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June 17, 1988 - Image 98

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-06-17

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2 in Detroit, Silberstein met
Mark Rosenwig who became
a mentor. She was also
befriended by newsman Otis
Buchanan and tagged along
with him on his Night Beat.
Although she was required to
be at the station only
from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m.,
Silberstein usually worked
straight through from 8 a.m.
to midnight.
Rosenwig moved to Miami
around this time, going to
work for a Post-Newsweek
station. He had seen Silbers-
tein's audition tape and when
he heard about an opening at
a sister station in Jackson-
ville, Fla., he sent the station
her tape, without Silberstein's
knowledge. The station con-
tacted her and Silberstein
was caught completely off
guard. "When the news direc-
tor called me from Jackson-
ville, I didn't even know
where Jacksonville was."
Following graduation from
MSU with a bachelor's degree
in telecommunications,
Silberstein joined WJXT-TV
in Jacksonville as a new
reporter. Looking back on
that first job, she laughingly
remembers, "When the news
director asked me how old I
was I just said, 'I'm old
enough.' I didn't want to tell
him how old I was — he pro-
bably thought I was 22 since
I had graduated from college."
In reality, since she was only
20, Silberstein had to bring
her mother to Jacksonville in
order to sign the necessary
papers for a car rental!
Two years later, Silberstein
was offered the job of reporter
at Detroit sister station
WDIV. She loved working for
the Post-Newsweek Co., but,
she says, "I really wanted to
get back to the Midwest. I'm
a Midwest person." Three
months into her Detroit job,
news anchor Andrea Joyce
left, creating an opening for
weekend evening news an-
chor. Silberstein glided
smoothly into the slot.
Silberstein's career has in-
cluded some particularly
memorable assignments. In
Jacksonville her objectivity
was tested when she was
assigned to interview the
Grand Imperial Wizard of the
Ku Klux Klan. "I had a black
photographer, an Hispanic
sound man and we were
laughing on the way to the in-
terview. I'm sure he knew I
was Jewish." She continues,
"Those kind of things need to
be covered. If you sweep them
under the rug they can
become more dangerous. I let
him have his say . . . what I
thought was so bizarre was
that he handed me his
business card with the KKK
insignia."

Debra Silberstein prepares her newscast.
Silberstein and co-anchor
child, earned her a Michigan
Bob Pisor were on the air
Education Association School
when Northwest's Flight 255
Bell Award.
crashed. In such situations,
Viewers are often Silbers-
she says, "It's a great respon-
tein's best sources for stories.
sibility, and those are the
"When I'm out and around,
times when you really have to
viewers come up to me and
call on all of your experience
say they enjoy my reports and
and everything you've learn-
tell me about this or that
ed — and that's when ex-
special program at their
perience really counts. You're
child's school." Her story on
going on the air live and the
the loss group at Southfield-
information is coming in so
Lathrup High came about in
fast that you can't really
this manner. Silberstein has
prepare a newscast the way
other sources, too. "People on
you normally would . . . you
the street, school officials,
just have to be that cool, even-
people in state government.
keeled person to handle that:'
I've been on this beat about a
Silberstein also notes, "That's
year and a half, doing it three
the time when you really see
days a week. You make a lot
a newsroom buzzing. It's sad
of contacts and people start
that in times of tragedy news
calling you."
people really have to call
Silberstein validates her
upon their all."
commitment to education by
Silberstein works weekends
participating in the Detroit
from 3:30 to 11:30 p.m. She
Public Schools' Student
and co-anchor Pisor write all
Motivational Program. In
their own material. Describ-
this "mentor" program,
ing a typical day, Debra says,
students are matched with
"We sit down at our com-
career persons. Silberstein is
puters at 3:30. I'm usually in
partial to her student, a
an edit booth from 4:30 to
17-year-old aspiring broad-
5:30. We do the news, take a
caster with a 3.5 average who,
break for dinner and start
she says, "stands out."
writing the 11."
Silberstein adds, "So many
Silberstein and Pisor have
people have helped me in my
been a team for two years and
career and now I'm a mentor
share mutual respect and ad-
to somebody else."
miration. Says Silberstein,
Silberstein herself con-
"Bob is just a gem. He's such
tinues to be noticed and com-
a fine writer." Pisor finds
mended. Her report,
working with Silberstein a
"Policewomen Fighting More
pleasure, and comments,
than Crime," which depicted
"Debra has a strong interest
the Detroit policewoman's
in the news. She is very quick
struggle to prove herself to
to pitch in. Weekends can be
her colleagues as well as to
quiet, but when an event
the public, won two national
takes place it requires
awards. Other well-received
everyone to pour themselves
in-depth news series have in-
into it. Debra does just that."
cluded "The Coming of Age,"
On weekdays, as
which dealt with Alzheimer's
southeastern Michigan's only
disease and "Airport Insecuri-
education reporter, Silber-
ty," a look at Metropolitan
stein covers all educational
Airport's security system.
news in the tri-county area.
Silberstein and her hus-
Silberstein has conducted in-
band, Marc Curtis, a Farm-
depth studies on many areas
ington Hills financial consul-
dealing with schools, such as
tant, find their work
drop-outs, teen pregnancy,
schedules are often at odds.
state testing programs, and
"He works Monday through
security problems in the
Friday. I'm off Thursday and
Detroit Public Schools and
Friday, so we never really get
drug problems. Her 1987
to spend a full day together."
series, "An Elementary Solu-
They do occasionally squeeze
tion," which explored the im-
in nine holes of golf and en-
pact of pre-school experiences
joy spending holidays with
on the future learning of a
the large Curtis clan.

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