Brad Douglass and Keli McAlister attended Union a decade apart. But their Union journey led them to the same place as a couple of the most recognizable faces in West Tennessee.
Brad and Keli each serve as anchors for WBBJ-TV and are seen in thousands of homes every day. Both of them were broadcasting majors, and they attribute their time at Union as being formative in their careers and in their personal growth.
“When you reach that point in your life that you go to college, you really have to make a choice,” Keli says. “Union helped solidify the choices in my life. You can go the wrong direction anytime in your life, but it really showed me how to be in the world and still be a Christian.”
Keli came to Union from Ripley, Mississippi. She had intended to go to Ole Miss, but came with some friends to visit Union. That visit changed everything for her.
“I knew then that’s where I was supposed to be,” she says. “I consider it divine intervention.”
Though she initially planned to major in psychology and then pursue law school, Sigmund Freud proved to be her undoing during her second semester (“This man’s crazy,” Keli thought). She needed to find something else. It was during a fair in the gym where all the departments were exhibiting that she talked to Kina Mallard in the communication arts department about the possibility of broadcast journalism.
“I’d grown up watching the news,” Keli says. “It was just part of our daily life. My dad always stressed knowing what’s going on in the world and understanding politics. It was perfect.”
Brad’s journey was a bit different, in that he knew exactly what he wanted to do when he transferred to Union. Originally from Brownsville, Tennessee, Brad was part of one of the first classes to be a part of Union’s communication arts department that launched in 1984. He worked in radio internships and behind the scenes at a low-powered TV station no longer on the air.
“Union gave me an experience that opened so many doors,” he says.
While Brad says his father (a pastor and also a Union alumnus) may have entertained thoughts about him going into the ministry, broadcasting was always Brad’s passion. And, he says, his work is a ministry as well.
“We get to help people,” Brad says. “When we get done at the end of the day and we close up shop and go home, we hope that we’ve helped somebody today.”