Utah's right place for state's first black news anchor
Television • State's first black anchor took job knowing it would be chaotic and challenging.
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A lot of little kids want to be a cowboy or a princess when they grow up. From the age of 6, Nadia Crow wanted to be a TV news anchorwoman.

"I've always wanted to do this," said Crow, who's living out her dreams at KTVX-Channel 4. "The only thing I've ever really wanted to be is a TV news anchor and reporter."

Other kids watched cartoons; Crow watched "20/20" and "Oprah."

"When we lived in Norfolk [Va.], there were black females in TV news who were good role models," she said. "And then when we moved to Chicago, you only had a few, even though Chicago is such a big city and it's so diverse."

In Utah, Crow is the first African-American to land a regular news anchoring gig at a Salt Lake television station.

It's rather remarkable that it took until the year 2013 for that to happen. And it's one of the reasons Crow took the job in Utah despite offers from other stations. And despite the fact that KTVX is in the early stages of a major rebuilding process after a series of ownership changes, layoffs and staff turnover.

"I knew it would be a challenge coming here with the struggles they've had, but chaos creates opportunity," she said. "So I looked at it more as a challenge. And knowing that I would be the first African-American anchor was also a challenge that I wanted to take on."

Once she got used to the idea and visited Utah to check things out, that is.

"You just don't think of black people being in Utah," Crow said. "Whether that's true or not, that was my image and my perception of the state.

"I knew that my agent sent my résumé tape and all my materials here, but I just never thought it would come to anything. So when [KTVX news director] George [Severson] called me, I was, like, 'I'm sorry, where are you from?' " she said, with a laugh.

For Severson, hiring Crow was a no-brainer.

"I'm so amazed, for someone that young, how advanced her skills are," he said. "She stands out because she seems so engaged, especially coming to a whole new world."

Crow was born in Norfolk, Va., and grew up in Chicago. She graduated from Syracuse University's prestigious journalism program and worked at stations in Indiana and Iowa. The 27-year-old is smart and personable, qualities that come across as she co-anchors the 4 p.m. newscast on KTVX-Ch. 4; anchors the 10-minute newscast weeknights at 9 on sister station KUCW-Ch. 30; and reports for other newscasts.

She admits she had a few questions about Utah before she got here.

"I asked George, 'Is there somewhere I can get my hair done? Am I going to be able to go to the grocery store and see somebody that looks like me? What is going to happen if I come there?' " Crow said. "But coming here has really opened up my eyes. There is diversity here. And there are growing populations that people outside of Utah don't realize are here."

Including her friends. A lot of them asked her if she'd be safe in Utah. If she would have to wear "old-timey clothes" with long sleeves on the air. If she'd end up as someone's third wife.

"They have these 'Big Love' ideas, because that's what they see on TV," Crow said. "There are so many misconceptions outside of Utah of what the LDS faith is. And then when you come here, you realize that those things really aren't true."

Four months into the job, she feels like she's settling in. And she doesn't feel intimidated that, in addition to anchoring and reporting, she's seen as a role model.

"It's funny, because I just consider myself Nadia," Crow said. "But when we bring in the weather kid or families and they come up and talk to me, everyone refers to me as 'Miss Nadia,' which is just completely odd for me. I guess it's like the Charles Barkley thing — whether you like it or not, you are a role model. So I do take that seriously."

Crow recalled that, as a child, she was impressed seeing then-Chicago anchorwoman Tamron Hall, now with MSNBC, on TV and in person.

"I got so excited because I'd been watching her for years and years and there she was in person and she was just as charismatic and charming and beautiful as we saw her on TV," she said. "And that meant a lot to me as a child. So I don't ever want to go out in public and be rude or be cranky and have a kid who watches me have that negative perception. So whether you like it or not, you have to take on that role and that responsibility."

Severson said the response to Crow's hiring has been "great. Overwhelmingly positive."

"We want to represent everybody. And there are black people living in Utah," he said.

And, like a few other people who have immigrated to Utah, Crow feels like this is the place for her.

"My family is very religious, so they're, like, 'This is the path that God has set for you. So you take that leap of faith and know that he'll be there to support you through it,' " she said. "Everything happens for a reason. I never had Utah on my list of destinations, but here we are. And I couldn't be happier."

spierce@sltrib.com

Twitter @ScottDPierce