Take the Opportunities; Make Yourself Valuable
Cara Doyle Wright ’03 calls herself tenacious because “it’s better than ‘self-starter.’”
Her first regional Emmy award was for Best Morning Newscast in 2006 while she was working at KCTV 5 in Kansas City, Mo. She was 25 years old and so sure someone else would win she skipped the ceremony. Cara laughed, “Someone had to call to tell me I’d won. It was a real shock.”
She won her second regional Emmy in October 2019, in the News Producer category. Her nomination reel included openings for the Kansas City Chiefs’ 2018 AFC championship game and coverage of flooding along the Missouri River. She was also nominated in the Cultural Documentary category for a feature on Tech N9ne, the most successful independent rapper in the world, who loves his home town of Kansas City. Cara called it, “The most rewarding project of my career.”
Stick-to-it-iveness isn’t enough to tell a good story that people will be interested in, and it won’t get you two Emmys. Producers often agonize over which stories will appeal to specific audiences and garner the best ratings. Cara approached the work from a different perspective. “I realized early on that I am the key demographic. I produce shows I’d want to watch,” she said.
She believes that life and a career are not things that happen, they are created. “It’s all about opportunity and what you can capitalize on,” she said. “Make yourself as valuable as possible.”
She’s the daughter of a newspaperman and grew up in Walla Walla, Wash. Cara considered attending Penn State, but it was scholarships and Bradley’s reputation in communications that brought her to Peoria. “A degree from Bradley is well respected,” she said. Her teachers worked in news. Chris Manson was a news director at WHOI and taught her newswriting class, and Phil Luciano from the Peoria Journal Star taught features writing. “I loved having people who were in the business as adjunct professors,” Cara said. “I learned what would be cut and what would resonate.”
When she was a junior at Bradley she got a job as weekend director for WHOI, then an ABC affiliate. After graduation she spearheaded changes to WYZZ’s “Fox 43 News at Nine” that increased its ratings by 133% and earned her a promotion to 10 p.m. producer for WMBD. She worked in Kansas City for a few years, then in Redding, Calif. In 2011 she returned to Kansas City, where she’s currently executive producer at KMBC.
Her 14-year-old stepdaughter will be visiting colleges soon. Cara already has plans to show her Bradley. That’s tenacious, right there.