As morning co-anchor for NBC12, Sarah Bloom is used to getting up hours before the sun peeks over the horizon. She’s usually at work around three-thirty in the morning. But right now, it’s not her job at the station that is demanding her attention during the wee hours of the morning. It’s her infant daughter, Marian, who is keeping her up at night.
After easing Marian back into a sleepy bliss, she sits with a cup of coffee and pulls out her cell phone. Sarah, who will be returning to the station this month after finishing maternity leave, routinely texts her co-workers, a.k.a. the NBC12 sunrise squad, just to check in during this before-dawn respite. “They are the only people up at that hour,” she says and smiles.
At the moment, Sarah, thirty-three, is living the dream both professionally and personally. A consummate newscaster and mother, Sarah may never find the perfect balance between work and home, but her life is chugging along smoothly. Her morning gig at the station is over by midday, and she’s back at home being a mom to her three children, Marian (new), John (two), and Michael (four).
“I always think of Sarah as the valedictorian of the classroom,” says Kelly Avellino, who has been filling in for Sarah on the morning anchor desk. “Whatever it is, she is going to excel at it. She is incredibly hardworking.”
The cliché, What you see is what you get! applies to Sarah tenfold. She is the same genuine person on and off camera. “Sometimes the person on camera doesn’t translate to the person you see in real life. But Sarah is the real deal,” says Ryan Nobles, Washington correspondent for CNN, who was an anchor and political reporter at NBC12. “She is warm and kind. She’s thoughtful. She remembers everyone’s birthday and details of your life. She has the biggest heart. She is the definition of a good person.”
RVA is Watching
Being pregnant on television is a blessing, but “it’s also hard,” says Sarah who has gone through the scrutiny of three pregnancies on camera. And while viewers always saw her perky personality shine through, Sarah wasn’t feeling very perky. “My pregnancies are tough,” she says. “I threw up all nine months with all three of my pregnancies.”
There were times when she had to receive fluids because of her condition. She also went through gestational diabetes with all three pregnancies. “That was really challenging,” she says.
One morning, when she was filling in for co-anchor Heather Sullivan on the morning desk, she had to quickly leave the desk to be sick. “I didn’t do the top of the show that morning,” she says. “I hadn’t told anyone I was pregnant. I had to tell my boss, and he didn’t tell a soul.”
Viewers didn’t see the food she kept on the table behind the computer to help her ward off the nausea or any queasiness. Her team at work would always help her out when she wasn’t feeling well. “I’m blessed to have bosses who supported me and my babies,” she says, as she throws a soft woven scarf over the shoulder of her flowery dress to breastfeed Marian at Caturra on Grove.
Women tend to worry about being able to do it all – raise a family and work at the same time – she adds, pulling Marian close. “But we do it, don’t we?” she says, more to her daughter than to me.
Morning meteorologist Andrew Freiden knew that Sarah was uncomfortable when she was pregnant. “But I was right there in the studio, and not aware of how difficult it was for her physically,” he says. “I saw her chewing on pretzels, etc. I was impressed with her ability to focus when she was dealing with a difficult pregnancy.”
She never let him feel like he had to treat her differently than other employees at work even though she was sick. “She didn’t need kid gloves,” he says.
Being a Woman in the Media
The challenges journalists face in today’s social and political climate don’t escape Sarah. “From a parenting perspective, we have to make choices about how much we expose our children. We never reveal our kids’ actual birthdays or their full names,” she says. “We are careful about what we share.”
Politics is a delicate dance for Sarah because of her career in journalism. “It’s important for me to be viewed as unbiased,” she says. “Even something like the subject of nursing. I want a mom to raise her baby as she sees fit. I do nurse, but I am not taking sides.”
She knows how crucial it is to maintain your integrity. “It’s a tricky time because people want
to hear so much more,” she says.
Social media is a must now for anyone in broadcast or journalism. Sarah, like others at the station, has to constantly monitor her accounts. She likes reaching out to people, but there are aspects of social media that can be very discouraging. “I get disappointed when people are mean to others on my [Facebook] page. That bothers me quite a bit,” she says.
Being a woman in broadcast media can fuel unpleasant social media posts. Television is a visual business, and at times, women are viewed differently than men when it comes to appearance. “Sometimes, it does cross the line and it’s frustrating,” she says. “I’m not sure my male colleagues get the same amount of attention regarding their looks. As a woman, you want to be taken seriously. We didn’t get into this to be beauty queens or any of those things.”
When comments are made on social media, Sarah’s followers will often stand up for her, and she appreciates their gestures. “It happens,” she says of snide comments. “In your mind, you think you should take this differently, but in your heart, you take it personally. It’s disappointing, but thankfully those people are in the minority.”
The Legacy of St. Therese of Lisieux
Kindness is a must for Sarah, and she tries to teach that to her children. In her own life, she emulates St. Therese in the young saint’s practice of doing small but good deeds every day. “My middle name is Therese. I was named after her,” says Sarah, who is Catholic. “She tried to do little things to help people, and that is what I try to do – bring a gift, pick up something at the grocery store, check in with someone who is having a hard time.”
Sarah is a person of faith who does her best to remember details about people, starting with their names. “That is important to me. I meet a lot of people but I am not perfect,” she says.
