She Boss with Payton Walker

Megan: Hey guys, thank you so much for joining us for She boss today. We are tickled pink to be joined by one of our local She boss young ladies here, Payton Walker with Tennessee Valley living every day at 11 WAFF, tune in.

Payton: Weekdays, shameless plugging

Megan: It’s one of the best shows; we want to watch it all the time. Thank you so much for coming.

Payton: Thank you so much. I’m so honored. We’re going to have a fun conversation and I’m so excited.

Megan: Well, I love this so much because so many people get a chance to see you behind the camera and kind of do all the questioning and you have such a great opportunity to highlight so many amazing people here so we thought why not turn the tables.

Payton: I know this is weird for me. How do I sit? What do I do?

Megan: I know like, ‘what’s your good side? There are all good sides.’ Thank you so much for joining us. So, a lot of people get to see the stories that you tell on behalf of Tennessee Valley Living but you have such an amazing story as well. So why don’t you give us a little bit of background on you and how you got to where you are.

Payton: Yes, so I’m from Charlotte. I grew up there and went to the same school first through 12th grade so, shout out Charlotte Christian Go Knights, absolutely loved it, had a really sweet college preparatory experience. But career wise, people always ask, ‘When did you know what you wanted to do?’ And I actually started out doing my school’s broadcasting team in high school and just did it for fun, I say broadcasting team because it was kind of like school news but also this SNL factor into it as well. So, we would start out doing announcements and lunch menus and happy birthday to so and so. And then the rest of the show was skits with my friends, which was so fun. It aired on Fridays throughout the school and it was kind of an extracurricular class that I took. I didn’t think much about it. It was just like I love doing it. It was an extracurricular activity. At the time, I thought I was going to be a doctor which- LOL at that plan. But anyways, I was just doing it for fun. And I had a lot of teachers, they’d see me in the hallway, knew me and it was a small school but had seen me on the show and they said, ‘Have you thought about journalism, kind of pursuing broadcasting?’ and I was always like, ‘Oh no, thanks, it’s fine. I’m going to be a doctor.’

I just kept having similar experiences like that over and over again and I thought, ‘well I love doing this and people say I’m kind of good at it so maybe I should kind of look into it’. You know they say it’s kind of where your passion meets your talent, kind of where that intersects and might be something to look at career wise. So, sure enough right from then and there, I decided to go to school for broadcast journalism at Tennessee Chapel Hill so, Big Tar Heel, very much more into the basketball rivalry than I am the football but I’m getting used to that here in Alabama, but anyways, so I went to Chapel Hill.

Interestingly enough, I started out majoring in broadcast journalism right away. I started out though, doing sports in school, which is another LOL because when I tell you I play no sports at all. As tall as I am, people always like ‘basketball or volleyball’ and I’m like, ‘I did cheerleading and musical theater, so thank you’. But yeah, God wasted my height on me because I have no athletic bone in my body. So, we’re not covering sports, which was just such a joke because again, I cheered in high school. And when I told people I was our football and basketball rep, so I covered all of our football and basketball games, did coverage on the sidelines or courtside and post-game, player interviews, coach interviews, press conferences, all that. And when I tell you, I was a cheerleader in high school, I did not know whether to call offensive or defensive chips, like that’s how bad I was. And I remember telling my high school friends like, “Oh, I’m a basketball and football reporter” and they were like, “Huh?” So, I went to Barnes and Noble, I bought ‘Football for Dummies’, true, I legit bought ‘Football for Dummies’, and I read it. So, I started doing sports, which was so fun. I mean, if you know Carolina, you know just have fun. We are, especially in regards to sports, a really great environment. As I got into my junior and senior year, I was kind of like, ‘I probably need to look at news a little bit more, because I didn’t think I knew enough sports wise to really pursue that as a career. And I didn’t want to live in Bristol, Connecticut, which is where ESPN is based. So, I looked a little bit more news. And then upon graduation, I really wanted an anchor position and if you know anything about this industry, you get told, “You ain’t gonna get an anchor position right out of school, you gotta be a reporter first, you got to work the terrible hours…”

Megan: You have to pay your dues.

