GREENSBORO — Morgan Radford holds onto the rejection letter she received in 2011 from a television producer in her hometown.
Back then, Radford had received her undergraduate degree from Harvard University, spent a year in South Africa on a Fulbright Scholarship and interned for CNN.
Wanting to tell news stories on TV, she applied to stations stretching from her native Greensboro to Juneau, Alaska.
They all said no.
“Morgan,” the local producer wrote. “You have a GREAT reel for this stage in your young career. I can’t hire you here because I’m looking for someone with more ‘street’ experience.”
“But,” the producer added, “you’re going to do extremely well in this business.”
A decade later and now 33, Radford has done just that.
On Monday, she will become the newest anchor on NBC’s streaming news channel, NBC News Now. It runs on several platforms, including Peacock, The Roku Channel and YouTubeTV.
She will join co-anchor Aaron Gilchrist from noon to 2 p.m. weekdays.
Their “NBC News Now Live” show is the first multianchor news program from a major network hosted only by people of color.
“This is an incredible opportunity to really tell impactful, forward-looking stories and to do it in a really creative way,” Radford said in a phone interview from New York, where she lives and works. “We are on top of breaking news as it happens in real time. We have reporters all across the country joining us live, telling us exactly what’s happening where they are.”
Since joining NBC in 2015, Radford has been a reporter and correspondent for NBC News and MSNBC and guest-anchored on traditional NBC programs.
She helped cover the 2020 presidential election, the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on minority communities, the rise in disinformation online and the immigration debate over the U.S. southern border.
She will continue her correspondent work for “NBC Nightly News” and the “Today” show.
“It expands upon the multitasking that is exciting for journalists in this day and age,” she said.
She becomes an anchor on NBC News Now as more people are watching. Since this time last year, viewership has climbed more than 500%.
On average, NBC News Now sees more than 22 million unique viewers and more than 30 million hours streamed each month. The average viewing time is about an hour per person, NBC said.
Nearly half of the audience is under age 45.
“They are an audience that is looking for fast-paced storytelling,” Radford said. “They are looking for creative stories and inclusive stories and a dynamic and engaging way to tell them.”
Before joining NBC in 2015, Radford completed her master’s degree in broadcast journalism at Columbia University.
She joined ABC in 2012, where she eventually anchored for ABC News Now. She moved to the now-defunct Al Jazeera America in 2013 as an anchor/correspondent, anchoring the former weekend morning newscast.
But before college and career took her to Massachusetts, New York and South Africa, Radford was growing up in Greensboro with her parents, Kim Radford and Dr. Lily Kelly-Radford, and brother Miller.
The family lived near Friendly Center. She attended Greensboro Montessori School and Grimsley High School.
“It’s definitely the place I consider home and my family considers home,” the journalist said.
Although her parents have moved to Atlanta for her father’s job, she said: “I am who I am and what I am because of the village that supported me and loved me and carried me, whether that was at Greensboro Montessori School or incredible teachers who were at Grimsley and helped pave my path.”
Radford draws on her successes and rejections to offer advice for young women who want to follow a similar path.
“The point of that is not the rejection but it’s the resilience,” she said. “It’s the ability to believe in yourself, even sometimes when you don’t have the data around you to support that belief.
“Sometimes as young women, we are not necessarily encouraged to be transparent about what we want. Some people can label us too ambitious or too bossy for being honest about our desire for achievement.
“It’s really important that young women and young girls know that the first step to achieving what you want is being able to name what it is you want to achieve.”
There was a time, Radford said, when people said she shouldn’t pursue her career plan, because it was too difficult or too complicated. She wondered whether the industry would have room for her.
“I’m so glad,” she said, “that amidst rejection that people often never saw, the rejection that people still don’t always know about, I’m so happy that I was able to hold on with steadfastness to something I knew would bring me great joy, and that I thought I could use to serve others.”
Oh, and the local TV station that once rejected her? It later offered her a job.
“But by then,” she said, laughing, “it was too late.”
Contact Dawn DeCwikiel-Kane at 336-373-5204 and follow @dawndkaneNR on Twitter.