Producers from NBC Nightly News contacted me in search of an expert on runaway youth to speak about the Chelsea O’Donnell case. Here is how I booked NRS Executive Director Maureen Blaha on the show.

At 3pm on Tuesday, August 18th , my telephone rang.


“Good afternoon.  This is Katy Walsh,” I said.


“This is Jane, producer for ‘Lester Holt NBC Nightly News.’ Breaking news: Rosie O’Donnell’s daughter is missing.  We want to talk to an expert on runaways and runaway youth.  Can the National Runaway Safeline help us?”


“Jane, the National Runaway Safeline is THE expert on runaway youth issues.  Let me check our Executive Director Maureen Blaha’s schedule for availability. When would you like to interview her?”


“Now,” said Jane.  “We go on air in 2 hours.  We need her to NBC Towers by four o’clock so we can interview her from the satellite studio.”


“Let me see what’s possible, Jane. Please hold.”


I found Maureen and explained the situation.  She agreed it was a great opportunity for NRS to shed light on the Chelsea O’Donnell situation and also serve as the national expert on runaways.  As Maureen went to prepare to depart, I got back on the phone with Jane and local producer Juan.  The logistics they gave me I quickly typed up an email and sent the email to Maureen plus other key NRS team members.


By 3:25pm, Maureen, accompanied by NRS administrative assistant Erin Scheck, was headed to NBC Towers to be interviewed.

Maureen Blaha of NRS at NBC Chicago

At 3:28pm, Johnny Moran, the NRS digital media specialist, started promoting NRS being on NBC Nightly News on all our social media channels.


Meanwhile, I was back on the telephone discussing with the producer potential questions to ask Maureen around runaway issues.  As Jane and I chatted through the angles of the story, I texted Maureen and Erin the potential areas to be discussed.

Behind the scenes at NBC Chicago before speaking on runaway youth issues

By 4:05, Maureen was in make-up at NBC Towers in preparation for taping her interview.  Erin took pictures of the entire process and texted them to Johnny.  And Johnny let the NRS online community know what was going on in actual time.



During the 5:30pm  Lester Holt NBC Nightly News, NRS was featured in what was now a national story about family reunification.



This entire experience illustrated the power of teamwork, technology and timing.


Post Interview with NBC Nightly News on Runaway Youth Issues


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