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  • Writer's pictureBryn Dippold

Megan Mitchell Isn’t Going Anywhere

The WLWT5 news anchor and TikTok star returned to Cincinnati in December 2023 after a brief stint at a Dallas news station

By Bryn Dippold

In the United States, there are 210 Designated Market Areas (DMAs) or media markets. Each is unique, and the DMAs are used to define television and radio markets. They are ranked by viewership—more viewers, bigger market, higher ranking. The Dallas-Fort Worth market is ranked No. 5 out of 210; comparatively, Cincinnati is No. 36.

When Megan Mitchell, WLWT5 news anchor, got the call in January 2023 to join WFAA in Dallas, she couldn’t pass up the opportunity. “There were a lot of things happening at the time,” she says. “There were a couple stints with The Today Show on TikTok and on air. There were a lot of big things happening in my life.”

So, Mitchell said yes to Dallas.

As a broadcast journalist, working in a Top 5 market is the dream—on paper. For Mitchell, it didn’t work out as well.

“There’s a number of things that didn’t really pan out, but I think ultimately it really wasn’t a cultural fit,” she says. “I thought it was going to be like Southern hospitality, kind of like Midwest nice. And I think Dallas is just a different beast.”

Eleven months after starting at WFAA, Mitchell returned to Cincinnati and to WLWT, which she had worked at for seven years before leaving in 2023.

Mitchell says she considered going to another market before coming back to Cincinnati, but ultimately the Queen City called her back.

“The process of me coming to terms with the fact that Dallas wasn’t where I was supposed to be and wasn’t working out broke down this barrier inside of me that I had been stubborn enough to uphold for the last 15 years of my life,” she says. “I had been so career driven since I was in high school. Once that barrier was broken down, it allowed me to think that my whole life doesn’t have to be revolving around where my job is. It can be revolving around a community, around a person that I love. And so, it allowed me to see more, and Cincinnati was just the place for me. I stayed here two contracts, and I loved it. I was so ready to come back to a place that I knew I loved, I knew was comfortable, because I had spent my entire adult life being not comfortable.”

Many Cincinnatians grew up in Cincinnati, and that’s why they love it. Mitchell grew up in Brookfield, Connecticut, a picturesque town in the southern foothills of the Berkshire Mountains and only 55 miles northeast of New York City. She attended Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts, and graduated with a bachelor’s in broadcast journalism. Why the fervent passion for Cincinnati?

“I hate to steal someone else’s words, but I have to, and those words are from Jeff Ruby,” she says.

Jeff Ruby, who is from New Jersey and moved to Cincinnati to start his restaurants, spoke those words when he was being honored with a namesake street in Fountain Square for the opening of his new restaurant. Mitchell was at the ceremony on assignment for one of her last stories in Cincinnati before she left the “first time” (“I’m not going to leave again!” she clarifies). When it was Ruby’s turn to speak at the street renaming, his words moved Mitchell.

“The quote that stood out the most that almost brought me to tears because I was leaving in a week…he said, ‘Cincinnati, you are a city that allowed me to be me,’” she says.

Mitchell, who identifies as queer, knows the importance of having a community. “A lot of what home is, and a lot of what family is, gets broken down in a certain way, because if they’re not there for you in a moment when you reveal yourself, you start to find your chosen family,” Mitchell says. “My idea of what home isn’t as connected to…where I grew up. It’s connected to this place where I feel most myself.”

She also has a popular TikTok account with almost 2 million followers. She started making videos in 2020 during the pandemic when she was back home in Connecticut. Her younger brother encouraged her to post about her experience as a queer person working in news.

Mitchell recalls the first few times she mentioned her girlfriend on the news. “I remember…feeling nervous and checking Twitter to be like, ‘Did anyone say anything? Did they notice?’” she says. “I still get jitters when I say it, which is crazy…because it still feels like I’m sharing a part of myself, and that part of myself has historically been denied by people that I’m really close to. There’s still a piece of it that feels like someone could also deny me. But every time I’ve done that, I’ve not gotten one mean comment.”

Mitchell says that while New York City and Los Angeles are typically the cities people move to when their media career is taking off, and that move can help grow their niche, “it wouldn’t grow” hers.

“One of the things I love about what I do is the fact that I’m doing it here,” she says. “There are people in Cincinnati that are like, ‘Oh my god, my parents aren’t super hippie and accepting and live on the coast, they’re from Ohio. And my mom and dad watch this girl on the news every day.’ And there’s a kid out there that’s saying ‘Oh, my parents like someone who is queer. Maybe I’m not scared to share my truth, to share who I am to my parents.’”

This year, Mitchell placed fourth for Cincinnatian of the Year after Fiona the hippo, Joe Burrow and Colleen the goose in City Beat’s annual Best of Cincinnati awards. “I will take her down,” she laughs. “No, I will not. I would actually die for Fiona, I love her.”

This year, she feels like she needs to earn her spot. “I betrayed Cincinnati, and now I need to earn it back,” she jokes. “I didn’t even make it a year, that was pathetic. The worst betrayal ever.”

Now, Mitchell says she’s set in Cincinnati, “for life.”

Originally published in Spring 2024 issue of Cincy Magazine.

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