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By Nathan Pace
Southsider Voice Web Editor
For many in the news media, finding a job takes you far from your hometown as you have to work your way up at smaller stations. Lauren Casey knows she was fortunate getting a job right away in Indianapolis.
“I love Indiana. I love Johnson County,“ she said. “So right now it’s really fulfilling. It’s just really cool to cover the community you grew up in.”
Casey provides traffic reports and does feature stories for WRTV6, the local ABC affiliate. From 4:30-7 a.m. you can find her on air during “Good Morning Indiana” with traffic updates. What began as an internship her junior year at Franklin College turned into a part-time job and into a full-time position. Casey tried different elements in broadcast during her internship but at the end was directed to learn traffic.
“One of the producers was like, ‘Hey, would you like to learn how to do traffic?’ ” Casey said. “I didn’t even think they were looking for somebody. You just really don’t go into a market that size right out of college. I figured I would have to get five years experience somewhere else.”
Casey did well enough and was offered the traffic role before her senior year. She had enough credits to graduate, which allowed her to start immediately. She learned how to utilize the reporting tools needed for traffic. Casey does at least two traffic updates each half hour and a few updates during commercial breaks of “Good Morning America.”
Despite being the youngest on the RTV6 staff, Casey has managed to impress her colleagues, including anchor Beth Vaughn.
“She came to us really fresh, so she had the ability to take what she learned from school and apply it directly to professional life so with that comes a wealth of confidence,” Vaughn said. “So it has been really great to watch her grow in her ability to be on air.”
Vaughn spent the beginnings of broadcast career in Topeka, Kansas, and understands what a great opportunity it is for Casey to start out in Indianapolis.
“I think it is a rare opportunity to work at such a large market at such a young age,” Vaughn said. “I think she has excelled at that. It is a big challenge to be ready for this sort of responsibility, and I think she took it in stride. She had humility when she did it, and she wasn’t afraid to ask questions.”
Working in Indianapolis allowed Casey to stay connected to Center Grove and coach the high school dance team. Dance was the first career path she wanted to explore.
“Kinda my plan was to do dance in college, become a teacher, maybe open up a studio, go that route,” Casey said.
Center Grove started its dance team in 2006, her sophomore year. A year later Casey was team captain and assisting coach Sherri Kennel with getting the squad off the ground.
“Lauren is a born leader. I have always said that if she ran for president I would vote for her,” Kennel said. “She took over that dance team. I can’t say enough good things about her. After she left the high school she came back as a choreographer for us.”
While attending Franklin College, Casey succeeded Kennel as coach and started dance programs at Center Grove’s middle schools. She choreographed routines that allowed the high school team to win a state championship through the Indiana High School Dance Team Association.
As far as making dance her career, Casey let that aspiration go when she injured her back in high school.
“My mom suggested that I do broadcast,” she said. “Because I love public speaking, love debate, love writing. So it was all journalism related.”
Casey says the hardest part of her job is the irregular schedule. She arrives at the studio at 4 a.m. after waking up at 2:30 a.m. Some of her “Good Morning Indiana” colleagues sleep after dinner or during the day.
“I take like a two-hour nap when I get home from work in the afternoon,” Casey said. “I try to be a normal person on the weekends.”
To help keep everyone alert during the broadcast, music is played during commercial breaks, and Casey has been known to energize the crew with a dance party.
Another big event was getting married in December to her high school sweetheart, Brooks Bemis, who played football for Center Grove and Franklin College and works in Beech Grove. The couple recently bought a home on the Southside.
Bemis proposed in November of 2013 but it took a couple of tries. The first attempt occurred at a picnic in Brown County, but lady bugs swarmed the couple; Bemis decided to propose to her at home instead.
With her husband, parents and friends all here on the Southside, Casey says she is grateful to work in a market where loved ones can watch her. Few in broadcast work in their hometown.
“I think it’s really cool that since I’m from the Southside I kinda know what people are talking about. A lot of reporters are not from around here. So they have to work really hard to figure out what people are talking about and making connections. In a way I’m in the inside where people are coming up to me and telling me stuff, or I hear about something because I’m here.”