As I dialed Tamara's phone number, I'll admit I was a bit nervous. She and I had been corresponding by email and g-chat for a while, and in many ways I felt like we were old friends, but somehow talking on the phone seemed more intimate and assumptive of me. I knew she liked me, but what if I said something stupid and she realized that liking me had been a cyber phenomenon--that in real life I was not what she imagined?
My heart pounded a little bit and I had to laugh at myself that I cared a little too much what she thought. She and I had been joking about having a girl crush, and this was an obvious manifestation.
But after two minutes on the phone, I forgot all about that. I stopped wondering if I was sounding dumb and just enjoyed our conversation. She was easy to talk to, funny, self-deprecating, and candid, and I didn't want to get off the phone. It went on for over an hour--some of it off the record-- but as I've looked over my notes, there is not much that I can cut out, or that I am willing to, so smitten am I with Tamara Duricka.
So, I've decided to break up our interview into two or three posts. That way, I'll actually get it posted, plus you'll make it to the end. So keep coming back to check in over the next few days. And you can get a little crush on her yourself!
(And please be patient with the lame formatting. I've been fussing with it for ages and just want to post the darn thing--so the fonts and sizes may be inconsistent. You'll just have to get over it. It's not cooperating for me.)
Where did you grow up, go to school, and where have you lived since then?
I grew up in Alexandria, VA outside of DC, and went to Roanoke College in Southern Virginia. I got my first TV job in Roanoke, producing the local news. I joined the church when I graduated from Roanoke, (my brother, Darren, was already a member). Darren and his family were living in Spanish Fork and I went to visit him there. While I was there, I toured KSL (NBC affiliate), anxious to check out how the bigger city news happened. They found out that I was a producer and they offered me a job on the local evening news, so I moved to Salt Lake City.
I swore I would never leave the East Coast, but I was thrilled to be near my brother's family, who promptly moved to Portland. The move to SLC was big for me career-wise, as the market is much bigger there than in Southern VA. I hadn't gone expecting to get a job there--I was still so young, maybe 21-ish. I had finished undergrad in 3 years, and started working at the TV station during school, so I had some experience, but it was a surprise that KSL was interested in me.
I was in Salt Lake for a year and a half, then I followed my brother to Portland. I worked at the ABC station there as the newscast producer of the 6:00 evening local news. I did that for 4 years.
Then, I went to Columbia for a Masters. It was the first year of their program, so we [the students] were the guinea pigs. The good news about it was that we all had fellowships. But it was crazy. They squeezed the whole thing into a 9 month intensive program, including classes, thesis, etc. I cried a lot. I felt really dumb all the time.
ABC called Columbia the day after graduation, looking for someone with TV experience, and that was me! ABC called me that day and I told them that I was headed out on a trip to Europe the next day and then home to Portland to sit on my couch and stare at the walls for a while. They interviewed me that afternoon and offered me a job on the spot to write on Good Morning America. I told them I needed some time to relax after being so dumb at school, so I took a month and a half to travel, pack up my stuff in Portland, and get over how much my brain hurt from grad school. Then I started at GMA.
When I applied to Columbia, it had all been so clear “follow the yellow brick road” kind of thing with angels singing—I knew that was what I was supposed to do . . . but I didn’t get that kind of answer with GMA; instead, it was like Heavenly Father just wanted me to choose, so I did. It was a big deal to move back to the East Coast (my whole family lived on the west coast by then.)
What is your favorite place that you’ve lived?
I really love wherever I am. I miss Portland terribly, but I love NYC. But Darren and his family are in Portland, and it hurts to be so far away from them.
[Tamara obviously adores her neices and nephews--Darren and his wife have 6 kids-- and thinks of them as her own. At one point, she referred to one of them as "our 10-year-old" and then corrected herself, "I mean my brother's 10-year-old." It reminded me so much of the way Alli always felt about my kids before she had any of her own. Motherly and somewhat possessive. And adoring.]
Tell us a little about your family.
I grew up in VA with my mom and my brother mostly—my parents divorced when I was young. My mom remarried when I was 12. My step dad was diagnosed with cancer a couple of years later; he died when I was 16. Shortly after that, my dad was diagnosed with cancer. He died when I was 18. That was really hard. Really hard. By the time I finished college, my mom and brother had both moved to the west coast.
How long have you been at Good Morning Amercia? What is a typical workday like for you?
I've been there for 2 1/2 years now.
A typical day? Lots of g-chat, lots of facebook time. You think I’m kidding! I have a few different assignments. The first job is to interview the people that will be interviewed the next day over the phone. I’ll pull together the video and the graphics, then write the Cliffs Notes for Diane Sawyer and the gang. I also write the introductions to pieces, that the anchors say, "Don't change the channel because the worst news EVER is coming up!" I get to scare you into watching more. The third part is the weekends. I work at 3:00 am on Sat and Sunday, which sounds horrible—and it is. I’m not going to lie. But the great part is that I get to be in the control room then, and I’m the head writer on the weekend show. I watch the news wire for most recent news so that we can report breaking news and make sure that all the stories are written in the same voice, that kind of thing. It’s very high energy and I love it.
What is your schedule like?
Um, I don’t really have one of those. Right now, I have Mondays and Tuesdays off. Wednesdays thru Fridays I work normal office hours. I have a pottery class on Wednesday mornings before work. Don't ask me why I'm taking a pottery class, because I don't know why. But I am. Saturday and Sunday I work from 3 am- 9 am.
I like sleeping in. I try to sleep in on my days off, but it doesn't always happen. Sometimes on Sundays I’ll get a nap in before church, but not always. I won’t say that sleep is overrated, because that is so not true, but you get used to going without it. Kind of.
What’s your favorite thing to order in a restaurant?
I love sushi and I never get tired of sushi. I used to get these huge stomach aches from eating meat, so I gave up meat except for sushi, which is so worth it. Sacrifice brings forth the blessings with sushi. I do eat a lot of fish, but I rarely do the meat thing. And I like Thai food.
What is your favorite food to make at home?
Yeah-- I don’t cook. My mother was not a cook. My father was a brilliant. I learned my cooking from my mother, who says that her stove would explode if turned on (from the dust.) I do a lot of soups, casseroles, and I basically make food like a depression era person—food that stretches. Thanks for pointing that out.
So you basically make things that you can get the most mileage out of so that you don’t have to cook very often?
I am insecure in my cooking. I need someone to teach me how to cook. I’m a great sous chef, with the head chef telling me what to do. I guess I need to get over my fear and just jump in. And as much as I don't like cooking, I love baking. Baking seems simple. You can't really mess up baking. I like to bake all sorts of stuff: Banana bread, pies, breads, cakes... anything unhealthy.
So, there you have a little background information on our favorite minor celebrity, the girl who conceived of, planned out, and pulled off the 31 Dates in 31 Days project! Coming tomorrow (I hope), Tamara tells us all about the project: what led up to it, how many times she wanted to quit, and about a guy who didn't know how to behave himself on a first date. You will not want to miss it.