Payton: Right, you have to pay your dues, “…you’re gonna be covering the snow at three in the morning like that’s gonna be your life.” And I was like, “hmm okay”. I had professors tell me, “You’re not going to get an anchor position, just be prepared, you are not getting one.” And I was like, “okay”. But I sent out a reel. We had a talent recruiter come to the school and I said, “Look, I want an anchor position and I want to stay southeastern.” and he was like, “Okay, like we’ll see what happens.” I sent out my tape and sure enough, I had a few stations call, some for full time anchor positions, but they were in cities I didn’t really want to live in. Huntsville called and they said, “We’ll make you the weekend anchor and you’ll report three days a week.” And I said, “okay” because it was a city that I was excited about coming to. I had heard a little bit about it. It was relatively close being from Charlotte; I mean, it’s seven hours away, farther than what my family would have wanted as an only child and only grandchild that I am. But yes, I moved right here and been here ever since for three years. It’s been such a blessing.

Megan: So, you were able to start with WAFF as an honorary anchor right out of school?

Payton: Yes

Megan: That’s unheard of.

Payton: Yes, it was pretty unprecedented. My professors were really excited and my family was excited. And I started out, again, weekend anchor, reporting three days a week. I was doing the morning shift, though, which was not ideal.

Megan: The morning shift is hard.

Payton: It’s 3am to noon. It’s hard. I was Wednesday through Sunday. So, it was working terrible hours and I was covering crime and hard news and things I didn’t love. I’ve always been a happy, fun, sweet, news person. It was hard. It was really hard. I mean, the things that I had to see. And some people love being in the heat of the action, they love getting all the details, being in the courtroom. I would be in the courtroom and I’d be like, “I can’t believe this is happening”, like so sad.

Megan: You get so emotionally tired.

Payton: Yes, I get so emotionally tired, and those things really weigh on me. Sometimes, people can hear a story and they’re like, “Okay, that’s my job for the day” then I’ll go home and I’ll think about it and I’ll be like, “I can’t believe this happened.”, things like that. So, I’ll bet to be said I was still paying my dues, like you said, and then one day, my boss called, and she said, “We’re getting a lifestyle show.” We didn’t have one. She said, “We’re getting a lifestyle show. It’s going to be fun, light hearted, restaurants to check out, family events, concerts, celebrities, it’ll be Monday through Friday and we want you to host it.” And I was like, “Won’t the good Lord do it?” I mean, I was so shocked. People actually thought this lifestyle show was my idea. They thought that I fought for it. I was like, “We need lifestyle.” I did not, I was just doing my job. And my boss called said, “We’re getting lifestyle, we want you to host it.” And I was like, “Praise the Lord.” I was so excited and so honored. To your point in terms of being so unprecedented, I remember I called my daddy and I said, “I’m gonna be the host of this lifestyle show.”, which was Monday through Friday, I had work eight to five, by the way, which previously as I said, I was working Wednesday through Sunday, 3am to noon.

So, when I had this new, weekday 11am hour, lifestyle show, I called my parents and my daddy was like, “Do they? Do they know you’re 23? Like, do they know that or do they think you graduated before?”

Megan: Did you get a fake ID?

Payton: Yes, I was, “I’m assuming they know.” I literally was like, ‘Do they know?’ Because the first stop. There’s my first stop here in Huntsville. I was a year and a half in being an anchor on the weekends and again, the Lord just blessed me with a weekday lifestyle show doing what I love. Now, it’s just fun and sweetness, celebrities and just fun, cool stuff that I love and I’m so grateful for.

Megan: So, that’s pretty awesome. So, I thought maybe you were behind the idea for it. You know what, though? What you put out; you get back. So, I mean, obviously, you brought a lot of great talent to the station. And maybe they recognized that, ‘hey, this would actually make a great fit, now is the time’. So, tell us about how things came to be with Tennessee Valley living because I mean, WAFF is doing something with the show and you guys are doing something with the show that nobody else is doing here. So, talk to us a little bit about what the role you guys have in the community. I mean, what sort of stories do you get a chance to-?

