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Anchorwoman stays current

Former CNN anchor Bella Shaw evolves with new media landscape

Posted: August 26, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: August 26, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Bella Shaw with a note from television host Larry King, complimenting her on suspenders she gave him as a gift. Shaw spent a decade working for CNN.

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Bella Shaw became one of the early stars of the cable news revolution when she moved from an NBC affiliate station in Oklahoma City to CNN in Atlanta in 1983.

Shaw, who lives on the outskirts of the Santa Clarita Valley, quit the national news spotlight to raise her two sons. Her sons are now Max is 20 and Luke is 17.

However, she never stopped working. She continues as the host of Time Warner Cable’s “Local Edition” and is a familiar face in a host of informercials.

With her two partners, Sue Berry and Phil Ramuno, Shaw is now the principal behind BzS, the Business Spotlight Webisode Series.

Oklahoma

Shaw was born in Austria, the daughter of a colonel in the U.S. Army and Austrian mother.

The family moved to Ft. Sill, Okla., when Shaw was 2.

After high school Shaw attended the University of Oklahoma where she became the voice of OU radio.

“In high school I was always asked to read things aloud and told that I had a good voice,” Shaw said.

Shaw found journalism fit her curious personality.

“I was always asking questions,” she said.

It was a time when women were just beginning to make inroads into television journalism, too.

“There was Barbara Walters, Connie Chung, Jane Pauley; it was that era when I was in print journalism,” she said. “I realized I could go into broadcast journalism.”

In her senior year of college Shaw found her first professional job in journalism. She started working at WKY radio — the oldest radio station in Oklahoma.

Shaw worked overnight shifts. “It was not glamorous at all,” she said. When the station converted to an FM format she was laid off.

Television

However, the local television station was located in the same building and Shaw transitioned to TV.

“Somehow I convinced the head photographer that I could go out and shoot a story, and I did,” she said. “I was there seven years.”

She hosted the farm show and was also the state Capitol correspondent.

In 1983 Shaw left the station when she realized there was little chance for advancement from her weekend anchor duties.

“The woman who was the weekday news anchor when I was there, is still there,” she said.

CNN

Shaw sent an audition tape to CNN after hearing that Ted Turner was launching a 24-hour cable news station.

“I sent the tape in on a lark,” she said. “They flew me out to Atlanta and I got the job. The bad news was that they put me on the overnight shift.”

On her first day at CNN she was scheduled to observe. But a breaking news story (presidential candidate Walter Mondale’s choice of Geraldine Ferraro as his running mate) found Shaw in the anchor chair informing the nation of Mondale’s historic choice when the current anchor couldn’t be located.

Shaw soon advanced and became the anchor of “Newsday” with two broadcasts at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.

Among the stories she covered were the Challenger disaster, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the rescue of little Jessica McClure from a well.

‘Showbiz Today’

Shaw moved to Los Angeles in 1989 to anchor “Showbiz Today.”

She worked on the show until 1993 when she had her first child.

“I didn’t know how I could do both, work and be a mother,” she said. “The news business is not 9 to 5. It was hard to go to preschool events, to Little League games, those experiences.”

Mark Soroko

It was in L.A. where Shaw met her future husband, Mark Soroko.

“I had just moved to L.A. and needed to open a bank account,” she said. “He was the CFO of the Bank of Hollywood. I kept finding excuses to go into the bank.”

Her husband died in March 2010. He was 56.

“He set the bar pretty high,” she said.

Advice

Shaw said she tells young girls who want to go into journalism to be aware of the long hours and hard work it takes to get ahead.

“They only see the glamour, they don’t see the part where the boyfriend is saying, ‘What do you mean you’re working the weekend,’” she said.

Reinvention

“The business has changed tremendously from the time I started,” said Shaw. “And I’ve evolved with it. I’ve gone through all the metamorphosis. I’m still in the information business. I’ve always kept up with the times.”

In addition to consulting with Women Media Pros, her infomercials and anchor work with Time Warner Cable Shaw has a new venture to keep herself busy.

Her new business, BzS, offers professional quality videos for business owners.

“You have to stay up with the times to be successful,” she said. “You have to stay relevant.”

For more information about BzS visit www.bzspotlight.com.

mbuttelman@the-signal.com

661-287-5590

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