By Judith Salkin
Imagine being a 22-year-old woman and, for the most part, getting your dream job from one of the first demo tapes you sent out.
But that’s pretty much what happened to Danielle Gersh who started as the weekend weather anchor at KESQ last September.
“When I was growing up my family used to come out to Palm Springs all the time for holidays and weekends,” she said earlier this week from her Palm Springs home. “When I was in school in Texas I wanted to come back to Southern California and thought that Palm Springs would be the perfect place to be. And it is.”
Gersh grew up in Westlake Village, in the west end of L.A. County, and was more into horses than she was in broadcast journalism as a child.
“I always loved horses,” she said. “Since I was a little girl; I was never afraid of them and I always wanted to ride.”
She learned as a child and was soon riding in competitions. “I loved everything about it,” she recalls.
Riding led Gersh to another interest: the weather.
“My mom said I was always asking about the weather,” she said. “I used to ask how the weatherman got in the television to tell us about what was happening outside!”
While some teens dreamed of getting into a party school for college, Gersh wasn’t looking at party ratings or majors, but trying to find a school where she could trade her riding skills for scholarship money.
She found it at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. “I rode for SMU for my freshman and sophomore years,” she recalled. “I tried a couple of different majors, but none of them really stuck until I got into the journalism program.”
She even gave up riding for the program to anchor the early morning news show at the school’s television station. “I loved (working at the station), but I couldn’t do both,” she said. “We used to complain about having to be at the studio at 6:30 a.m., and now it makes laugh when I think of coming in at 3:30 a.m. for the morning broadcast here.”
At first SMU’s morning broadcast didn’t do weather until Gersh. “We didn’t have any weather resources,” she said. “I had to do all my own maps and someone in the control room had to advance them by hand. Sometimes that didn’t work so well…”
She got an internship at the CBS station in Dallas and that turned out to be the weather classroom Gersh needed. “I had people there who mentored me and showed me how to run the software.”
And while she was at the station, Gersh also got to make demo tapes to send out with her job applications. As she got closer to graduation and actively looking for a job, Gersh was hoping to find a station in Southern California.
In April 2013 she saw a job posting for the weather position at KESQ. “It took a while,” she said of the hiring process. “I wasn’t hired until August and didn’t start on air until September.”
What she’s found at the Thousand Palms station are the mentors she hoped she would find in her professional life.
“I remembered coming out here with my family and thinking that it would be a perfect place to be for me,” she recalled. “I knew the area and it’s only acouple of hours from where my family lives.”
The job is everything Gersh hoped it would be, professionally and personally.
“Everyone here has been so wonderful and welcoming,” she said. “Ginger (Jeffries) and Patrick (Evans) are both so nice and I really am learning so much.”
To advance her weather reporting, she is enrolled in the University of Mississippi Meteorology program.
Along with hiking and hanging out with friends from work, being back in SoCal means Gersh gets to spend time with her family (“They were just here for three weeks,” she said. “And we had a great time!”) and gets back to Westlake Village as often as possible to ride her horse, Pixie.
“Not as much as I’d like,” she said. “But I see her as much as I can.”
She’s looking forward to spending time in Indio over the next six weeks at the HITS Horse Show at the Polo Grounds. “I used to ride in the HITS show when I was kid,” she said. “That’s one of my best memories.”