So, I mean, it was really fun because again, it hadn’t been done at our station, it hadn’t been done in the market. I mean, like you said, we don’t have any other lifestyle shows in any of our competitors’ stations. So, it was really kind of this blank canvas and it was exciting to think about what it’s going to look like and kind of overwhelming. Like, what are we doing? You know, I mean, I was all for it. But it was really just, again, just this blank page. And soPayton: So, I mean, it was really fun because again, it hadn’t been done at our station, it hadn’t been done in the market. I mean, like you said, we don’t have any other lifestyle shows in any of our competitors’ stations. So, it was really kind of this blank canvas and it was exciting to think about what it’s going to look like, and kind of overwhelming, like, what are we doing? I mean, I was all for it but it was really just this blank page.

Megan: And when did you say it started?

Payton: We started January of 2021. It’ll be our second year in January, which is so crazy.

Megan: I feel like it’s been around longer than that but in the best way.

Payton: Yes, it’s been crazy to me, stuff that I think about now and being like, it’s only two years old, which is just so great. The community has been so supportive. I mean, I’ll tell people whenever they stop me in the grocery store, whatever, I think sometimes they think like, ‘Do we say something? Do we talk to her?’ I’m like, “Yes, please say something. I’m so glad you love it. Thank you so much.” I mean it’s never ever a bother; I love that people love it and it’s just been so sweet to see how it’s taken off. So, we knew it was going to be an hour long, it was going to be weekdays and we focused on local, local businesses and local leaders, but also some national headlines. I mean, celebrity news and things of that nature and consumer news and new Oreo flavors to try out and what things are hitting the shelves and things like that. But we’ve really focused on the local and business leaders and just heart heartwarming stories of friendships that have formed that you wouldn’t have thought or this kid made the basketball team and here’s why that’s special and sweet. So, it’s really great. Again, local in Huntsville is such a great community to start that, the whole of North Alabama, really, but it’s been really great to highlight that.

Megan: So, I want to talk a bit more about the show and some of the ideas that you guys come up with in a second. But talk a little bit about being a woman in broadcast journalism, because you’ve had your fair share of challenges. I would imagine getting to this point, being told that you won’t get an anchor job right out of school and things of that. So, just kind of talk about the journey a little bit and maybe for anybody who has interest in going into broadcast journalism, maybe what some advice would be.

Payton: Yes, I would say, initially just getting to know people, right? I’m a firm believer that every single person has a story. I think that’s one of the biggest challenges as a journalist. The reporters’ space is like, ‘there’s nothing going on today like, I don’t have a story’ and I’m like, ‘everybody has a story’. The lady working at Publix has a story. It might not initially seem like that but she does because every person is uniquely and wonderfully made. They have a story to tell and it’s our job to get to meet them and find out what that is. So, that just comes with talking to people. I think sometimes people think I’m weird because I’m the first one to be like, ‘Hey, how’s it going?’ People are like, ‘Why is she speaking to me?’ And I’m like, ‘Why would I not? You’re standing right here?’ But all that to be said, getting to know people and as far as my personal journey, I will say I worked really hard on the front end, which is not to say that you can’t find your dream career later in life. I look back at my high school career and be like, ‘girl, you were crazy.’ Like, I mean, when I was class president French club and student ambassador.

Megan: Doing all sorts of things

Payton: Oh, yes, I was that girl and I look back being like, ‘oh, sweetie girl’. But I really think I put in that kind of work on the front end in high school to where I got to college. I thought college was easy, which was such a blessing because I know people say it was hard. But I put in so much work that I thought college was kind of a breeze and then even now, my job is fine. I’m so blessed and so grateful because I certainly know that’s not everybody’s journey. But yes, putting the work on the front end and just like I said, getting to know people because everybody’s got something to tell and I’m honored when I get to learn people’s stories.

Megan: So, would you say you have a knack or something that you do to pull something out of someone that maybe would be more difficult because sometimes it’s hard for people to talk?

