The Kings of campus
By Sherry Wodraska Neaves
Editors note: This article originally appeared
in the Fall 1997 issue of UTA Magazine.
Karen Bortas 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 days news events. The KTVT Channel
11 news anchor began her media career at UTA, graduating in 1987
with a bachelors 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 citys hometown
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
Professor Coxs 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 peoplehow to be comfortable talking to people, Borta
said. And, in television, even though your in-studio audience
is a camera, youre talking to people. Its hard
to look into a piece of glass and emote. Its 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 Im doing
Borta began her broadcasting career with an internship at KXAS-TV
Channel 5 during her last year at UTA. She worked in the stations
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. Thats 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.
Were all bad when we start out, she said. Thats
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
11s 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 were
having a baby in November.
Some places treat you like a piece of meat, but here theyre
interested in you as a person.
Bortas brother, Mike King, also finds people interested in
him, but for very different reasons. King is an officer in the Carrollton
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 into
share it with him. I enjoyed the fact that the whole family
was there. Im 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 couldnt see myself
sitting behind a desk forever, he said.
King joined the Carrollton department in 1994. I enjoy it,
he said. I cant imagine doing anything else right now.
I think its what Im 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
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. Thats where you
feel like youre really at a university.
Older brother Mike kept a close eye on his little sister at the
University. He just made sure I didnt 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
doesits hard to follow, he said. Its
like being Michael Jordans little brother. She has given me
good advice, though.
John Kings 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 cant replace that kind of experience. Its
much harder than it looks. Its 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.
Its just a dream come true. Cliché, cliché,
cliché, but its all true.