Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Reagan's 2nd birthday!!


My baby is 2 years old!! I still can't believe it! We had so much fun celebrating with her. Wonderful friends at a park on a gorgeous day... it was so fabulous!!

They sure know how to strike a pose, don't they?

Sydney had lots of friends there too!
Reagan handing out party favors

When Reagan gives a hug, she doesn't just give a hug... she runs at you with all her might! I love it so much!! :)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A funeral that leads to hope

I didnt' know Jordan Curtis but I know 22 years on this earth wasn't long enough.

His dad, Todd, used to work here at KATV. Judging by the standing room only, packed house funeral...it was obvious that Jordan touched many people in his 22 years.

A co-worker of mine and I wanted to do a story on Jordan about a year ago when had kicked cancer's butt. He wasn't expected to, but he did. He was going to school at the U of A and we never worked out a time to meet. Boy, do I wish we had. The cancer came back. And this time, it won.

I cried a lot throughout the funeral. There were several of us Channel 7-ers gathered in an overflow room together. The song "Angels Among Us" made us all tear up. So did hearing his fraternity brothers share about their brother they loved. But nothing hit harder than hearing his own mom share words that her only son had written. One was from when he was in junior high. The other, his essay to get into med school. Saying how he thought he'd make a great oncologist because he had once been a patient.

The family, and all his friends, had such hope that he would pull through. He was a proven fighter. And we all believed he would make it. It reminds me of when our own Anne Pressly was fighting for her life in the hospital. We were given reason to believe that she'd get better. She was a fighter. Surgery was scheduled for the following Monday. Which is why we were all so shocked when we heard the news. It seemed even harder to believe. But would we have been less devastated if we hadn't had hope that she'd be okay? Would it really have lightened the blow if we were more "prepared" for that kind of news? I don't believe so. Because the truth is, no one can ever be prepared for that kind of news. So for me, I would rather live life with constant hope... than in a dark mode of preparation for the worst. It is a choice. Not an easy one, but a choice nonetheless.

Jordan died on Father's Day. The pastor at the funeral today said Jordan's dad called it the best Father's Day gift he could have been given...because his son was no longer in pain. Now that is faith. Faith with hope.

16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Saying goodbye to Dale Nicholson

It's never easy to say goodbye. Especially to someone that had a profound impact on your career. I first met Dale Nicholson ten years ago when I interviewed for a reporter job at KATV. I was only 22 and to be honest, I was very intimidated by his booming voice. But behind that gruff exterior, I later learned, was a gentle teddy bear with a big heart. One that really did care about the people that worked for him.

I never planned to stay here. In fact, my husband and I said two years at the most. We even went so far as to say to each other "let's not make any friends here so that's it's not so difficult to say goodbye when we leave." Oops! We sure messed up that plan. :) And I'm so thankful we did.

My news director, Randy Dixon, and Dale really were taking a risk by asking me to stay here and become an anchor. I wasn't from here (like many of our other anchors) and at the time I still had a desire to move on and move up to bigger cities... especially ones that were closer to my home in South Dakota. But despite all that, they took a chance on me. And fought for me. To stay here in Arkansas and make Little Rock my home. And more importantly, to make KATV my family. And that's exactly what it became.

One of my favorite memories of Dale is back in 2006 when my family from SD was visiting. We were tailgating a Little Rock Razorback game and shortly before the game started, my husband was helping a car squeeze into one of the last parking spots right by our tailgate. Sure enough, out of the car come Dale and several members of his family. He met all of my family members and he was so kind to each one of them. Talked to each one of them and wanted to get to know them. My family was so impressed that the GM of our station would take the time to get to know them. I really think it made them feel better about me (the baby of the family) living so far away from them. They always wanted to be sure that I was loved and taken care of. And boy, did Dale make sure that I always was.

I am so thankful to "Big Pard" and I will miss his booming voice, his larger-than-life personality, and mostly his overwhelming hugs (that to be honest almost had a crushing kind of feeling... in a wonderful way). :)
Love you, mean it!!

Dale with me and my mom

Dale giving my mom one of his famous squeezes

Dale's grandson, Dale the third (who we called D3) and his wife Cassie

My family at the tailgate

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Family time in Branson

Yep... you might think I'm crazy but we spent the Memorial Day holiday weekend in Branson! The only reason I say that is because it is a very busy time there. But this trip was all about FAMILY! My sister and her family from Yankton, SD met us there and we all had a wonderful time. She and her husband also have two little girls so we had a total of four girls ages 5 and under. So fun! We actually didn't do a lot of Branson-type stuff because we were easily entertained by the pool, the park, and just hanging out in our rental house...which was perfect for us! Hope you all had an awesome Memorial Day weekend!!

