FOX TV affiliate WDRB has been a part of the Louisville media landscape since the early 1970s and has evolved into one of the primary news sources in Kentuckiana, producing over 50 hours of up-to-date news each week.
We’re excited to introduce you to one integral member of their news team, whose face you may recognize! Grace Hayba began as a reporter, contributing to daily content, delivering live, on-the-scene stories, and covering current events such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the Mayfield tornado.
After only six months at the station, Grace was promoted to co-anchor for the “WDRB in the Morning” weekend show, running from 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays, and continues her reporting duties throughout the week. Let’s get the latest scoop on our newest FACE of Louisville, Grace Hayba!
Are you from Louisville originally?
I grew up in Northern Virginia in a small town called Lovettsville, which is about one hour from Washington D.C. It’s grown quite a bit since I was a kid, but when I was younger, only around 1,000 people lived there. Virginia, much like Kentucky, is known for its greenery and beautiful landscape. The area I’m from has plenty of farmland and horse barns, which perhaps is why I felt so at home here in Kentuckiana so quickly.
I was adopted as an infant; I am the youngest of six kids and only one of two girls in my immediate family. One of my brothers was also adopted when he and I were in middle school. He’s from Ethiopia.
How did your interest in journalism begin?
My earliest memories of reporting stem from 5th grade when I was able to read the school news, which highlighted events like Field Day and the daily lunch options, on a broadcast that streamed to TVs in each classroom.
My 5th-grade teacher awarded me the ‘Toastmaster Award’ at the end of the year for being the best public speaker in class. He told me he could see me becoming a TV news anchor one day — funny how that works out! When I was in high school, I continued to develop my love of writing and asking questions through my school’s yearbook class, where I was an editor for two years.
Besides taking courses in school, what else did you do to hone your journalism skills?
During my junior year, I interned with a TV station in Washington, D.C., where I shadowed reporters in the field. I was able to watch and assist with interviews as well as practice live shots and write scripts. Reporters and news anchors provided constructive feedback on whatever I had done that day.
I also interned with the Walt Disney World Company in Orlando, working at EPCOT. I was a member of the Festivals Team and took classes on corporate communications, where I learned how Disney (which owns various media companies/stations) operated on a broader scale.
I worked as a student journalist with the Centre County Report during my senior year. It’s a student-run news program led by a broadcast professor, which aired to real viewers. It was the first time I was able to film and put together my own stories that people at home could see. I was ranked second in the nation by the Broadcast Education Association for my work as a student anchor.
I also interned in Los Angeles with a local TV station and the talk show “Jimmy Kimmel Live.” At the TV station, I shadowed the entertainment reporter and attended various red carpet events, where I was able to interview television and music celebrities. Some of my favorite interviews included meeting Dolly Parton, Miley and Billy Rae Cyrus, and the cast from Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame.
What was your first professional position after you graduated?
My first “real” journalism job out of college was with a station in Evansville, Indiana, where I worked as a multimedia journalist and producer. Individuals are responsible for writing, filming, and editing all of their own work. During the weekends, I worked as a producer for our evening newscasts, where I learned the behind-the-scenes side of the newsroom.
How did the transition to WDRB News occur?
Once the pandemic hit in 2020, I did a lot of self-reflection and knew I wanted to make a change and find new avenues to follow my passion.
Fortunately, a reporter position at WDRB News happened to open up just as I was looking to move to the area. I already knew of the station and was actively following Louisville news and the Breonna Taylor protests and really respected the way the newsroom was handling coverage while the eyes of the country were on the city. After the interview process, I felt honored to be selected to join such an incredible team.
Can you tell us about a moving story you’ve worked on?
The first story I worked on in my first job after graduation was about a father diagnosed with ALS. We sat down with him inside his home as he detailed his fight to seek possible treatments to help slow the disease. It was extremely touching to hear his life story and see his determination not to let the disease stop him from being an amazing father. Unfortunately, he passed away about a year after I sat down with him. He is someone that I will remember forever!
What piece of advice do you treasure?
When my sister was applying to grad school, she wanted to go to Harvard. She knew getting accepted into an Ivy League university could be tough, but she said, “Someone’s going to get that spot. Why not me?” I’ve always said besides losing those closest to me, my biggest fear is having regrets. As Poet Norman Vincent Peale once said, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”
Besides faith, family, and friends, what are three things you can’t live without?
Beautiful sunrises and sunsets, big dreams, and Ed Sheeran’s music.
Thank you, Grace! All photos courtesy of WDRB News.
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