Unless you’re a follower of the mantra, “the early bird gets the worm,” it’s unlikely you’ll be awake in time to catch Fox News host Heather Childers on the television.
The “Fox & Friends First” host dominates the 4 a.m. hour and it’s a level of success she’s been working towards since her college graduation.
Childers’ first step on her journey to Fox News made a literal meaning out of the term “grunt job.” As in, she was rolling the manual prompter, running scripts to anchors on set, and fetching coffee.
Tasks that seemingly bore no weight on her ability to be a writer, anchor, or fulfill her childhood dream of being a country music star akin to Faith Hill, she completed with gusto and it paid off.
Her own experience is one she believes others can learn from and told IJR:
“Young people today, whether your male or female, show by your work ethic. Show by your results. Show that you’re willing to work the grunt hours, work the difficult hours, cover the difficult stories — or whatever the industry is — cover the difficult task and make yourself stand out that way.”
That first job turned into a 20-second on-air slot at 11 p.m., which gave way to a job at a Fox affiliate in Albany, Georgia, which led her down the winding road to New York City.
“I may not be the best news anchor out there but I can definitely be the hardest working,” she told IJR about her mentality. “That’s something I can control.”
As co-host of the 5 a.m. hour, she increased viewership by double-digit percentages year-over-year.
By the time her 100th episode as host of “Fox & Friends First” at 4 a.m. aired, Nielsen Media Research listed her show as having higher ratings than both CNN and MSNBC during that time slot.
A level of success she credited to her self-made father constantly showing her what it meant to work hard and capitalizing on every opportunity, no matter the job description.
Odd hours are expected of a career in news and throughout the years she never once thought of working weekends or being up at 1:30 in the morning as a sacrifice.
“I think that just comes from my work ethic that comes from my dad,” she shared with IJR. “If you love what you do, you don’t mind doing it and I know people say that a lot but once you’re in it you realize that’s true.”
Through the grunt work, days when the snow soaked through to her socks during live shots, and early mornings, she’s discovered one motivator isn’t within her — it’s the people she’s gotten to meet along the way.
She recently interviewed a United States special forces operative who risked his life to save a little girl who was caught in ISIS gunfire.
“It is one of the most powerful interviews I think I’ve ever done. Who’s gonna feel bad about getting up at 1:30 in the morning when you’re meeting somebody who’s living a life and doing something and making a difference like that,” she said. “Puts it in perspective for sure.”
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While the journey seems flawless when boiled down to a few hundred words, it was anything but, and along the way she learned a valuable business lesson, “know your worth.”
Unlike many of her colleagues, Childers to this day does not use an agent, so she had to learn to stand up for herself. In a world that’s dominated by conversations of how women can be equal in business, she advocated for everyone to learn one of the greatest empowerment tools: negotiation. She told IJR:
“I didn’t know anyone in this business, I didn’t have any connections in this business and I negotiated myself the entire way … What I would tell people in terms of the bottom line when it comes to negotiating for yourself, whether you’re a man or a woman, is to know your worth and to have the evidence to back it up.”
In the business of television, it’s numbers that “speak” and along with data, she stressed the importance of first proving to yourself what you’re worth.
“Then when you go in to negotiate you have that power to present what these people need to know your value is,” she told IJR. “Because if you know what your value is then you can share that with other people and negotiate it.”
And in an era when women are trying to gain a seat at the table without finding themselves in an uncomfortable situation, it comes back to those three words: know your worth. She said:
“I would say to any young woman going into this industry or any industry is to always remember what you’re worth. Whether it be a certain work environment or whether it be negotiating salary or applying for a higher position that’s what it boils down to. Know what you’re worth on the inside and then hopefully good things will follow.”
Childers called knowing what you’re worth the “bottom line” and a lesson any young person can heed.
Now, she’s is in a position where she loves her job and is excited about the 4 a.m. hour. Every day she’s on, she strives to provide her viewers with information that gives them the ability to go out into the world knowing they’re knowledgeable about what’s going on around them.