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TV anchor returns to her dream job

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- When Amanda Barren was in school at Ohio University, she watched WSAZ-TV. So when she got the chance to work there as an anchor and reporter in 2006, it seemed like a dream job.

But growing up in Cleveland, she watched WKYC-TV. When the opportunity to work there presented itself two years ago, she knew she had to take it.

"But there's something in this area that gets under your skin," she said. "You really can't shake it."

So now Barren is returning to Charleston and WSAZ, this time as a co-anchor of the "First at 5:00" newscast with Bill Murray. Monday will be her first day on the air.

She's replacing Carrie Cline, who she watched all those years in college.

"To sit in the seat where Carrie Cline sat is awesome to me," Barren said. "I just think she's a class act."  

Working alongside Bill Murray is a thrill for Barren — she's admired Murray for years. When she was a cub reporter, he once sent her an email praising her work on a story. She printed it out and taped it under her keyboard for luck.

That's noteworthy to Barren for more than one reason: it shows how much she once looked up to Murray, but also how kind it was for a seasoned veteran to take the time to reach out to a young reporter.

That's the other reason she decided to move back to West Virginia, she said. She was so enamored with the people here, found them so warm and nice, that just being able to come back to the region was a draw.

"The kindness of the people here — that is the spirit of this region, to me that's the overriding them here," she said.

"And I think it's exciting when you grow up and realize you can have more than one home."

And because she's lived and worked here before, she hopes she'll be able to skip most of the awkwardness that comes with a new job in a new place. She's been jotting down story ideas since she left her last job, and plans to hit the ground running.

"It's so hard to come into a community and suddenly be an expert," Barren said. "I'm by no means an expert but to have a little knowledge means that I think I can come back this time a little older and a little wiser."

Her new work schedule doesn't hurt either. It's a mark of her newfound seniority at WSAZ that now, after working all those weekend shifts, she'll be able to stick to a weekday schedule with typical hours — a rarity in that business that reinforces Barren's idea that she's landed her dream job.

"I feel like I fell on a cloud," she said.  

Contact writer Shay Maunz at shay.maunz@dailymail.com or 304-348-4886.


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