This article first appeared on Scenic98Coastal.
MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Meet Akievia McFarland, Traffic Anchor and Multimedia Journalist for WKRG News 5. Her love for storytelling, great work ethic, and bubbly personality have helped her excel at this early point in her career.
She moved from Ohio to Helena, Alabama with her father, mother, and siblings, when she was very young. Helena, a beautiful suburb of Birmingham, is a small but growing community near the Cahaba River. There, Akievia received her early education and in 2014, she graduated from Pelham High School.
When deciding on college, she jokes, “I wanted to get as far away from home as possible without leaving the state.” That’s how Akievia chose to become a Jaguar at the University of South Alabama. That was an easy decision, but deciding her major was not.
“I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I started courses in biology with dentistry in mind. That didn’t really suit me so I tried business finance. I found that wasn’t my thing either,” she says. “I eventually got to a point where I decided to pursue my passions and stop chasing careers for financial gain.”
It took her some time to realize it, but there were signs that she could possibly do well in the communications field.
Her family jokes that she was a nosey kid growing up and that she has always been a talker. Her parents say her first word was ‘hi’ at six months old. In high school, one of her extracurriculars was working on the yearbook staff, which helped her develop some skills as a journalist.
The Communications Department at South Alabama seemed a good fit for her and turned out even better than she expected. “I entered the journalism program my Junior year and did really well,” she says. Toward the end of her college career, she took CA-350, a broadcast course. Her last assigned project was to create a news package.
“We had 6 hours to write, shoot, and edit a news story. My story was about a Christmas event called Holiday Havoc. It was cute. The class watched and critiqued all the packages together and mine was voted the best by my classmates. That made me feel great!”
Akievia graduated with her Communications degree in Multimedia Journalism in 2019. Before graduating, she interned with Devin Ford Photography.
“She taught me how to set up and shoot photography, and how to make people comfortable in front of the camera,” McFarland said. “The things I learned were extremely valuable.”
Akievia also did work for Ford’s foundation, Focus Empowers. The organization helps to empower, educate, and uplift women. Akievia would research potential keynote speakers for the annual Focus Women’s Conference.
After graduation, Akievia returned to Helena, working jobs that were outside of her degree. That would soon change. A friend she knew from South Alabama, who was working at WKRG contacted her. He texted, “Hey, my boss is going to call you about this producer position.” After a phone and in-person interview, Akievia was hired as a news producer in December 2020. As a producer, Akievia built newscasts each day.
“I loved the creative freedom. Having a say in what and how stories were told, and controlling the flow of a newscast was fun. It was high-intensity, though. Producers have to keep up with the timing of shows and make sure everything stays on track. If breaking news occurs, you have to be quick on your feet. It was super-rewarding!”
This was her life for about a year and a half. In July 2022, she was promoted to Traffic Anchor, her first on-air experience. As expected, she was nervous. As the Traffic Anchor, she reports the morning and evening traffic.
“I read traffic maps and keep a close eye on the hot spots like the Bayway, the Causeway, the Bankhead and Wallace Tunnels, and other busy roads across the Gulf Coast. I monitor wrecks, congestion, and road projects that may create backups. On the other side of that coin, I help commuters navigate around road problems.”
She also keeps up with major events like Mardi Gras parades, that create road closures and detours. She monitors routes, parade times, and road closures. Her best advice about big events in downtown Mobile? “Get down there early to beat the rush and find good parking.”
You can watch Akievia many times throughout the week. She appears on WKRG News 5 This Morning from 4:30 to 7 a.m. and does about 10 daily traffic reports. In between, she joins her colleagues on the red couch, where they have fun discussions about the day’s stories. After the morning program, she reports during three CBS News cut-ins before appearing on WKRG News 5 at 9:00 a.m.
After the morning shows, she usually returns home to check on things and run errands. Hours later, she’s back in the studio to appear on The 4 on 5, followed by WKRG News 5 at 5. When she’s not on-air, you can find her on Facebook by searching “WKRG Akievia McFarland”.
Aside from her traffic duties, Akievia also finds stories to tell.
“On Wednesdays, a photographer and I go out and get interviews and put together a package.” She really enjoys writing and telling positive stories.
She credits South Alabama for helping her prepare for a television career.
“We did a lot of critiquing in the classes I took,” she says. “I feel very fortunate that I could start at WKRG and live on the Gulf Coast.”
What do you do when you are not on air? She says, “I spend time with my family, friends, and my dogs.” She has two dogs, including a new puppy, Murphy. “I met Murphy in the station lobby when he was brought by The Haven for an interview. He ran right up to me and that was all it took. I knew he was coming home with me. ”
She goes on to say, “I love a good brunch, and I love the food and scenery along the beach. Movies are hugely ingrained in my DNA, and that’s how I relax.”
She is also obsessed with anime.
“I binge it. I like seeing the different art styles and following the story plots. It’s a bonding tool with friends and I study it for the creative aspects.”
She enjoys listening to music and going to big stand-up comedy shows at venues such as the Beau Rivage Resort and Casino and the Pensacola Bay Center.
“The Scenic 98 Coastal area is awesome! The culture here is really cool. It’s provided me with everything I want, and it’s not too far from home. It’s allowed me to spread my wings.”
Akievia enjoys running into people who recognize her out in public doing everyday things like going to the grocery store.
“This is a special place and we are just regular people,” she said. “It’s been a good environment in which to live, work and play!”
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