The Kings of campus

By Sherry Wodraska Neaves

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in the Fall 1997 issue of UTA Magazine.

Karen Borta’s friendly smile beams into Dallas-Fort Worth living rooms every weeknight at 6 and 10 p.m. as she brings area residents up to date on the day’s news events. The KTVT Channel 11 news anchor began her media career at UTA, graduating in 1987 with a bachelor’s degree in radio/television communications.

The Arlington native, a graduate of Lamar High School, also began a family tradition as her sister Kathy Robinson and brothers Mike and John King followed their eldest sibling to the city’s hometown university.

Borta originally chose UTA because it was the local school.
“My parents were concerned about me going too far away,” she said. “Their intention, I think, was that all of us go to UTA for one year, then transfer if we wanted to. “I fell in love with the school and stayed.”

Borta particularly remembers one professor, Nita Cox, who shared her love for the school and for students. “I was so confused. I kept going from department to department,” said Borta. “I had started out in journalism, but my parents convinced me to go to business, probably so I could get a better job. I stayed there for a couple of years, but I decided, ‘This is just not me.’

“I went back to communication, but I had all these different hours from different departments. I had no direction. Professor Cox sat down with me and literally mapped out what I needed to do to graduate.”

Professor Cox’s class also taught Borta how to feel comfortable in front of an audience, a vital skill for broadcasters.

“She taught me how to get over my fear and get up in front of people—how to be comfortable talking to people,” Borta said. “And, in television, even though your in-studio audience is a camera, you’re talking to people. It’s hard to look into a piece of glass and emote. It’s just not natural. You have to work at it.”

Borta developed both business skills and close friendships by serving in a variety of leadership positions with Delta Delta Delta sorority. “At UTA I made lifelong friends,” she said, “my very best friends. I still keep up with my sorority sisters. Something about being active in the sorority gave me a strong sense of responsibility. It really gave me the confidence that I could do what I’m doing now.”

Borta began her broadcasting career with an internship at KXAS-TV Channel 5 during her last year at UTA. She worked in the station’s sports department with sports director Scott Murray and then-weekend sports director Timm Matthews. When they began, Matthews guided Borta through the broadcasting basics.

“Timm would show me how to do a stand-up, a live shot out in the field,” she said. “He taught me how to do voice-overs on video and make it sound good. I spent eight months at Channel 5. That’s where I really decided this was for me.”

After graduation, Borta began her professional career at KCEN television in Waco as a general assignments reporter and evening anchor.

“We’re all bad when we start out,” she said. “That’s why we start out in the Wacos of the world. The audience there is forgiving. They see a lot of bad reporters.”

Borta moved on from Waco to work as a news anchor in Sacramento, Calif., where she covered the Los Angeles riots, and then to Tampa, Fla. In 1995, she returned to Texas, becoming an anchor on Channel 11’s 6 and 10 p.m. weeknight news.

“My family was delighted,” she said. “There are not many openings in Dallas-Fort Worth television. The people that are here have been here forever. I could probably have come in sooner as a general assignments reporter, but I wanted to come in as an anchor. It was an answer to prayer.

“Channel 11 is a good station to work for. They are good, decent, caring people. In Tampa, when I got married, my news director wanted me to put off my honeymoon for three months for work. But here, my boss was just delighted when he found out that we’re having a baby in November.

“Some places treat you like a piece of meat, but here they’re interested in you as a person.”

Borta’s brother, Mike King, also finds people interested in him, but for very different reasons. King is an officer in the Carrollton Police Department.

He followed his sister Karen to UTA in 1984 and graduated with a degree in criminal justice in 1989. Also, like his sister, King originally considered attending UTA for a year and then transferring to another university. “I met a lot of good friends through my fraternity and decided to stay,” he explained.

In fact, he stayed and stayed. Soon his sister Kathy enrolled in school and then the youngest sibling, John, came to UTA.
“I stayed long enough to watch over everyone else,” he said. “I stayed in the fraternity (Delta Tau Delta) and hung around long enough to be there for a while while John was in—to share it with him. I enjoyed the fact that the whole family was there. I’m a real family person.”

King began his college career as a business major. However, after talking with his mother, who works for the federal Drug Enforcement Agency, and an uncle who is a retired DEA agent, he decided to pursue a career in law enforcement. “I couldn’t see myself sitting behind a desk forever,” he said.

King joined the Carrollton department in 1994. “I enjoy it,” he said. “I can’t imagine doing anything else right now. I think it’s what I’m suited for.”

Kathy Robinson finds herself now suited for motherhood. She recently had a baby, Jenna, and also has a 2-year-old son, Callen.

Robinson attended UTA from 1986 to 1988, rooming with older sister Karen during the first year. “We were really good friends in college,” Robinson said. “But, it was sometimes difficult. She was getting serious about school, and I was just getting started in college. At 11 at night, I was going out and she was going to study.”

“It was funny,” Borta said. “We were at two different stages in our lives. My roommate and I were very focused, ready to graduate. Kathy and her friends were in their first semester. They were having the time of their lives.”

Kathy was also a member of Tri Delta sorority and served as a UTA Ambassador. “Getting involved is the only way to really get to know people,” Robinson said. “That’s where you feel like you’re really at a university.”

Older brother Mike kept a close eye on his little sister at the University. “He just made sure I didn’t date any of his friends or fraternity brothers,” Robinson said.

John, the youngest King sibling, not only followed his family to UTA, he followed his eldest sister into the broadcasting business. He entered UTA in 1988 and graduated with a degree in broadcast communication in 1992.

“UTA was home,” he said. “It was right there. Plus, the fact that everyone else went there, I figured it had to be a pretty good place.”

John also completed an internship with KXAS while in school and, after graduation, began his career at KVTV in Laredo. He also worked as a sports anchor at KGBT television in McAllen and is now editor of High School Sports magazine and sports director at radio stations in Austin and the Rio Grande Valley.

“Having an older sister who is just excelling in what she does—it’s hard to follow,” he said. “It’s like being Michael Jordan’s little brother. She has given me good advice, though.

John King’s advice to his alma mater is to give the broadcast journalism students as much real television experience as possible.

“Get the students out. Get them to go to baseball games, to basketball games. Teach them how to shoot their own stuff,” he said. “In a lot of markets, you have to do it all. I do everything. You have to learn how to shoot. You have to learn how to edit. You can’t replace that kind of experience. It’s much harder than it looks. It’s acting on camera. You have to make every story seem like the best story on your broadcast.”

Borta hopes all of her broadcasts continue to originate in Dallas-Fort Worth, where she now has a long-term contract with Channel 11.

“I would love to end my career here,” she said. “I feel very blessed with this job and being able to come back home. It’s just a dream come true. Cliché, cliché, cliché, but it’s all true.”



Springing forward
Graduate students lead the way in spring enrollment increase
Graduate students like Ruby Ruperto and her Contemporary Science classmates significantly boosted University enrollment for spring 2001, the fifth consecutive semester of enrollment increases.

Writing for the Digital Age
New  tools and technologies are taking one Honors English class online and into the future
When students in Martin Danahay’s Honors English class get ready to work, they don’t pull textbooks out of their backpacks. Instead, they each slide a thin, black Toshiba laptop onto their desk, flip up the cover and log in to UTA’s first completely wireless class.

Worldwide welcome
International recruitment efforts are expected to pay long-term dividends
New faces, from places all over the world, keep coming through the UTA front door. And, with continuing international recruitment efforts, the University is keeping the welcome mat on the doorstep.


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