Wendy Garner is a household name in Birmingham and beyond, having been on television in central Alabama for the past 20 years as a news anchor, reporter and morning show host. Wendy has a passion for sharing people’s stories and continues to do just that with her new venture, Wendy Garner Media & Marketing. Today, we welcome Wendy as our FACES of Birmingham feature.
Where did you grow up? And what brought you to Birmingham?
I grew up in Palm Beach County, FL. My early years were in Boca Raton. I went to middle and high school in Delray Beach. I guess I wanted to get away for college. (Ten hours to be exact!) I have an aunt who is an Auburn graduate, and I remember visiting as a small child. When I visited again years later, I absolutely loved it. The rest, as they say, is history. I married a boy from Opelika, and after living in Tuscaloosa and Montgomery, we put down roots in Birmingham in 1996.
We’ve missed seeing you on TV. Tell us what you are up to now.
After 20 years in the business, I was ready for a change. I really wanted to be more in control of my own schedule and to be more available for my family. I’ve started my own business, Wendy Garner Media & Marketing, and am doing PR, as well as producing videos for web and social media. My favorite part of my job in TV was sharing people’s stories, and that’s exactly what I’m doing. I’ve had the privilege these last several months of representing some incredible clients with great stories to share. Any given day I may spend writing press releases and reaching out to friends in the media on behalf of my clients, or I may be shooting, hosting, producing and editing a video. I’m also working part-time in the Communications Department at Children’s of Alabama. I’m very grateful for the experience I’ve had in television. It’s taught me a lot about the value of hard work, being punctual with deadlines, creativity and an ability to take on so many varied roles.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
As a mother, I’m constantly doling it! A couple that I harp on consistently with my kids is to make good choices and to be kind. I tell my boys all of the time, “I don’t want you to be popular, I want you to be kind.” I seek my husband’s opinion and maybe one or two close friends, but other than that, I think living for approval from others is a dangerous place. If we know where we stand before the Lord, we can be confident in our choices and focus more on sharing His love with others instead of needing approval from them.
How do you balance your job and your personal life?
I absolutely love working, but my family is my priority. There. That’s my balance! Ha! OK, I’ll say a little more. My husband Tim has an incredibly strong work ethic and has always been very supportive of me working. He made many sacrifices in order for me to do so. For years, when I anchored the morning news and the boys were little, we called him the “breakfast man.” It was his responsibility to get the boys ready and fed everyday. Once when I was hosting the morning show on WDJC radio, he and the boys, who were probably 6 and 4 years old, called in on the air and serenaded me (to the tune of Ray Charles) “I got a mama way across town … who’s good to me!” I’m very blessed to have a strong support system.
What has been your biggest blooper on TV?
Why do you have to go there!?? Just kidding. I have several, including my first live shot, which was a jittery mess. But probably my classic blooper was while anchoring the midday news, I had a coughing fit while on the air. As in (and I’m serious!) the words I managed to get out were, “Hello. I’m Wendy Garner (cough cough cough) … ” and we went to break. I’ve also been stung by a wasp while on camera, and my husband proposed to me while on the air … so viewers shared a lot of ups and downs with me!
Who has been your favorite person you have met or interviewed?
One of my all-time favorite interviews was with the great Kris Kristofferson and Donnie Fritts. Donnie was being inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame, and I had the privilege of conducting interviews for Alabama Public Television. Kris and Donnie were best friends, and Kris flew in from Maui to be there for the ceremony. I’m a big Johnny Cash fan, so I was having a “six degrees of separation” experience, but what impressed me the most about that interview was the sweet friendship and admiration the two of them had for one another. Donnie was Kris’ keyboardist for over 40 years. They had been through it all together, and were so grateful to still be in each other’s lives. It was beautiful.
What is the biggest life lesson you have ever learned?
I think an important life lesson is in regard to adversity. Too often as parents we want to protect our children from hardship. But it’s through adversity that we develop character, perseverance and hope. We do our children (and ourselves) a disservice when life is handed on a silver platter. I’m also really grateful to be surrounded by women who love, encourage and pray for one another. It makes me sad when I hear women complain about other women. I always think, they don’t know my friends!
Where do you like to shop?
I’m actually a “Dave Ramsey cash only” kind of girl, so I’m not a big shopper unless I’ve specifically saved up for it. When I do splurge, I absolutely love the people at Gus Mayer, (and the shoes and clothes aren’t too shabby, either!) Also being from Palm Beach County, I have a weakness for Lilly. I was excited when the Lilly Pulitzer store opened at The Summit. I remember my mother teaching me about the “hidden Lillys” in her clothes in the 1970s! Other favorites include Mulberry Heights, Tricia’s Treasures, Southern Accents in Cullman and Leaf & Petal.
What is your favorite thing to do in Birmingham?
We are at that stage of life where we don’t get a lot of free time! Both of my boys play travel baseball and football, so our weekends and weeknights are pretty full. There’s nothing I enjoy more than a date night with my husband. August will be our 20th wedding anniversary.
What books are you currently reading?
I just finished reading The Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. It’s a fascinating book. I’ve just started Clout: Discover and Unleash Your God-Given Influence by Jenni Catron.
Name three things you can’t live without, excluding friends, family and faith.
Well, you took my answers right there, but as a regular reader of StyleBlueprint, I knew you would! So how about laughter, quiet time and dark chocolate.
Thank you for sharing with us today, Wendy! To find out more about Wendy’s new venture, click here. And a huge thank you to Beth Hontzas for today’s beautiful photos! Visit www.bethhontzas.com to see more of her work.