this profile.

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