We are shining the #Spotlight on Channel Two News Reporter, Erica Brecher. She’s been in Buffalo for almost three years – and it seems like a perfect fit. Being a television reporter is not nearly as glamorous as people seem to think – but, it is an interesting job for sure.
I’m going to be honest here and say that I rarely watch local news anymore – just no time and lets face it, the television is never on what I want it on! That said, I have seen some of Erica’s work and she seems like a smart, feisty, and fun reporter. It was her story with Joyful Rescues that caught my attention, so I reached out and asked her some of our favorite questions. So, here you go!
Q: I guess I’ll start with welcome to Buffalo! We’ve never met – I was gone by the time you came. So, how do you like it here?
A: You and I missed each other by a mere month or so, I’m told! I absolutely love Buffalo. I could have never guessed I’d end up here, but I’m glad fate picked a city I enjoy so much. I feel like I fit in, and I think everything about Buffalo is awesome from its diverse and amazing food to its gorgeous architecture. Also, frankly, the low cost of living is a huge plus; for anyone who still believes reporters live a glamorous life- we don’t.
Q: Where are you from? What’s your story?
A: I grew up in Randolph, New Jersey, which is in Northern NJ, about 45 minutes west of New York City. It’s about six hours from Buffalo. That’s where my dad, brother, and most of my relatives still live. My life since graduating high school has basically been a northwest journey. I went to Penn State for broadcast journalism, and the program prepared me extremely well for the business. From there, I got my first TV job in Elmira! I was an on-air reporter at 22 years old, and eventually I was promoted to weekend anchor. I worked there for two years. Then one day on a whim, I applied for an open position at WGRZ, a wonderful man named Jeff Woodard called me to invite me up for an interview, and the rest is history.
Q: I hear through the grapevine that you’re planning a wedding!! Congratulations! How’s that going? (Are you a bridezilla – lol)
A: Thank you!!! Yes I am, and we are two months out from the big day! I’m getting married near home, BUT, I am excited to share that we are having Buffalo crunch rolls, Flying Bison Rusty Chain, and Fowler’s sponge candy at the wedding! We incorporated some other subtler Buffalo things, too: We’re having a nautical-themed wedding, so we had our engagement pictures done at Erie Basin Marina and the Naval Park, and our invitations were designed locally by Rust Belt Love. I am the opposite of a bridezilla, and I think it genuinely scares some of my family how calm I’ve remained haha. Yes, we took a little too long to get some of the planning done, but everything is coming together, and it’s going to be awesome. I refuse to sweat the small stuff. It’s going to be the best day of my life, no matter what.
Q: Your fiancé is competition (Channel 4 Meteorologist, Andrew Baglini) so to speak – what’s that like?
A: Our relationship has been public since Andrew was hired at WIVB, and Buffalo News reporter Alan Pergament pieced it together in a news article introducing Andrew to Western New York. It was honestly funny, and it was nice to see positive reaction to us as a couple, so we’ve just embraced it ever since, including when we tweeted our engagement. What I can say is this: I am happy he does weather, and I do news. I think it would be awkward in a childish, giggly kind of way if we were running into each other on stories. I’m very thankful that my colleagues and supervisors have been supportive of our relationship. Love over competition. He is so smart and talented, and I am infinitely proud of the work he does, even if it is at Channel 4. 😉
Q: Is Buffalo different than you thought it might be? If yes, how so?
A: Buffalo is BETTER than I thought it would be. The last time I was in Buffalo before moving here was in 2010, pre-Canalside, pre-Delaware North, pre-Harborcenter, pre-EVERYTHING, and it honestly seemed depressing. I moved here at the perfect time because I got to see it all built right before my very eyes, and it was exciting to be here for it, and maybe in a small way, have a part in it. 🙂
Q: Isn’t my pal Heather Ly just the sweetest?
