Cultural Conversations: Bao Vang, first Hmong news anchor is central Wis., remembers time at NewsChannel 7

Published: Apr. 28, 2021 at 6:23 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - Bao Vang was one of the first Hmong broadcast journalists in the country and the first to serve central Wisconsin. She remembers how her time at NewsChannel 7 shaped her career.

At 22, Bao was eager to begin a career in broadcast journalism. And she says when offered a job at WSAW NewsChannel 7 in 2006, she gladly accepted.

“When I arrived in Wausau, I really just wanted to tell stories,” Vang said. “I wanted to practice this craft that I’ve loved for years and I wanted to do it professionally.”

Vang was a morning anchor and multimedia journalist at NewsChannel 7 for five years. She says throughout her time here, her desire to share stories of her culture grew over the years.

“My role as a journalist was to tell stories of our community and to tell specific stories that represented all kind of communities,” Vang explained. “In the Hmong community there were stories that were untold, under-told, dismissed, not valued, and I saw some of that. I really wanted to bring them to light.”

And she says telling those stories took courage.

“I had to ask some tough questions and I had to bring up stories that were not very favorable to the community,” Vang said. “I had to be very brave when I did that. And part of reaching out to that community and saying, ‘tell me your story,’ it was a two-way street. I needed to also tell my own stories.”

Among the stories Vang told of Hmong culture included one of her own as she gave NewsChannel 7 an inside look at how Hmong weddings are planned and orchestrated. She says airing her wedding was one of central Wisconsin’s most favorable stories of hers.

“The ability to allow that story to be told on air was really special to me,” Vang explained. “And to this day, it’s the number one story that community members, family and friends continue to talk to me about.”

In 2011, Vang left NewsChannel 7 and became a weekend anchor and reporter for WBAY in Green Bay. And she says the skills she learned at NewsChannel 7 went with her.

“I had to show them that I came from the Twin Cities and this small town,” Vang said. “I wanted to be a friend, advocate, a storyteller for their stories.”

Vang left the journalism industry in 2014. She currently works as the Communications Director at the Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota.

She says her time at NewsChannel 7 and in the journalism industry shaped her into who she is today.

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