When Tamron Hall, KLN '92, first arrived in Philadelphia from her small Texas hometown to attend Temple University, she had a feeling the move would prepare her for greatness. But her parents, not accustomed to the urban environment, were worried.
"My mother was like 'What? Nope! Pack up and let's go'," Hall says. "And I remember my dad and my mom crying because this was so different."
Now an Emmy award-winning journalist and accomplished television host, Hall's new daytime talk show Tamron Hall, premiering nationwide on September 9, allows her to come full circle by giving viewers the opportunity to become more intimate with the environments and experiences of others. As a part of her show's press tour, she visited both news station 6ABC, Philadelphia's home for Tamron Hall, and Klein College of Media and Communication to discuss with local journalists and students the impact her time in Philadelphia had on her life.
A self-professed "learner through life experience,'' Hall was a naturally curious college student who excelled best while exploring Temple's campus and traversing the city beyond it. Memories of socializing at parties in Mitten Hall are balanced with those of visiting the Philadelphia Museum of Art and running up its "Rocky Steps" to take in its view of downtown. But while observing the people in communities outside of her college bubble, she noticed many differences between her experiences and theirs.
"I noticed people on the bus with me. I'm going off to my college class and complaining about how difficult it is and there's a woman my age with children going to a job or needing assistance to provide for her family," she says. "And I'm not saying I looked at anybody with a pity party, but it was very self-reflecting because it made me wonder 'Why me, God? How did I get here? Why not her? What does it mean?'"
This led her to become interested in creating spaces in broadcast media for honest discussions to take place. Her career milestones include becoming the first Black female co-anchor of NBC's Today Show and hosting NewsNation with Tamron Hall on MSNBC. As a result, Temple has honored Hall several times over the years. In 2010, she received the Lew Klein Alumni in Media award and in December 2014 she was the Klein College commencement speaker. She was elected to the university's Board of Trustees in October 2015 and was profiled in the fall edition of Temple Magazine the same year.
Sharing the stories of people with various racial, socioeconomic, and educational backgrounds is the foundation of Tamron Hall. Hall believes the presence of what she calls "real conversations," the kind you would have during dinner or over the phone with family or friends, is missing in daytime television. Some of her life experiences, like becoming a mother at 48 and being personally affected by domestic violence, will inform the direction of her show. However, no matter what is discussed, her mission is to encourage viewers to embrace vulnerability, which, hopefully, leads to discussions that extend beyond her hour-long show.
"It's important for me and important to the survival of the show that I stay authentic because that's daytime talk," she says. "If I want people to be comfortable to come in and tell their stories, I have to give them something in return."
One of the ways she is providing additional opportunities for conversation is through her online presence. She is interested in social media users, curating both their followers and the content they consume. She believes this can lead to expectations that make it hard to accept differing points of view.
"It appears from what I see and what I read that there's a lot of 'I'm going to change your mind based on your opinion,'" she says. "With my show, I hope that we can provide a safe space for people to have their opinion, to discuss topics. And sometimes, you're just going to have to agree to disagree."
Ultimately, the function of Hall's show can be summed up in one of her favorite college experiences. Her best friend often brought her over to her North Philadelphia home to eat family meals. Hall remembers the gatherings as being filled with love and laughter, and she still maintains a relationship with her friend and her friend's family.
"That's an example of those unique bonds you make in Philadelphia. Because while you have a number of students from outside of Pennsylvania outside of the area, you still have a great number who are local Philadelphians from North Philly."
The welcoming atmosphere led her to consider Philadelphia home, but it gave her even more than that.
"Here I am all these years later - [Temple] Board of Trustees, launching a talk show - and I don't think any of those pieces would've been in place if I hadn't said that day 'Mom and Dad, I'm staying.'"
Tamron Hall begins September 9 and will air in Philadelphia on 6ABC at 10AM. For other local listings, visit the show's website at: https://www.tamronhallshow.com/.