Payton: It is. I’d say first and foremost, don’t ask yes or no questions.

Megan: Open ended questions

Payton: Yes, and you say, ‘And how did you do that? And why and how does this make you feel?’ Don’t be like, ‘So, do you like the new Oreo flavor? The worst is with kids, like, ‘Are you excited to be here tonight?’ ‘Yes’. I’m like, ‘Excellent’.

Megan: It’s going to be hard.

Payton: So yes, rule out the yes or no questions. I think though, if anything, just doing your best to have a personality, make them feel comfortable and just be like, ‘hey’. I mean, like you when I sat down, you were like, “Just look at me, we’re still talking” I was like yes, we just sit and talk. I think that’s so big. If you are yourself, people are more inclined to be themselves. You create an atmosphere for how people are going to respond. I mean, I experienced that on the show, we sit the guests down during the commercial break, and I can either tell, this is going to be great, or she’s going to be stressed, which is fine. I mean, it’s live TV so I get it and I’m like, ‘sis, hey, just pretend like we’re on the couch in the living room, just talking. So, I do think whatever kind of demeanor you can dictate for yourself that certainly translates well to other people as well.

Megan: So, tell me about a time when maybe you had a guest on that- don’t give me the name, of course.

Payton: Oh, sure.

Megan: I would love to hear about an experience that you guys have had whether it be live or not that was a total nightmare, lesson learned, maybe and moving forward, don’t do X or don’t do Y. And then also, too, I’d love to hear about some of the stories that you’ve had a chance to tell that blew your mind.

Payton: So, I’m trying to think as far as interesting guest interviews, it’s funny, we get some people, we’ll wrap up a conversation and then they’ll say, “Was that live? And I’m like, “Sir, yes, we literally told you in the email in bold.” It is so funny, as many emails as you’ll send people do not read their emails. Read your emails, that is my message here. Read your emails because we will say, “Hello, this will be an in studio, all caps, live interview, please come prepared. And they’ll just be like, ‘okay’, and I’m like, ‘what?’, that’s always interesting. We did an interview one time and I said, “So, tell us about this great event.” And she just said, “Well, I sent you an email about it. Did you get it?” And I’m like, “Ma’am, I got the information but our viewers probably need it.” She was sweet. It’s always funny and I think if anything, it keeps you on your toes as an interviewer of just like, roll with the punches and make light of things and just have fun. I mean, even if somebody does say something. Again, I think the ultimate goal is helping them feel comfortable. I mean, I, as a viewer, whenever I see something on the network, if this situation happens, I’m like, “Oh, well”, because it happens. It’s live. It’s live TV, I think I’ve kind of personally taken this motto. I told myself that I was going to live ‘live’, right? Like live ‘live’, like if this isn’t prerecorded, this is not constant rehearse, it’s just like, you make a mistake, like, ‘okay, there’s no cut and edit and do it again, you’ve got to live ‘live’. You’ve got to keep going, and tomorrow will be better, hopefully, if not, maybe the next day and just live every day as it is. So, guests are sweet and great and it’s always a fun experience as far as like big wow, standout moments. Dolly Parton was probably the icon of my career.

Megan: I was going to ask you about Dolly Parton.

Payton: I honestly sat there and I was like, “I’m done here. I can retire. I don’t have anything else to do.” So, so great.

Megan: Tell us about that. How did that come about? How did you line that up?

Payton: Well, I really have to shout out one of our TV show producers, Anna, she had built up a really great rapport with just one of the team members there. We had done a lot previously on Dolly Woods, Spring Break and Dollywood Christmas, and this and that and we had always done interviews with a Dollywood rep, promoting the theme park. So, based on that report, we had a representative reach out and say, “Hey, Dolly is gonna be here for a big-” I think it was a spring break reveal at that point. It was in March. “She’s gonna be here for a big Dolly Woods open for spring break. We’re only inviting a few stations to come. We’d be honored if you came up from Huntsville.” And we were like, “Yes, we’ll be there.” So, it was so exciting, us, we were just so in shock.

