Today marks an iconic day in the history of the United States. On April 15th , 1947, Jackie Robinson became the first African American to play in Major League Baseball, met with the Dodgers to break the league’s color barrier. The color barrier excluded African American players from playing in the Major and Minor leagues […]
Daryn Kagan is the creator and host of DarynKagan.com, an inspirational online community that features a daily Web cast of stories that, “Show the World What is Possible.” Her web site and online community have become a popular destination for thousands of people seeking news stories that inspire. It is divided in to several buckets (topics), including Animals, Heroism, Love, Kids, World Events, Beyond 60 and Overcoming Obstacles.
She also delivered news from her morning anchor desk. That is where she was when the two planes hit the World Trade Center in 2001, and she was on air for many hours with updates as events unfolded and as the country learned it was a terrorist attack.
In her spare time, she is a Big Sister, a role she is quite devoted to and engaged in.
Laurie Sue Brockway: I remember, as many people do, the day the towers went down. You were on air on your morning shift, and suddenly, dealing with this unbelievable story. I also remember your coverage of the elections, the terrorist threats, car chases, and assorted death and destruction. You seemed to always be working overtime, and those kind of stories that just kind of kept you on air for hours on end. Given that you’re such a upbeat personality, how did you make it through?
Daryn Kagan: News never affected me. I really love doing news and it wasn’t about, “This is all so depressing.” It was really the excitement of having a front row seat to news as it unfolded. And it wasn’t until it was taken away from me that I realized it was no longer a match.
So so it wasn’t being fed up with bad news that led you to create your own, more inspiring, news site?
When CNN didn’t renew my contract, it was a chance to step back and say, “Well, do I want to keep doing this?” Then, it was the opportunity to decide, “You know, this isn’t really an energetic match.” In the last couple years of my career there I’d started down that path of seeing the power of selecting what you think about and focus on; In my personal life I focused on the power of positive; in my professional life I was talking about doom and gloom. I realized, I just don’t think I want to do it anymore.
So, you were you having a spiritual awakening while you were still working for CNN?
Definitely. About the time I covered the beginning of the war in Kuwait in 2003, and then invasion into Iraq. I thought, “I need to go get in touch with my spirit.” My career and my personal life weren’t doing what I thought they should. I kind of hit a low point where it made me start reassessing and looking at things differently.
What inspired you at the time?
The first book I read that just kind of blew my mind was The Four Agreements. And that was the beginning. From there, it was Conversations with God and definitely hasn’t stopped since then.
So When CNN told you they were not renewing your contract, there was a part of you that was a little bit prepared , even though it might have been a shock in the moment?
I think it was a really good case of I was getting ready and I didn’t know it. I was getting ready spiritually. I actually had gotten ready financially by pretty much banking most of my last contract at CNN. I had gone on a big savings binge. So, financially I was set. The last year of my time at CNN I had started a segment on my own show called “Your Spirit,” where I was looking at positive spiritual things that people were doing. I thought, “Well, I’ll do my job, but this is what I’m interested in.” So, the very–the seeds of what became darynkagan.com, I actually had started that last year at CNN.
Did it lead you to believe everything happens for a reason?
I can see that with my story, and then of course with many people I’ve covered since. I think a lot of people are getting ready for what comes. You think you’re shocked, but then you look back and go, “You know, I actually was getting ready and didn’t know it.”
How did things come to a close at CNN?
They came to me in the beginning of 2006 and said, “We’re not going to renew your contract.” However, I had a year left on that contract. And what was unusual, in broadcast when you’re on air, usually that day that they tell you, you are out the door. They’re not putting you back on the air, even if they have to pay you for the year. With me, they said, “Well, we’re not going to renew you at the end of the year, but we’d actually like you to stay and fill out your contract. And we have no intention of taking you off the air.” So, every day I came to work after that, which ended up being like eight or nine months, I didn’t know if that was going to be my last day at the place where I’d spent 12 years.
That must have taken a lot of courage?
