MURRAY, Ky. — Amy Bryan Watson, award-winning broadcast anchor and journalist, was recently named one of the 2017 recipients of the Distinguished Alumni Award.
Murray State presents the Distinguished Alumni Award annually to alumni who have made meaningful contributions to their profession on a local, state and national level. Established in 1962, the award is the highest honor granted by the Murray State University Alumni Association, and its recipients include Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists, renowned authors, research scientists, physicians and educators.
Watson graduated in 1989 with a degree in journalism. During her undergraduate career, Watson was a part of Alpha Omicron Pi sorority and was heavily involved with MSU TV-11 News as an anchor, reporter and producer. Ever since she was a young girl, Watson knew she wanted to become a broadcast journalist.
“I’ve wanted to do this since I was very little. It started with my love to read, and I was always reading aloud at home. Pretty soon, I started reading the newspaper and had my parents listen to me read with a tape recorder. This is when I was only seven or eight years old,” said Watson. “When I got to Calloway County High School, I joined the school’s speech team and the team’s advisor, Mr. Larry England, took me under his wing. I remember not making the cheerleading squad, and he told me my voice was meant for something else — that I would use it for good some day.”
Her first few years after graduation consisted of working with different broadcast news stations across Missouri, Tennessee and Kentucky. In 1990, she joined KFVS, a CBS affiliate, as a general assignment reporter and fill-in anchor in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. A couple years later, Watson moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee and joined another CBS affiliate, WDEF, as a weekend anchor and general assignment and consumer reporter. In 1993, Watson returned back to Kentucky to continue her career, this time with the NBC affiliate, WPSD-TV in Paducah. For thirteen years, Watson was a part of the WPSD-TV team as the six and ten o’clock anchor, the five o’clock anchor and a special assignments reporter.
Watson’s time with WPSD-TV came to a close when she and her husband Derrick, a fellow Murray State alumnus, moved to Hopkinsville to be closer to his job in 2006. However, her absence from broadcast news did not last long. Later that year, WTVF-TV, the CBS affiliate in Nashville, Tennessee hired Watson to be the co-anchor for the 4–8 a.m. morning news. She continues in this position to this day, earning multiple awards during her tenure.
Since Watson joined WTVF-TV, the 4–8 a.m. news has been ranked as the number one morning news in Nashville for the last ten years, as well as being ranked number one nationally in metered markets. Her reporting and morning news show have earned twelve Emmy nominations over the years and won Emmy awards for best special event coverage, best morning broadcast and weather coverage. Watson has even been honored by the Associated Press, earning awards for best reporter, best feature story, best news writing and best planned stories.
During her career at WTVF-TV, Watson has also met several nationally renowned American broadcasters, including Tom Brokaw, Bryant Gumbel and Stone Phillips. She considers her most memorable interview to have been with the famous Caroline Kennedy and her favorite experience starring in Alan Jackson’s “Good Time” music video.
“I never knew that broadcast journalism could be so rewarding. I knew I would have to work hard, but I love what I do. Honestly, I couldn’t wait to get out of college so I could get to work,” said Watson. “This career has come with a lot of personal sacrifices over the years, but I really feel that it’s all been given back to me, and I’m just so truly grateful.”
Watson gave credit to a Murray State faculty member for helping her along the way.
“Ironically, and thankfully for me, one of my dad’s best friends is Dr. Robert McGaughey, former long-time chair of the Murray State journalism department. He, personally, helped me tremendously throughout my career, and I am forever grateful for all his support,” said Watson.
Watson often returns to her alma mater to assist the journalism and mass communications department by speaking to classes and attending the senior networking event, “Meet the Pros.” The alumna has also served as a mentor, allowing Murray State journalism students to shadow her at WTVF-TV and critiquing students’ resumes and audition tapes.
“When I was a student, Murray State’s own television studio in the journalism and mass communications department really gave me those real-world experiences that prepared me for my career. We did it all. Whether it was anchoring, reporting and editing, we were learning how broadcast journalism pieces together. I am so thankful for those experiences,” said Watson. “I just want current students to realize that even if you end up in a smaller market when you’re first starting out in the real world after college, just keep working hard and continue learning. If you love something, always be willing to try new things in this field. Don’t walk away from opportunities just because it’s new or that it’s scary. It will all be worth it.”
Watson will be honored at the Distinguished Alumni Award banquet to be held April 21 at 6 p.m. in the CFSB’s Center Murray Room and will have the opportunity to speak about her professional experiences. The banquet is open to the public with tickets available for $30 at murraystate.edu/