You’ve probably heard of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, the game that involves connecting any actor to Kevin Bacon in six steps or fewer based on movies or shows they’ve been in together. Well, one could easily replicate that formula with Erica Mokay and Pittsburgh broadcast reporters.

The Belle Vernon native went to Belle Vernon Area High School alongside WTAE-TV reporter Ashley Zilka; interned with WPXI-TV reporters Rich Pierce and Sarafina James and KDKA-TV meteorologist Mary Ours at KDKA; worked with all three of them plus KDKA reporter Jessica Guay at various points during her stint at WTOV-TV in Steubenville, Ohio; and, on Oct. 24, reunited with Guay and Ours at KDKA when she officially started a new chapter of her career as a Channel 2 reporter.

“The universe has really introduced me to some wonderful people and has found a way to make them still a part of my life,” Mokay told the Union Progress. “And I’m really grateful for that.”

KDKA-TV reporter Erica Mokay, left, and WPXI-TV reporter Rich Pierce during their time anchoring together at WTOV-TV in Steubenville, Ohio. (Courtesy of Erica Mokay)

Mokay has worked all over the Rust Belt during her 11 years in broadcast journalism. But for her, “it hits different” having the opportunity to come home and report on her hometown.

“There’s a secret sauce in this area,” she said. “The people here have grit [and] are kind. It’s a special place. You have to be from Pittsburgh to understand what it’s like to live and work in this area.”

Like many television journalists, Mokay participated in cheer, dance and theater during her formative years while also doing the morning announcements every day in middle school. She graduated from West Virginia University with a degree in television journalism and some firsthand media experience thanks to the KDKA internship and a stint with Pittsburgh CW’s Green Team.

New KDKA-TV reporter Erica Mokay, right, as a member of Pittsburgh CW’s Green Team circa 2011. (Courtesy of Erica Mokay)

It was during Mokay’s last semester at WVU that she began working for WTOV as a weekend evening anchor. She ended up sticking around Steubenville for about five years before heading to WWMT-TV in Kalamazoo, Mich. Mokay spent just shy of six years covering Kalamazoo, Battle Creek and Grand Rapids before accepting the KDKA job.

Landing at one of Pittsburgh’s big three stations was always Mokay’s plan. She had been working toward that goal since Zilka helped connect her to former WTAE anchor Kelly Frey, who let both of them shadow her for a day at Channel 4 while they were still in high school.

She didn’t want to come home too soon, though, to ensure “I could hold my own there.” That’s why she spent those extra years in Michigan honing her craft. She anchored coverage of everything from presidential visits to the rollout of the first Pfizer vaccines that were manufactured at a plant in Kalamazoo to a Grand Rapids police officer who killed a 26-year-old Black man during a traffic stop.

When the opportunity to join KDKA’s news team presented itself earlier this year, Mokay felt ready to “give this city the quality of journalism it deserves.” She had spent most of her career anchoring and was a bit “apprehensive” about stepping into a reporting position. That didn’t stop her, though, from taking on the new challenge.

“It’s nerve-wracking to be coming to the city where you want to be but feeling like maybe you’re not as prepared as I was trying to be,” Mokay said. “I just told myself that I was going to really work hard, put my head down and be invested.”

One of the biggest perks for Mokay of joining KDKA was being back in the same newsroom as Ours, whom she met more than a decade ago during the Channel 2 audition process and still has saved in her phone contacts as “Mary Ours — KDKA Internship.”

New KDKA-TV reporter Erica Mokay, left, with longtime friend and veteran KDKA meteorologist Mary Ours. (Courtesy of Erica Mokay)

“I love Erica,” Ours told the Union Progress. “She’s always been so nice ever since the moment I saw her sitting waiting to be interviewed for our KDKA internship back in 2011 and I sat next to her. She’s still the same as she was back then. Well, actually, she’s even better!”

The feeling is mutual on Mokay’s end: “It was so nice when we reunited. She was so dear and so excited and made me feel so good about the change. It’s always good to know that you have a friend and ally on the inside.”

Because Mokay is a walking directory of current Pittsburgh on-air talent, she’s also excited to be back in the same city as the likes of Pierce, her former WTOV co-anchor; WPXI reporter Jillian Hartmann, who was an intern at WTOV during her time there; and “Pittsburgh Today Live” reporter Celina Pompeani Mathison, whom she also briefly crossed paths with in Steubenville.

Mokay has also remained connected with former KDKA reporters and anchors such as Jim Lokay, who before she officially accepted the KDKA position advised her: “Erica, bet on yourself.”

That’s exactly what she’s been doing for the past two months and will continue to do as a Pittsburgh broadcaster. Mokay goes into every story with the mindset that “we are humans reporting on humans” and that her job is to “do right by those people I’m reporting on.”

These days, those folks happen to be residents of her hometown. Mokay hopes that continues to be the case for the foreseeable future.

“I’m a firm believer in, you have to go where life leads you,” she said. “Thankfully, life has led me back home. Hopefully, it allows me to stay here.”

Joshua covers pop culture, media and more at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Contact him at

Joshua Axelrod

Joshua covers pop culture, media and more at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Contact him at