Stephen Clark: The Country Singing/Songwriting News Anchor
By Jessica Northey:
Meet Stephen Clark, Anchor for WXYZ-TV ABC Channel 7 in Detroit. And if that’s not cool enough he is also a very talented Country Music Singer and Songwriter, but more about this later.
Have you watched the news lately? Notice how stations are really bringing in Social Networking to communicate with their viewers…Stephen Clark takes this to a whole new level!
Think you know how TV news is being gathered, think again. He initiated what is called the – the #Backchannel – an innovative interactive program that uses Social Media Platform Twitter to communicate with audience not only while he is putting together but during the Broadcast. I asked Stephen how to explain the #Backchannel, his response:
“I get asked that question a lot and it occurred to me the other day that it is getting increasingly harder to answer because the #backchannel seems to be so many things to so many people.”
I had the honor of meeting Stephen at the Arbitron Conf/Jacobs Media Summit last year and happened to be sitting near him when he received a tweet via #Backchannel about a fire in Detroit. He was 100’s of miles away and was still able to break the story in Detroit.
The #Backchannel is clearly a ground breaking response system that is changing Television news delivery. It has relevance for Radio and Music industry too as personalities and teams become enterprising enough to give their listeners a seat at the table.
Stephen Clark was born at Castle Air Force base in Modesto, California. His father a brand new Lieutenant in the Air Force, after serving 4 years enlisted ( Clark Sr., would retire 38 years later as a two-star General).
They moved within the first few months he was born… a pattern that would continue all his life.
Living in Texas, Arizona, Mississippi, West Virginia, Washington State and Colorado; before he even started Kindergarten! He attended grade schools in Security Colorado, Montgomery Alabama and Kansas City, MO. He went to Junior High in Montgomery, AL and Colorado Springs and high school in Colorado Springs.
He started college at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley as music major, playing classical clarinet and jazz baritone sax. After switching to communications and journalism his second year, he landed his first On-Air job in radio at KYOU /KGRE in 1977. KYOU Country was a live AM radio station playing country music. KGRE was a mostly automated station playing classical music.
“I did a combination of news and disc jockey work on both stations and developed my love for country music listening to Waylon and Willie, Merle Haggard, Crystal Gayle, Emmylou Harris, Don Williams, Elvis, etc.”
Attracted to the story-telling of country music he began writing his own as he says “largely forgettable songs” but learning to play the guitar to the records spinning on the turntables.
In 1979 he switched to Television in Colorado Springs where he began as a weekend sports anchor on KRDO TV. A career that would take him to Wichita KS in 1980, Washington DC in 1983, Denver in 1984, San Diego in 1988 and New York City in 1997 where he worked as the main anchor on WCBS and as a correspondent on CBS Network.
Songwriting got put on hold in New York (CBS didn’t feel country music was the right image for their main anchor) but he picked it up pretty quickly after leaving New York. Clark moved to Detroit in early 2002.
“I started getting serious about songwriting in San Diego around 1990… where I also began performing in coffee houses and eventually on bigger stages—opening for Willie Nelson, Tracy Byrd, Chris Ledoux, Lari White and many others.”
“I’m an off-and-on member of NSAI (Nashville Songwriters Association International) and travel to Nashville occasionally to hang out with professional writers.”
He continues to play shows in Detroit… mostly solo acoustic sets but occasionally with a band on bigger stages like the annual Detroit Downtown Hoedown.
“Songwriting is just another kind of journalism, where the goal is to tell a compelling story in an interesting way.” He also uses his many years of TV video, editing and story-telling experience to also direct music videos. (You can check some of these out online at NashvilleMusicGuide.com)
When asked what is your ultimate goal? Stephen replies, “to get somebody in Nashville to listen to my music… and maybe get a cut… or at least the opportunity to write and produce with some of the ‘big dogs’.”
Well if any of you ‘big dogs’ are listening, I have had the honor of hearing Stephen Clark in person, absolutely enjoy listening to his music, and he is WORTH looking in to!