By Rachael Gerron
Web Content Contributor
I had the privilege of speaking with retired news anchor and Texas State alumna, Gloria Campos Brown. Campos graduated from Southwest Texas State University in 1976 with a B.A. in Mass Communication.
She is one of this year’s five recipients of the Distinguished Alumni Award from Texas State University’s Alumni Association.
I grew up watching Campos as a news anchor on WFAA-TV in Dallas, and I was honored to be able to talk to her about her career as an award-winning journalist and about her time as a Bobcat.
She was a part of my inspiration to pursue this field from years of watching her every night on the news, so I was curious to know what inspired her to become a journalist. Campos said that watching the live, wall-to-wall coverage of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy was the event that first got her thinking about journalism.
“Reporters got to be places that regular folks did not get to be… that might have planted a little seed,” Campos said.
In high school, she was involved with the school newspaper, the yearbook and a literary magazine.
She credits her high school journalism teacher and fellow Texas State alumna, Gene Yates, for being the person who inspired her to attend Southwest Texas State. Yates was the editor-in-chief of The University Star newspaper when she attended Southwest Texas State in 1950.
“When it came time to go into college, I had no clue where to go for a journalism degree… I started looking around to see ‘who has a job that is sort of related to what I want to do?’, and it was my journalism teacher,” said Campos. “I didn’t bother applying anywhere else… and that’s how I became a bobcat.”
Once she came to Texas State (Southwest Texas State at the time), Campos got involved with The University Star newspaper and eventually became an editor. She also did a newscast for the radio station on campus.
“I did a little covering of the local city government and the county government and that’s when I first got my taste of… actually being out in the community… I’ve always had a fascination with… political science… I just found all of that fascinating…being there in San Marcos [and] being able to cover it,” Campos said. “Early on I figured out… I was on the right track career-wise.”
Campos looks back on her time in San Marcos very fondly. Beyond her educational and career-oriented pursuits, Campos also worked two part-time jobs in San Marcos and enjoyed her free time.
“I remember going out to get a Manske roll … and Cheatham street warehouse- [I] did a lot of dancing there,” said Campos. “This is a little-known fact- I was a waitress at Grins… and then I was a grader for one of my history profs… That’s what kept me busy.”
Campos got her start in broadcasting as an intern for WOAI radio station in San Antonio- a job that one of her Texas State instructors assisted her in getting. She was later offered a position at the station after graduation but declined because she had already agreed to work at KGBT, a TV station in her hometown of Harlingen, Texas.
“I’ll never forget- he [her WOAI manager] said, ‘All you women want to be on TV!’ So he was a little bit discouraged that I didn’t say yes.”
In 1984, after 9 years at KGBT-TV, Campos began working as a general assignment reporter at WFAA-TV in Dallas, Texas. Her goal starting there was to become a better reporter and she assumed that she would eventually move back to a smaller market.
However, she worked her way up and became the first Latino news anchor in the station’s history.
“I did not really see that much of an opportunity for a Latina woman to anchor the news in Dallas/ Fort Worth, but I guess because I was there so long, people got used to me,” said Campos.
During her time at WFAA, Campos produced a segment called “Wednesday’s Child,” which featured the stories of children in foster care who were hoping to find an adoptive family.
Campos received national attention for this segment after featured Wednesday’s Child, Ke’onte Cook, surprised her on-air, thanking her for helping him find his forever home. This heartwarming story was just one of the many successful adoptions to come from this segment.
Campos stayed at WFAA for 30 years and is one of the most beloved and respected news anchors in the Dallas/ Fort Worth area. Campos has received numerous awards for her work in journalism and community service, and she was inducted into the National Hispanic Journalism Association Hall of Fame.
Campos retired from WFAA in 2014.
“It was really hard to step away from that journalist’s hat that I was wearing,” Campos said.
As a journalist, she had to keep her personal beliefs to herself for 40 years; however, in retirement, she can now voice her opinions publicly and isn’t afraid to do so.
She frequently shares her input on current events on her Twitter.
“I’m not a journalist anymore, so I am a little bit more outspoken than I was,” said Campos
During her career and retirement, Campos has been an active alumna and has used her success to give back to Texas State. She established the Gloria Campos Endowed Scholarship, which helps students in the Department of Mass Communication and she serves on the department’s advisory board.
“Now, my main job and concern is to promote the university in any way I can as an ambassador of the university and to to help… students realize their dreams…”, said Campos.
Throughout our conversation, she mentioned several times how proud she is of the students and faculty at Texas State. Campos is an avid follower of many departments at the university and keeps up with what is happening at her alma mater.
“We live in a state where Texas A&M and the University of Texas take up a lot of oxygen… [Texas State University] might be the best-kept secret in Texas, ” said Campos.
“I’m really proud to be a bobcat because everywhere we go, we hear real positive things about you all… and how you all are prepared for the real world… that’s the most important thing that we can offer you,” said Campos.
Based on her experience, Compos advises current students to get at least two internships and to begin networking and building connections with people. Her success is a testament to the importance of networking. Due to her connections, she was able to get straight into her career, directly following her graduation from Texas State.
“It’s a small world out there…. When you start networking, you will be able to connect with people all over, and there are bobcats all over,” Campos said. “You just never know when you’re going to make that connection with someone that’s going to help you get that first job and move on up the ladder. So I’d say network, network, network.”
Gloria Campos Brown’s professional achievements and her contributions as an alumna serve as an example for all Texas State students and alumni.
As a current journalism student and fellow Bobcat, it was an honor to talk to her about her career and time as a student at Texas State University.
You can watch the full interview below.
Featured image by Piper Blake via Canva.