Columbus Makes Art Presents: Anietra Hamper on Transitioning from Anchor to Travel WriterApril 25, 2019 8:00 am David Weaver
After spending nearly 20 years working in television as a top-rated news anchor and Emmy-nominated reporter, Anietra Hamper switched gears – becoming an entrepreneur, travel writer, photographer and the author of two best-selling books: 2018’s Secret Columbus, and now 100 Things to Do in Columbus Before You Die. Ohioana Library Executive Director David Weaver recently spoke to Hamper, who will appear at the 13th annual Ohioana Book Festival on Apr. 27 at Columbus Metropolitan Library’s Main Library.
David: You had a very successful career in television news, including anchor spots at two major Columbus stations. What made you decide to move in a different direction?
Anietra: I have worked at all of the stations in town during my news career, which was exciting and successful. In 2010 as the news industry shifted in new directions, I decided it was time for a personal shifting of gears and that is when I started my corporate content writing and travel writing company ThreeWordPress. My current writing work is just an extension of my journalism background when I used those skills to share stories and information on the airwaves.
David: What has been the impetus for writing about Columbus? Did you find that people living here – even long-time residents – didn’t really know their hometown? I certainly discovered things in your books I never knew!
Anietra: As a Columbus native, local news journalist, community supporter and current resident, writing about our capital city was a natural fit when my publisher Reedy Press approached me. Using investigative journalism techniques and utilizing my sources in the city there are discoveries I reveal in both books that even surprise me.
David: How has your training and experience as a reporter and anchor been an asset in the field you’re working in now?
Anietra: I am a journalist to the core. That means doing authentic research — the hard kind that happened before Google searches and verifying information. I rely on trusted sources and dive deep into places where no one is looking, like old utility documents from the city, and I ask the questions that no one is asking in order to get to the heart of a discovery. My journalism roots have trained me to look for the unusual in unusual places and to share those discoveries in an interesting way that satisfies a reader’s curiosity about the world in which they live.
David: I know you love to travel. Do you have a favorite place to visit?
Anietra: My parents, who also travel, taught me that the world is my classroom, so I find as much exhilaration during a visit to Cleveland doing something new as I do while trekking a glacier in Iceland, dog sledding in Canada or fishing for the Mekong catfish in Thailand. Laos in southeast Asia is one of the most stunning places I’ve visited because the natural scent of green tea and lemongrass in air in this untouched place amazed me. I felt like I was in the Franklin Park Conservatory with plush trees and vegetation, but it was all-natural, accented by the tallest waterfalls I’ve ever seen.
David: What’s the best thing on the Columbus arts scene right now? If you’ve got friends visiting who’ve never been here before, where will you take them for a perfect night on the town?
Anietra: The first must-experience suggestions that I make to out-of-towners are the Short North Gallery Hop and the North Market. I love the Columbus arts scene and I appreciate how the community supports the arts, from visual arts and music to the performing arts and literature. One of our best attributes is that the city supports emerging artists and gives them a platform to grow and thrive.
David: Finally, you’ve written so much about Columbus. How long have you lived here? What do you like most about the city? And what, if anything, would you change?
Anietra: I am a Columbus native and I still call Columbus home. I was fortunate in my television career to spend most of it in Columbus and become even more integrated in our community. I love the change that I see especially in the downtown area and the connectivity that is happening with the suburbs with things like bike trails. The change I would like to see most in Columbus is already happening and that is the development of the downtown riverfront. I am excited to see progress along the Scioto River, which will give people more of a reason to stay downtown and enjoy our skyline and city scene after business hours.
The 2019 Ohioana Book Festival takes place Saturday, Apr. 27, 2019 from 10:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Columbus Metropolitan Library’s Main Library, 96 S. Grant Ave., in downtown Columbus. Admission is free. For more information, visit: ohioana.org/.
Columbus Makes Art Presents is a bi-weekly column brought to you by the Greater Columbus Arts Council – supporting art and advancing culture in Columbus. The column is a project of the Art Makes Columbus campaign, telling the inspiring stories of the people and organizations who create Columbus art and sharing information about exhibitions, performances, concerts and more at ColumbusMakesArt.com. Each column will be written by a different local arts organization to give you an insiders look at how #artmakescbus.