Catherine Cribbs, a newspaper reporter in Danville, and Sarah became fast friends when Sarah was working for WSET in the Lynchburg/Roanoke area and living in Danville. Cribbs describes her friend as a “very old soul.”
“Sarah is outrageously thoughtful,” she says. “She’s a wonderful friend, and she cares very deeply about the people in her life.”
She recalls the year Sarah moved to Danville just a few months before Cribbs’ birthday. “By the time my birthday rolled around, she had planned a silly party. Everyone had to come dressed with something about the letter C. Sarah was a comma. It was silly, but so sweet,” Cribbs says. “I remember thinking, ‘I have really met someone special, that she would go out of her way to do something so thoughtful.’ Every year, I remember that party.”
When Nobles was working at NBC12 and he and his wife adopted their younger daughter, it was a whirlwind situation with lots of loose ends. “Sarah called my wife and said, ‘What can I do? Give me a list of things I can do,’” he recalls. “She organized stuff we needed for the baby when we came home. You wouldn’t expect someone who is a coworker to do that. It made the process so much easier.”
Sarah also steps up to plan the going away party for anyone who’s leaving the station. “She doesn’t come from a place of expectations. She does it just because she, in her heart, feels compelled to do it,” Nobles says. “She just wants to help out. She gives substantially more than she takes.”
How It Started
Sarah prefers a ponytail and gym clothes when she’s not on television. “I stay pretty active. I’ve done a few marathons,” she says. “Also, we like to go do things in the afternoon like splash pads and the gym.”
She and her husband, Sandy, are very family-oriented. The two met at Washington & Lee University and married in 2013. “We’re pretty kid-centered, but we wouldn’t have it any other way,” she says. “I love to see the giggles and smiles, the joy of little things even if it’s just an oversized ice cream cone.”
She knew, even when she was very young, that she wanted a family and children. “I always loved playing with baby dolls,” she says.
Her interest in journalism also took root when she was growing up in Iowa and North Carolina. Sarah was right in the mix when her parents pulled out the video camera to shoot home movies. “My parents said that anytime they would film my brothers, I wanted to be in the home video with them,” she says.
Her interest in journalism blossomed during her years at Pleasant Valley High School in Iowa. An avid swimmer, she would go to swim practice as the sun was coming up, and when she got home she would watch the morning news. “It was my favorite newscast,” she says. “I liked the idea of storytelling and getting to know the people I was writing about.”
She learned about authenticity and truth telling at Washington & Lee, where she was also a member of the school’s Division III swim team for three years.
Between her junior and senior years, she worked as an intern in the newsroom at CNN in New York, and in her senior year, she and some friends started an independent student-run broadcast outside of class called The Week in General.
Sarah landed her first job after graduation at WOAY in West Virginia, near New River Gorge. She started as a reporter and worked into the role of weekend anchor. “I worked hard and I learned a lot. I did just about everything at the station,” she says.
She left West Virginia to go to WSET in the Lynchburg/Roanoke area. “I lived in Danville for three years, and I loved my time there in that small community,” she says.
The station served a large area that included Martinsville, Halifax, and Pittsylvania Counties. “I learned a lot about NASCAR, and I developed an appreciation for sports,” she says of her time at the station.
Sarah landed a job as a reporter at NBC12 in 2011. “My first few months, we had an
earthquake, tornado, a hurricane, and Robert W. Wood Jr., an autistic boy who was lost in the woods. It was a crazy first few months here,” she says.
She was a young, “green reporter with a natural skill set,” Nobles says. “She never turned down an opportunity to improve. She worked different shifts, never complaining.”
She was promoted to her current morning position last year. Being a full-time anchor is fun “because you get to see a little more of the broadcast,” she says. “When you are out in the field, you don’t get to see the news as much.”
For her, the best aspect of being a television celebrity is getting invited to service-oriented functions, especially ones that are family-focused. “I like serving the community, and there are so many levels of service,” she says. She also likes letting viewers know the “things you need to know to get out the door and telling them about emergency situations. I like to feel like I can help people.”
She was able to do that this year when she traveled to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis for the St. Jude’s Dream Home Giveaway at the station. It was a life-changing experience for her. “At St. Jude’s, parents don’t have to worry about money so they are able to do what is best for the child. They believe so strongly in not giving up and finding a cure,” she says of the hospital. “It’s one of the most incredible journalism opportunities I’ve ever had.”
As part of her goal to help parents, Sarah started RVA Parenting with the station’s former web director. “The Today Show started a parenting segment,” she says of the inspiration behind her own segments. “My dream is to have it expand because it has so much potential. It’s a great way to tap into things going on for families.”
Over the years, evening co-anchor Curt Autry has seen a growing maturity in Sarah. “You can’t rattle her. When you are trying to make a good impression, you agonize over everything. Sarah reached a place where she became so much more confident in herself,” he says. “She is able to take things in and not worry about things.”
She goes out of her way to help people and the station, especially for off-site events. “We will have a commitment for an hour and she would be there for three. She doesn’t think twice about reaching out and visiting with people. She is one of the most approachable news anchors that I have met, and I have been in television for thirty-five years,” Autry says.
Sarah adores her family at NBC12. She likes the camaraderie and the laughs they share behind the scenes. “We have a really fun group. It’s a family,” she says. “I am living the dream. This is the job I always wanted. I don’t have any aspirations to leave Richmond. I love this community.” And the community loves her right back.