Meeting new 11 Alive morning host Shiba Russell

Crash Clark, Jaye Watson, Vinnie Politan, Shiba Russell and Chesley McNeil. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/ rho@ajc.com

Crash Clark, Jaye Watson, Vinnie Politan, Shiba Russell and Chesley McNeil. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/ rho@ajc.com

By RODNEY HO/ rho@ajc.com, originally filed Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Shiba Russell is the new kid in town at 11 Alive, joining the Atlanta Alive morning crew earlier this month.

The New Jersey native came from the NBC affiliate in New York WNBC-TV.

I visited her last Friday at 11 Alive studios as her first week on air drew to a close.

“I have to say, this has been the warmest welcome of my career,” said Russell. “The social media department has put together a ‘Welcome Shiba’ campaign. We did an outing at Top Golf to do some team bonding before I was even on the air. The general manager sending me a book about ‘The 100 Places to Go in Atlanta Before You Die.’‘ And writing a note out to me and my daughter before we even landed. And the general manager sent me local stories about the best public schools. It’s something you might expect in smaller market.”

Russell in the video below added a few things about herself:

  1. She’s not very tall at 5 foot 1 –  “a little taller than Snookie, a little shorter than Kim Kardashian,”
  2. She loves “Real Housewives of Atlanta” and can’t get Sheree Whitfield‘s classic insult “Who gonna check me boo” out of her head.
  3. She loves hip-hop and name dropped OutKast‘s Andre 3000 and Jermaine Dupri as well as Kandi Burruss. 
  4. She was a competitive swimmer in high school and college
  5. She likes to sing and was part of an a cappella group in college.

“I love the heat,” she said. “When I worked in Boston, I wore snow pants every day during the winter. My photographer used to call me ‘shivering Shiba.’ Even here, when I go to a restaurant, I always bring a shawl and a sweater. I get cold very easily. Here, it’s refreshing to go out of a restaurant and it’s warm. It feels like the body is going to live 15 years longer!”


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She wasn’t one of those girls who dreamed of being an anchor.

“I was never that kid who watched the news,” she said. “But I took this class senior year of high school. I thought I was going to be a lawyer. I still have the love of the law, which works well with this job because we cover legal cases. I took this senior production class and I got to anchor the news. I remember doing that with my cheerleading outfit on. I also did the announcements in the morning.”

Russell realized she got bored easily and loved writing. And she’s a visual person. “Every day would not be the same,” she said. “I really enjoyed it.”

In college, she wasn’t sure whether she would be behind the camera or in front of the camera. Sh majored in communications at College of New Rochelle. Through internships at WCBS, WPIX, BronxNet and a hip-hop magazine, she clarified what she wanted to do and decided she wanted to be on camera.

She attended Northwestern graduate school. “That program kicked my tail,” she said. She reported for two stations while in D.C. Her first job was at News 12  on Long Island, followed soon after at News 12 in the Bronx.

Russell enjoyed on-the-ground reporting in the Bronx. “I liked to speak for the little people,” she said. She later worked in Pittsburgh and Boston before going to New York.

This is her first job in the South though her father is from North Carolina, so she picked plenty of Southernisms as a child.

“I saw ‘easy peasy.’ I say ‘bless your heart.’ I say ‘y’all’ sometimes,” Russell said.

She hopes to do some investigative work on top of her anchoring work. “My passion is long-form journalism,” she said.

This is my Facebook Live interview with the entire cast.

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