Megan: I wouldn’t even know what to say.

Payton: Literally, I was like, what do I even like- what I literally remember, I think I actually sat down and I told her I was like, “What do you ask an icon right in seven minutes?” And I said that I thought about it and I had researched some questions but it was so crazy, because that was another thing too, I had been told we have seven minutes.

Megan: Oh, my goodness,

Payton: Seven minutes, the station got seven minutes and that’s always kind of a hard ballpark to be in, because you never know how long she’s going to talk for any guests. I don’t know if she’s going to take four minutes on the first answer and then I had to adjust my questions. So, I think I had a plan A and a plan B, like if she talks long, I’ll go with this. If she doesn’t talk long enough, I’ll ask these questions and kind of have different maps and whatever routed out. But, at that same time, I sat down. She’s so great, so sweet.

Megan: She’s an interviewer too.

Payton: Yes, so she’s got it and I’ll say too, her staff was so incredible. I think that speaks a lot to an artist too when they have a really great team. We walked in and they could have easily been like, ‘sit here seven minutes’, but they were like, ‘Sit down, we’ll adjust your shot.’ They took our photo; they were just a really kind team to work with. And we sang ‘Jolene’ together at the end when we wrapped up. I was like, “Can we sing ‘Jolene’? and she just goes, “Jolene” and everybody was like, “What is happening?” but it was so fun. So now, I’ve sang ‘Jolene’ with Dolly Parton, that’s fine. It was so crazy.

Megan: You can say that.

Payton: It was such an incredible experience for sure.

Megan: I bet. Okay, so who other would you say is up there as far as interviews that were just-?

Payton: Yes, we spoke with Walker Hayes. He was really fun. I made a TikTok. I feel like I have this bucket list almost at this point, like, sing ‘Jolene’ with Dolly Parton, okay, make a TikTok with Walker Hayes, great. I’m trying to think of all these fun celebrity interactions we can have. Walker Hayes is really fun. Thomas, Rhett, we spoke with him. He was great. Kenan Thompson was like one of our very first celebrity interviews, so sweet, from SNL and so he was great. Oh, Candace Cameron Bure, I love her, I absolutely love her. She is so great. We interviewed her ahead of the Christmas Hallmark movie, of all things. So, of course, she’s the queen of Christmas, so I chatted with her. I also spoke a lot about her faith. She’s really passionate about living her life for Jesus, even in Hollywood, which I think is really rare and she had also written a really beautiful Christmas Devotional at that time so we chatted about that. I remember she posted it on her Instagram story. And I was like, “Oh my goodness”. I had people who just followed Candace Cameron being like, “You’re on Candice Cameron’s Instagram.” and I was like, “Oh my goodness.” I was so excited. I found out on a Saturday morning and called our producer, Anna. But she was really great too, a few highlights, just they’re all great honestly.

Megan: So, do you have anybody on your bucket list to come on, like, oh man, if we could land-?

Payton: Well, when I tell you in high school. They didn’t call me Payton Walker, the Bieber stalker for nothing. I was very much obsessed with Justin. I don’t even know if I can do it. If Anna looked at me and was like we’ve booked Justin Bieber for next week. I think I’d be like, ‘We gotta get somebody else, I can’t do it. I can’t do it.’ I will say my obsession’s gotten better as I’ve gotten older. I mean, he’s still great. I’m not as into it as what I was when I was 13.

Megan: Is it official though? Do you have Bieber fever?

Payton: Oh, yes, I believe so, a thousand percent. Like I said, when I was 12,13, I was very much into it now, I’m like, ‘okay, he’s great’.

Megan: You’re like, ‘yeah sure’.


Payton: It’s fine. I’m totally normal, totally normal.

Megan: It’s just a different level of fever.

Payton: Yes, it’s different now. So, I’m like, okay, but when I was 12 it was a lot.

Megan: I get it. I get it. That’s hysterical. There are a lot of people who still have the Bieber fever.

Payton: Yes, for sure.

Megan: It’s just in a different way, now the children are older.

