Stephanie Henry has just the thing for conquering traffic woes during rush hour.
“Before I hit the road, I go to McDonald’s. I get my smoothie and prepare for the traffic,” the Seneca-York Journalism grad said. “I understand why some people have road rage, but you can’t be angry when you are driving.”
Take that as professional advice, for Henry is the newest traffic reporter on Breakfast Television. As a member of the popular morning show, she joins two other Seneca School of Media grads working at Citytv: Roger Petersen, Co-host of Breakfast Television, and Stella Acquisto, Weather Specialist/Reporter with CityNews.
“It’s an amazing opportunity to be here,” the 25-year-old said. “I never thought I’d be doing traffic, but I love traffic, it’s so weird. It’s such an important part of people’s lives. We all spend a lot of time in our cars, and if I can help people ease through traffic a bit, why not?”
Henry was studying sociology at York University when she decided to jump into broadcast journalism and pursue both programs concurrently.
“I’ve always been interested in media, and I love storytelling and I love people,” she said. “I looked into the Seneca-York joint program and said to myself, ‘This is what I want to do.’ My goal has always been to be in broadcast.”
Thanks to an internship at 680NEWS while she was still a student at Seneca, Henry scored her first broadcasting gig there right after graduating in 2016, covering overnight traffic for the radio station. At the time, she was also working at Canada’s Wonderland, a job she kept on the side for another year.
“That internship was a key and important piece that got me into the business,” Henry recalled. “I’d advise anyone who’s looking to break into the industry to take more than one internship and to not turn anything down. You have to start somewhere, do something and take what they give you. You meet people in the industry and opportunities will arise.”
As they did for Henry.
At 680NEWS, she quickly moved up to covering rush-hour traffic and became the station’s community events reporter on the weekend — a job she still takes on today. For more than a year, she also filled in for the previous traffic reporter on Breakfast Television. When that position became vacant, she was asked to be the permanent full-time reporter.
“A lot of what I learned at Seneca came into play when I had to adjust to being on camera,” Henry said. “When I get nervous, I talk quickly, and my professor used to say, ‘Slow it down, take it easy. Think it through, you’ve got this.’ This mental preparation helped me prepare for my role.”
Since joining the morning show earlier this year, Henry has been getting up at 3 a.m. for work, commuting from Brampton to the Citytv building next to Toronto’s Yonge-Dundas Square. Her reports usually last 45 seconds to a minute, depending on what’s happening on the road.
“I get tips from drivers all the time,” she said. “I’m interacting with people on a daily basis.”
Looking back on her journey so far, Henry credits the one-on-one time she had with professors as being one of the most valuable experiences.
“They sat down and spent time with you. They didn’t just say, ‘Here you go, see you later,’” she recalled. “I got so many insights from all of my professors who were all working in the industry. That was extremely helpful. Don’t ever take what they say with a grain of salt.”
After that, though, “You have to really want it,” Henry said. “This job is a pretty big deal. I’m living the dream right now. I want to work somewhere that gets me up in the morning. And if you wake up at 3 a.m., you’ve got to love your job.”