Riding the Duck Boats (the pic with my sisters hair in her face is my favorite!!)

The Branson Landing

Build A Bear!!

Our awesome rental house!

Fun selfies!

Sydney's bear "Cinderella" made it into this selfie :)

Playing at the park
Fun at the pool

The ladies (my sister Kathryn and me)     

The men (Jim and Dave)

We tried to watch the sunset over the lade almost every night. So beautiful!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Sydney's dance recital!

I used to be a dancer... now I'm a dance mom. :)

That thought used to scare me but that's probably because it has a negative connotation. Just because I am a dance mom doesn't mean I have to be one of THOSE dance moms. If you've seen the reality show called Dance Moms... you know what I'm talking about.

But I have never been so proud to be a dance mom! Sydney LOVES her dance class at Shuffles and Ballet II. And really loves dancing on the big stage at Robinson. And I LOVE watching her. Although the stage almost seems to swallow up the little girls... I still feel like she looks so big. Maybe that's because it still feels like just yesterday when she was a newborn baby. And I know from my friends that have older kids... it only seems to go faster and faster. So I want (and try) to treasure every moment. Couldn't be more proud of my tiny dancer!!

And I must say I was also very impressed at how much Reagan (19 months) enjoyed the show. She was captivated by every dance and the burst into applause at the end of each one. I'm guessing she'll be on stage before I know it!
Her class did a tap routine to "Where Did Our Love Go?"

Here's her "Mom, stop taking pictures of me" pose

Her "break a leg" flowers before the show

So proud of my girl!

Friday, April 26, 2013

My most compelling interview yet

It was ten years ago this week when I started working at Channel 7. And the story that I did this week... is one of the best and most difficult I have ever done.

I know some people might think that we, as broadcasters, don't get emotional about the stories we read because we read about death and destruction so often. But that is certainly not true. Sure, we try to disconnect from the stories we share because otherwise we might have tears in our eyes (although I have in the past) while reading the news. But this is a story that I have followed closely for several years. The more I learn about it, the more emotional I get. 

Very few journalists can say they have had the opportunity to sit down with the father of a murdered son, and the father of the murderer. And that's exactly what I did. No doubt... the most compelling and emotional interview I have ever done.

I so hope my stories can bring some awareness to an extremely sensitive issue.

Click here to see the story.

Click here to learn more about the documentary Losing Our Sons

Monday, March 4, 2013

My chlidhood dream coming true...Thanks, Larry!

Wow... what a ride it was!!

Photo taken by Abraham Saenz

Last week, I literally got to live out one of my childhood dreams... to be on stage in a Broadway production! If you went to the show, you know that this is not something that is done very often (or ever!) and took a lot of planning mostly on behalf of one person, Larry Payton. So I thought I'd share how it all  happened.

I had set up a meeting with a friend that used to work for Celebrity Attractions to meet the new marketing and PR gal for the company. And Larry Payton, the President of the company, was in town and would also be joining us. I had worked with Larry over the years and was looking forward to meeting with him and assumed that we'd be talking about ways to help promote upcoming shows. Well as I listened to Larry talk, it became clear that he had a very unique way to promote their next show...he asked me if I would be interested in singing with the cast of "100 Years of Broadway"!! I immediately got overheated and nervous. But excited at the same time. The first thing I say is that I'd have to check with my bosses. But then Larry says that he had already talked to my general manager, Mark Rose, and that he loved the idea! The deal was that I had to fit it in between newscast so that I didn't miss any of our newscasts (February is when TV stations get "rated"). Channel 7 and everyone here was so supportive of this idea!!

That meeting was January 30th. Less than three weeks later, I see on Facebook that Larry was suddenly hospitalized in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I call my friend and she lets me know how bad it really was. I said lots of prayers for healing but ultimately... God had other plans. Larry Payton died that night. I was stunned and so saddened. But mostly felt so brokenhearted for his family and loved ones. He was only 64 (just one year older than my dad when we lost him). And what an amazing man he was! I was fortunate to hear his testimony shared at a Little Rock Media Fellowship meeting. This man was a great businessman and yet always put his faith and values first. And because of that, he created a reputation of high quality, family entertainment.