Payton: Yes, they might not want to come out and say that.  When I was in high school, that SNL team I was on, I made a video just about how obsessed- I had just got to his concert and I made a video talking about my experience and just how great it was and it kind of went viral like in Charlotte. I remember I pulled up to a Chick fil A and this girl hands me my milkshake and she goes, “Are you that Bieber girl that’s on- that’s on YouTube?” And I was like, “yes”.

Megan: You were like, “oh yeah”

Payton: I would go to other schools- I was like, “That’s me, you need me to sign a napkin or something? That’s me. I’m Payton Walker the Bieber Stalker”. I’d go to other schools when I was cheerleading and kids at the other school would be like, “Are you Payton Walker, the Bieber Stalker ?” and I was like, “yes”. So, good times, Justin, if you ever see this, hey.

Megan: I’m sure he watches She boss.

Payton: He definitely does.

Megan: We’ll do everything we can to make sure he gets the message.

Payton: We will tweet at him and all the things, so great.

Megan: It’s hysterical; it makes me laugh. I love it though. So, are you into Taylor Swift? I got to ask. Are you a Swifty?

Payton: Again, Justin was really the biggest. I mean other celebrities, I’m like, fine. I’m not a huge Swifty, I mean, she’s great. Taylor, hey. I mean, if Justin watches it, I’m sure Taylor is going to see it too.

Megan: Oh, for sure, she definitely watches it.

Payton: So, hey, girl, you’re great.

Megan: I know she cannot see but we have a running list of which album or which song on the list of the latest album was the best?

Payton: She’s going on that tour, the whole Revival tour.

Megan: Everybody is well aware. Yes, I’m sure the internet will break down this Friday, is that when they go on sale?

Payton: Yes, pre sales, we’ll fact check.

Megan: It’s going to be huge but she’s not coming to Orion, forget that.

Payton: I know, I think Atlanta and Nashville.

Megan: She will get close. So, a fun fact, not a lot of people know that you are a former beauty queen, and spent your adolescent years kind of doing some pageants. So, tell us about that and honestly, I think that sometimes pageants can get a bad rep, which is not the case. We were talking about this before and I completely agree with you. They helped to really build confidence, leadership skills and public speaking skills. So, talk a little bit about just that influence on you.

Payton: So, I’m so grateful for my experience. My mother had done pageants as well in and around that age, I didn’t do them until I was about 14,15, so, kind of a teenager, I didn’t do the toddler experiences or anything like that. That 14,15 age is so pivotal, because like you said, I mean, it’s an age where we are learning more about public speaking and things of that nature. I remember I started my very first pageant, and I remember everybody was saying, like, ‘You’re not going to win-’ same thing, like you’re not going to be a news anchor, ‘you’re not gonna win your first pageant’, right out the gate. I was competing, actually, against a girl who had gotten first runner up at Miss North Carolina previously, so it was kind of this big, like, she’s kind of going to win it.

Megan: You got to lower your expectations.

Payton: In a way like, you can always do another, but it’s okay. And I won that first one. And I remember everyone was like, ‘Who is this?’ You know how Facebook was? I mean, it was like, 2012, Facebook was really popping, people were all like, ‘Who is this new girl? So, that was a sweet experience. My time throughout the program was so great, because like you said, you really do get to learn how to carry yourself, how to answer- I mean, I was getting asked intense onstage questions at 14, how would you handle this situation at your school and why and just learning how to speak well in front of audiences, I think it’s so crucial and so beneficial for girls, especially at that age. Philanthropy is a big part of it. I mean, I was volunteering at children’s hospitals and doing parades downtown and things like that, which was also so fun and it’s a scholarship program. Many people don’t realize that the Miss America organization is the biggest scholarship provider for women so, really grateful in that regard. But, again, it’s just such an experience, a little eighth grader me being interviewed by six adults and name female candidates that could become president if you didn’t know your stuff too it was like, ‘oh, sis’. You got to be up on current events. So it just really does a great job, I think, of creating a well-rounded version of yourself, not to force you to be anything by any means, but it’s just a learning experience. I think everybody can benefit from speaking in public settings and being aware of current issues and having a cause that you’re passionate about. I had my own philanthropic cause that I did a lot of work for, really great. I’m super grateful.

