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Thursday, May 8, 2008

Getting to know....TJ Holmes

All photos are from the Black in America HBCU and have been provided courtesy of CNN and Jeremy Freeman/CNN

1. What was your big break?
Not sure if I’ve had a “big break.” I’ve had several opportunities and blessings throughout my life and career. I try to seize and appreciate them all.

2. Who was your mentor and/or role model?
One of my college professors was always the one I turned to in my college days and early in my career. There was also a news director in Little Rock that tried to hire me right out of college. I never got to work for him, but he gave me guidance and great words of wisdom for several of those beginning years of my career. As far as role models go … I’ve always loved watching Bryant Gumbel. He’s a master. There are several I’ve watched over the years to study: Byron Pitts of CBS, John Roberts of CNN, Tim Russert of NBC, John King of CNN. Russert is probably the best interviewer in the business.

3. What profession, other than your own, would you like to attempt? What one would you dislike attempting?
I would love to be a college basketball coach. I’m a huge basketball fan. I’ve played basketball all my life.
I wouldn’t want to try any profession that would not allow me the opportunity to interact with my co-workers or the public in general.

4. What's on your iPod? What's in your Netflix queue? What was the last book you read (or the one that you're currently reading)?
I can’t function without my Ipod. I listen to a lot of rap. A lot. Kanye West, Talib Kweli, Lil Wayne, Jay-Z, Nas … they’re all in heavy rotation.
I have been trying for a year to finish reading Shia Revival by Vali Nasr. It’s often hard to find time to read books. I read a lot of news … papers, magazines, wires, websites.

5. Please tell us a little about the off camera TJ. Your family, hobbies, favorite authors, favorite episodic television, things in your life that you are the most proud of, etc.
You won’t catch me in a suit on my days off. I am a jeans and T-shirt guy. During football and basketball season, you might have a tough time getting me out of the house. I’m a huge college basketball and football fan, and I’m glued to the TV during the seasons. I don’t really have any TV shows that I watch. That has a lot to do with my schedule. I used to watch the Sopranos and ‘24’. Now, my appointment viewing: “60 Minutes” and “PTI.” (on ESPN)
I love my home. And, I love being at home. But, I don’t spend as much time there as I would like. My schedule really is nuts.

6. What are the essentials when traveling to cover a story?
A blackberry and a cell phone.

7. When did you decide that you wanted to be a journalist? What attracted you to this professional? If journalism wasn't your initial career goal, what was?
I took a mass communications class my freshman year of college and fell in love with the live element of broadcasting, and I haven’t looked back since. I had other tangibles that helped. I was always a pretty good writer, and I do have a natural curiosity.

8. What's your favorite must have gadget?
That has to be the Ipod.

9. What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of interviewing someone for a story?
Sometimes the toughest part can be researching the subject prior to the interview. That often takes time. You want to be able to respond to your interviewee with facts if they try to pull a fast one on you. So, you really need to be well versed on your topic.

10. Live television can be unpredictable- can you tell us about an on air moment that didn't go quite as planned or went awry?
Those moments happen all the time. Sometimes they’re minor. Sometimes they’re major. I’ve been busted eating a Twizzler on live television. I have had to tell someone, while I was on live, to get out of my camera shot during a liveshot. I have had a guy give the middle finger behind me while I was live on a story.

11. What event has had the most impact on your life (either professionally or personally) and why?
That’s a tough question. I am happier in my life right now than I’ve probably ever been. So, everything that has happened to me, good or bad, has gotten me to this point. Without any one of those moments, I might not be where I am. So, everything that has happened to me has been an experience that I’ve learned from.

12. What's been your most difficult assignment as a journalist to date?
I was away from home for a month to cover the Olympics. While that was a great assignment, it was tough to be away from home for that long. I have a great respect for journalists who spend so much time away.
One of the toughest stories I’ve ever done was about a young man in California who suffered a severe head injury while serving in Iraq. I covered part of his rehab. It was so tough to see this young man who had been a vibrant, athletic, good-looking guy before the injury. He was unrecognizable because of his wounds. He wasn’t able to perform the simplest tasks … writing his name, doing simple math, picking up the lightest weights. He couldn’t even remember the name of his unit or where he was based. This was the story that really showed me the reality of war like no other story. Tough to do that story with a dry eye.

13. If you could pick one story from history to cover, what would be your dream story be?
Hard to pick just one story from history I would like to cover, so here are a few: 1936 Olympics when Jesse Owens debunked Adolf Hitler’s theory of Aryan superiority. Also, the 1966 NCAA basketball championship when Texas Western started 5 Black players against Kentucky’s all-white squad. I am a huge sports fan, and both those events were sporting events that, of course, had great news value and changed history.

14. What is your guilty pleasure?
Candy. Twizzlers, Hot Tamales, Mike and Ike.

15. Where is your favorite place in the entire world?
I haven’t done a lot of world travel. But I spent a month in Greece in 2004. Beautiful place. I love the Caribbean. And, I’ll go to Mexico with anyone at anytime. Love it there.

16. If you could recommend one book as a must read what would it be?
I don’t have a must read book. Can I recommend something else that I think is a must read: “The Drum Major Instinct” sermon by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

17. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
One of my favorite pieces of advice that I’ve ever received was “people let life pass them by while they’re making grand plans for it.” I absolutely believe that and try to live by it. I know that people have to plan life out to some extent, but we all know people who aren’t happy where they are. They think they’ll be happy once they get to a certain job … or are making a certain salary … or when they get married … or when they get a bigger house … or whatever. All we have is today. Right now. I’m blessed to be where I am, so I want to enjoy the moment.
We want to thank TJ for taking the time to share a bit of himself with us.

