I had the ultimate pleasure of sitting down last week with my lifelong mentor, Tracie Savage, to chat with her about "Covid in California".
Tracie Savage, a versatile Anchor/Reporter, has worked in broadcast journalism in Los Angeles since 1991. Since then, she has covered nearly every major news story, both local and from around the world. She has reported LIVE from the scene of BREAKING NEWS, from floods to fires to riots. She is a skilled, multimedia journalist, who has worked for TV, radio, and online news organizations. Tracie has done it all, and when I was only a junior in high school, I knew she was someone I HAD to meet. #goalz
Savage is currently an assistant professor at Pierce College, where she teaches journalism, broadcasting and multimedia classes, but I came across her back in 2006 when she was radio broadcasting for KFWB 980 Radio.
With Tracie’s expertise and knowledge, she taught me the ins and outs of the broadcasting business in which I was so eagerly interested. I sat in the studio booth with her on several of her live shows, in which she would give me guidance and tips in between segments and on commercial breaks. Tracie is the first real mentor that truly inspired me to network, make incredible connections, and learn the field of broadcast journalism. Sitting in on these live newscasts taught me so much, especially coming from someone as talented as Tracie Savage.
Not only is Savage an amazing spokesperson and all-around brilliant individual, she is also a magnificent teacher. She knows how to get the job done while also fulfilling others’ needs and desires. When talking to her, everything becomes so much easier and clearer, because all she wants to do is help others. It's no wonder she's now a college professor!
Tracie admits how fortunate she is to still be working right now..."I am one of the lucky ones. I will never complain of boredom...I will never lament that I can't go to the movies or some trivial thing like that. My life could be so much worse, I know that. But, there have been changes. You have to, to stay safe."
As a fellow Californian and someone who loves hosting people, Tracie decided to turn her patio into a "COVID-safe" social spot. Not only is it completely furnished with couches, pillows, TV trays, a television, microwave, refrigerator, snuggies, food and drinks, but she THEMES it every season! I caught her in "Spring & Sunflower" mode. This environment has everything one needs - comfort, space, nourishment, entertainment, and socialization!
RR: What specifically changed your personal / professional life during this time?
TS: "WORK...I have worked hundreds of hours adapting my college courses to an online platform. I began this process in March, 2020, the day that my college sent us home. Since then, I have recorded and edited dozens of lecture videos, adjusted many assignments, uploaded quizzes and step-by-step instructions for numerous classes. I continue to do this work now. I also now get text messages and emails from my students at all hours of the day and night. I want to be available to my students. It means that my phone is constantly in my hand.
COOKING...Some of the things in my daily routine that have changed due to Covid19 include frequent cooking. I used to cook some of my meals at home and eat in restaurants, often. Now, while I do order take-out, I am cooking more than I ever have in my lifetime. My son is not in school, so I am preparing three meals a day for him.
SHOPPING...I also only go to the grocery store once per a week - at 8am on Sunday mornings. I do this to avoid the crowds. I order most things that I need online. Amazon deliveries arrive almost daily.
EXERCISE...I like to hike, but now I only go on Sunday's at 6:30am - again to avoid the crowds..the maskless hikers.
I used to belong to a gym. Now, I work out every morning using online work-out videos. Since the beginning of the pandemic, I have been meeting a friend on Zoom five days a week. I cue up a work-out video that we take together. I have always been active, but I have never worked out so consistently in my life. Having a friend to hold me accountable has been very helpful, and being able to do it from the comfort and convenience of my own home has made it do-able."
RR: How has covid impacted you personally?
TS: "I worry about the health and safety of my family and my friends. I am fortunate to have both of my parents. They are elderly, and I worry about them. I worry about my own health and the health of my 16-year-old son. I fear getting infected, knowing that it is essentially a roll-of-the-dice whether you have a "mild" case or you end up in the hospital, and in many cases, never come home. I understand that it is more dangerous for the elderly and for people with underlying conditions. But, I watch and read a ton of news, daily. Every day, I read or hear about those "healthy, young people, with no medical issues" who get sick, very sick, and some die. It feels so random, and that is what makes it frightening.
I am grateful and feel somewhat guilty that I am so fortunate. Other than increased anxiety and many restless nights, I have been able to continue working throughout this pandemic. I am a college professor, and I meet with my students online. I have not feared losing my paycheck. I have not feared losing my home. I have not had to wonder how I would feed my son. I haven't had to go to a job every day where I engage with strangers. I am safe in my home, protected, for the most part. So many people don't have this luxury. The essential workers and medical workers risk their health every day. I am so thankful for the work they do, and I am so relieved that I am not forced to take those daily risks. It is a privilege, I am aware, and I can't help feeling guilty for that privilege."
RR What is the number one thing that keeps the students engaged virtually?
TS: "That’s a tough one...it takes a self-starter, a special kind of student, to be able to handle an online class. It’s tricky & very easy to sort of 'fade out' and lose interest, but I make sure that I keep things very interesting, that students are engaged, and that I’m not just lecturing. I record all my lectures in advance." Tracie's live classes involve more of a Q & A, to engage students and encourage participation and attention; “It’s not just me blabbing and talking for two hours."
RR: Did you or anyone you know get Covid-19?
TS: "I have remained Covid19 negative and so has my immediate family. But, I know many, many people who have gotten the virus and many who have died - too many to count. I have had family members of very close friends get sick. Almost daily, I read about my many friends and work colleagues, current and former, who have lost loved-ones."
RR: What do you miss most about life before Covid-19?
TS: "What I miss most is hugging my family and friends that I don't live with. I miss being able to travel. Every summer, I take my son on a three-week adventure. We have been to Alaska, Seattle, Japan, Ireland, London. These adventures have allowed us to create great memories and to bond. I had an entire trip for last summer planned and paid for. It will have to wait. I miss that, a lot. I miss not having to fear getting sick and dying."
RR: What has Covid-19 made you grateful for?
TS: "My health. My family and friends. My job. My home. Medical workers. Technology that has enabled me to do my job and connect with people. Lack of freeway traffic - what a game-changer in Los Angeles."
RR: What has been the biggest challenge for you during this time?
TS: "The biggest challenge has been dealing with the constant anxiety, wondering when will this be over and wondering when I will be able to get vaccinated. Also, it has been a challenge to keep my mouth shut when I see people in public places NOT wearing a mask."
RR: What are you most excited for when things return to “normal”?
TS: "I am most excited about living without a layer of fear that is draped over my life, and hugging! I look forward to my teenage son returning to in-classroom learning. I look forward to being back on my college campus and seeing my students - in person."
Prior to being hired as a full-time instructor at Pierce College in fall of 2015, Savage worked as an adjunct professor at USC-Annenberg School of Journalism, Santa Monica College and LA Valley College teaching journalism, media studies, and film production. To sign up for her classes, enroll at Pierce College and register accordingly!
Thank you, Tracie, for being a constant inspiration to all those lucky to know you!