Megan: So, I was curious about that, because one of the things that you were passionate about that you talked about was pediatric brain cancer, right? So, did you have personal experience with that?

Payton: So, one of my close childhood friends ended up passing away from diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, which is a tumor on the brain stem. It’s completely inoperable. It’s incredibly rare, if you get diagnosed, you don’t survive. So, I just watched her go through that experience, and our families had been so close, we were church friends, I was 12 and she was seven. So, I had kind of been her pseudo babysitter for a little while, we just watched their family go through that. I can’t even think of the word. I mean, it’s traumatic in so many ways, but the way that her family clung to their faith and clung to Jesus was inspiring to us. So, after that, I really got really involved in that mission, because there is no cure, there’s still no cure. Again, just based on where it is, you just can’t operate on that part of the brain but we can do all we can to raise money for research and be supportive for their families and hopefully help out one day.

Megan: And there’s a lot that that effort can help just in helping them be comfortable during that time too. That was one of the things, Ciera Elledge was on here, did She boss a couple of months ago, and she’s very passionate about women’s gynecological cancers, and ovarian cancer and things like that. So, it’s amazing that you can pick something like that as a platform when you’re doing pageants and the philanthropic aspect, as you mentioned, as well as the scholarship aspect. It’s huge.

Payton: Yes, like I said, it’s such a young age too, and it was so pivotal, and really made me part of the person I am.

Megan: Well, you know that’s great awareness for you to get at that young age, devastating to go through as a friend, and especially someone that you cared for. But I think at a young age, going through things like that really opened your eyes to understanding how critical life is and how important the small things are that make a difference. So, Tennessee Valley Living, you’ve done an amazing job with this show, as we’ve mentioned before, you and WAFF, you guys have definitely brought this spotlight on to the local community that nobody else is really doing. And we work with a lot of different clients and some of them understand how critical and important local TV is and what you guys are doing is just amazing.

Payton: Thank you

Megan: So, yes, I love it. So, I mean, it’s one of these things where you’re able to show the untold stories of our communities that not a lot of people get a chance to see. So, what’s kind of coming down the pipeline with Tennessee Valley Living, anything in particular that you’re super excited about?

Payton: Well, I will say every day is so just fun and creative and sometimes we just have to roll with the punches last minute, I think sometimes more than what people realize but it is live TV, and sure enough people do call in and say, “I’m sick” or somebody called and said, “I just had a grand baby at the hospital and I’m not going to make it.” and I was like, “You go on.” A lot of it is pre planned to whatever extent it can but at the same time, it is live and we just have to roll with it, whether that’s NBC breaking in for a special report, we just have to roll with the punches. But as far as what is coming up, oh, my goodness, it’s always so fun. I mean, like I said, I don’t know when this is going to air but I do a Christmas pajama party every year which I’m super excited about where I wear my pajamas on set, because why not? And we encourage y’all to send in your pictures of you tuning in and your Christmas pajamas. So that’s always fun. We’ll be celebrating our two-year anniversary in January, which is so crazy. It’s like our little project baby is turning two so it’s been really great. We did a really fun one-year anniversary special last year, but can’t believe it’s been two years. Sometimes I’m like, ‘I can’t believe it’s only two years.’ And I’m like, I also can’t believe it’s already been two years. It’s kind of these two different perspectives of time flies, but also, look how much we’ve gotten to do and see and experience just in that short time.

Megan: And being able to show all of these stories of the community that maybe not a lot of people get a chance to see right so who is ideal for Tennessee Valley Living? What are some of the ideal segments that you guys really want to make that show all about?

