Written By Katie Rosso | Edited by Rachel Jones | Photograph by Michael Fornataro
Learning how to be good at news reporting is like learning to tap dance, says Lynne Hayes-Freeland, general assignment reporter at KDKA-TV. “You can work all day long on a story, and at 3 p.m., they don’t want the story anymore. You learn to roll with it. You never know where you’re going to end up.”
This flexibility worked in her favor throughout her career — like the one time the sky “opened up” while she and videographer Rob Hopson were reporting. They were four blocks from the truck and got soaked in the rainstorm. After a quick trip to K-Mart for dry clothes and a curling iron, they went live from the field.
Through these experiences, Hayes-Freeland has learned to expect the unexpected. So much she doesn’t even get nervous at work anymore, she just enjoys the adrenaline rush of getting a quote from a source outside of a courthouse or interviewing a guest on her show.
Her interest in the industry began while attending Duquesne University, originally as an accounting major. It wasn’t until she started dating a man who worked in radio that she realized what she felt passionate about: broadcast journalism. “I started hanging out at the radio station with him,” she says. “I changed my major to journalism with an emphasis in broadcast, and the rest is history.”
Hayes-Freeland has worked at KDKA since 1976 — as a producer for 15 years, a general assignment reporter, and basically fitting in wherever they need her. Every time she got an offer to go elsewhere, KDKA would match it or give her a better offer, she says. Pittsburgh has always been her home.
“I got married and had kids, and it seemed like it was a lot easier to stay here,” the Pittsburgh native says. “I have a support system here. We work odd shifts, odd hours — you name it, it pops up in this job. That support system is so important. Plus, there’s something really cool about living in your hometown.”
In addition to her work as a general assignment reporter, she also produces her own show, “The Lynne Hayes-Freeland Show.”
“It’s kind of interesting right now because in terms of being a minority-oriented public affairs show, [“The Lynne Hayes-Freeland Show”] is the only one,” she says. “All the other stations used to do them, but they eliminated them. In terms of news information discussion that is specifically geared towards the African-American community, this is really the only place where that happens on a regular basis.”
She says that issues that affect the African-American community are not isolated issues. They affect the broader community, so the show is for all audiences. “You have to be present to give a voice to people who wouldn’t otherwise have a voice,” she says. “Everybody has a story. There are not many outlets and vehicles for people to tell their story. For me, it’s a conversation. I want [viewers] to feel like they’re in my living room.”
The friendliness and positive rapport that Hayes-Freeland seems to have with just about everyone spreads right through the screen, too. Hopson even says videographers sometimes fight over who gets to go on an assignment with her. “They all love her.”
And they’re not the only ones. During our interview, KDKA-TV’s Dave Crawley, who sits one cubicle back from Hayes-Freeland’s, gets up and kisses Hayes-Freeland on the head.
“She’s the best,” he says. “She’s a great photographer, a great reporter, a great neighbor, and a great friend.”
Hayes-Freeland laughs, “I didn’t pay him to say that.”
For more on the “The Lynne Hayes-Freeland Show,” visit pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/show/lynne-hayes-freeland-show.