Danielle Grossman: Making Her Mark On The Hub City
Jun 07, 2018 11:56AM
● By Erin Holden
“I was in sports and all kinds of extracurricular activities: drama club…hence my being on t.v. “When I was 16, I was on a record label, and I have songs on iTunes,” she says. “I performed at venues and had t-shirts made. I was young and naïve.” She stopped performing because the record label failed, but she does still sing in her spare time, doing the national anthem for UL Lafayette baseball and basketball games. right now!” she laughs. “I was like any other kid growing up.” However, there is one thing that is not so typical of the average childhood: she had a record deal with Train Caruso Publishing when she was still in high school. Originally from the suburbs surrounding Philadelphia, Danielle went to Wissahickon, one of the best public schools in Pennsylvania. She has a sister who is two years her junior, a freelance artist who lives in Colorado Springs with her wife. She also has a 13-year-old brother who attends Wissahickon. She looks back on her childhood there fondly.
Danielle has always been passionate about performance, and her first career choice growing up was to be a Broadway actress. Her big moment came when she played Dorothy in The Wiz in junior high. She fell in love with being on the stage.
“Throughout most of high school, I wanted to be on Broadway,” Danielle says. “That was my goal. I love performing, singing, and dancing. I wasn’t the best dancer, but I tried!” She says that reality set in when she set off for college. She didn’t feel her training had prepared her to make a go of it in New York and, like so many college students, she wanted to make sure she had something steady to deal with student loans. “I started diving into journalism because it’s another outlet for me to perform and use the skills that I loved; I loved writing and storytelling.”
Incredibly, Danielle’s first reporting job was in Israel, an opportunity that was a surprise to her and an invaluable experience.
“I never thought that I’d be able to study abroad like other people because financially it wasn’t possible,” she explains. She found out that her aunt worked for Jewish Exponent in Philadelphia, and her aunt told her that there were grants available to go to Israel. She went on birthright, which is a free 10-day program for people with Jewish ancestry, as a freshman in college and had an amazing experience in the country. It led her to minor in Hebrew and eventually becoming fluent. Later, she got a scholarship to fund a 9-month trip and discovered the online newspaper, Arutz Sheva, where she interned.
“It was in a very restrictive, religious part of the country,” she says. “So I’d have to take five buses in the middle of nowhere to work there, wearing full head-to-toe clothes.”
Danielle wrote stories that often centered around technology advancements in Israel. “I was speaking to people who were so brilliant and who spoke three languages,” she says, and it made her realize that she had to “up her game.”
Perhaps one of the most high-profile people Danielle ever interviewed was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, though it was only a couple of questions. She says that she was so nervous, she doesn’t quite remember what she asked.
Danielle’s second internship was at WCAU in Philadelphia, where she started work in the investigative unit, fielding complaints and going out with reporters. She also got even more experience writing while there.
“I worked with amazing journalists,” she says. Philadelphia is the fourth highest market in the country, so it was an incredible opportunity for her.
In 2010, Danielle moved to the web department, as web news really began to boom. “I needed to hone in on my writing,” she says. “I wrote probably 200 web stories for WCAU and got a lot of experience with creating websites. That was the complete opposite side of journalism, which was great because I might not have otherwise been exposed to it.”
In 2011, at 21 or 22 years old, Danielle made a big move from her hometown. She remembered her mentor telling her that she should take the first job offer that came to her, so she took his advice.
“I was getting paid $19,000 a year,” she says. “I packed up my little Ford Escape by myself. I remember that day. I drove off to the middle of nowhere – to the Black Hills of South Dakota.”
KNBN is a small family owned station in Rapid City, South Dakota. “I was working 12-hour days, paying my dues,” she recalls. “Four months in I ended up getting promoted to morning anchor.” Soon she was working from midnight to 2 pm every day. “It was brutal!” she says. “But I wouldn’t take it back. I made amazing friends. I thought of it like a paid masters program.” It was a crash course in whether or not someone could hack it. She reported, produced, and anchored both the morning and noon shows.
“I got up at midnight, sat in bed with my computer on my lap and started producing my show,” she says, remembering her hectic schedule. “Then I’d finally get up enough energy to get up, go to work and finish producing my show, then go out and report after.”
This grueling work taught her about time management, motivation, and the passion it takes to pursue a career in broadcast. More than that, it taught her that she did have the motivation to power through and get the job done. “This industry is for certain people,” she says, “because it takes a lot out of you.”
Being such a people person, Danielle still had a social life during this time, which was no small feat. It involved sacrificing sleep if she wanted to maintain it. She admits that forgoing sleep wasn’t the healthiest thing to do, but she made many wonderful friends in Rapid City.