After hearing the news, I assumed I would no longer be a part of the show. After all this was all Larry's idea. He had contacted the producer and gotten clearance to do the show. And I couldn't imagine going through with it without him. 

But then, just five days before the show was set to begin... the press release went out that I'd be a part of the show! Yikes! All of a sudden I was really nervous!! I knew the song that they had wanted me to sing, "Seasons of Love" from the show Rent (I actually sang that song in high school choir) but I had never sung the solo part. AND I didn't even know what key it would be in or what kind of style the singers performed it in (I know that may mean nothing to those that don't sing...but for you singers out there, you know how important the key is!!). The show is a musical revue where they get to pick their favorite Broadway tunes to perform. That's why I was so nervous...what if they wanted me to sing really high?!? I am a true alto... and can't sing high at all!! And I wouldn't get to practice until two hours before the first performance!!! This might have been the most nervous I had ever been for a show. Even when I was on stage performing, I was always doing more dancing than singing. And even when I sang, it was usually with a group. So this was completely out of my comfort zone!!!

And then it hit me... I had nothing to wear!! I immediately contacted my friend and fashion blogger, Sandra (click here for Sandra's blog) and asked where I should go. She sent me to the lovely ladies at Proposals Boutique (click here for their facebook page) in the Heights. And boy did they hook me up!! I only tried on one dress...

this Nicole Miller fit perfectly... it was meant to be! :) They added some gorgeous Kendra Scott earrings and sent me on my way. I was starting to get excited!!

I met the director/producer and the cast right at 5pm Tuesday night. And they were so nice!! I guess I was nervous that they'd be questioning me and my abilities (like I was) but they didn't do that at all. They were kind, supportive, encouraging... wanted to know about me and my family and my job. And let me tell you, these are some of the BEST performers ever to be on Broadway!!! (Click here to read their very impressive bios.) The director, Neil Berg (click here to read his bio), said all the right things.

Me with the very talented Neil Berg, director/producer (photo take by Abraham Saenz)

Neil made me feel calm, comfortable, and gave me the confidence I needed to pull this off. We ran the song only once... and then it was time for me to do a live shot in the lobby to help promote the show! Then, with the help of Caroline Timm (the marketing gal for Celebrity Attractions) I quickly returned to the newsroom for the 6pm news. After the news, it was back to the theater for opening night!! I was so nervous I was shaking from head to toe!!

I watched most of the first act from back stage... then it was my turn!

When Neil introduced me to the crowd, I could honestly feel the support from the crowd. Like Neil said, they are welcoming and loving...and they want me to succeed (at least I hope that's the case). And with that support... I went for it. I sang my heart out!! It felt great!! At the end I was shaking again but this time it was because of the adrenaline rush I had gotten!! Good thing I calmed down when we went off stage because I usually throw up when I get an adrenaline rush!! :)

All that to say... I so wish Larry could have been here to see the show. But I know he was looking down from above cheering us on. And I am so grateful for the opportunity to literally live out one of my childhood dreams. :) Thanks to all of you for your support!!!!

My littlest big fans...Sydney and Shelby Pederson

My biggest fan!
William Michals and Ron Bohmer
Danny Zolli

My Bible Study ladies...LOVE these girls!!
My friends' beautiful daughters!

Our awesome babysitter, Andrea! 

Carter Calvert, Abraham Saenz, and Sandra Joseph (photo taken by Abraham Saenz)

This picture gives me chills! The support from the cast was AMAZING!! (photo taken by Abraham Saenz)

Monday, February 25, 2013

Before I was on camera...I was on stage

I'll be honest, I didn't dream of being a news anchor when I was a little girl. I wanted to be a performer. Singing, dancing, playing instruments... whatever it was I wanted to be on stage. My dad was a professional violinist all his life and my mom danced all through school and is still a beautiful calligrapher. So needless to say, my sisters and I grew up in a very artistic world. We all started dancing when we were 3 years old, played violin or cello at a young age, and performed in nearly every theatrical production that was put on in, or around, Yankton, SD... my hometown. 

My first dance redital

My sisters and my dad and I used to play as a quartet all together (yes, I'm the baby) :)

I was very fortunate to have a dance instructor from Poland who just happen to move to Yankton when I was young. Which is a big part of why I started to take dance so seriously. I probably took ten classes a week by the time I was in high school and was teaching dance classes when I wasn't dancing. I started working at a local radio station, 1450 KYNT, when I was 16... but my true passion was still dance/theater.

