For most local residents, Malorie Maddox is a friendly, familiar face. She has been a part of our nightly routine for 12 years, covering stories in our community that range from kind-hearted to heart-wrenching. She’s won numerous awards for her journalistic achievements and is regularly asked to host and speak at events. But it’s her interaction with people off-screen, both professionally and personally, that sets her apart and lays the foundation for her success.
Growing up in Joplin, MO, Malorie didn’t aspire to be a journalist. In fact, she said she was one of the quietest members of her family. Her mother and her aunt both worked with at risk youth, so Malorie was convinced she’d become a judge and help those in need. However, while attending the University of Kansas, a journalism professor and family friend encourage Malorie to take an introductory journalism course, which steered her in a new direction.
She started her broadcast career in Kansas as an investigative journalist and said she was very close with everyone she worked with. “I got very lucky with my first position. Everyone was talented and I learned a lot.” She moved to Omaha in 2004 without knowing a single person and anchored the morning news for WOWT. “Many stations are defined by their morning shows, and it’s a good way for viewers to get to know your personality,” she said. “You’re also able to cover lighter news, there’s more adlibbing, and you are very relatable.”
Then four and a half years ago she was offered the opportunity to move into the evening news anchor position, which came at a pivotal time in Malorie’s personal life. She and her husband, Greg, had just had their son, Moss. Greg had also just started a new position, and Malorie wanted that to be their focus. “We sat down and discussed if we could do it all,” she said. “Storytelling is my passion, and with this new position I’d have the ability to share more stories. I’ve always felt it’s important to dig your heels into the community and really help people.”
Greg was supportive of the decision, and they’ve turned it into a team effort. Several times a week Malorie goes home in between the 6:00pm and 10:00pm news casts to have dinner with Greg and their son. Other times they join her at the station or go out for dinner. “Her schedule is different than most, but we both make an effort to see each other,” Greg said. “She’s an amazing person. People often comment about how she looks, but she’s even more beautiful on the inside.”
Malorie said becoming a mother helped with her job, because she was able to connect on a new level with the families whose stories she told. But many of those stories are difficult to tell as well. After covering the story last year on Angel Ramirez-Marinero, who was found in a dumpster, and his brother Josue whose body was recovered from the Elkhorn River, Malorie said she experienced her first melt down at work. “I had to shut myself in an office and pull it together. I don’t ever want the focus to be on me. The focus has to be about the message. In journalism there’s a saying, ‘the story is king,’ and that story was a good reminder of that.”
Because Malorie cares so much about the people whose stories she’s telling, her husband said she gets nervous before each news cast. “She wants the person to like the story, and wants the viewers to focus on them, not her,” Greg said. “What I admire most about her is that she truly cares and is a constant professional. She often asks coworkers to review the story to make sure she’s got the message right. For her it’s not about getting the story, it’s about telling it.”
Malorie’s professional achievements have included awards from the Associated Press, Kansas Broadcasters Association, and Nebraska Broadcasters Association. But she said the biggest moment she’s ever had was when she won the 2014 Tribute to Women award. “My whole family flew in from across the country to attend the awards ceremony and show their support,” she said. From a personal perspective, one of her recent achievements has been a health transformation and trying to lose weight. It’s been a surprising way she’s connected with viewers who have gone through similar struggles.
She also connects with viewers by sharing story ideas. She said social media has dramatically changed the way she receives story ideas. “I can receive anywhere from 25-100 story ideas a day via social media. I spend a lot of my time responding to them, and it’s provided me a much more personal connection with viewers.” Malorie covers a number of stories on domestic violence, families dealing with loss, and miracle stories of survival with children. When asked what her favorite story has been, she replied,” I hope my favorite story is still out there.”