It was two-sided. It was definitely stressful. Any time you would get an e-mail or a phone call from a higher up, you think, “It’s the day.” It was kind of this surreal thing. But, it really did end up being a gift, because I can assure you I did not walk out of the boss’s office in January and go, “Oh, great. I’m going to go do inspirational news.” It definitely took some time to grieve. There was a few months where I just kind of got through the day.
So how did you turn the corner to Inspirational news coverage?
I eliminated. I went through the process of saying, “I don’t want to go do traditional news anymore,” which actually, I think, was the most interesting and the most important, and something that people really skip over. Because what I can see now is by eliminating that, it gave space for something new to come in. It was really where I got the most backlash from my people. “What do you mean you’re not going to do traditional news? Look how good you are at it.” And, “You could go get a job at another network and look how much money you make.” And that’s where I really got the, “Hmm, I think she’s cuckoo,” comments from my friends and family. But, I knew I was done, even before I knew the next thing I was going to go do. I think if I hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t have had the space to think of the new thing.
Fast forward, you create the amazing and inspirational DarynKagan.com. Are you recognizing the importance and the value of having inspiring news stories to counterbalance the– the death, destruction, and the downer kind of stories that we’re usually saturated with?
Well, I’m definitely not anti-news. I think news is important. I think it’s important to be informed. I just think it’s also important to be inspired. And I think it’s fabulous that there’s space for all of it to exist. Not only for it to exist, but for each individual to decide what he or she is going to take in, and in what order and what time of day.
Do you recommend people balance the 6:30 news with inspiring content?
I wouldn’t tell anybody what they should do. I think they should figure out what works for them. I would say that I think people spend too much time ranting and railing about the media, because each individual consumer has never had more choice and more power than they do right now. No one straps you to a chair and makes you watch Fox or MSNBC or CNN. You’re not force fed anymore. Just put your hand on your mouse and you go find what you want. It’s all there for you.
So you are a proponent of options?
I look at it like shopping for food. You would go to the butcher for your meat, you would go to the grocery for your staples, and you would go the bakery for your sweet stuff. You’re not going to show up at the bakery and get mad that they don’t have steak. With news, figure out your balanced diet and just go to the right place.
So, how do you find your stories?
Well, my big fancy plan when I launched the web site was like the movie Field of Dreams, build it and they will come. And I really believe if you create a space for something to exist, it will find you. And that one has worked out perfectly. There’s a box on every page of my web site that says, “Tell me your story.” I’d say 50 to 60 percent of the content just comes right through there, people who either want to tell me about themselves or their Aunt Bess, or sometimes it’s, “Oh, I saw this story local news in Louisville. You’ll love it.” Or, three years into this, I have quite an interesting network of inspiring people who will send me an e-mail. The third part of it is, of course, what you focus on is what you see. It’s not like the traditional media isn’t doing any good news. It’s that people just don’t know where to find it. I might look through CNN’s web site and go, “Oh, look, here’s a hero story,” that somebody else might miss because it’s not what they’re focused on.
Is there any particular favorite that you have in terms of coverage?
That’s like picking a favorite kid. But I am a little partial towards animals, because I am kind of one of these crazy animal people and my next book is about animals. So, I love the animal stories. And, I’ve always been fascinated with the ordinary people who do extraordinary things. So, it’s not the thing that happens, it’s what people do with it. And it’s the people who not only overcome obstacles but use the thing that happened to transform their own life and the world — that’s what really floats my boat. I love those stories.
I noticed many stories about inspiring individuals on DarynKagan.com.
My first book was What’s Possible: 50 True Stories of People Who Dare to Dream They Can Make a Difference. I think there’s different levels. Something happens to you, as things happen to all of us, and then there’s a choice that is made. Am I going to be a victim or am I going to overcome? And then, there’s the rare person who says, “I’m not only going to overcome, I’m not waste the experience and I’m going to really do something that makes the world a better place.” I love people like that, because, that’s where the real power is–not in what happens to you, what you do with it. Those are my kind of people.
Some of your coverage on highlights sad news stories that may have inspiring outcomes or messages. You’re first to say it is not really “good news” or “positive news” coverage. What do you call it?
We’re still playing with those words. I like my tag line of “Show the World What’s Possible.”
And that is what Daryn Kagan does, daily. Visit her at DarynKagan.com