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Published: Friday, 6/1/2007

Channel 24 co-anchor makes her own news

Shenikwa Stratford usually reads the news.

But lately, the WNWO-TV, Channel 24, co-anchor has been the one making headlines.

In November, she became the first African-American woman to serve as a primary anchor in Toledo, replacing Jennifer Stacy at the NBC affiliate.

On Saturday, the 32-year-old Stratford gave birth to her first child - daughter Kennedy Sky Carr, weighed in at 8 pounds, 6 ounces.

Stratford Stratford

Stratford's husband, Jon Carr, who has spent the last two years as the receivers coach at the University of Toledo, and her mother, Barbara Walter, were with her throughout the lengthy delivery process.

"I will say this about the birth - it was kind of like news - a lot of hurry up and wait," Stratford said. "Then once you're on, it's on without the brakes. I was in labor for 20 hours with mild contractions, but not really doing much.

"The doctors thought I still had several more hours before I would even start to deliver. The doctor left, we all sat back for the wait, then boom - an hour later, I was in hard labor. And less than two hours later, I had a daughter. It all went so fast, I didn't have time to even get an epidural.

"It really surprised everybody - even the baby. She was a little shell-shocked to pop into the world so fast. She was born at 10:03 p.m. I guess she didn't want to miss the 11 o'clock news."

Stratford and her daughter were released from Flower Hospital in Sylvania Monday afternoon. Mom has been beaming ever since.

"Having a baby is more incredible than I thought it would be," she said. "You want to talk about perspective. As soon as they put her on my chest, she looked up at me, I looked at her, and I thought, 'She looks just like me.' I smiled and said, 'This is what it's all about.' "

Stratford said co-anchor Jim Blue will go solo on the evening news set at WNWO until she returns in 8 to 10 weeks.

In the meantime, she will be writing a daily blog for the station's Web site at NBC24.com. She plans frequent news on her daughter and herself.

"There's a lot to write about," she said. "Giving birth is a beautiful experience. I plan to share some of my thoughts, and give updates on my daughter. It will be like a diary."

Prior to being named co-anchor of the evening newscasts at WNWO six months ago, Stratford had been the morning anchor since December, 2002. The Dallas native and Howard University graduate began her career as a reporter at the station in November, 2001.

Before coming to Toledo, Stratford was a producer/reporter for KAMR-TV in Amarillo, Tex., and was a producer/writer for Fox News Channel's "Fox News Edge" in New York City. She also had a stint in public relations and worked on Capitol Hill as a newspaper reporter.

However, none of those experiences can top being a first-time mom.

In other news:

•Vickie Van Vliet has been hired as a producer at WTVG-TV, Channel 13. She joins the ABC affiliate from KOMU-TV, the NBC affiliate at the University of Missouri.

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