Payton: I think a lot of it is local businesses. I think anytime there’s an entrepreneur who’s like, ‘I had this idea and I’m bringing it to the community that”, people really love that and get inspired by that. On that kind of same idea, we have local musicians, people putting out new content into the world from that end, we do products; also, people with real life stories. I mean, we spoke with one woman who had been in a terrible car accident had a brain injury and was in a coma for- goodness, I forget how long and now she is a school teacher and teaches kids about, in the chance that you experience hardship in this life, here’s how we can overcome it together. And so, people and just real life, people that encourage people in a really unique way, we have one girl, Kaitlin Chapell Rogers, who I’ll shout out, she kind of started out in the news industry. Now, she’s really built up a really great social media platform, but she’s all about keeping it real and being like, ‘let me tell you what my kid did today and here’s why’. And so, I think that’s really another part of what we try to do is be real, be authentic. I tried to do that and my presentation skills because I think news anchors get very like, ‘This just in, tonight this is happening’ (mimics news anchors’ voice). And it’s like, no one talks like that. So, I really tried to be like, ‘hey good morning, what’s going on?’ like, ‘let’s just sit on the couch and have our coffee together.’

Megan: I see women who do that, they flip flop and they will do it to talk about like their kids.

Payton: That’s right I’m sitting here with Megan for the She boss interview (mimics news anchors’ voice) it’s like why do we all of a sudden- what’s in our noses?

Megan: I was going to ask you that like is that a thing?

Payton: It is but I don’t know why. I would watch other- even sometimes at a network level and I am not trying to diss anybody specifically, but I’m just like, no one speaks like that so I don’t know why we just assume that’s a natural way to talk on air.

Megan: I have always wondered that, if you needed to sound more unlike a real person.

Payton: No, whoever told you that is wrong.

Megan: I greatly appreciate the fact that you are you because I think that’s what our community has fallen in love with.

Payton: To be fair, I really don’t know how to be any other way. Our staff say that they sometimes get asked like, “Is she really liked the way that she is-”, they are like, “Yes, she knows no other-”. I mean, I’ll say whatever is funny and silly so most people are like, ‘please stop’ to whatever extent that looks like but it’s fun. I just try to be real. One thing I will say, I think sometimes people don’t realize is, the studio is just me in there, we don’t have a crew or anybody. All of our cameras are robots now so it’s literally just me looking into this lens and I just view it as if I’m just talking to you. Like we’re just hanging out and then I’m like, ‘Hey, did you hear?’ It’s always funny to see even to like, sometimes the way reporters will write stories and will be like, ‘police wrangled the reptile on the interstate’ and I’m like, ‘huh huh, cops found this gator on the street and it was whack let me tell you that. You know what I mean?

Megan: You just have to have a newscast that’s not so newsy.

Payton: Exactly because I do think if we were sitting over coffee, do you think I would say, ‘officers wrangled the seven-foot reptile’ (mimics news anchors’ voice). I will be like, “Girl, there was this alligator on 565, it was insane.”

Megan: So, you need the news cast without the news undertones?

Payton: Correct, if you wouldn’t say it that way to your friend, why are you saying it that way to all your viewers who are like your friends? You wouldn’t so I think that’s a little bit of a different avenue I think that our TV is taking because it is lifestyle, we can joke or whatever that looks like, it’s a little bit more relaxed because I think that’s what people want to feel like we’re friends and we are just hanging out, which we are.

Megan: Right, if you’re telling me a story, I’m going to be like, that’s not a story for me. I am not going to be able to relate. So, you got to live ‘live’.

Payton: Live ‘live’

Megan: Live ‘live’. Exactly, you heard it here first. Don’t sound like someone else. Payton, thank you so much.

Payton: Thank you

Megan: So, Payton you can see her Tennessee Valley Living, a phenomenal show.

Payton: Shameless plug

Megan: I know but She boss is a huge fan of what you guys are doing and a huge fan of WAFF too. I mean, they’re one of the staples here in our community doing great things so their entire team is amazing. So, support local TV, of course if nothing else, make sure you tune into Tennessee Valley Living.

Payton: Oh, my goodness, you all are so sweet. We love you all. We love She boss and all that Flourish does. You’ve cultivated such a great agency here and we are honored to be a part.

Megan: Thank you so much.