A: True story: When I decided to apply for a job at WGRZ, I thought it was in my best interest to contact someone who already worked here and get the scoop from him or her. So I went to the WGRZ “Team Bio” web page, and I thought Heather had the friendliest looking face, so I chose her to e-mail. Just because of her face. HAHA. It worked out! In all seriousness, Ly is awesome, and without a doubt one of our most down-to-earth, REAL people. She’s hilarious, she’s always up for getting a drink with you, and she’s so good to me that she came to my wedding dress fitting since none of my female relatives are here in Buffalo. Heather is a doll, and I’m lucky to work with her. Fun fact: Ly makes ninja-shaped gingerbread cookies for the entire newsroom every Christmas.
Q: You recently took a trip with the folks from Joyful Rescues and your report was really great. What was that like and how did it impact you?
A: I have always been an animal lover, so this story was perfect for me, and I thank my colleague Maria Sisti for suggesting it. I also believe in the mantra “adopt, don’t shop.” It’s important for people to see how many animals are suffering without homes and at risk of euthanasia so that they can understand and see for themselves how adopting a shelter pet TRULY saves a life. Traveling three days for this story made me appreciate rescuers even MORE than I already did because they dedicate ALL of their time to saving animals. And yes, the puppies and cats are cute…but they’re also quite smelly. And messy. And that 10 hour car ride with 17 dogs making some very smelly messes, to say it politely, and it is one example of the not-so-fun parts of rescue work. It’s hard, and people like my new friend Susan at Joyful Rescues, and my good friend Chris at Heart Animal rescue (where I volunteer) deserve all the credit in the world, because I don’t think I would have the wherewithal to do it.
Q: What is your favorite story you’ve done?
A: -Gee, that’s the toughest question you’ve asked so far. I’ll name a few that come to mind: I traveled with veterans on an Honor Flight to D.C. when I was still in Elmira. It was incredibly rewarding. I’m sure you can imagine why; that was a powerful story. A veteran who was a sniper in Vietnam told me he was afraid to tell his father what he did because the Bible says “Thou shall not kill.”
-The Joyful Rescues story was awesome for all the reasons I’ve already stated above.
-A lesser known story, I got to do a report with Maksym Sugorovskiy’s family. That’s the little boy who died in the car accident at Delaware Park. His family started a foundation in his memory, and gifted an adaptive bike to another boy with special needs. I am awed by his parents’ strength. Mary and Wally are amazing (and the story rhymes, you should check it out: http://www.wgrz.com/news/parents-who-lost-son-gift-bike-to-family/353171220).
-I LOVE weather reporting, so “Snowvember” was one of those insane adrenaline-type experiences. Working 14-hour days out in that snow…telling MANY stories…is something I’ll remember and talk about for the rest of my life.
-And finally, I got to do a story on Zach Anner, the local funny guy with Cerebral Palsy who’s hilarious attitude toward life has made him both a famous author and internet celebrity. There’s another person who overcomes obstacles with an incredible attitude. He made me laugh so much, and he’s awesome. I guess you can say I like the stories that show the strength of people and communities who overcome challenges in a big and inspiring way.
Q: Favorite thing about Buffalo?
A: Food. Done. Also living on a giant lake with beautiful sunsets is pretty freaking cool, too.
Q: What do you think makes you totally Buffalo?
A: I think I’m totally Buffalo because I dove right into the culture. I go to Sabres games. I love wings. I own too many 26 Shirts designs to count. I’ve walked in the St. Patrick’s Day parade. I’ve worn shorts when it’s 40 degrees. I snowboard at Holiday Valley. I’ve played pond hockey. I embrace the lifestyle because I honestly love it. The best part is that I don’t feel like an outsider; I feel like I fit in. I feel like a Buffalonian, and I am a proud Buffalonian. Hell yeah.
Like I said, seems like the perfect fit! Thanks for your time, Erica and good luck at your wedding! We can’t wait to see the pictures!!
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