Two years ago, Briana Smith moved to Pittsburgh with no idea what she would find here. The 29-year-old Totowa, N.J., native mostly had lived and worked in the New York-New Jersey area before accepting a job as a reporter and anchor at KDKA-TV.
Upon Smith’s arrival, the city girl in her was ecstatic to realize that this place in Western Pennsylvania she didn’t know was thankfully “so much like a city!”
“I thought it was so cute,” she continued. “I loved the yellow bridges and the views.”
Soon, Smith will trade in the Steel City for the City of Brotherly Love when she becomes a reporter for Philadelphia-based WPVI-TV. She announced that big career move via social media earlier this week. Her last day at KDKA will be May 24.
Smith graduated from Hofstra University in 2017 with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism. That summer, she was selected for Arizona State University’s Carnegie-Knight News21 program, which brings together aspiring journalists from around the country and tasks them with diving deep on an investigative topic. In Smith’s case, that meant producing a thorough piece on the subject of water contamination on military bases.
Following that experience, Smith took her first broadcast job as a reporter and part-time anchor at Spectrum News 1 in Binghamton, N.Y. She spent a year there before moving to Spectrum News’ Syracuse operation. Three years later, then-KDKA news director Kathy Hostetter reached out about an open position at Channel 2.
“I knew I wanted more anchoring experience,” Smith said. “Hearing that it was both anchoring and reporting, I was like, best of both worlds! KDKA being the legacy station that it is, how could you say no?”
She quickly immersed herself in the Pittsburgh news scene and larger city tapestry. Her mother always preached the value of paying it forward, which is why Smith seeks out volunteer opportunities every place she goes. In this case, she began helping out the nonprofit Light of Life Rescue Mission and is now a member of its young professional board.
As she fully committed herself to her new surroundings, Smith felt like “the Pittsburgh community embraced me as well.” In October 2021, she persuaded KDKA to give her a weekly segment that she dubbed “KD Sunday Spotlight.” Every week, Smith highlighted nonprofit organizations and “people doing good, life-changing work in the community.”
“The stories I’ve been able to tell and the people I’ve been able to meet have just been phenomenal,” she said. “There are so many that will stick with me forever.”
Smith feels like a big career move like the one she’s about to take is “happening at the perfect time” for her development as a journalist and general well-being. Not only does Philadelphia represent a giant leap in market size from Pittsburgh, but it’s also significantly closer to Smith’s family and friends in New Jersey.
“I knew that Pittsburgh wouldn’t be the end for me,” she said. “I have so many dreams. I thought Philly would be a really nice next step for me.”
Yes, she’s aware that some of her KDKA viewers may have some feelings regarding the fact she’s leaving for Pittsburgh’s cross-state rival. In fact, Smith has already received comments to that effect. She wants everyone here to know that “Pittsburgh stole my heart” and “will be with me wherever I ago.”
“I’m still in the same state, right?” she said. “With me being in Philly, now Pittsburghers have a reason to like it!”
Living Downtown gave Smith the ability to constantly take in “these gorgeous views of Pittsburgh” that she’s grown to appreciate so much. One of her favorite pastimes has become taking walks over a bridge and strolling along the river on the North Shore. She’ll miss those excursions, as well as all the Downtown bridges painted her favorite color — yellow.
For Smith, both WPVI and KDKA are “powerful legacy stations” with rich news traditions. She said her KDKA colleagues have “taught me so much about myself and journalism” and echoed some messages she has received lamenting the breakup of the “dynamic duo” of Smith and fellow Channel 2 weekend warrior Mary Ours. She also thanked KDKA viewers for “welcoming us into their homes and making me feel at home” over the past two years.
Don’t worry, yinzers: Smith plans to visit Western Pennsylvania once she’s settled in Philadelphia. As she put it: “How can you not come back to Pittsburgh?”