By Judith Salkin
As a child growing up in the Chicago suburb of Palos Park, Ill., young poet Bianca Goutos wrote a piece about her future.
She was going to be a television reporter, work in California and her name would be Bianca Rae.
“I talked about what my life would be in Hollywood and I thought that ‘Bianca Rae’ sounded like the right name for me,” she said recently on the drive home from work earlier this week.
She had just pulled the early morning shift at KESQ-TV3 where she is an on-air reporter. Usually a dayside reporter, at 1:30 p.m. she had finished a shift that started at 4 a.m., and that was after returning late to the valley from a journalism conference in Orange County. “I only got about three hours sleep,” she says. “But I’m off and get to go home and take a nap with my dog. It’s not so bad!”
At only 24, Rae is well on her way to achieving her early professional goals, even if it has meant leaving behind her large, close Greek/Italian family in Illinois.
“My sister is getting married soon and we’re expecting 500 people!” she says. “Which is crazy, and most of them are family, extended family and friends.”
Rae, who was born December 26, is a self-proclaimed talker who was into debate and drama while in high school and whose friends all expected her to have her own talk show one day. “I was always asking questions,” she says. “And I have tendency to talk really fast.”
She graduated from the University of Missouri’s journalism school in Columbia, Mo. The school owns KOMU-TV8, the local NBC affiliate. Students like Ray gain professional experience and she worked for three years honing her skills as a reporter and anchor at the station. “It was an affiliate and so we had to be professional,” she said. “It was great training.”
Somewhat of an overachiever, in addition to the journalism Rae also majored in Spanish and minored in sociology, and spent summers in Los Angeles interning at KTLA-5 in 2009 and 2010, and E! Entertainment and Fox Sports in L.A. in 2010.
KESQ is Rae’s first job after finishing her degree. Before becoming one of the station’s bilingual reporters in July 2011, Ray’s career path was as a features/entertainment reporter. “I never thought I liked breaking news,” she says. “I was more interested in the fun stories. I didn’t want to be a (stoic) reporter who never shows any emotion.”
That changed shortly after Rae arrived in the valley when she was sent to a shooting scene in Indio and had to talk to the victim’s girlfriend. “At one point she was crying and I stopped the interview and talked to her to calm her down,” she recalls. “When we finished my photographer yelled at me for being unprofessional. But I’m a human being first and foremost and I don’t see why I can’t be a professional person but still be caring, too.”
With two years under her belt, she’s “fallen in love with news,” she says. Sometimes she gets to see the results of the stories she covers. Like the apartment fire where one man lost everything he owned. “There were so many people calling me at the station who wanted to offer him help,” she says. “Since they had no way to contact him I became the facilitator and relayed all the messages to hm. That’s the power of media and I was happy to play a part in it.”
Another piece sent Rae to the Indio Animal Shelter, a place that needed help, which led to her volunteering at the shelter. It’s where she fell in love with Jack, the first male in her life.
After months of cuddling Jack while he waited for a family, and thinking about adopting him, another dog was put in his cage. “When I came in that day he looked so miserable,” she says. She called mom back home about the dog. “My mom said ‘you better adopt that dog before someone else does’.”
It was a momentous decision for Ray, but one that has led to her founding “Faith, Hope, and Pups” benefit to raise money for Coachella Valley shelter animals.
She’s also has a human relationship, she says. “His name is Ryan and we’ve been together for a year. But Ryan knows that Jack comes first and he accepts that,” she adds.
This first job has taught Ray a few things about herself. “I’ve learned that I want to find a way to bring more humanity to the news stories that I cover,” she says.
She’s also learned that although she misses her family and all the celebrations that go with being part of a large extended clan, coming to California has been an empowering experience for her.
“I’ve wanted to come to California since I was little,” she says. “To do that I had to make the sacrifice being with my family. But I’ve learned that I can be on my own and that I’m OK being on my own. Unfortunately, it also means that I have to do my own laundry.”