Former Channel 6 reporter Kristen Welker is set to make her highly anticipated debut as host of “Meet the Press” on Sunday, and she’s coming out of the gate hot with an interview with former president Donald Trump.
And those who got to know her 20 years ago when she was a young reporter in Providence say they aren’t surprised that she has risen to what is arguably the top job in TV political journalism.
”She had superstar written all over her the minute she walked in the door at 10 Orms,” anchor John DeLuca said. “She was a lottery pick.”
Welker’s stint in Providence from 2003 to 2005 was her second job in television news. A Philadelphia native who graduated from Harvard, she came to the market after spending two years as an anchor and reporter at KRCR-TV in Redding, Calif.
DeLuca remembers Welker has having the “it” factor, a rare combination of “being really smart, competitive, and poised. The biggest thing is the poise. She had that right away.”
Like many new reporters, Welker worked nights to learn the ropes in her new market. And of course, there was plenty of weather coverage. Josie Guarino, now an anchor at WBUR, said Welker would let her stay at her apartment in Providence during snowstorms, and “we would stock up on our favorite Whole Foods treats and hunker down.”
Welker’s former colleagues say she always had her eyes on politics. Guarino said she regularly talked about her dream of becoming a White House correspondent.
Investigative reporter Jim Hummel got to witness Welker’s talent and ambition up close during the 2004 Democratic presidential primary in New Hampshire.
Channel 6 sent Hummel up north to cover the race, and Welker changed her work schedule in Providence just to tag along. She wasn’t assigned to New Hampshire, so she paid for her own hotel room just so she could make it to Hummel’s early morning live shot in Manchester.
Afterward, Hummel took Welker to breakfast in a smoke-filled diner, the kind of place where you order your coffee black and your bacon crispy.
”When the waitress came over, Kristen asked, ‘Do you have any chamomile tea?’” Hummel recalled, laughing. “The look on the woman’s face was priceless.”
Now we know what will be in Welker’s cup Sunday morning.
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