I think I played every role possible in the Nutcracker. :) Here Snow Queen and an angel.
One of my favorite roles... Dorothy in Wizard of Oz!
I think if I had set my goals higher... like if I had a desire to one day be on Broadway... I might still be chasing that dream. But my dream was to get into a theater near Minneapolis called Chanhassen Dinner Theaters. I had seen musicals there since I was a little girl. And that was the stage that I wanted to be on. Well after moving to Minneapolis to attend the University of Minnesota (hoping to get a musical theater or dance degree) I auditioned at Chanhassen and got cast in the show Can Can! I was only 18 and I thought I had hit the jackpot! It really was an amazing experience. We did 302 shows, 8 shows a week... and I never missed a show. We did nearly 100 kicks a show which meant about 800 kicks a week...what a workout! Truly talented people, amazing production value, and overall a wonderful experience!

Yep, that's me on the wall. Still the same "teethy" grin :)
When I was little I would point to this wall and say "someday my picture will be up there!" (top left if you can't find it)

The Can Can dancers!

I spent four years performing in various theaters in the Twin Cities while still going to school...although I changed my major to Broadcast Journalism as the "backup plan."
My 8X10 headshot

My resume

As much as I loved the theater, it really is a crazy business world. And I knew I wanted something more consistent long term. So when I graduated college I made the tough call to pursue the broadcasting route instead of theater route. And now I still get to feed my love of theater by being involved in the arts here in Arkansas.

I still can't believe I'll be on stage this week at Robinson Auditorium singing with REAL performers!! I think I'd be more comfortable if they had asked me to dance instead of sing! But I am also so grateful and honored to be asked... and I'm up for the challenge!!

So as they say in the theater world... don't wish me luck!! Just tell me to "break a leg!!"

Here's the press release from Celebrity Attractions about the show:


KATV’s very own Christina Munoz will be performing a special number with the cast of 100 Years of Broadway all three nights!

Christina Munoz anchors Channel 7 News at 6pm and Nightside at 10:00 p.m. She joined KATV in April of 2003. Before moving to Little Rock, Christina was a reporter and fill-in anchor at KDLH Channel 3 News in Duluth, Minnesota. Prior to that, she worked behind the scenes at WCCO, the CBS affiliate in Minneapolis. Christina has been actively involved in various community organizations throughout Arkansas since moving here. She's a member of the Arkansas Climbers Coalition and is an honorary board member of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). She also served two years as President of Ballet Arkansas and continues to be an advisory board member. Christina was also on stage in Ballet Arkansas' annual production of "The Nutcracker" for four years.

Neil Berg’s widely acclaimed 100 Years of Broadway, a musical revue of Broadway’s most celebrated shows, features a dazzling cast of five Broadway stars accompanied by an all-star New York band. The show is opening at the Robinson Center Music Hall on February 26, 2013 and will run for three nights.
Past productions of this popular show have featured Betty Buckley, Liz Callaway, Ben Vereen, and Alex Santoriello among others. Along with musical director and pianist Neil Berg, the Robinson Center Music Hall production will feature Carter Calvert (Grizabella, Cats), Danny Zolli (Jesus, Jesus Christ Superstar), Sandra Joseph (Christine, The Phantom of the Opera), Ron Bohmer (Phantom, The Phantom of the Opera) and William Michals (Beast, Beauty and the Beast). *Cast is subject to change based upon possible Broadway and touring developments.

Welcomed by AT&T, 100 YEARS OF BROADWAY plays at the Robinson Center Music Hall February 26-28, 2013. All performances begin at 7:30p. Tickets are on sale now and may be purchased by phone at 501.244.8800 or 800.982.2787(ARTS), in person at Celebrity Attractions and all Ticketmaster outlets, or online at Ticketmaster.com. Tickets prices are $57.00, $46.50, $36.00 and $25.00 (no additional fees). Groups of 10 or more may call 501.492.3316 for a discount. For more information, visit the Celebrity Attractions’ website at www.CelebrityAttractions.com.

100 YEARS OF BROADWAY is part of the 2012-2013 Celebrity Attractions’ Broadway Season which also includes the Tony® Award winning JERSEY BOYS. Celebrity Attractions would like to thank our season sponsors KATV and American Airlines for their continued support of nationally touring Broadway in Little Rock.