Queen Banda looks back over four years at WCTV
After four years with WCTV, Wareham’s community TV station, reporter Queen Banda will be moving south to Channel 12 WPRI, based in East Providence.
Banda talked with Wareham Week about her tenure in town, and about her life before Wareham.
Before Banda was hired, WCTV didn’t have a dedicated reporter. She came to town for a short interview, right after she graduated from Bridgewater State University, and pitched the position.
WCTV usually covered events and meetings, but Banda saw the possibility of much more.
“I wanted a dialogue, and I felt that’s what was missing,” Banda said. “When you read the paper, you have questions, and want to know more. That’s where I positioned myself.”
Banda was hired by WCTV to work part-time, first to work ten hours a week and then to work twenty. Shortly after she started, she said she was going to work full-time whether she was paid for that or not.
Within two months, she was hired to work for the station forty hours a week.
“I remember driving home crying,” Banda said. “I couldn’t believe my luck.”
Banda has run a number of shows over the years, and until recently hosted Good Morning Wareham, a morning news digest show that featured interviews, history, and feature stories about interesting people in the area. In her earliest days at the station, she even ran game shows with real prizes. In one iteration, she would stop people on the street to play games. She also hosted live game shows from the studio modeled on Family Feud and Jeopardy.
“I had so much fun,” she said.
Banda had to get creative, especially when reporting stories about the municipal goings-on in Wareham, as she said she was not allowed to talk to any town employees by the request of Town Administrator Derek Sullivan.
Some of Banda’s most meaningful moments, she said, were when people trusted her with stories of some of the most painful moments of their lives.
“Just to be welcomed and invited into a person’s home, to cry with a person, for them to be that vulnerable with me and to trust me that their tears aren’t for nothing -- that speaks volumes. And those are the moments, to be honest, where it’s more important than the money,” Banda said.
She remembered one story in particular where she spoke to parents from seven communities who lost children to addiction.
Banda said that her own life story has made her particularly equipped to talk about those kinds of stories with her subjects.
As she recounted: Banda grew up in Tanzania. Her entire nuclear family passed away from HIV/AIDS -- first her twin siblings, then her mother, then her brother, and finally her father. She was raised by other family members, but endured extensive sexual abuse and other trauma. Banda said she was pregnant when she was only 12 years old, but received an abortion.
When she was 14, she was brought to the United States by someone who she described as “not a good person,” and then she ran away.
She was adopted by the Carberry family in Franklin who raised her alongside their children.
“I was at the mercy of god and [Susan Carberry] found me and she fought for me,” Banda said. “They’re the ones who raised me.”
Banda said her family in Franklin gave her what she needed to succeed.
“I feel like the community was ready and prepared and they worked for me. I was never bullied, and was highly encouraged to be me and learn at my own pace. They didn’t clip my wings. They just provided me with love and said ‘Lead the way,’” Banda said.
Banda noted that she always wanted to be a reporter, ever since she was a little kid. She’s always wanted to know what makes people tick.
“It’s my personal experiences that I think enable me to recognize joy and pain in people so easily,” Banda said.
She also works hard to report with empathy, and give her sources the benefit of the doubt.
“I hope this article is going to let people know who was in their homes. They trusted me with their secrets -- here is mine,” Banda said. “I’m going to miss everyone so much.”
Even though she will no longer be at WCTV, Banda still would like people with good stories to reach out to her.