BONIFAY — Meredith TerHaar, television news reporter and co-anchor, was the guest speaker at Bonifay Kiwanis Club’s Oct. 30 meeting.
“I work at WJHG News Channel 7 in Panama City Beach and I joined the station four years ago,” said TerHaar. “It’s been a wonderful and exciting journey to be honest. It’s been very different from where I’m from, which is west Michigan.”
She said the culture and the weather is very different in Florida than in Michigan.
“Oh my goodness, what a delight, we love the weather here — especially the fact that it’s not snowing six months out of the year,” she said. “I worked with an ABC affiliate in Grand Rapids, Michigan, for six years and commuted 25 miles both ways, which was fine in the summer time, not so fine in the blizzards and wintry like conditions. So being here, where we basically say it’s summer year-round. We absolutely love it.”
She said being a co-anchor and a reporter is her “dream job.”
“It is such a delight to see such a wonderful mix of folks here in the terms of older and younger, professional and retired,” said TerHaar. “This is such an impressive group and I asked Joe Moore before I left if he had ever spoken to the Kiwanis Club in Bonifay and he said no, that he hadn’t, but he said that he could say that they were a very involved and active group and went on to list many things, specifically the rodeo. I want to make sure that I thank all of you for what you do in this community because it is vital.”
She explained that she is in the area often to feature outstanding teachers with the Golden Apple Award.
“I’ve been in this area multiple times,” she said. “Each week I feature very deserving teachers in something called the Golden Apple Award and so we have our viewers write in and tell us why they think their teacher is deserving. We’ll have parents write in and we’ll have students write in and I’m hoping your thinking of a deserving teacher right now that you could write in and nominate a teacher that you think is deserving of the Golden Apple.”
She explained that she shoots, writes and edits all her stories.
“That means after I co-anchor with Donna for two hours I run to the equipment room, grab my camera, grab my microphone, grab my tripod and hit the road,” she said. “So it is a great opportunity for us to see how all the schools are doing in the area.”
She said television stations are always changing and one of the biggest changes recently is incorporating viewer interaction through social media.
“Something we are attempting to do more and more is incorporate social media and reaching out to our viewers through Facebook and Twitter and having them reach out to me via Facebook and Twitter,” said TerHaar. “We’re trying to build up viewer interaction. I can’t tell you how important phone calls to the station are, emails to the station are, Facebook messages, Twitter messages telling us about tips, story ideas and what is going on in your community.”
“There’s an awful a lot of things that happen in our communities that we don’t hear over a police scanner and having individuals like you, who are well connected in the community, call us and let us know what is going on means so much to us,” TerHaar said.