Mornings are going to be different in Norma Holland’s house – maybe in yours, too.
Since 2002, Holland has been waking up at 2 a.m. to get to the 13WHAM television studio to anchor News This Morning and Good Day Rochester. Her last day of that routine is Aug. 23, when her contract ends and she leaves broadcast journalism to start a new career as a brand ambassador for the digital marketing company Digital Hyve.
”As my children get a little older, I started to think what would life look like if I didn’t wake up so early to go to work,” she said. “I started to consider what I wanted to do.”
Holland, 44 and the mother of two girls, ages 3 ½ and 1 ½, said the move has been months in the making. She has been with 13WHAM for nearly 24 years.
“You start thinking, ‘What am I good at, what do I like to do?’ When you’ve been a place for a very long time, it’s very easy almost to forget what your skill set is. You take for granted the things you do every day because you do them every day.”
Shortly after the first of the year, she sought counsel from people she trusted and admired to help her take stock.
One of those conversations was with Jeff Knauss, who worked in sales at 13WHAM and became a friend. They’d occasionally joke about how fun it would be to one day work together.
“I called him up and said, ‘Remember the conversation we had a couple of years ago?’ The rest is history,” Holland said.
Holland said she heads into her new career excited about the opportunity to learn and be part of the growing digital world. “I want to go where everyone else is going and be able to in five years keep up with the talk.”
She leaves her former career with one less face of color, something she said has been on her mind.
“When you are a person of color and you’re in a field where there’s not a lot of you, you do feel a responsibility to represent your community,” she said. “That’s just natural. You have a sense of pride in your heritage. Being from a racially and culturally mixed background, I did feel that and that was something that weighed very heavy in my mind and on my heart.”
She said she had to be honest with herself about whether staying in broadcast news still served her. “The truth was, it just did not.”
Holland said her career change “was borne out of what was good for me and my family.”
But she can do the math and said broadcast journalism as an industry is not where it needs to be.
“I am concerned about the number of us on the news. It is something I’ve always felt a concern about. The bottom line is we need more faces. Kids need to see themselves everywhere, not just in sports, not just in law enforcement, not just in any one sector. My girls need to see themselves in every place they look, in every place that they are.”
Even though she said she’s no longer going to be the “TV Lady” that people call her, she will still have a presence.
“I would get asked all the time, could you come to this event and emcee that, and I’d have to say no because I have to get up a 2 a.m. I feel that even though you won’t see my face on TV, I’m still in the world of media, digital though it is. And with a better sleep schedule, I feel I can be out in the community in ways I couldn’t before. My dedication to the community and my desire to help is not waning with my departure from television.”