Another obstacle that Danielle had to face in Rapid City was her living situation. “When you get out of college, you think, ‘I’m going to get a nice apartment.’” Like many recent graduates, she found her first move on her own to be a “big eye-opener on how much it costs to be an adult.” Danielle moved four times during her year and a half at the KADN station. The second place she lived was with four guys who were body builders. “I wasn’t sleeping at all,” she says, “because there were big dudes stomping around the house, so I had to move out of there.” Finally, she settled on a place that she describes as “just a box.” Making a living as a journalist is not always glamorous, especially in the early years.
Her next move was to Baton Rouge, anchoring the Fox 15 newscast for two years before she settled in Lafayette. Moving from South Dakota had been a big change for Danielle, but she had no idea what to expect from Louisiana.
“In the Northeast, you’re not educated about cultures in the South,” she explains. “All you know is what’s on t.v. What I knew about Louisiana was Swamp People. I got to Baton Rouge and realized, this is really nice!” She enjoyed the area and the people.
There was still a bit of culture shock. For instance, Danielle was asked out on a date and, without being told ahead of time, found herself on a boar-hunting trip. They went out on a boat and she was met with a boar in a cage.
“I’m a city girl, so I didn’t really know what to expect!” she says, laughing. “The thing is, people here are so great and kind. It is just incomparable to where I’m from. People in the Northeast are nice…just more abrasive and loud.”
Another program that Danielle is involved in is much lighter – Danielle Does It, in which she does a job that she has never done before, or experiences something new to her, like cryotherapy. It all started during sweeps, when the news station was trying to come up with ways to boost ratings. Danielle had a friend who had tried something similar to Danielle Does It, and she always loved the idea, so she pitched it, resulting in four episodes being made. They were such a hit that she has been doing them ever since. When Danielle thinks back on all the stories she has covered, the one that affected her most was during her time in Lafayette. “Covering the flood of 2016 here was probably the most impactful of my career,” she says. “I also covered the Lafayette shooting while I was in Baton Rouge; it was a scary thing to cover, but I think the floods were definitely the hardest. I worked three days straight. I didn’t shower, and I slept on the floor in the office.” It was non-stop coverage interviewing devastated people in a community she had come to care about deeply. “It was probably the hardest week of my life here,” she says. Danielle is very rooted here, and is now engaged to someone born and raised in Lafayette, Adam Credeur. The wedding is in March of next year.
Danielle Does It is something she loves because “it’s a cool way to get out in the community without being so serious,” she says. The episode that was both most entertaining and enjoyable for Danielle was the fire station episode. “It was so hard,” she says. “I was pushed to my limit.” It really made her appreciate what firemen go through to do their job every day. The helicopter pilot episode put her most outside her comfort zone. “Once we were up in the air for a while I was less tense,” she says, “but initially I was scared out of my mind.”
While she has very little spare time, Danielle keeps busy doing CrossFit and scrapbooking (she finds it very calming) when she isn’t working. You might also find her at her favorite Lafayette spots: Pamplona, Pour, The Tap Room, or Drago’s. As far as community work goes, Danielle has gotten especially involved with the Junior League. She is now an official member and, through the organization, Danielle has volunteered with Smiles, which puts on events for kids and parents with cancer; been a host for Palates and Paté; been involved in a women’s fashion show; and she does 5K run benefits. All in all, she does about a dozen events every year.
Danielle is also passionate about travel and would love to see more of the world. She’s been to Istanbul, and through her travels in the Middle East she has seen beautiful mosques and the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. “We really immersed ourselves in the culture,” she says. When she was 16, she went on a school trip in which the group took a bus across 29 states, and she has traveled to Mexico and Canada. Her next major trip will be to Greece and London, where she and Adam will spend their honeymoon.
For women who are thinking about making a career in broadcasting, Danielle jokes, “Don’t do it! Just kidding,” she laughs. “Keep going. This industry can be difficult and can get the best of you sometimes. You have to not listen to other people because it is full of people who are focused on their own future. You have to focus on yours.” She says that it can take 8 to 12 years to get to a place where you are comfortable with the amount of money you are making and where you are living, a longer adjustment period than many other industries.
When she thinks about people who have helped her most along the way, there are many who come to mind. Though they mostly see each other on weekends due to opposite work schedules, her fiancée, Adam, has been incredibly supportive. Danielle’s mentor, Ed Dress, who she worked for during her internship at WCAU. “He has really guided me,” she says. A good friend of hers from her work with Fox 15 in Baton Rouge, Britt Conway, will be in her wedding, and has also been an influence for her professionally. “She helped me become a better writer and a better journalist,” Danielle says. “She’s always been my cheerleader.
Though it hasn’t always been easy getting to where she is today, Danielle is thrilled with where she is in life. “I work nonstop,” she says, “but I wouldn’t change it for the world.”
Click this photo to see Danielle's article as it is displayed in FACE Magazine.