By day Mikala McGhee is a professional basketball player for the St. Louis Surge, practicing with the team, lifting, and getting shots up. By night she is a broadcast journalist for KTVI FOX 2/KPLR 11, traveling around the city, interviewing St. Louis community members, and sharing their stories.
McGhee’s life has come full circle after growing up in the St. Louis area, where starred as a three-sport athlete at Pattonville High School. McGhee finished her softball career with a .454 batting average, while in soccer, she received two-time All-Metro honors en-route to a spot on the St. Louis Post-Dispatch All-Decade First Team. Still, after scoring 1,647 points at Pattonville, best in school history, McGhee chose to pursue basketball in college at Missouri State and Florida Gulf Coast.
McGhee’s play earned her interest from the St. Louis Surge professional women’s basketball organization. In 2019, her first season with the Surge, the small forward averaged 6.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1 steal per game.
“Mikala’s energy is contagious,” says Khalia Collier, Surge Owner and General Manager. “She is a dynamic powerhouse that always works hard. She is someone you want on your team because she is going to push herself and everyone around her!”
But to pin down McGhee as merely an athlete doesn’t do her justice — and that starts with her job as a FOX 2/KPLR 11 reporter. We spoke with McGhee to learn more about her profession, how she got started, and how she handles life as a professional basketball player and reporter.
When did you first think of becoming a news reporter? Why?
When I was younger and thought about what I wanted to do when I “grow up” broadcasting was always on the horizon. I thought I would play in the WNBA or be a USA soccer player first, and then sports broadcasting would naturally follow as my career grew or started coming to end. I lost sight of that goal along the way once I realized the WNBA most likely wasn’t in my plans, so to be here working as a news reporter right now is a bit mind-blowing, but not surprising. The power of setting goals and working things into existence is real. I can see my news reporting turning into sports broadcasting at some point in my career.
How did you end up at Fox 2 and KPLR 11 in St. Louis?
Crazy story actually. I moved back home from Florida after finishing my master’s and did not really know which direction I wanted to take career-wise. I started substitute teaching. Then I got linked up with the Surge as a communications intern, which ended up leading to me serving duel roles as an intern and player. After the 2019 season ended I still just wasn’t comfortable committing to just any ole’ job. I wanted the job that would best suit my talents, would make me happy, and fulfill my passions. I went back to substitute teaching the following year and starting exploring options to play basketball overseas.
One day Rich Gould, my longtime neighbor, and sports anchor for KPLR 11 had me on his show to do an interview about the Surge. After that interview, he called me and said he thinks I would be a great sports reporter, that their station had an opening, and that he thinks I should apply. So, I applied. The interview went well, but at the end of the day, they told me no. They said they liked me but I just didn’t have the experience they were looking for. But they did offer me an internship. I did the internship for about 3 months and busted my butt just trying to learn how to make packages on my own, literally filming, writing, and editing everything on my own. About 2 months after my internship ended I got a call back from the station saying they had a part-time position open. I accepted. They called back the next day and said they actually have a full-time position that they would like to offer me, and of course… I accepted! Now I’m a full-time news reporter for the news station I watched growing up as a kid. It’s crazy how everything comes full circle.
How would you describe your job as a news reporter?
My job as a news reporter is adventurous, exciting, and a little unconventional. I get to travel to places all around the Greater St. Louis Metropolitan area, meet new people every day, build relationships, and tell people’s stories. Some days are harder than others, but I think that’s any job. What’s crazy is that I didn’t really know what being a reporter would truly be like. It’s not as glamorous as some people may think. We don’t get our hair and makeup done every day or have someone styling us. We all do our own hair, makeup, and buy our own clothes. You’re in the office for maybe 2 hours of your workday, and other than that, you’re working on the road and out of a news van. It’s actually pretty hilarious to me!
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When you love what you do it doesn’t really seem like work at all. 💕 My job has allowed me to meet and connect with so many people in St. Louis 📍 of different backgrounds, color, beliefs, statuses, journeys, visions, and goals. One thing they all have in common – a story. A story they desire to tell. A story I crave to hear and share with the world. 📝 I create genuine bonds with each and every single person I have worked with, and it has made my heart so full. ♥️ I love you all. I love @fox2now for giving me this opportunity. I’m so excited to continue to grow and learn. 😌✨ photo credit 📸: @elizabethdonielle
How do you find your stories?
Finding a story is the easy part. Once people know you work for the news a lot of people will pitch or share story ideas with you naturally. Stories are also submitted to our station through calls and emails that all reporters have access to for viewing. Also, a lot of reading! Reading different articles from different publications, Facebook posts, blogs, following up on a social media post from Twitter or Instagram. Sometimes you have to dig a little deeper to find the diamond in the rough, but there is always a story to be told.
What does a normal day look like for you?
A typical day for me usually looks like this: I wake up. Make breakfast. Read my Bible for 15 to 30 minutes and then check my emails. Go workout (shout out to our Surge trainer Carl Givens from Given100 for holding me accountable these days because quarantine definitely got me out of my normal workout regime!). Eat lunch. Go swimming for an hour or two. Get ready for work and then go do what I have to do to get the job done!
Has quarantine shifted your routine at all? How so?
The news never stops, so thankfully I have been able to keep my job during this pandemic which I know is an absolute blessing. So no, other than getting my out of the gym to lift and not being able to play pick up, it did not really change my routine.
How do you fit both basketball and reporting into your day?
You just do it. There is honestly no other option. I committed to both basketball and reporting, so it is my responsibility to uphold the standards put in place for me in both areas. I’m not saying it’s not hard! Some weeks I am better than others, but both make me happy, and when I commit to something I want to give it my all.
Do you ever notice crossovers in the jobs? How so?
In basketball and the news, you have to have extreme attention to detail and a “next play” mindset. If you make a mistake you have to recover quickly and always just come back better. I tell myself every morning that I need to be better today than I was yesterday.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I love spending time with my family and friends and just trying new things! I’ve been playing with different recipes in the kitchen and finding fun, active things to do. I go to the batting cages, TopGolf, the gun range, go on walks, swimming, and bonfires. I want to try ax throwing soon! Horseback riding and a river rafting trip could be in my near future as well. I just like to be outside and doing things! I also like to write and watch movies.