DAVID KWIATKOWSKI – STAFF WRITER
Good morning, Chautauqua!
A new face can be seen greeting Chautauquans every morning on the CHQ Assembly Video Platform. While broadcasts include the morning lectures and other events happening on grounds, this season, the Institution is working to put even more on CHQ Assembly for Chautauquans who either could not make it this summer or have difficulty making it around the grounds.
What can best be described as a virtual morning talk show, “CHQ for U,” streamed on CHQ Assembly, is hosted by award-winning broadcast anchor Amy Oshier. It’s designed to be a pre-show to the morning lectures and provide highlights of programming on the grounds, but also to offer opportunities to dive deeper into certain aspects of the Institution, welcoming members of Institution staff and program guests on for pre-lecture segments.
“It’s not your typical show, in which you have a minimum of a half hour,” Oshier said. “The beauty of doing streaming platforms is that you can do whatever you want with it … it’s my understanding that not everybody will go to the lectures; now that there’s CHQ Assembly, they can sit at home and listen to the lecture. You might be speaking to people that are here and that know Chautauqua, or you might be speaking to people that are just learning about it, or they haven’t come here yet.”
Oshier has had over two decades of experience in broadcast reporting, breaking news reporting and health reporting for media organizations like USA Today. While she was an anchor for HealthDay Living, her content was broadcast to other organizations like MSN, Yahoo and WebMD. She has also anchored for local news stations in Florida cities like Tampa and Fort Myers, close to her alma mater, the University of Florida.
“I never even had to consider what I wanted to do,” Oshier said. “When I was young, I used to read the newspaper every morning from elementary school on, and I used to grab the front page if something significant happened that day.”
Her dad was an engineer for NASA, and she would collect the editions covering the launches of the Apollo program.
While Oshier has had experiences in many different forms of journalism, she has always been drawn back to broadcasting.
“I knew that as opposed to print, I really liked being there immersed in it, interviewing people and bringing together the experience of someone having witnessed something, and drilling it down so (the audience) is really getting the essence of it,” Oshier said.
She did have bouts of imposter syndrome, where she thought that she was not qualified enough to be in the position she was in.
“Early on, I remember when I used to go to work every day and think that I would get discovered as a fraud,” Oshier said. “You know, like, ‘What am I really doing here?’ ”
This hesitancy would cease after breaking one of the biggest stories in recent American history: the identities of the 9/11 hijackers. She had heard that the FBI was in a town near Tampa, which was home to one of the oldest flight schools in America.
She and a photographer made their way to the school and saw black SUVs speeding in the same direction. They went inside with cameras rolling and were met with intense pushback by officials, until a man who recognized them from TV came to their rescue and prevented them from being kicked out.
“They didn’t know what to do with us,” Oshier said. “So they shuttled us into a room. And he came later and palmed us their driver’s licenses. So we got the pictures of Mohamed Atta and (the other hijackers); those DMV photos you see of them were the ones that we got.”
For the story, she won an Edward R. Murrow award for Continuing Coverage in 2002.
“It’s one of the few times in journalism where what you’re saying and what you’re finding out is of critical importance to people,” Oshier said. “It was two days after 9/11. And nobody really knew who attacked us or why. But to (be able to) put a name and a face on that, it wasn’t a sense of competition that I’m used to, it was more of a sense of contribution.”
Over her career she’s interviewed hundreds of people. Her dream now is an interview with President Barack Obama.
“He was just an epitome of a leader who had vision, but also compassion,” Oshier said. “He was such a trailblazer for so many things.”
After her lifestyle show with USA Today looked like it was coming to an end, Oshier began looking for other opportunities in broadcasting when she stumbled upon the Institution’s call for a broadcast reporter.
“I (wanted) the opportunity to go somewhere and be in an environment where everything was nurturing the best of human spirit,” Oshier said. “I wasn’t really sure what the job was going to look like, or what it was going to entail. But I just knew I was called to seek it out and to see what the next step was. I really feel like there was a synergy that was meant for me to find this position and then follow it through to fruition.”
As for the future of “CHQ for U,” Oshier believes the sky is the limit.
“It really presents a lot of excitement and opportunity to develop whatever somebody thinks their network should be. … I think they’re still getting their feet wet in determining what else they can put on there, what people want to see, what can be preserved, for history’s sake,” she said. “They’ve got such a deep archive of famous people and speeches that were given here. I would love the opportunity to dig through those do a story like ‘This is the day that Charles Lindbergh came.’ ”
For aspiring reporters and journalists, Oshier offers an interesting lens to view the field.
“As a journalist, you’re blessed to share someone’s best or worst day with them sometimes,” she said. “Because whether it’s something from a crime or disaster, or they won the lottery, I get … to experience that with them.”