Emmy winning

SV grad awarded prize, her 2nd, for feature segment

July 17, 2019 Cranberry Local News

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Megan Gilliland Pearson, anchor for the WBFF Fox 45 morning news, took home an Emmy June 22 for outstanding public current community affairs feature segment.

A Seneca Valley High School graduate recently won an Emmy for her work for a Baltimore morning television news show.

Megan Gilliland Pearson, anchor for the WBFF Fox 45 morning news, took home the award June 22 for outstanding public current community affairs feature segment.

“I've been at Fox 45 for 12 years,” said Pearson. This is despite the fact her broadcast runs from 4:30 to 10 a.m.

“I'm up at 2:05 a.m., at the station by 3 a.m. and working at 4:15 a.m.,” she said.

The daughter of Sharon and Kim Gilliland of Zelienople, graduated from Seneca Valley in 2001 and from Penn State in 2005.

“I've always wanted to have a broadcast job,” she said. “When I was 5 I wanted to be a 'weporter,' because I couldn't say my Rs.

“My parents were my biggest supporters. They trusted and encouraged me,” said Pearson.

“When she was a little girl, she had this toy microphone and ran around pretending to be a reporter. She wanted to do it her whole life,” said her father, Kim Gilliland.

“Megan was a swimmer and a runner in high school,” said her mother, Sharon Gilliland. “She was captain of the women's track and field team at Penn State.”

Upon graduation from Penn State, Pearson landed her first on-air job at nearby WTAJ-TV Channel 32, a CBS affiliate in Altoona.

“I was hired first as a photographer and weekend editor. A few months later I was promoted to multimedia journalist ... otherwise known as a one-man band for its Bedford County bureau,” Pearson said. “The following year I began doing some weekend anchoring as well.”

Pearson was at WTAJ-TV for two years and started at WBFF in 2007.

“I started immediately on the morning show and I've been there the whole time,” Pearson said.

“I was hired at Fox 45 as a morning reporter. A few years later, I started anchoring a few hours of the show,” she said.

“Now, I'm a full-time anchor who goes on special reports during our sweeps periods.”

It was one of those special reports airing in November 2018 that won her an Emmy from the National Capital Chesapeake Bay Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. It covers Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia.

She won an Emmy for her reporting on a company that builds military-grade armor to protect children from school shooters.

At Pocomoke High School on Maryland's Eastern Shore, students are now armed with new military-grade armor donated by a company just down the street called Hardwire.

“It was a three-minute segment, but it took all day to shoot,” she said.

“With a cover story, we spend a lot of time on research,” said Pearson. “On the in-depth pieces we really work hard on them.”

Pearson also won another Emmy in 2018 for a story that aired in November 2017. She got to call on her high school and college running skills in a story entitled “Victim or Survivor?”

The story was about fending off an attacker.

“I actually went running down a trail to see if I could,” she said about the staged assault.

“I had had some Krav Maga (an Israeli fighting system),” Pearson said. “It was a terrifying and humbling experience. I'm not as strong as I thought I was.”

She's married to attorney Jonathan Pearson and they have two daughters, Madelyn, 4, and Cecilia, 2.

With her early-morning schedule, parenting takes some planning.

“He gets them ready in the morning and I get them in the evenings. It's teamwork,” she said.

Speaking of teams, she finds herself a Steelers fan in the middle of Ravens territory.

Fortunately that doesn't cause friction in the marriage.

“He's from Washington, D.C., so he's a Redskins fan,” she said.

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Eric Freehling

Eric Freehling

Eric was born in Butler and grew up in Winfield Township. He graduated from Knoch High School and later Indiana University of Pa. with a degree in Journalism. After working as a reporter and editor with the Kittanning Leader-Times, he moved to Bloomington, Illinois, where he worked at The Pantagraph newspaper as a copy editor, page designer, reporter and business editor. Freehling later worked at the Houston Chronicle as senior copy editor and the Chicago Tribune as a copy editor on the business desk. He moved back to Pennsylvania in 2010 and joined the Butler Eagle as Community Editor in January 2011.