If you have anyone you'd like to request for an interview or suggestions for questions we'd love to hear from you. ~ Phebe

All content, unless otherwise cited, is © All Things CNN and may not be used without consent of the blog administrator.


Sapphire said...

TJ Holmes is awesome and I loved reading his answers and getting to see a different side of him. I love watching him on the weekends and think that he and Betty Nguyen are an awesome team. It never fails that at least once or twice I will laugh at something TJ says or does.

"Mexico anyone, anytime" passport is ready. (I tease but that was funny)

Thanks to TJ for taking the time to answer some questions.

TJ's Biggest Fan :-) said...

Thank you for the TJ interview. He's one of my favorite newsmen. His last station before CNN was as a local NBC affiliate sports anchor in my home town and I've been following him ever since.

His coverage in Greece during the Olympics in '04 showed his passion for reporting. He did way more than the traditional "sports" angle of the athletes and location. Can't wait to see where he goes next! So THANKS!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the TJ interview. He is a breath of
fresh air. He just always seems like such a happy
guy. I always tune in for TJ and Betty on the
weekends. It would be great if CNN would
upgrade their Atlanta studios. Newsroom is
a great concept that could use a modern day
news set like CNn has in NYC, Washington and
even Los Angeles.

Anonymous said...

hey i also enjoy watching him on the weekends he is so sweet oh my gosh

Research Triangle Park, NC said...

Hiring T.J. Holmes is one of many great decisions CNN has made. T.J. has a great broadcasting voice, very easy of the eye, delivers the news in a conversational manner and is objective. I love his natural way of interacting with other anchors during a transition.

I would actually enjoy seeing him anchor more.

miss miranda said...

Love TJ Holmes. Great reporting style, very intelligent and it doesn't hurt that he's so attractive!

Anonymous said...

TJ We miss you here in Bay Area! You the man TJ!

The Opinionated One said...

Let's just be honest. I wake-up at 4 am (Cali time) to see T.J. Holmes as a weekend news anchor, the man is gorgeous. Yes, he is well-versed and intelligent. My goodness, the man is easy on the eyes.
Thank you CNN for having an intelligent and very attractive black man on CNN. Kudos.

Anonymous said...

TJ Holmes must be more careful holding cats due to his diagnosis of asthma. Colleen RN

dreamgirl81@live said...

It's good to know more about TJ. I am so in love with this man. That smile, those eyes...everything. I am definitely interested in learning more about him.

Anonymous said...

TJ Holmes is going to be one of CNN's best finds. He is still quite young in the national media scene-but as he matures he will indeed become one the best. He is very intellegent, and well-traveled. He still has a very down to earth attitude that will allow him to keep that teachable spirit. He is undeniably quite easy on the eyes, with a smile that will one day rank up there with Anderson's gorgeous premature gray/eyes, Gergin's intoxicating voice, Candy's very comfortable and well rounded insight (looking great there, by the way- keep up the hard work!) and Gloria's all knowing looks of concern, etc. etc. etc. LOVE YOU GUYS. (my four year old daughters is beginning to know you all by name!)

tntnva43 said...

Thanks TJ you are truly an inspirational news anchorman.I watch you every weekend along with Betty religiously keep up the excellent work you have been doing an excellent job.

Anonymous said...

I look forward to Saturday and Sunday 3 am wakeup to catch tj and betty. They've become part of my weekend start of the day routine. I feel disappointed when either one is missing from the job. I feel like they're family. By the way, I do have a life; i just grew to love betty and tj!!! they look good together as a couple!

Robert said...

Been watching your discussion with Ali about wind generation. I live in Colorado and Vestas (Danish corp) has one plant here and is building two more to make complete systems here in Co. Vestas claims to be the largest wind power outfit in the world with over 39,000 installations worldwide. Thought you might like to know.

BATZ said...

TJ keep up the good work man!We love you down here in Dallas.We wake up early on the weekend to watch you and Betty while having breakfast out on the patio.If in the future you decide to change venues,THINK DALLAS!We will welcome you here with Texas size open arms!

Jpp said...

TJ is a great interviewer but he also makes the weekend morning news fun, he and Betty were the great duo on TV for news, so sad to see her leave, I happened to catch her on CBS and she just looked lonely with TJ... CNN is my favorite news channel.. I miss John Roberts also.. thanks you..

Anonymous said...

TJ Holmes is such a classy and well spoken guy. He comes across as genuine and earnest. In my books he's by the far the best CNN anchor person and deserves more air time. Hope to see more of TJ!

john s flannery said...


You are good.

Worked news-- tv and print-- freelance,media relations, issues battles, government propaganda,colmn and editorials, university flak, taught. It ain't what it was and news isn't mostly. It's interpretation, bias and BS.

You are a welcome bright light for this old man who is losing hope in the business which was based on integrity and accreditation not justshow and blather.

Your mind is quick, you are good and facile with amigos and adversaries and you are underrated. Don't let them turn you from what journalism is. Glad you had one good prof in that area. So did I, now gone..

Stay out of Mexico, which I love equally.

john s flannery, retired but still trying

rose said... my breath of fresh air.He is such a cutie pie.I'm 73 and I know cute when I see it.Aside from all that I see a genuine man.I think he was raised to be polite,caring and sincere.Did i just not notice before or is he wearing a wedding ring?I'm always out here for you T.J.Rose